Some restaurants are like living museums. Musso and Frank is one of those restaurants: it’s a memorial to and a celebration of Hollywood’s rich cultural history. The Musso & Frank website explains it best: “In the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s, the golden years in Hollywood, almost everyone in the entertainment business dined or drank at Musso and Frank. Through the years, waiters served Mary Pickford, Greta Garbo, Edward G. Robinson, Claudette Colbert, Bette Davis, Cesar Romero and many more. But the restaurant was also known for it’s clientele of famous writers. The famous back room was home to William Saroyan, John Fante, Scott Fitzgerald, Nathaniel West, William Falkner, Thomas Wolfe, Ernest Hemingway and many more.”
With Craig’s parents in town (along with more family), we knew Musso and Frank might be just the spot to take them for a taste of Old Hollywood.
As that plaque reveals, the restaurant’s been in business since 1919: that’s alost 100 years old. Any restaurant that survives that long deserves your attention.
Walking in, you’re immediately swept up into a scene straight out of an old Hollywood movie: a long wooden counter, dark wooden booths, and waiters in red jackets with black bow-ties.
Notice the painting on the walls, the neon yellow “Cocktails sign,” the red leather seats, the art deco light fixtures:
Then let’s sit down and drink a Manhattan:
Though Musso and Frank is famous for its martini, Craig and I prefer Manhattans (we even make them at home). The Manhattan at Musso & Frank is quite excellent, though Julee–Craig’s mom–wins the prize for ordering a Vodka Gimlet that came with a green cherry:
It should be noted here that Musso and Frank is primarily a steakhouse: and so the menu mostly contains meat items (though they’re also, apparently, famous for their “flannel cakes” which I imagine are like pancakes; I couldn’t find out, they stop serving them at 3).
To start, I had a Caesar salad because–well, why not?
While nicely made, the most remarkable thing about it was the plate it was served on: the kind of heavy pink pattern you don’t see anymore.
Salad, though, isn’t what made Musso & Frank famous. Bring on the meat!
Specifically: the rib-eye.
Now that, my friends, is the food of kings. Bathed, I imagine, in pools of butter, and cooked to a crisp perfection on the outside and a pink perfection on the inside, this was a flawless slab of meat. It only got better when drizzled with the Bordelaise sauce ($4) which you can order as an optional side:
And, of course, there was a baked potato and sour cream:
The classic meat-and-potato combination served in a classic Hollywood restaurant; it’s not the kind of meal that makes you sit up and take notice, it’s the kind of meal that makes you sink back in your chair, look around the room, and breath in the aura of ages past, when faces and names that inspired generations gathered here to drink booze, smoke cigarettes, and eat the meal you’re eating at this very moment.
Which is why Musso and Frank remains a restaurant very much worth visiting.