by Norman Levine
Driving in Hollywood, an area we do our best to avoid, Peggy said shed like to have lamb chops. As a rule I dont carry them around with me. Not having charged my mobile phone and barely knowing how to use it anyway we did not go to Musso & Franks where great lamb chops are served according to their website which I found out when we got home.
Next time we find ourselves in that area I promise to drop into to Musso & Franks noted for their brusque waiters and lamb chops. Both are traditions going way back to when assorted movie stars and wannabes hung around waiting to be noticed by gossip columnists; also frequented by mobsters waiting not to be noticed except by Raymond Chandler. What was a lamb chop to a bad guy was bread and butter to Chandler.
I think I like surly waiters more than I like lamb chops. A friend once complemented a waiter for his speedy service and was told to put his money where his mouth is. Waiters like that can make a person feel like chopped liver but nobody can make you feel like a lamb chop.
I havent had lamb chops in so long I forgot why I dislike them. In fact maybe I got over that. I expect theres an unpleasant association buried deep in my psyche. Maybe an MRI would reveal a lamb chop lodged in my memory bank the same day my shoelace busted or I caught my pants in a bike chain. For some reason rack of lamb sounds more promising to me than lamb chops. After the Rams moved their football team to St. Louis some restaurants offered Lack of Ram to remind us. But I digress.
This may be one of the last restaurants that also serves Welsh rarebit and lobster thermidor. And if they dont transport you back to the Golden Age theres always their famous chicken pot pie, available only on Thursdays.
When I first heard the name, Musso & Franks, I thought they featured some sort of Greek dish and hot dogs. I wouldnt advise ordering a dish of Musso. You might find yourself on next weeks menu. If youre looking for Miso try Little Tokyo; or for matzo go to Fairfax. It turns out that Joseph Musso partnered with Frank Toulet 97 years ago to open the restaurant. In those days movies were as silent as the b in lamb. In 1927 it was sold to John Mosso. You cant make this stuff up. It was just a case of moving their vowels.
The place was a hangout not only for Chaplin, Garbo and Bogey etc but for an A-list of mid-century American writers including Faulkner, Hemingway, Hammett, Fitzgerald and Saroyan. Ill bet they all tried the lamb chops. It worked for them. After a 3-martini lunch one could stagger down the block into the wet cement of Grauman's Chinese theater.