26: Lobster Thermidor at Musso & Frank's.
It may as well be a civic requirement that any mention of Musso & Frank's's include the phrase “Hollywood institution” at least once. Opened in 1919, the clubby dining room is a bedrock of history and tradition in the part of town where style is as impermanent as studio backdrops. It's where Faulkner, Chandler, Chaplin, and countless other Tinseltown stars downed countless amounts of rye and gin; where the waiters dress eerily similar to those in Kubrick's The Shining; and where the menu items seem more like museum exhibits than foodstuffs (jellied consommé and avocado cocktails anyone?).
After your third martini or Manhattan, when your stomach starts to growl and a pile of sourdough bread spread with butter just won't cut it, you would be pleased to order a thick slab of pink prime rib, or a nicely seared porterhouse with a baked sour cream-dolloped baked potato.
If you really wanted to jump into a time machine, though, you would order the lobster thermidor, the throwback of throwbacks — a preparation so rare these days that it might well be the gastronomic equivalent of the California condor. It's a splurge — but imagine it's your retirement dinner, and the partners at Sterling Cooper just handed you that gold watch.
A fat lobster tail is drowned in an ultra-creamy sauce made from egg yolks, heavy cream, sherry, mushrooms and a dash of paprika — oh, and butter, lots of butter. It's a dish of unmatched gout-inducing pleasure, something that hasn't truly existed in its purest form since it went out of style with shag carpets and Cadillac Sixty Specials. This is a dish that belongs to a particularly gilded chapter of history, and at this Hollywood institution, history has rarely tasted so decadent.
Check out the rest of our 100 of our favorite dishes. Suggestion? Write us a comment.
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