Hollywood History - Musso & Frank Turns 100!

Sep 9th, 2019, 08:59 AM
  #1  
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Hollywood History - Musso & Frank Turns 100!

It was time to go old school in Hollywood! On a hot August night (no, Neil Diamond was not with us) we ventured to one of Hollywood’s most iconic spots, Musso & Frank Grill, a restaurant that will celebrate its 100th birthday in a few weeks. If you were a movie star in Hollywood’s “Golden Age,” this was the spot to be. On any certain night through the decades you might have sat in a booth near Charlie Chaplin, Frank Sinatra or Marilyn Monroe. And if you hang out at Musso & Frank, odds are you will down one of their signature martinis. There might be better food options in the Los Angeles area, but if you come to L.A., you’re missing out on a very cool experience and Hollywood history if you don’t make Musso & Frank one of your options. Even if you don’t dine here, you might just stop in and plop down at their beautiful mahogany bar for an after-dinner martini or Manhattan. Make mine a double! There aren’t many restaurants around these days that I can say I visited as a kid, but the famed Musso & Frank Grill in Hollywood, which turned 100 this year (I sense a theme lately), is one of them. I’ve been coming here since the early 1960s, and for nostalgia’s sake we had to make a return appearance to celebrate its Centennial Anniversary, which will be observed on September 27.

It had been nine years since our last outing (via the Gold/Red Line metro) and not much had changed (except for the people on the far end in this picture).

Of course, I don’t think much has changed for the last 100 years. On this evening the restaurant was jammed with tourists and locals alike (no Hollywood stars that I could see) soaking in the old-time atmosphere. I was hoping for a Mel Brooks sighting, but it was not to be.

On that last outing in 2010, the food was good, but not overly exceptional (I remember the the Prime Rib Sandwich and Grenadine of Beef with Béarnaise Sauce as being our favorites that night), however Musso & Frank seemingly has upped its game even more since then, and we had quite a satisfying meal recently. But you don’t just come to Musso & Frank for the food … you come for the history!

For those who have not experienced Musso & Frank, and the reason why it is a Hollywood tradition and institution, here is a little background. Self-proclaimed the “Oldest Restaurant in Hollywood, Since 1919,” amazingly, there have only been three executive chefs in that entire time.

From The Hollywood Reporter, “Restaurateur Joseph Musso and Frank Toulet opened Musso & Frank Grill in 1919 and hired French chef Jean Rue in 1922. The restaurant moved one door down Hollywood Boulevard in 1934 and expanded with a second dining room in 1955. It changed hands in 1927 when Musso and Toulet sold the restaurant to Joseph Carissimi and John Mosso.” Rue served as executive chef for 53 years!

It’s fun to down martinis in a place once frequented by stars and literary masters such as Frank Sinatra, Charlie Chaplin, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Clark Gable, Alfred Hitchcock, Rita Hayworth, Raymond Chandler, Orson Welles, Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, Lauren Bacall and a host of others from the Golden Age of Hollywood. The website states that Rudolph Valentino liked to come to Musso & Frank and chat with the waiters in his native Italian.

The restaurant has been featured in a number of movies, including the recent Quentin Tarantino (another M&F regular) film Once Upon A Time In Hollywood.

https://travelswithmaitaitom.com/mus...-hollywood-ca/



There aren’t many restaurants around these days that I can say I visited as a kid, but the famed Musso & Frank Grill in Hollywood, which turned 100 this year (I sense a theme lately), is one of them. I’ve been coming here since the early 1960s, and for nostalgia’s sake we had to make a return appearance to celebrate its Centennial Anniversary, which will be observed on September 27.

It had been nine years since our last outing (via the Gold/Red Line metro) and not much had changed (except for the people on the far end in this picture).

Of course, I don’t think much has changed for the last 100 years. On this evening the restaurant was jammed with tourists and locals alike (no Hollywood stars that I could see) soaking in the old-time atmosphere. I was hoping for a Mel Brooks sighting, but it was not to be.

On that last outing in 2010, the food was good, but not overly exceptional (I remember the the Prime Rib Sandwich and Grenadine of Beef with Béarnaise Sauce as being our favorites that night), however Musso & Frank seemingly has upped its game even more since then, and we had quite a satisfying meal recently. But you don’t just come to Musso & Frank for the food … you come for the history!

For those who have not experienced Musso & Frank, and the reason why it is a Hollywood tradition and institution, here is a little background. Self-proclaimed the “Oldest Restaurant in Hollywood, Since 1919,” amazingly, there have only been three executive chefs in that entire time.

From The Hollywood Reporter, “Restaurateur Joseph Musso and Frank Toulet opened Musso & Frank Grill in 1919 and hired French chef Jean Rue in 1922. The restaurant moved one door down Hollywood Boulevard in 1934 and expanded with a second dining room in 1955. It changed hands in 1927 when Musso and Toulet sold the restaurant to Joseph Carissimi and John Mosso.” Rue served as executive chef for 53 years!

It’s fun to down martinis in a place once frequented by stars and literary masters such as Frank Sinatra, Charlie Chaplin, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Clark Gable, Alfred Hitchcock, Rita Hayworth, Raymond Chandler, Orson Welles, Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, Lauren Bacall and a host of others from the Golden Age of Hollywood. The website states that Rudolph Valentino liked to come to Musso & Frank and chat with the waiters in his native Italian. The restaurant has been featured in a number of movies, including the recent Quentin Tarantino (another M&F regular) film Once Upon A Time In Hollywood.

The menu is vast with many classic, “old-school” items. Where else are you going to see Grilled Lamb Kidneys with Bacon (Charlie Chaplin's favorite!) ($21), Chicken A La King ($26), Jellied Consommé ($5), Welsh Rarebit ($17) or Spumoni on a menu?

After ordering up some of the Musso & Frank famed gin martinis ($17), we settled in to peruse the menu. When we visited the last time our friend Andy asked for some extra olives … he got them.

The Musso & Frank martini was named one of the 20 best cocktails in America by GQ. In a recent Los Angeles Times article, it stated that “Musso & Frank served 55,272 martinis in 2018.” Not being an olive guy, I ordered mine with a twist. The gin … Hendricks.

As we walked in we passed a menu from 1919. No wonder the Thin Man drank so many martinis back in the day.

Speaking of old-school, after reading the story about the origins of the “Original Fettuccini Alfredo,” we decided to share one as an appetizer ($24). The waiter suggested we share two for the table otherwise the portion would be miniscule. Hey, no one can turn down extra pasta.

From Musso’s website: “Silent film stars Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford were frequent guests at Musso’s. While on their honeymoon in Rome, they dined at Alfredo’s restaurant and after tasting the Fettucine Alfredo, they begged Alfredo for the recipe. He declined them. The next night the newlyweds again dined at Alfredo’s and presented a golden fork and spoon to Alfredo. This time they got the recipe and brought it back to Hollywood. They asked Musso’s chef, Jean Rue, to make the dish. He often prepared it specially for the famous couple, but the dish was never added to the menu. We now proudly serve the ORIGINAL Fettucine Alfredo as prepared for Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford.”

In a Discover Los Angeles article, Musso & Frank COO, CFO and proprietor Mark Echeverria, told a tale about the restaurant and its star. “Back in the early days of Musso & Frank,” the article states, “Charlie Chaplin would come here with his colleagues. To get to the restaurant, they would race down Hollywood Boulevard by horse and the loser would pick up the tab for lunch. As they ate, they kept an eye on the horses from the only booth with a window view. ‘It's still known as the Charlie Chaplin booth, Echeverria said, ‘and it's still, by far, the most-requested booth that we have.”



maitaitom is online now  
Sep 9th, 2019, 09:11 AM
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Definitely a step back into the classy, golden era of Hollywood!
MoBro is online now  
Sep 9th, 2019, 10:25 AM
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I was taken to Musso & Frank's by a friend when I first arrived in LA from No. CA in the mid-80s. A movie fanatic & someone who loved LA, originally from Chicago, he considered it one of the places you had to experience if you really wanted to get to know the city, past & present. I never felt the need to return but I'm glad I was there once. Happy Birthday M&F.
MmePerdu is online now  
Sep 9th, 2019, 10:26 AM
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Musso and Frank still turns up on TV shows. The Amazon detective series Bosch has a number of iconic LA restaurants and bars featured including Musso and Frank, Philippe's, Du-Pars, the Formosa Cafe, etc. Along with its many locations and Harry Bosch's amazing house in the hills, it's one of the main reasons I watch the show.

https://www.yelp.com/collection/twayI9e-Pa6nwuQhLWTYOQ
Gardyloo is online now  
Sep 9th, 2019, 01:59 PM
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I assume, Tom, you got the sidecar with that martini!

We periodically go there in summer when headed to the Bowl.

There used to be a hidden back room for drinking, frequented by Raymond Chandler and F. Scott Fitzgerald. Around 2011, that space (no longer part of Musso & Franks) became another fashionable speakeasy, called "The Writer's Room". Super cool, with entrance through the alley in back. It closed down a few years back.
Surfergirl is offline  
Sep 9th, 2019, 02:37 PM
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Put me down for the filet mignon and salad.
curiousgeo is online now  
Sep 9th, 2019, 03:02 PM
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Originally Posted by maitaitom View Post

As we walked in we passed a menu from 1919. No wonder the Thin Man drank so many martinis back in the day.
Note the diminutive "Nick & Nora" glass that William Powell was drinking from. He drank so many not because they were cheap, but because they were tiny.

Great report!
jahoulih is online now  
Sep 10th, 2019, 11:40 AM
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jahoulih - My favorite Nick and Nora martini scene. Yes, I can see having six at that size

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