Musso & Frank Grill, although it is perhaps most famous for serving steaks and impeccable martinis to character actors, is a rare conservatory of early-20th-century American cooking, and if the EPA cared as much about threatened dishes as it does about endangered species, it would protect the kitchen with the same vigor it protects wetlands. Once the finnan haddie, kidneys turbigo, avocado cocktail and diplomat pudding leave the menu here, they probably are gone for good.
Not least among these endangered dishes is the jellied consommé, a few ounces of clear broth transformed into a trembly, delicate substance, served in a custom-purposed silver-plate contraption that suspends the aspic above a goblet of crushed ice. The dish, a standard of the country-club set through the 1950s, is an unusually refreshing light lunch, exquisite with a frosted tumbler of lemony iced tea. Before the freeways, before the talkies, before even Prohibition, this is how genteel Los Angeles refreshed itself on hot summer afternoons.
Musso & Frank Grill: 6667 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood; (323) 467-7788.
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Look for more "Best of L.A." pieces in our annual Best of L.A. issue, out today, Oct. 7th.