Los Feliz: MessHall Now Open
I remember when MessHall was the Brown Derby. Then it became a Louise’s Trattoria. But before all that, it was Willard’s Chicken Inn. The current incarnation has opened up the place and the look and feel reminds one of camping, trees and perhaps being all-American. I expected freshly scrubbed, pink-cheeked staff and indeed got a lot of cheerful service.
The cocktail list was put together by bar manager Erik Lund, most recently from Rivera (Cana Rum Bar misses him as well). Knowing this history, I decided to start with a Brown Derby (Buffalo Trace bourbon, grapefruit, honey). I recommended a Jack Rose (Laird’s bonded applejack, lime, housemade grenadine) to my normally wine-loving friend. The list is made up of these classics with original cocktails from Erik with one even named after himself. Quite cheeky.
We got a couple of appetizers to start. My friend chose the calamari. It wasn’t greasy and we made liberal use of the sauce.
I wanted the fried oysters. Although small, they were plump and also well-fried. Again, we made a mess of the sauces and were quite liberal in our use.
My friend really liked her Jack Rose though I found my Brown Derby a bit sweet.
For her meal, she had the beet salad (I know, I’m the bon vivant, not her). I call that salad a salad…not a meal. It was beautifully plated and as expected, she polished it.
I had debated getting Willard’s brick chicken but I’m much more a steak or pork person. After listening to the description of the butcher’s steak which was a hanger steak that comes pre-sliced, I opted for the hog chop. You can’t tell really from the photo but it’s a massive chop. It was juicy and I really liked the white cheddar grits and mustard greens as well.
I did later see the chicken as I was sitting around the fireplace communal tables outside. It looked like a good portion while the woman’s date’s house filet was on the smaller side. I saw him steal a lot of bites of chicken.
Oh, a note on the fireplace. It was very pretty but it was a muggy night and I was glad they were able to turn it off while we dined.
My beet-salad-as-dinner friend wanted dessert (small wonder, not enough calories consumed!). I would have leaned chocolate but she decided on the banana cream pie. Actually, I ordered a drink as my dessert.
The Hallucinogenic Whimsies of a Banana Man (Campo de Encanto pisco, absinthe, banana, lime, orgeat, Peychaud’s bitters) didn’t have as much banana as absinthe flavor. I thought even pairing it with the banana cream pie would bring out the banana more. I’ll have to ask if the banana is muddled the next time I’m at the bar.
On my way out, I saw some friends at the bar. I got to taste the The Downtime (Between Euphoria and Bitter Disappointment) which was declared by all to be the best drink on the menu. If you like Scotch, this is the drink for you. Also with Cynar, Benedictine and Regan’s orange bitters, this is made in a classic brown, bitter, stirred style.
I still want to try the Destroy All Erik Lund but since I didn’t see him at the bar, I didn’t get it. It’s Smith & Cross rum, gin, Benedictine, Regan’s orange bitters, Cherry Moriacco, lime zest. I’m very curious. All the more reason to go back!
© The Minty 2012