Door: nice space, food blows
M&F: old space, food blows, drinks not that special
Dan's: really great, chopped steak is huge, big enough to split as the the c-salad, nice a tangy w/ lots of garlic. high split charges, good steaks and drinks great garlic bread, be perpared to exercise all weekend after eating there.
Little Door: The reviews here sadden me. Little Door used to be one of my favorite places to eat in LA.
The last time I went (about 1.5 years ago), the food was fantastic and our waiter was very attentive. At the time, they had it set up so the waiter only had around 4 tables, so he/she could be all about you if needed.
It sounds like things have changed behind the Little Door. Sad.
If you like steaks, chops, martinis, and old Hollywood ambience, you will like Musso & Frank Grill. Remember it is a grill, so dont bother with stuff like seafood (frozen), pasta, etc. because its all besides the point and these are menu landmines.
In particular I'm a big fan of their NY and porterhouse steaks, wonderfully simple LA-style bread (e.g, The Pantry), salad of hearts of romaine with roquefort/vinaigrette, french fries (they make 2 kinds, I prefer the skinny versions) and side of bernaise.
Mussos and Dan Tana can leave you thrilled or bewildered. It requires having the right information before you arrive. I generally object to places like that but I went with people in the know the first time and now I am very fond of both.
Mussos is about perfect martinis and very simple foods. Sand dabs, steak, lamb chops, etc. And martinis. Mussos is best enjoyed when you feel victorious about something, especially if you go with a group. It can also be great by yourself but they won't let you eat at the proper bar. This is a flaw.
Dan Tanas, well, after all these years it still makes me excited. My husband and I went on our first date there. I went there by myself after my "wedding hair trial" and someone thought I was a high priced prostitute. Wonderful place.
Occasionally we go with someone powerful enough to get a decent reservation. Usually we just show up and order a few martinis. We tell the bartenders we would like to eat at the bar and before too long, voila, they find us a seat. We eat two meals, both of which are perfect. After a round or two, you'll often get a free round. Offer the bartender a drink. Insiders choose slivovitz. Much hilarity ensues
1) Share a terrific Caesar. Share a lobster or shrimp fra diavlo.
2) Share a terrific Caesar. Order a half order of shrimp fra diavlo. Husband orders a steak.
Take a cab home.
Never been to Il Cielo. The Little Door is pretty but the food isn't very good and the service can be awful.
For various reasons I been to Musso's at least 6 times in the past year. As many posts on this board will attest, it is a wonderful place *if* you carefully sidestep the various landmines on the menu. The martinis are among the best, if not the best, in L.A. Enjoy several, stinging cold and in a little beaker. Here, usually the simplist preparations work the best. Stick to the grilled meats. Twice the chicken pot pie has been good. The seafood salad is delicios except on the nights when the scallops and shrimp get overcooked. I prefer the bar room to the grill room as it sems more clubby and less diner-ish.
I just ate at Dan Tana's Saturday night. Personally I was not too impressed -- I put it in the same category as The Ivy -- a "teflon" canteen for Beverly Hills folks whose cooks have the night off. The people-watching was hilarious but on the sleazy side, the cocktails were hellishly expensive and the food was fine but nothing more. I was told it was dark but apparently they turned up the lights because one older woman brayed at the waiter "Now I'm gonna hafta wear makeup when I come in here!" I wouldn't go for the food or for a romantic atmosphere, but maybe if someone else was paying, just to observe the golddiggers and retired golddiggers, it might be amusing.
I'm sure others have more opinions on the other places but here's my short takes:
Little Door: younger, pretentious crowd, lots of attitude, pretty good Moroccan/French food, probably good for star sightings.
Il Cielo: Touted as "very romantic" because of nice patio with twinkling lights, older crowd, pretty good Italian food, expensive.
Musso and Frank: a must-visit, historic, classic Hollywood but food is so old-fashioned and expensive as to possibly not be worth it -- perhaps better to sample one of their excellent martinis or other cocktails and eat elsewhere.
I went to Little Door not too long ago. I was not impressed. The food was mediocre and the cost was very expensive. I don't think I would go back there.
I went to Musso and Frank a long time ago. All I remember was that it had authentic Caesar Salad with anchovies. Sorry I'm not much help.
What did you order at Dan Tana's that didn't bowl you over? In my experience the Italian food is variable, but the steaks are about the best you will find on the West Coast. Did your group have a different experience? Overall I have loved my meals at Dan Tana's; I will forgive a certain degree of attitude and glitz if the food is really good and ordinary customers are treated with reasonable respect--both of which I have always found to be true at Dan Tana's (not so at The Ivy, by contrast).
I agree with you on Il Cielo--pretty, food's OK but not spectacular; much nicer to sit outdoors, although there can be a bit of traffic noise.
I do think Musso's is worth visiting at least once for the feeling, and I have usually had pretty good food there (always sticking to very old-fashioned stuff). The martinis (esp. w/gin) are great.
Never been to Little Door and based on what I've read probably never will.
Yes, I think we should have gone for the steak, I think the prices scared off my boyfriend after the $17 for a cosmopolitan and a glass of chardonnay at the bar. He had the veal florentine, which he said was very good, and we both enjoyed the caesar salad. I liked my iceberg lettuce salad too, it tasted straight out of my childhood. I probably shouldn't have ordered the spaghetti carbonara but I couldn't help myself, it was a huge portion but without much flavor. It was great scrambled with some more eggs the next morning, though! I felt the waiters' professionalism bordered on the condescending. I agree with you about the '70s ambiance -- it's just that I spent my entire childhood in places like that, in fact maybe at Dan Tana's itself, and without my dad paying for them, they seem to have lost their appeal. I'd try it again on a weeknight, but not expecting it to be a "special occasion" place. I think I didn't realize how casual it was.
i'd have to say i have a different opinion of dan tana's-i really like the place. the dabney coleman steak is a great piece of meat that is expertly prepared, actually has some char & fat. it's a fun spot with goofballs & celebrities. what you call sleazy i'd call a late 70's feel. i appreciate the professionalism of the staff, the old guys, the bar. went there last year for my birthday & had a lot more fun than this year at the hotel bel air. maybe i just don't like swans. also love musso & frank for drinks & club sandwiches at the counter.