Monday, April 2, 2007

Apple #234: Musso & Frank Grill

Next up in our What's Your Favorite Place series, we move from New York City and the East Coast to the West Coast, specifically, Los Angeles, home of Musso & Frank Grill. (Anybody from Chicago want to put in a request and fill in the big-city middle?)

  • Actually, Musso & Frank Grill is located in Hollywood. And at almost 80 years old, it is the oldest restaurant in Hollywood.
  • Established by John Musso and Frank Toulet, who gave their names to the restaurant. Although why they picked John's last name and Frank's first name, I could not discover.

Musso & Frank Grill storefront, date unknown, probably in the 1920s
(Photo from Musso & Frank Grill, posted at Epicurious)

The front of the restaurant today
(Photo from Seeing Stars)

  • It is located at the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Cherokee Avenue. The Writer's Guild used to be on Cherokee Ave., so a lot of big-name writers used to round the corner to the Grill for food and a drink. Or many drinks, as the case may be.
  • The atmosphere:
    • Red-jacketed, well-aged bartenders and waiters
    • Wood-paneled walls and ceiling
    • High-backed red leather booths
    • Dim lighting
    • Counter, with some seats near the cash register
    • West room with smaller booths
    • Open-air east room
  • Some writers who spent more or less amounts of time at the Grill:
    • F. Scott Fitzgerald
    • William Faulkner
    • Ernest Hemingway
    • Dashiell Hammett
    • Raymond Chandler
  • TV and movie stars who have frequented the Grill:
    • Charlie Chaplin (preferred table 1)
    • Tom Mix (window seat)
    • Marx Brothers
    • Clark Gable
    • Humphrey Bogart
    • Al Pacino (table 28)
    • Sean Penn
    • Ben Kingsley
    • Brad Pitt
    • Tom Selleck (table 24)

Judging by some of the narrower booths, I'm guessing this is the West room.
(Photo from Time Out of Mind)

  • Other famous folks:
    • the Warner Brothers
    • Orson Welles
    • David Lynch
    • Woody Allen
    • The Rolling Stones
  • Supposedly, it was at the Musso & Frank Grill that Marlon Brando's troubled daughter, Cheyenne, first told her brother that her boyfriend, Dag, was abusive. Brother Christian later shot the boyfriend. Turned out that Cheyenne was lying.
  • Appears in movies:
    • Oceans 11 - Pitt & Clooney's characters discuss their Vegas heist
    • Ed Wood - Ed Wood (Johnny Depp) meets up with Orson Welles (Vincent D'Onofrio)

Seats at the counter at Musso & Frank Grill
(Photo from Discover Hollywood)

  • The menu -- printed daily -- is strictly old-school. The kitchen has no microwaves. Whether it's casual food or fine dining, most of the items seem to come from the 1950s:
    • Corned beef and cabbage
    • Chicken pot pie (Thursday only)
    • Grilled liver
    • Flannel cakes (crepe-thin pancakes)
    • Shrimp cocktail
    • Beef stroganoff
    • Welsh rarebit and jellied consomm√©
    • Veal scallopini marsala
    • Roast spring lamb with mint jelly
    • Porterhouse steak
    • Oyster stew
    • Eleven varieties of potato side dishes
    • Coffee served in individual, small pots.

The counter, getting ready to open for the day
(Photo from Time Out of Mind)

  • Not recommended for vegetarians.
  • Not recommended for people in a rush.
  • A few of the sites I checked said the quality of food was not as stellar as the atmosphere or the history of the place. But the reviewers recommended a sample of one or more of the house drinks as a counterbalance to any minor unpleasantness.
  • Recommended drinks:
    • Bone-dry martini
    • Martini with sidecar
    • Bloody Mary
  • The prices are not exactly casual, though. Dinner for two can set you back $25 to $85.
  • Open Tuesday through Saturday, 11 am to 11 pm. Closed Sunday & Monday.
  • Park in the $2 lot in back.

Seeing Stars: The Ultimate Guide to Celebrities & Hollywood, Musso & Frank Grill
Frommer's Restaurant Review, Musso & Frank Grill
Yahoo Travel, Musso & Frank Grill
Citysearch, Musso & Frank Grill, Musso & Frank Grill
Hollywood Lost and Found, Musso & Frank Grill
Yelp reviews, Musso & Frank Grill, Bar review, Musso & Frank Grill
Positive Ape Index, scroll down to entry titled The Comforting Embrace Of Ritual
CourtTV Crime Library, Christian Brando: A Hollywood Family Tragedy, page 6

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