Q: With the world ending and everything, I am in sore need of comfort food. Does anybody still make old-fashioned rice pudding?
—Janice Hollis Pacific Palisades
A: Leaving aside the variations glazed with passion fruit or crusted with a caramelized glaze, the rice pudding at Musso & Frank is probably a substance Fanny Farmer herself might recognize — a smooth, cool, bland goo comforting enough to rock a baby to sleep. But it is within the decidedly non-soothing confines of the Grill on the Alley, where show-business moguls still pack into the booths in the front dining room as thickly as commuters on a rush-hour MTA bus, that this town’s essential rice pudding is served: touched with cinnamon, drizzled with heavy cream and, what is more important, coaxing the nutty, rounded essence out of every grain of rice. If Musso’s rice pudding is a lullaby, the Grill’s is a lullaby as sung by Renee Fleming. The Grill on the Alley, 9560 Dayton Way, Beverly Hills, (310) 276-0615.
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