Roger L. Simon

Good-bye to all that

Why does it take so long to give up on a favorite restaurant? I know Musso & Frank, Hollywood’s oldest restaurant (1919), the stuff of legends where Fitzgerald, Chandler and Nathaniel West supposedly played poker in a back room I have never seen and strongly suspect never existed, where I have been eating for well over thirty years, is the ghost of its former self. Yet still I go.

Last night even their vaunted martinis were bad-or at least wrong. Sheryl and I had ordered two Ketel One ‘martis’, up, with olives and only one came out with the Shirley Temple we ordered for Madeleine. I sent the waiter back for mine and he returned fifteen minutes later with a gin martini. (Yes, I know, some say I should be ordering gin in the first place, but let’s not get into that. Allow me my yuppie eccentricities.) Of course, I downed it anyway, but even the pony of extra martini they provide with your glass couldn’t overcome my displeasure with my grilled pork chops, another supposed favorite, which were tougher than the proverbial shoe leather, in fact virtually inedible. Madeleine didn’t like the sand dabs or the spinach and couldn’t figure out why her mother and I loved this place so much. At six and a half, Fitzgerald and Chandler don’t mean much to her.

As we drove away, I knew a tradition was ending and we wouldn’t be back soon. But I wasn’t sad really. So many ideas have changed for me lately, so many traditions, I almost expected it.