Hollywood's longest living star, Musso & Frank Grill, celebrates the big 100.
Whenever I arrive at Musso & Frank, I avoid the Hollywood Boulevard hoi polloi and enter through the back door, just as Hollywood’s golden-era stars did back in the day. Tinseltown’s first public phone booth is still there, as are the paneled walls and the red leather booths that have cosseted every silver-screen immortal from Charlie Chaplin, Clark Gable and Joan Crawford to Frank Sinatra, Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe. Even after a century and despite the inevitable fickleness of changing fashions, the joint is still jumping! Johnny Depp and Leonardo DiCaprio drop in on occasion, and M & F is currently co-starring in director Quentin Tarantino’s celeb-packed Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Of course it is.
Musso & Frank is an anomaly in fast-forward, the future-is-already-yesterday LA. Long after classic-era stomping grounds like Mocambo and Perino’s were knocked down (or, in the case of legendary watering hole Chasen’s, converted to a Bristol Farms grocery store!), M & F is still packing them in with old-school career waiters (there’s no “Hi, I’m Steve and I’ll be your server tonight”), perfect martinis (stirred, not shaken; Bond got it wrong) and the same iconic entrees that graced its very first menu in 1919: fettuccini alfredo (Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks brought the recipe back from Italy), homemade chicken potpie and braised short ribs, among other faves. (Incredibly, there have been only three head chefs at the fourth-generation, family-owned resto over the past 100 years.) Unlike fellow surviving haute spots such as the Polo Lounge at The Beverly Hills Hotel, there’s no catering to current fads here: no precious mixology, no sushi, no small plates. You either get it or you don’t. And if you don’t, be a love and quietly exit from the front door, please, out of respect for us stars who do.