Since it’s tax season, I thought it would only be appropriate to write about what I refer to as a “Tax Return Restaurant”, as in you only go when you get your tax return because it’s expensive and you feel like splurging. And surprisingly, it is indeed a splurge worth your hard-earned EZ filed tax return dollars.
Let’s review Musso & Frank’s.
I say surprisingly because unfortunately, a lot of OLD restaurants really aren’t that great and they continue to stay open due to their reputation and name recognition. I used to think I was just being a picky bitch and I just didn’t like or appreciate their “old way of doing things” and that I didn’t like their “old way of cooking”. I constantly get shit-on by people because I don’t like El Cholo and I think it’s highly overrated. They make their food exactly the same way they made it in 1923, but just because something’s been done the same way for a long time doesn’t automatically mean it’s good.
“But that’s how mexican food was back in the old days!”
So basically it was shit then and it’s shit now. Okay.
Musso & Frank’s is the complete opposite. They’ve been in business since 1919 and pretty much NOTHING has changed. Because of it’s location on Hollywood Blvd., it’s been the hub of cinema and literary history since opening and continues to provide an authentic bit of “old Hollywood” to diners today. And get this – despite being in business for 100 years, the food is actually good!
I dined at Musso & Frank’s quite a while ago (and I’ve been wanting to go back) and it was everything a vintage restaurant (of that caliber) should be. They still have old-school items on their menu that go back to the days when that style of food/dining was in – I ordered the blue cheese stuffed celery. Seriously, stuffed celery is such a cheesy (pun intended) throwback to 1950s fine dining, but it was delicious and it had the hottest/strongest blue cheese I’ve ever had. Other old school appetizers on the menu were imported sardines, avocado cocktail, and a plate of olives. Ok, I did give in and I also had the plate of olives, but when else, other than your families Thanksgiving dinner, are you going to have a plate of olives as a course?
For my entree, I decided on a pork chop and of course, it was delicious. Musso & Frank’s has a good variety of dishes – steaks, fish, chicken, sandwiches, salads, and even options for vegetarians (pasta). Once again, they do have some really old-school items that you don’t see very often, like sweetbreads, Welsh Rarebit, Chicken ala King, and Lobster Thermidor. Man am I a sucker for Chicken ala King. I know, it’s basically one-step above SOS, but it reminds me of that turkey-gravy-mashed potato thing they would serve in the cafeteria back in elementary school, so it always has a little piece of my heart. Don’t judge – just let me enjoy my chicken slop in peace.
Dessert was amaaaaaazing. We went with and shared the Musso & Frank Torten. I don’t know exactly what a “Torten” is, because what we got looked more like a cream pie or Napoleon, but whatever – it was fucking delicious! Strawberries, some kind of pudding cream, man…I think about that almost as much as I think about the chicken slop. It was definitely the best way to end our vintage meal.
Food aside, the interior of Musso & Frank’s is also amaaaaazing. Old phone booths in the back, tin ceiling tiles, murals on the walls, well-worn leather booths, and a REAL bar that will make you the best martini you’ve had. But make sure you make a reservation – we went on a Saturday night (with a reservation) and it was PACKED.
As Musso & Franks proves, being a vintage restaurant can be done RIGHT. Maybe it was because their food has always been good, so it continued to stay good? Look, I know that sometimes you have to make some adjustments and update your menu to go with the times, but if you provide quality ingredients, quality recipes, and quality customer service, you will have a quality dining experience, vintage restaurant or not.
Like I always say –
“History can’t promise you a good meal, but a good meal will promise you a place in history.” – D. McKinney
I give Musso & Frank Grill FIVE out of FIVE butter pats for their excellent vintage dining experience.
Musso & Frank Grill – 6667 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028