There's standing room only at most of the restaurants in town this week. Like most of the territory's entrepreneurs, restaurateurs are living up to the challenge of the demand for 1997 mementos and thousands of additional bodies to entertain and mouths to feed. Pulling the plug on tradition, Michelle Garnaut has decided to open M at the Fringe (tel: 2877-4000) throughout the celebrations. The Central restaurant is usually closed on Sundays and public holidays. A special attempt has been made to highlight local ingredients for the handover menu. These include items such as Chinese caviar, Hong Kong pigeon and Governor Chris Patten's special trifle. Ms Garnaut's famous pavlova will also be served 'because that's one thing we can't give up', she says. Meanwhile, in an attempt to provide a one-stop reservation service, Elite Concepts has set up a handover party hotline on 2525-9111. Try for a table at Elite's Tokio Joe, where noodles have been dyed red for the occasion. Of course, special menus are the order of the day, with complimentary 1997 T-shirts at all of Elite's eight restaurants. Toasted hot shots For official handover whisky, reach for the Highland Regal, which is the official whisky for the International Hong Kong Celebrates Banquet at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre on July 2. Guests will be toasting the new Special Administrative Region with Highland Regal's limited edition single malt. The 60-year-old blended whisky is bottled in a hand-blown decanter and sold in a silk-lined burwood box. The unofficial celebrations will be much looser affairs, with all manner of special handover bottles on sale, including the South China Brewing Company's Red Dawn lager. Talk about taste One of the best-kept secrets in town at the moment, given the visiting hordes clogging up the regular restaurant circuit, is the new menu at La Rose Noire in Pacific Place. The menu, created by ex-Hilton Hotel executive chef Wini Brugger and La Rose Noire partner Gerard Dubois, includes dishes such as marscapone cheese ravioli with fresh mint, spinach salad and green pumpkin seed oil, and cappuccino of stone mushrooms with fried basil. Those who have tried these can't stop talking about them. The rest of the menu features dishes such as roast calf's liver on potato cream with apple, onion salad and port wine sauce, and hot chocolate souffle with banana. Plus, the service is better than it has been for years. Reservations on 2877-0118. Sweet inspiration Slimy gum, sweet rats and vibrating lollipops are the order of the day at the first All Candy Expo held recently in Chicago. According to reports from the United States, American confectioners are offering products such as a 25-centimetre Pet Rat gummi candy in five flavours, which comes with care and feeding instructions, and green slimy chewing gum that dissolves if it is not chewed quickly enough. Some manufacturers have gone to space for inspiration, coming up with missile-armed, sugar-laden alien lollipops. Amid growing certainty that modern children are no longer interested in sweets as their parents knew them, 9,000 sweetmakers turned up for the show.