La Rose Noire has discovered the joys of discount dining. The chain, known more for its top-of-the-line bakery goods and chi-chi cafes, has turned its Kowloon Bay outlet into a high-turnover, self-service eatery for sit-down lunches costing between $38 and $58. Eight hot dishes are offered each day, including two types of curry, a roast and a daily special. There are also sandwiches, pastries, salads and a daily soup. 'People are watching their wallets,' says managing director Alois Paier. 'In this area, people don't want to spend more than $60 on a hot meal.' The quality, he promises, remains La Rose Noire to the last mouthful. The chain has no plans to extend its cut-price concept to its other outlets. (Tel: La Rose Noire, Kowloon Bay, 2758-0202) Belvedere goes Gallic Who would go to a top-class restaurant where the food isn't fresh? The idea that fresh food is a basic requirement and not an added attraction is taking years to filter through to restaurant promotion teams. The latest of an endless line of restaurants to promote freshness as a reason to visit is the Grand Stanford Harbour View's Belvedere, which opens mid-February after a major revamp. The restaurant will have an 'informal and cosy atmosphere' reminiscent of the French countryside. Atmospheric authenticity is promised with the addition of renowned French impressionist artworks of the non-authentic variety. The menu focus will be on 'simplicity and freshness' and traditional home-style recipes. Tel: 2721-5161 for reservations. Fault's a corker Corktaint is one of the wine world's rudest words. In an effort to spread the gospel against this and other wine faults, The Wine Institute of Hong Kong is holding a 90-minute seminar on Tuesday, February 17, at the Ritz-Carlton's Chater Room. The seminar costs $135 for non-members and $120 for members. The price includes wine and literature. Call 2804-2293 for reservations. Soup price chokes Cost-consciousness rules in new attitudes towards the price-value relationship. And the new incarnation of Tutta Luna in Lan Kwai Fong is not faring well. The Just Tasting price police have given the thumbs down to the white bean and pasta soup for $58. 'Over-salted and insubstantial' was the consensus. The waiter explained away the price, saying the soup was not ordered as part of the set meal, which costs $115 for soup, chicken and coffee. Grapes go for song Folks with green fingers will vouch for the positive effects of talking to their plants. Wine lovers are set to benefit from the next step in plant psychology, which has grape growers playing bird song recordings to their vines. The sounds, insists one farmer from South Africa, make the grapes not only bigger, but sweeter as well. Tests on the Kanonkop Estate in South Africa started in August and the first results will be known in March.