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Thursday
Apr192012

#23 Musso & Frank Grill - Hollywood

Rating: 2.5 cows

 

When one thinks of old Hollywood, Musso & Frank captures the time period perfectly.  But has its own reputation preceded it?  We've generally heard good things about this restaurant and were excited to go, but we're seasoned diners and we know when something isn't as good as it should be. 

The atmosphere at Musso and Frank's evoked the classic Hollywood you see in the movies. The restaurant opened in 1919 and they proudly wear that history on their sleeves, all the way down to the bartenders who are there to make what you ask, and to not waste much time in doing so. Their demeanor leaves something to be desired, but it's all part of the charm, remember? Musso and Frank's is known for their martini, but the purported "best martini in Los Angeles" is also probably the most inelegantly-made drink you're likely to find. The lack of artistry is apparently the trademark.

The table service we received was passive, nonexistent, and just lacking in every which way. The food took a long time to arrive. It took half an hour to hail someone down to get the dessert menu. It took about that long again to get the check.  Did we mention that we were a party of twelve?  Is it possible for the wait staff to avoid us entirely? We are no strangers to the service difficulties inherent in serving large parties, but details like that are what separate the good from the great. And while our expectations for Musso & Frank's were not on par with Wolfgang Puck's Cut or with Mastro's, their failings in this area cemented their place in the lower half of the places we've tried. Bottom line: there is no excuse for the wait staff to not pay us attention even if they cannot control the speed at which the food arrives. Service is more than speed. 

But really, who cares about sub-par service if the food is amazing?  Too bad it wasn't.  Steaks were ordered all around from Porterhouse to Filet to Strips. The cooking varied, and most steaks were a bit overdone, with one of them leaning on the medium-well fence which is awfully close to steak treason. This was unfortunate, but as a large party it was impractical for time and other reasons for us to return our food. The quality of the meat was good however, so the steaks were still tasty, though not as tasty as they should have been, sadly. The side dishes were unremarkable, but certainly not bad. A side order of fries actually came undercooked. Undercooked. 

Needless to say our experience at Musso & Frank's left much to be desired. But you get the feeling that the entire lack of apology in the experience is part of the vibe. They do their thing and you're free to accept or reject it. There's no question this restaurant has staying power, but we have to wonder how much they are riding on the coattails of their previous success. You either like it or you don't, and nobody will try to convince you otherwise.

Musso & Frank Photos

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