Sunday, April 3, 2011

Restaurants in Tennessee and Hollywood, California

Last week I talked about our visits to the Loveless Café and Vingenzo’s Restaurants (see post here.) While we were near Nashville we also went to the historic town of Franklin, Tennessee. The first house in Franklin was built by an emigrant from Balgalkan, Ferintosh, Scotland. His descendants have lived there continuously since 1798. Franklin has a nice old-fashioned downtown.

Click on collage then click on individual photo to enlarge

It was a warm day, about 85 degrees F (almost 30C) but the town still had their winter signs at street corners.

We walked a bit in town. Some of the windows were decorated in honor of the upcoming royal wedding of Prince William of Wales and Catherine Middleton.

Then we ate lunch at the Battle Ground Brewery and Restaurant. It was established in the historic Franklin jailhouse built in 1909. It is an interesting place. I had a mug of their Soldiers Joy IPA - (India Pale Ale) and enjoyed it as IPA is my favorite type of beer.

The jailhouse is historic but not the restaurant which was established about 1 ½ years ago. Now miles from here, in California, is another restaurant where we ate in February, and that restaurant is historic. It is located at 6667 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles, California.

I don’t have to explain Hollywood.

Vintage Postcards

In June 2010 we were supposed to have lunch at this historic restaurant called Musso and Frank Grill but could not. I have a first cousin who lives in Cairo, Egypt, and he also has an apartment in Hollywood. I do not see him often as he is always traveling to see his son in Singapore or his other children in Egypt. I had read a 3-part review of Musso and Frank Grill in Naomi’s Here in the Hills’ Blog (see here Musso Part One is dated Sept. 4, 2009 and is at the bottom of the page.) I was much intrigued by the place after reading this great report by Naomi and asked my cousin to meet us there. Unfortunately it was a Monday and the restaurant is closed on that day. We ate at a Lebanese restaurant near by – my cousin was happy to make all the selections for us since his wife is an Armenian from Lebanon and he knows the cuisine well. I did take some pictures of the American Cinémathèque across from the restaurant.

This past February 2011 after our trip to Hawai’i we stayed several days with our daughter who lives in Long Beach. Fortunately my cousin was back in Hollywood and we, again, decided to meet at Musso and Frank Grill for lunch. I had asked him to bring some old photos from the family since I have so few from my father’s side (his mother was my father’s only sister.) He did bring several and I have to read all the good explanations he also provided. He brought two pictures of me from the first time I went to Cairo to visit my aunt and her family.

The pictures are not too clear, but my old-fashioned hair style can be seen, unfortunately. One picture he gave me is of my grand-mother’s sister (I think.) She lived in Istanbul and looks pretty with her long hair – her name was Seranouche or Siranush I am not sure (it is an Armenian name.) I had never seen her picture before or even knew of her.

So we had a booth at Musso and Frank Grill and it was perfect for a leisurely lunch where we all could talk and look at vintage family photographs. Please read Naomi’s account of this restaurant as she explains its history so well. The restaurant is located off Las Palmas and Cherokee, just east of Highland Avenue and has been there since 1919.

As you enter the restaurant you can feel the old world atmosphere – it is like a nostalgic walk back in time, to the old Hollywood. I would love to be, just for a moment, in this restaurant in the 20s, 30s or even 40s and observe the Hollywood Elite coming here. I understand that some of the regulars included Mary Pickford, Bette Davis, Orson Welles, Charlie Chaplin, Greta Garbo, Gary Cooper, Humphrey Bogart, Joan Crawford, Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ginger Rogers, Marilyn Monroe, Steve McQueen and nowadays stars such as Keith Richards, Mick Jagger, Madonna, Sean Penn, Johnny Depp and so many others.

Even though the restaurant is a breath from the past, it is still popular now. I read that in Season One, Episode 7 of the popular Mad Men TV Drama, the bar and old room of Musso’s is prominently featured. They use this restaurant also in Season 2, Episode 5, as a substitute for Sardi’s in New York. It is also featured in Greenberg, Ben Stiller’s movie. So the celebrities still patronize this nostalgic place. As we entered from the back we passed the counter lining the grill and sat in a cozy booth in the old room, under the oak-beamed high ceiling.

We were there early and the first patrons in this room, some other clients were sitting by the counter. It certainly was a different ambience from the Hollywood strip outside. The restaurant was opened in 1919 by Frank Toulet, an immigrant from France and originally called “Frank's François Café,” then, around 1923 he was joined by another immigrant, from Italy, Giuseppe Musso. The restaurant is still owned by descendants of the original owners.

The staff stays working at Musso and Frank for years as for them it is not just a restaurant but a family. One of the chefs, Jean Rue, a Frenchman, was employed there for 53 years, starting in 1922. He created the old fashioned menu of "comfort" food such as the flannel cakes for breakfast, chicken potpie (just like mom used to make – or even better), the bouillabaisse with a varieties of fish and chunks of lobster, clams and shrimp. There is a strong following for more of the old standards from another era: the braised short ribs, sand dabs and the corned beef and cabbage. All the dishes on their voluminous à la carte menu are very satisfying. The Martinis are said to be the best in town, but I had a glass of wine.

Martini photo (left) courtesy Paige Photography

I had the Welsh rarebit and that certainly was eminently pleasing to my palate. The first time I had this dish was in a restaurant in San Francisco in the 60s and since then it has been one of my favorites.

Our lunch was relaxed and our conversation was a long one but the staff never rushed us. Our waiter was unobtrusive but attentive. This was a moment in time to be enjoyed, savoured really. It is not a “hip” restaurant with chi-chi nouvelle cuisine, but a venerable institution with retro-glamour and understated old Hollywood patina – a piece of Hollywood history if you wish.

We left through the front door and we said goodbye to my cousin. I carried away a bag of old family photographs he let me borrow. I also carried away a bit of Hollywood’s past in my memory and hope that Musso and Frank Grill will also be part of its future.

Before going back to our car I took some pictures of the brass stars embedded in the sidewalk.

Then it was time to drive up into the Hollywood hills to visit Naomi, the Lady in the Hills – but that will be another post.


Friko said...

Now you are rubbing shoulders with the rich and famous, I see.

I love going to restaurants with atmosphere, sometimes more for the ambience than the food, although I adore good food too.

Ann said...

lovely post and photos!
Musso and goodness,a blast from my past!! i used to go to Hollywood several times a week(lived within 20 min) to have lunch with my twin sister on her lunchbreak..this was our favorite restaurant!!! So Old Hollywood and a most relaxing environment!! The happy memories this brings to me!

Frances said...

Vagabonde, it has been far too long since I last read your posts, and seeing your comment over at Friko's fabulous place, I quickly got myself over here for a catch up.

Clearly, you have been doing lots of traveling! Your way of describing the atmosphere of old and current Hollywood is so well done. I have never been to the west coast (and so am no vagabonde) and yet, you've let me catch a bit of a very special time and place.

Many thanks!

OldLady Of The Hills said...

You did Musso's proud...! It is exactly as you described, my dear...I so miss going there and you writing about it made me long to be there once again...Occasionally someone will kindly and generously bring me Musso's Chicken Pot Pie--The Thursday "special"....And it is SUPERB, as is their Creamed Spinich...Next to Sardi's, it is the best Creamed Spinich I've had, at least, it used to be. Interestingly, the young man that now runs anmd manages Musso's is a Grandson of the original owner's, (They own the building, too...)
He LOVES the place as much as anyone could, and has maintained that wonderful "comfort food" menu...! Everyone I know has or had their favorite dishes. Sand Dabs was one popular entree for my dear departed friend Hanna, and another good friend LOVES the Short Ribs...I hope you do come back to visit Hollywood, and me and Musso's. It was such a great treat to meet you and yout husband and daughter!

OldLady Of The Hills said...

I forgot to mention that after my dear friend Betty got her "star" on Hollywood Blvd. Musso's is where we all had lunch! PERFECT, isn't it?

DJan said...

How lovely, VB. Hollywood is a rare and unique place. I also love IPA beer. Good to visit you, as always.

✿France✿ said...

Bonjour oui je ne vois pas tes photos mais pas que chez toi. Merci pour ton passage j'espère que tu vas bien et que je vais pouvoir regarder aussi tes photos. Je suis dsl
ICI ce jour le temps est gris mais enfin c'est la vie.
Je vais donc repasser dans la journée

Ruth said...

A wonderful Vagabonde poste. :-)

I like your hair in the photo. You look like Gina Lolabrigida. Then the next photo with the hair! Nice juxtaposition.

I really like going to historic restaurants. If we ever get back to L.A., I'd like to go to the Mussa & Frank Grill. Our son may move there this year, so it could happen. The food sounds delicious! (By the way, there is a minor typo in "braised sort ribs.")

I imagine that my grandfather must have gone to the restaurant. He lived in Hollywood many years when he was an astrologer to the movie stars. We have photos of him with Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Harold Lloyd and a cowboy and his horse whose names I can't remember, though I've posted about them. I wish I could sit and chat with him.

marciamayo said...

Oh Vagabonde, what a life you lead. Thank you for sharing it with us in such a beautiful way.

PeterParis said...

As a young student, I walked around a lot in the area (not Franklin, but LA), but of course, even if I had then heard about the Musso & Frank, I would not have afforded to enter. Having a little bit more of pocket money today and after your post here, I wouldn't miss it!

John's Island said...

Hi Vagabonde, Thanks for taking us along on your journeys to Tennessee and Hollywood. Really enjoy your photography ... makes me feel like I'm there. (Not a common talent.) Your commentary makes it all the more perfect. Thanks for your comments on my blog. I was fascinated that we were almost on the same cruise. :-) Yes, it was great and we already thinking about another. How about you? And then yesterday, Yes, I'm in a part of Seattle known as First Hill and live in a highrise that does give me a good view of the city. Thanks again for your blog and for visiting mine. John

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

Hello Vagabonde!
Sorry for the deleted comment. My fingers are stiff with arthritis today and I did not like how my typing appeared...too many errors.

Franklin, TN, looked like a very beautiful and upscale small town. I'm sure I would enjoy browsing inside its stores.

Thank you for the information about Musso & Frank Grill. If I ever visit Hollywood I will try to have dinner there. An old fashioned menu full of high quality standards, and a fabulous martini, always sounds appealing

Kay Dennison said...

Love it all!!!!! And I'm positively green with envy that you get to meet Naomi! She is such a doll!!!!!

DianeCA said...

I envy you meeting Naomi too! I sure wish I could travel around the USA a bit more. Of course I get to see Europe, but not my homeland as much. the Welsh rarebit looks amazing!!!

Wanda..... said...

Enjoyed the post and tour of the lovely Musso & Frank Grill. You live a charming life!

Reader Wil said...

Hi Vagabonde! Sorry an English comment again, for I am in a hurry. This week I am going on a holiday and I am springcleaning. Thank you for sharing your experiences in Hollywood! I like your photo and the hairstyle. I had that same hairstyle in the sixties.
Have a nice week!

Pondside said...

Thanks for sharing some of your winter holiday with us. The thought of a martini, followed by Welsh Rarebit, is tempting. I think the Rarebit part of that will be on the menu here soon, as it's been a long time since I made it.
You're lucky to have sources of old family photos - your aunt was a beauty!

keri said...

Thanks for the great photos of things familiar and not so familiar. That photo of the Grandmother is incredible. Hooray for Hollywood and good old Musso & Franks.. interesting travels, thank you for sharing. Keri

Miss_Yves said...

Quelle extraordinaire photo que celle de Seranush, avec sa magnifique chevelure
Une des traductions de Google m'a fait rire"les gâteaux à la flanelle":je suppose qu'il s'agit de gâteaux de flan, ou tout simplement , de flan(s)
(La flanelle est un tissu)

Unknown said...

Looks like you're having a wonderful time in your travels.

Mlle Paradis said...

Hi Vagabonde - Thx for stopping by Passage Paradis and leaving a note. I think once upon a time Passage Paradis was a real place in Paris, off of the rue Oberkampf, (either that, or it was characterized as such by a realtor). Now it is identified by a panneau that says "Cite Figuiere". I posted about it last summer. You could find it under my Paris label. Nice to meet another Parisienne!

Merci de passer - reviens vite!

p.s. I've lived in L.A. for 3 yrs now and have never been to Musso and Frank. Now I'll really have to!

Diane said...

What an interesting post and amazing photos. It must have been wonderful to get family pictures that you have never seen before.

I am not surprised that you did not go back to the meal for “retirees” in Georgia, LOL what an experience. Diane

Vicki Lane said...

Wonderful post! I loved your old photos and reading about the restaurants. I probably won't get to Hollywood but Franklin, TN is a definite possibility!

Ruth said...

I hope all is well for you, Vagabonde, and no damage from the tornadoes. We watched the news last night and saw that some perished and properties were destroyed.

Take care.

Kay said...

This was so much fun to see! Your grandmother's sister was certainly a beauty. That is such an artistic photo.

I haven't been to Hollywood in decades. Now you've got me curious about seeing it again.

claude said...

Tu en as de la chance de voyager comme ça et de manger de de bons restaurants.
Lorsque on est aux USA à SLC, nous allons toujours vaire un tour à Park City car Main Street est typique et nous faison du shopping. Nous allons surtout boire une bière au No Name Saloon.
Intéieur très typique aussi et ambiance agréable. Rien que la façade du saloon nous parle du passé. A côté il a avait une mine d'argent que j'ai visitée ; mais je suis en train de me demander si je ne t'ai pas déjà dit cela.

claude said...

Ous ! J'ai oublier de te dire que je me suis mise à quatre pattes pour sentir mes muscaris. Il y a une faible odeur de parfum indéfinissable. Le principal que'elle ne sentent pas mauvais.
Bon ! j' vais dehors.

Jeruen said...

It's quite interesting to see that these historic establishments are still around and haven't been demolished to give way to newer stuff. That's nice. Although I have to say, compared to the ones in Europe or even in the East Coast, these historic establishments are quite new!

Anonymous said...

We didn't eat in any "cool" places when we were in L.A., mostly because I wanted to see the city rather than seat down :-) We had breakfast in Venice though and it was a great memory for me, food was pretty good (even though it was just a greasy spoon) and the location was great.

snowwhite said...


I'm awfully sorry for my misunderstanding about lump.

Thank you for introducing so many excellent places to eat and drink. Especially, I get interested in "Loveless Cafe" and secret recipe for the biscuits. The biscuits must be tasty as cooked with a lot of love.

Olga said...

I have taken such a pleasant virtual trip with you. Your personal photos were so interesting. Seeing the photo of your aunt, you can only say "Wow!"

Jenn Jilks said...

What a beautiful trip! Thanks you for sharing the events. I feel better already, looking outside at the hail...

Elaine said...

Lovely relaxing visit to Hollywood!

Vagabonde said...

Friko, Ann, DJan, Ruth, marciamayo, Peter, John’s Island, Pat@ Mille Fiori Favoriti, Kay Dennison, DianeCA, Wanda, Reader Wil, Pondside, Keri, Tim, Food Fun and Life in the Charente, Vicki Lane, Kay, Jeruen, Zhu, snowwhite, Olga, Jenn Jilks and Elaine - Thank you so much everyone for your always kind words and for taking the time to stop by.

Hi Frances – Welcome again to my blog. It is nice to see your name. I’ll check your blog very soon. Thanks for visiting.

Vagabonde said...

Lady of the Hills - Dear Lady – you are so kind. If it were not for you I would never have been to that historic restaurant. It is always a joy to read your kind comments.

France, Miss Yves, Claude, Merci bien mes jolies dames de venir me voir pendant quelques instants. J’aime toujours lire vos commentaires.

Melle Paradis - Thanks for coming over and welcome here. I hope you will come back anytime you can.

Ruth - I appreciate your concern Ruth. It is always scary to hear the noise made by a strong wind and looking at the pine trees moving dangerously. We were lucky this time but there was much tree and roof damage close by.

Margaret said...

I love your look in the photo- the pose and the skirt are great. It looks like your hair is swept up. Very nice.

Your great grandmother's sister is quite stunning - such exotic beauty it is to me! wow.

I love small quaint towns and I will have to add it to my list of possible quick 2-3 day mini vacations. And I adored the CA restaurant - what a lovely picture you paint with your words and photos.

Ginnie said...

Most fascinating, Vagabonde. I can just see you hobnobbing with the Hollywood crowd and giving them a real education. :D I love the thought of it.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...