THIS TIME of year I am always dispirited from diners' horror stories about New Year's Eve dinners. It makes me want to talk about the good deeds restaurants have done, so here's one:
One crowded lunchtime in December two men were to meet at Primi Piatti, but one called to say he would be late. When the latecomer arrived, there were no tables available and the other man was still waiting to be seated. He was anxious about being able to finish lunch by the time of his next appointment.
Primi Piatti noticed the men were upset and recognized that since they hadn't seated the first man as soon as he arrived, they were responsible for the situation. So the restaurant volunteered to pick up the entire tab. And it added two loyalists to its list.
A second notable moment of generosity occurred at Clyde's of Columbia during the busy days before Christmas. The service was slow at lunch, so the waiter offered his customers free dessert to compensate.
Then the customers' credit-card approval was even slower. So the manager just tore up the check and said the whole lunch was on the house. And once again complainers were turned into fans.
SINCE CAJUN cooking has been the culinary rage of the decade and Thai restaurants have come close in popularity, a combination of the two would seem an automatic success. Then one wonders whether combining these two pepper-happy cuisines would mean food that is twice as hot.
Any day now, we'll be able to put such speculation to the test, since Cajun Bangkok is due to open soon at 2320 Price Ave. in Wheaton.
Why the combination? We already know that: The owner, Lek Saengplai, is Thai and has lately been cooking at Alexandria's Cajun-accented seafood restaurant, The Warehouse.
WHILE I haven't yet tried Maison Gateau in Occoquan, the reports have been favorable. Its owner-chef is French-born Guy Gateau, who came to Washington to work at the ill-fated Potomac restaurant, and now is doing French cooking on his own.
Particularly interesting are Gateau's Chef's Nights. The next on the schedule is Jan. 25, featuring the wines and owners of Guenoc Winery. The five-course, four-wine dinner will cost $40 a person plus tax and tip, and the main dish will be farm-raised boar -- flown in from the Guenoc owners' farm -- with caper and anchovy sauce. For reservations, call 703/690-5952.
ONE OF Washington's most exotic food shops is Yas Bakery & Confectionary at 785-J Rockville Pike in Rockville. If you haven't tried its unusual baklava, almond caramel crunch, cardamom-scented sweet bread, pomegranate tarts and syrup-doused fried doughs, you can have a chance to do so free on Sunday. That's the second anniversary of this Persian-Armenian bakery, so from noon to 6 it will thank its customers for a good year with free pastries, confections, coffee and tea.
THE CURRENT round of musical chairs, restaurant style: Bradshaw's in Adams-Morgan has been sold, and is changing into Roxanne, once again serving new American food. If nothing else, the name change gives the new owner a chance to call the rooftop terrace On the Rox.
Phyllis C. Richman's restaurant reviews appear Sundays in The Washington Post Magazine.