You can’t eat ambiance, but it certainly can add to a dining experience. At Musso and Frank Grill the ambiance is everywhere.
Over there is the table where Charlie Chaplin always ate. That yellow color on the mural high up on the back wall of the big room is from Humphrey Bogart’s cigarette smoke. The well-seasoned flame grill behind the counter has turned out hundreds of thousands of rib eyes, porterhouses and fillet mignons. Those three bartenders, they have combined for more than 100 years of service behind the classic cherry wood bar. And step out the front door and you will be standing in the heart of fabled Hollywood Boulevard.
Musso and Frank Grill is the oldest restaurant in Hollywood and the third oldest in the City of Los Angeles, having opened in 1919. There isn’t a name or a legend from the history and lore of Hollywood that hasn’t passed through Musso and Frank.
As for the food, the menu is appropriately steeped in the history of the restaurant. Most items trace back to the days before low fat or cholesterol became part of anyone’s awareness. The marinated herring with onions appetizer can’t be found on modern deli menus. But you can get it a Musso and Frank. The appetizer list starts with cocktail franks and includes shrimp cocktails and crab cocktails. There is an array of salads that shun modern day fancy in favor of 1950s solid.
When it comes to main courses, grab a steak. Or go for my favorite liver and onions. The lamb is from Colorado, where they are producing the best in the nation if not the world. Saturday night is short ribs night. I have friends who drive down from Ventura and spend the night in Hollywood just so they can dine on the short ribs.
Want a Perfect Manhattan? You don’t need to teach these bartenders how to make one. And the martinis are classics – a full glass and a side bottle for the overage.
History embraces you as soon as you walk into Musso and Frank. It’s a place where writers have gathered for decades, where news reporters and movie stars have mingled. It’s a place in which the famous can dine and not be bothered for autographs or gawked at by other diners. Regulars have dined here for 40 or 50 years, or longer. Now, their children and grandchildren carry the torch.
Musso and Frank is the last remaining icon of Hollywood’s restaurant hey day, standing proudly at the intersection of history and tomorrow, the junction of ambiance and fine food.