|A sidecar at Musso's|
We saw "Argo" - which I highly recommend. Then we had a dinner date with a friend from out of town. He was staying in Hollywood, right at Hollywood and Vine, so what better recommendation for a Hollywood experience than Musso and Frank Grill? We called and made a 7:00 pm reservation.
The perils of LA traffic are predictable, yet sometimes even the best of us forget. We took Santa Monica Boulevard from the Westside to Hollywood, and at Wilshire we got snarled in the lane closures and congestion near the Beverly Hilton for the Golden Globes Awards. Luckily it was only the set-up day on Saturday and not the show!
From Santa Monica to La Cienega, we turned onto Fountain Avenue, which was, good as the diva's word, clear and unimpeded. We took it all the way to Highland Avenue, and pulled into the lot behind Musso's at 7:30 pm.
|The back parking lot at Musso and Frank Grill|
|Musso's Old Room|
It's the kind of place older people feel comfortable in, and younger people go to be ironic. I guess I've always put myself in the second group, but now, looking around, I realized I'm almost the same age as the grey, balding heads in the booths around me. Have we finally transcended our youthful embrace of "retro," and now we're just the old people who seek the comfort of old familiar places?
Never mind that! We ordered cocktails and enjoyed the fine crusty bread, served with soft butter. A gibson for [The Man I Love], a Rob Roy for our friend, and a sidecar for me. They were served with a wee ice-bucket alongside, holding a tiny carafe with an extra serving.
I ordred grilled calves' liver with onions - this is the only place where I have a craving for liver. [The Man I Love] ordered rib-eye steak, medium rare with asparagus and potatoes lyonnaise. Our friend ordered the flatiron steak.
And here's where the inevitable Musso and Frank quirks cemented the evening. This could only happen at Musso and Frank. Time slowed down. Over [The Man I Love]'s shoulder, I watched a couple finish their dessert, pay the check and depart. Then, I watched the table linens change, a new seating; cocktails served, then entrees served - while before us, our cocktails drained, our table remained empty. Somehow, our grey-haired waiter knew we were not in a hurry. Finally, he arrived, a tray on his shoulder. He deftly kicked open a folding stand, set the tray down, and with a flourish, served my liver and onions. Then [The Man I Love]'s steak. Then he placed before our friend something that looked like a pizza.
Our friend looked perplexed. "Is this the flatiron?" he asked.
"Yes," our waiter assured him, before confidently moving on. There were things that looked like nuts, slices of - were they mushrooms, pears? Was there some sliced steak on there or was it onion?
"Oh," I said, remembering the Daily Special menu. There had been something called "special artisan flatbread" on it. "I think that's the flatbread."
Then I remembered the last time we'd come here. On that occasion, our son had ordered sweetbreads, but had been served the Daily Special short ribs instead. Flatiron, flatbread. Sweetbreads, short ribs. Clearly there had been a misunderstanding - due perhaps to the general din of the dining room, but also the age of our waiter - and perhaps a hearing impairment.
[The Man I Love] cut his huge rib-eye steak in half. "Why don't you share this with me, I don't think I can eat the whole thing," he offered. As before, we went with the flow. Perhaps the elderly waiters at Musso's really do know best.
At the end of the meal, our waiter returned.We asked for a doggie bag for the flatbread and some leftover calves' liver. While we watched, transfixed, as he juggled the food, almost dropping it, our waiter favored us with a lengthy shaggy-dog story, a classic "little Johnny says to the teacher" dirty joke that left us perplexedly blinking. Only at Musso's.
|The New Room dining room|
So we sat on the substantial, leather-upholstered barstools and ordered a round of sidecars from barman Mario. We watched as he expertly concocted them, and then set them in front of us, with their own wee ice buckets and carafes.
|Mario at the bar|
The dining room was thinning out, now that the shows had started. Our doggie-bag was at our feet, and we sipped our cold and delicious sidecars. It was only a breath of quiet before the night-time crowd would arrive, and the place would heat up again.