It’s often a difficult thing living in LA to figure out just where the hell one is. I mean, yeah, we’re near the sea, the mountains, the desert. Add a monorail and that could easily be a description of Disneyland. What I mean is that LA is not a city, but more like an unhappy collective of disparate neighborhoods that want to have nothing to do with each other. Walking down Hollywood Boulevard, synchronizing footstep with pavement star, you will find yourself standing in front of the oldest operating restaurant in Los Angeles, and by all accounts, still holding the flame to the competition. Musso’s and Franks.
A Constellation of Eating
Musso’s and Franks opened in 1919 and saw the likes on a regular basis with such early movie luminaries as Charlie Chaplain. In fact, “Charlie’s booth” still serves up corner comfort to whomever is lucky enough to even know to ask for it; and from my understanding, there is another Charlie’s booth at a Vietnamese restaurant over on Vermont, but that has an entirely different meaning. You will see modern movie stars at Mussos and I would be remiss if I were to mention any of them publicly here. Suffice to say they are the cool type of movie star. Someone “like” Jack Nicholson or someone “like” Jeff Goldblum. Did Jennifer Lawrence just order the seafood salad? I think she did. One time dining in the main room with the bar, All Pacino came in with good size entourage. He was very interesting to watch as he seemed to purposely not make eye contact with anyone. Even as he reached across his table for the salt, he seemed to be making himself invisible. A year later, Scene of a Woman came out where Al played a blind man. He was rehearsing his role!
Food as Original as Mae West
The biggest stars at Musso’s are not the incredible Martini’s which comes with an obligatory side bottle of refill, or the anchovy salad dressing or the fire and coal grilled lamb chops or the creamed spinach or their legendary “flannel cakes,” a house invention somewhere between a pancake and a think sheet of paper. No. the stars of Musso’s are and have always been the waiters. Union waiters who stay with the company forever. Back in the 80’s there was this lifelong waiter. Eppy was his name; I think he’s gone to the great dining room in the sky, but Eppy used to recommend the potatoes au gratin because “Humphry Bogart used to order it that way from me every Thursday.” For me? Sam Spade’s taters were good enough for me.
Manny “Felix” was the star of the dining counter and would do magic tricks at the table for you. He was a great guy and would put up with my oft grumpy moods. He knew to bring me my Martini before the menu, which, by the way, they print every day.
For the Hollywood Dog,
Steven Alan Green….WOOF!