Messhall offers classical cuisine with a campy twist

Looking for a fun weekend activity, my family hiked the East Griffith Park Observatory trail. To set our outdoorsy vibe, we started with bunch at Messhall on Los Feliz Boulevard.

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The restaurant looks similar to a woodsy cabin, and camp décor, like metal café trays and a large canoe hanging from the ceiling. The outdoor covered patio sports a campfire table for diners to sit around and enjoy the flickering flames.

This building has a historic past, first as Wilard’s Chicken Inn and later became the Hollywood elite dining destination, The Brown Derby. Legendary film director Cecil B. DeMille bought the unique dome-roofed building, designed by architect Wayne McAllister. Now as Messhall, it is one of McAllister’s last standing iconic designs in Los Angeles.

We opted for the patio and sipped cups of Stumptown Coffee and an “Army Kale Green” fresh-pressed juice as we made our brunch entrée choices. The juice was a delicious and refreshing combination of apple, cucumber, parsley, spinach, kale, celery, ginger and lemon juice. We splurged and ordered a plate of donuts.

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The one-page brunch menu is cleverly sectioned with “Basic Training” listing healthy items such as a trail mix parfait, grapefruit brulee and avocado toast. Executive chef Charbel Adaimy has a knack for turning traditional fare into something slightly whimsical and delicious. Take his “Campfire Benny” under the Camp Favorites section. When our server delivered it to our table, it looked nothing like a traditional eggs Benedict. Adaimy’s is served in a bowl with Anson Mills grit cakes, instead of a traditional English muffins on a base of brick-red tomato purée. A layer of thick cut caramelized applewood bacon is topped with two poached eggs. Flash-fried, paper-thin crispy basil leaves add a pop of color and flavor. The grit cakes are coarse and offer an exceptional density, corn flavor and texture.

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Adaimy also makes a smoked salmon Benny on a super-thick Wolferman’s English muffin with spinach, poached eggs, chives and Hollandaise sauce. The English muffin stands out from the rest, as they are thick and can hold up to any topping without becoming soggy. The tiny air pockets make them crispy when grilled or popped straight from a toaster.

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Our waiter said his favorite dish is the Cali croque sandwich. Similar to a Croque Madame, Adaimy stacks his with slices of avocado and flavor-intense oven-baked tomatoes, melted cheddar cheese and a sunny-side-up egg on top. A side salad finishes this dish with a nice green leaf to cut through the richness.

Other savory brunch fare includes oysters from the raw bar, chilaquiles verde and a veggie “beast” burger made in house.

On the sweeter side, Chef Adaimy and his team make blueberry griddle cakes, Belgian waffles and French toast.

Assistant Manager Nicos Bouzis visited our table and encouraged us to come back for happy hour specials. Beer and house red, white or rosé wine are discounted. For Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Messhall is offering a glass of OneHope rosé wine for $6 to support Gateway for Cancer Research.

They also offer a “Roll the Dice” drink in which guests pick a spirit and the bartenders will make a creative cocktail. Menu items include oysters and ahi tuna tartare in a ponzu sauce with chives, avocado puree, and crispy taro chips. Fun bites include corn fritters, house fries with house smoked ketchup, and buffalo or Tokyo style wings confit.

The popular Sunday barbecue invites diners to sit around the fire-pit table and enjoy three different prix-fixe menu combinations. The “Hog Tied” meal allows diners to select two meats and one side dish enough for two people to share. Grilled meats options include smoked salmon, beef brisket, baby back ribs, hot links and pulled pork. Sides include their signature mac and cheese, cheesy grits, pit baked beans, coleslaw, brussels sprouts, fries and cheddar scallion mash. The “Texan’s Last Meal” arrives with a choice of four meat dishes and three sides. This can easily feed a family of four.

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Messhall chefs interpret classic American food in a cabin-like atmosphere. Meet friends for drinks and a meal, before a concert at the nearby Greek Theatre or before or after a hike in Griffith Park.

Happy hour is offered seven days a week starting at 4 p.m. Weekend brunch is served starting at 9 a.m., lunch is served at 11 a.m., and dinner service begins at 5 p.m. $$. 4500 Los Feliz Blvd. (323)660-6377.

This review was featured in Beverly Press.

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