Food has become an obsession in America. Cooking channels. Foodie blogs. We buy five kinds of sea salt and frequent farm-to-table cookeries. But it wasn’t always so.
In 1963 when this newspaper began to chronicle our neighborhood, the food scene was quite different. We were a meat-and-potatoes nation. Pot roast suppers, Swanson’s TV dinners eaten while watching “The Ed Sullivan Show.” Most families rarely ate out.
In 1963 it was a treat to visit Canter’s Deli for a 90- cent corned beef on rye or El Coyote for a 75-cent beef enchilada. For superb sirloin everyone headed to Taylor’s Steak House. Other legendary restaurants buzzed with Hollywood glitterati and well-heeled patrons.
Perino’s was hopping from day one. Mobster Bugsy Siegel and the entertainment elite flocked to the elegant site. Bette Davis had a dedicated booth. Frank Sinatra sang in the bar. Designed by architect Paul Williams, the pink-and-peach restaurant featured continental cuisine: frog’s legs, medallions of beef, shrimp salad. It’s said Cary Grant favored Steak Diane. Larchmont residents celebrated birthdays and anniversaries there.
Paul Williams also designed Frank Capra’s haunt, Chasen’s. Alfred Hitchcock, Ronald Reagan and Greta Garbo appreciated Chasen’s code of client privacy. The comfortable décor complemented the simple fare of steak, chicken pot pie, chilled seafood, and their wildly popular chili. In 1962 Elizabeth Taylor had 10 quarts flown to her “Cleopatra” set in Rome.
An iconic L.A. restaurant was the bowler-shaped Brown Derby on Wilshire Blvd. Studio executives, actors and locals devoured its two culinary inventions: cobb salad and grapefruit cake. Closed in the 1980s, one opened at the Disney-MGM Studio theme park in Florida.
Musso & Frank Grill offers the authentic flavor of 1960s dining. Founded in 1919, it’s the oldest and one of the most storied of Hollywood’s restaurants. The décor is original, so it’s easy to step back in time. Imagine yourself arriving in evening dress, handing the valet keys to your new $4,200 Chevy Corvette Sting Ray. Winner of “Most Powerful maître d’ in Hollywood,” Jesse Chavez greets you by name (he has worked there for 65 years). Red-jacketed waiters whisk by.
The Rat Pack, Groucho Marx and Steve McQueen hung out here. Charlie Chaplin had a reserved booth. F. Scott Fitzgerald proofread his novels here. The Rolling Stones dropped by. Luminaries such as Marilyn Monroe and Kurt Vonnegut took refuge in a guarded back room.
The menu offers a taste of history. Chicken pot pie for $10 and $18 filet mignon were popular in 1963 and are still popular now at roughly twice the price.
By Helene Seifer, Restaurant editor
- 1/2 lb dried pinto bean
- 1 (28 ounce) cans diced tomatoes, with juice
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 1 large green bell pepper, chopped
- 3 cups onions, coarsley chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1/2 cup parsley, chopped
- 1/2 cup butter ( 1 stick)
- 2 lbs center cut beef chuck, trimmed of fat, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
- 1 lb pork shoulder, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
- 1/3 cup gebhardt chili powder
- 1 tablespoon salt
- black pepper, to taste
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
- Cook dry beans according to package directions.
- Stir the tomatoes with juice into the cooked beans, and simmer 5 minutes over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally.
- Heat the oil in a large skillet and saute the bell pepper for 5 minutes.
- Add the onion, reduce the heat to low, and cook about 15 minutes until tender, stirring frequently.
- Stir in the garlic and parsley; add this mixture to the beans.
- Using the same skillet, melt the butter and saute the beef and pork, in two batches, if necessary, until browned. Drain.
- Add meat to the bean mixture along with the chili powder, salt, pepper to taste and cumin.
- Simmer mixture, covered, for about an hour.
- Uncover and cook to the desired consistency, about 5 minutes.
- The chili should not be too thick.
- Skim off excess fat and serve.
Brown Derby Cobb Salad
1 head iceberg lettuce
1 bunch watercress
1 head frisée
1 head romaine lettuce
2 pints cherry tomatoes, quartered vertically
2 whole poached or roasted chicken breasts, skinned and cut into ½-inch cubes
12 strips best-quality smoky bacon, cooked until crisp, blotted on paper towels, and crumbled
6 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
1 cup Roquefort or other crumbly blue cheese, coarsely grated
2 avocados, cut into ½-inch cubes (at the last minute so they don’t discolor)
¼ cup finely minced chives
1 cup Brown Derby Old-Fashioned French Dressing (see recipe below)
The Brown Derby’s Old-Fashioned French Dressing makes approximately 2 cups
½ cup red-wine vinegar
¼ teaspoon sugar
Juice of ½ lemon, freshly squeezed
1½ teaspoons sea salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
½ teaspoon English or Dijon mustard
1 small clove garlic, finely minced
1 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1. Finely chop iceberg lettuce, watercress, frisée and romaine lettuce. Place in a large salad bowl.
2. Arrange cherry tomatoes, chicken, bacon, eggs, cheese and freshly diced avocados in mounds, attractively spaced, on top of the greens. You may want to divide each ingredient into two smaller mounds, but the final result should be visually pleasing.
3. Sprinkle chives over entire platter.
4. When ready to eat, present salad at the table, and toss with enough dressing to moisten and flavor. Season with Salt and Pepper, if needed.
1. Shake all ingredients except oil together in a large jar. Wait at least 15 minutes for sugar and salt to dissolve.
2. Add oil and shake again. Set aside for at least an hour before using to allow the flavors to marry. Extra dressing can be stored in the refrigerator for at least two weeks.
Brown Derby Grapefruit Cake
1-1/2 cups sifted cake flour
3/4 cup sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs, separated
3 tablespoons grapefruit juice
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into mixing bowl.
Make a well in the center of dry ingredients. Add water, oil, egg yolks,
grapefruit juice and lemon rind. Beat until smooth.
Beat egg white and cream of tartar separately until whites are stiff but not
dry. Gradually, pour egg yolk mixture over whites, folding gently with a
rubber spatula until just blended. Do not stir mixture.
Pour into ungreased pan (Note-they do not say what size).
Bake in 350-degree over for 25 to 30 minutes or until cake springs back when
lightly touched with finger.
Invert pan on cake rack until cool. Run spatula round edge of cake.Carefully
remove from pan. With a serrated knife, gently cut layer in half.
Grapefruit Cream Cheese Frosting
2 packages (3-ounce packages) cream cheese 2 teaspoons lemon juice 1
teaspoon grated lemon rind 3/4 cup powderd sugar, sifted 3 drops yellow food
coloring 1 (1 pound) can grapefruit sections, well drained.
Let cream cheese soften at room temperature, then beat until fluffy. Add
lemon juice and rind. Gradually blend in sugar. Beat until well blended,
then add coloring. Crush several grapefruit sections to measure 2 teaspoons.
Blend into frosting.
Spreading frosting on bottom half of cake. Top with several grapefruit
sections. Cover with second layer. Frost top and sides. Then garnish with
remaining grapefruit sections.
This grapefruit cake is Hollywood Brown Derby original. It is light,
genoise-style cake and is layered with flavored cream cheese and fresh
grapefruit segments, making it delicious.