With prices rising and stocks falling, it's nice to be able to count on something to remain the same. Here are some grand, recently reviewed restaurants that hardly change--no matter how long you've been away.
THE BISTRO (246 N. Canon Drive, Beverly Hills, (213) 273-5633). This is an easy restaurant to feel affectionate about. From the moment you walk into this room of flickering lights, mirrors and rose-colored carpets, your spirits lift. The service is so smooth that you don't notice it: baskets of warm bread come and go, glasses are refilled and just as you are about to lift a finger to ask for something, you find the waiter at your elbow, bringing you the very thing you wanted. The Continental menu itself is large and offers something for everybody. The charm of the Bistro is that they really care how you feel, and that is why it is filled with loyal customers. Lunch Mon.-Fri., dinner Mon.-Sat. All major credit cards. Full bar. Reservations recommended. Valet Parking. Dinner for two, food only, $50-$100.
MUSSO & FRANK GRILL (6667 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, (213) 467-5123). This is Hollywood's oldest and most immutable restaurant/time warp. Musso's--whose 1919 origins make it L.A. primeval--is as much a part of Hollywood lore as Mann's Chinese Theater. It's where Faulkner and Hemingway and their writer cronies hung out during their screenwriting days. It's where they ate flannel cakes for breakfast or homemade chicken pot pie every Thursday, just like you can today. The wood paneling is dark and old and worn and rounded. What little lighting exists in the old grill room is yellow-weak and leaves lots of shadows, especially up on the high corners where the faded wallpaper of an English hunting scene is bubbling and peeling. Why do people like Musso's? They know what's here and when they come in, they're going to get it. Lunch and dinner Mon.-Sat. All major credit cards. Full bar. Reservations recommended. Parking lot. Dinner for two, food only, $20-$50.
PACIFIC DINING CAR (1310 West 6th St., Los Angeles, (213) 483-6000). Open 24 hours a day, this is a real man's restaurant that's been around for 66 years serving big drinks, good steaks and lots of potatoes. In this old dining car with comfortable booths (frequented by businessmen and politicians) you can get good, big breakfasts in the morning. Meat-eaters flock in at lunchtime, and at mid-afternoon there's high tea. And even in the wee hours of the morning, there's always a welcome. Open 24 hours. MasterCard, Visa. Full Bar. Reservations recommended. Valet parking. Dinner for two, food only, $70-$100.
PERINO'S (4101 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, (213) 487-0000). Perino's is a flashback to a time when men wore tuxedoes, women wore boas and the service came with a smile. The room sparkles, the silver shines and there are flowers everywhere. It is also probably one of the pinkest places you'll ever eat in. Dining in the warm glow makes everybody look radiant. Perino's serves wonderful cheese toast and ravioli pinkly plumped out with radicchio and a smooth sauce of melted mascarpone . At lunchtime, there's the seafood salad with a bright bowl of pink Thousand Island dressing. There is even a pink dessert: strawberry mousse cake, which looks like every little girl's birthday dream and makes you feel like a kid again. But, of course, that's what Perino's is all about. Lunch Mon.-Fri., dinner Mon.-Sat. All major credit cards. Full bar. Reservations recommended. Valet parking. Dinner for two, food only, $60-$120. SCANDIA (9040 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, (213) 278-3555). Recently renovated, Scandia still has the airs of a star. Eating here is like returning to a more gracious time--a time when waiters weren't eager to tell you their names, their ambitions or their telephone numbers. They are professionals, and they practice that effortless sort of service that is so smooth you hardly even notice it. Another thing from the past is the wine. The list is still filled with treasures--older American wines no longer available in stores--at affordable prices. If you have a hankering to taste some hard-to-get Swan Zinfandels or Stony Hill Chardonnays, this is the place. Lunch and dinner Tues.-Sun. All major credit cards. Full bar. Reservations recommended. Valet parking. Dinner for two, food only, $50-$75.