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Give a book Tuesday, get a buck off a classic French dip

December 7, 2009 | 10:12 am

Cole's, the downtown eatery that recently underwent a low-to-high upgrade -- Varnish, the cocktail room in back, is said to serve the best mixes in the city -- is celebrating its 101st birthday this week. Sunday, there was a cocktail contest; today, the winning cocktail is being served; and Tuesday, there's a book drive for the Midnight Mission's Mary Murphy Library.

Bring a book to Cole's on Tuesday and you'll get a coupon for $1 off the restaurant's famous French dip sandwich. If you know French dips, you know that Cole's makes a very good one -- although whether it was invented there or at Philipe's in Chinatown is a matter of some dispute. But this isn't about long-standing sandwich rivalries -- it's about getting a birthday bargain.

What kind of book should you donate? Bring something in good shape, whether it be edifying or pulpy, philosophical or funny, literature or memoir, even something for kids. Cole's will make sure the Midnight Mission gets them all.

The library is welcoming donations, so you can bring more than one book to Cole's. But don't expect a stack of books to get you more than that dollar off -- you'll pay less, but still have to pay up Tuesday for a French dip sandwich that day.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo credit: Alex Gallardo / Los Angeles Times