In 1936, Musso & Frank, the oldest restaurant in Hollywood, responded to its growing popularity by expanding with an exclusive “Back Room” tucked behind the Vogue Theater. Angelenos desiring to converse with literary titans such as Faulkner, Fitzgerald, Hammett, Chandler and West could try to worm their way past an imposing doorman and into what was known informally as the Algonquin West. Nearly 20 years later, Musso's expanded to the east, reinstalling the famous, brass-accented bar in the “New Room,” which shed the exclusivity of its predecessor. The writers kept coming, and they continue to do so, as much for the famous flannel cakes and dirty martinis as for the history. LAVA (Los Angeles Visionaries Association) honors this literary tradition with its inaugural, quarterly LAVA Salon at Musso & Frank featuring Dan Fante. The son of writer John Fante will read from his new memoir, Fante: A Family's Legacy of Writing, Drinking and Surviving, and Howard Prouty will introduce the culture of the formerly adjacent Stanley Rose bookshop. Yes, there's a hefty price tag ($100 per person includes a specially prepared three-course prix-fixe dinner, presentations and dessert), but understand this series was years in the making. Future Musso salons will focus on similarly oft-broke former patrons, including Charles Bukowski and Raymond Chandler. Musso & Frank Grill, 6667 Hollywood Blvd., Hlywd.; Mon., Jan. 23, 6 p.m.; $100 per person. (323) 223-2767,

Mon., Jan. 23, 6 p.m., 2012

LA Weekly