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A hip (??) gastropub in Los Feliz.
Really? So this used to be the Brown Derby?
Okay, this is a bit of a technical point since there were many Brown Derbies in Los Angeles. The spot Messhall occupies was the Los Feliz Brown Derby. According to Messhall’s own website:
MessHall stands in the storied walls of what was once Willard’s Chicken Inn, and later The Brown Derby. During the “Golden Age of Hollywood”, legendary film director Cecil B. DeMille opened Willard’s Chicken Inn, a country-colonial chicken restaurant that quickly became the place to be for Hollywood’s elite. The building’s unique dome-shaped roof allowed for a water pumping system that made it one of the first air conditioned restaurants. The structure was designed by influential architect Wayne McAllister, credited with creating some of the most popular mid-century drive-ins and car hops. After Willard’s closed in 1940, the Los Feliz Brown Derby Restaurant opened on the site as a 24-hour Drive-in Car Cafe, and remained popular till the ‘60s. MessHall now moves into one of architect McAllister’s only original designs still standing.
Here’s what the space looked like back in its heyday (image courtesy of Wikipedia):
So what of Messhall today? Well, given that not too long ago it was a Louise’s Trattoria, I gotta say that whoever runs Messhall is making far, far better use of the space.
One of things I read about Messhall is that it’s a Hip Gastropub. Maybe it’s the fact that I went on a Saturday afternoon, but it felt more like a neighborhood joint to me. It looked like the people from around Los Feliz and Vermont, out for a Saturday Morning stroll, found their feet a-shufflin’ toward Messhall.
Granted, some of those neighborhood people were probably hipsters.
You walk in and the atmosphere is pretty much in line with the trends of the day. Big woodblock tables. A lovely bar, serving the full menu at the heart of the place. And…an Oyster Bar?
Whoa whoa. They are apparently serious about their Oysters. They gave me an “Oyster Menu” with four specific kinds of Oysters they served, along with the waters these little buggers could be found.
It’s too bad I have a massive seafood allergy, because I probably really would have enjoyed these.
WHAT SHOULD I GET?: Coming in to Messhall on a Saturday Afternoon for a bite and a well-mixed Adult beverage is not the worst idea in the world. So I started off with their version of the French 75, which was on the menu when I was there, but not on the online menu. It comes with your choice of gin or cognac, with lemon, sugar, bubbly, and bit of lemon zest. Great choice for a hot day, or…well…any day. The Boss’s Wife is a damn good backup.
Following that, I had me their spectacular Butcher Steak & Egg that came with hash browns, harrisa butter, and (in my case), a nice fried egg, sunny-side up.
Funny, I can’t…find it…on the menu…
The Butcher Steak & Eggs was fantastic. Whoever is running that kitchen, covering that steak with a stock infused with cayenne pepper. (At least I think it was cayenne. It certainly had the kick of cayenne). It was nice spicy steak and eggs, and I’m still thinking about it a week later.
Oh, I get it. When I was there…it turns out I wasn’t having lunch, I was having Weekend Brunch. All of the sudden, my weekend dining options are all there for you to see.
IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP, PEOPLE: Given my travails with the Brunch/Lunch Menu, just make sure what time you’re there. Weekend Brunches are on Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 3pm.
PARKING: Easy as pie. They have their own lot, but it is 100% Valet powered. Be prepared to pay around $5 bucks, including tip.
4500 Los Feliz Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90027
Saturday & Sunday 10am-3pm
Fridays 11:30am – 3pm
Mon-Wed: 5pm – 12am
Thur-Sat: 5pm – 1am
Sun: 4pm – 12am