MessHall Makes Los Feliz Its Home
by eric rosen
Los Angeles is all about reinvention—even when it comes to landmark buildings. Case in point: MessHall, a new restaurant that makes its home in a historic 1929 building on Los Feliz Boulevard designed by midcentury master Wayne McAllister. The recognizable domed structure originally housed Willard’s Chicken Inn, financed by legendary filmmaker Cecil B. DeMille, before becoming an outpost of The Brown Derby.
That heritage is evident in self-conscious design touches like high, exposed wooden rafters in the domed ceiling, as well as cheeky allusions to the restaurant’s name, including polished dinner trays adorning the front wall, a bar with corrugated-metal siding, and raised communal tables, where large groups congregate over the course of an evening, evoking a military platoon’s mess hall or the food tent of a cadre of California gold miners.
Instead of franks and beans, though, Los Feliz’s hungry patrons can start their meal with a selection from the well-stocked raw oyster bar before trying Executive Chef Keith Silverton’s (formerly of Dominick’s) take on regional American cuisine, with dishes such as deep-fried crispy oysters with spicy malt vinegar aioli and Romanesco with grilled artichoke and pine-nut gremolata.
The mac ’n’ cheese with Maine lobster and aged Parmesan, and the grilled center-cut hog chop with creamy white cheddar grits, bitter mustard greens, and melting Tabasco butter are popular entrées, but the juicy Mess Burger with slow-cooked onions, Vermont white cheddar, housemade bread and butter pickles, and a secret smoky sauce on toasted brioche really shines. The Some More dessert of chocolate cake bread pudding, marshmallow ice cream, and a dainty graham tuile is the perfect way to end a hearty meal here.
After dinner, head outside to the fire-lit patio to enjoy a nightcap by bar director Erik Lund (formerly the barman at Rivera), whose signature cocktails include the deceptively easy-drinking Downtime (between euphoria and bitter disappointment) with Kilchoman Islay whisky, Cynar liqueur, herbaceous Bénédictine, and Regans Orange Bitters No. 6.
Now that’s some good mess. 4500 Los Feliz Blvd., LA, 323-660-6377
Cover shoot: September 2014 issue of Los Angeles Confidential magazine.