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Restaurants Past

October 13, 1994

It was wonderful reading about all the "old" restaurants in Los Angeles circa 1940-1960 ("In Celebration of Restaurants Past," Sept. 29). They brought back lovely memories of special dining during my "salad days."

However, I precede Ms. Dosti and Mr. Andrews by some years, and grew up in Long Beach in the 1930s. On Sunday afternoons, my mother, father and I would sedately motor on surface streets in an always-gray Oldsmobile or Buick to dine out in downtown Los Angeles. Who can forget all the charming places like: Pig 'n' Whistle; Carolina Pines; Lucas; Goodfellow's Grotto; Dinty Moore's; Victor Hugo; Bit of Sweden; the original Lawry's; the Baltimore Hotel, and so many others?

For more memories even before that era, do read M.F.K. Fisher's "To Begin Again," a sweet reminiscence of her youth in the 1920s.

--PAULINE NELSON COWLE

Pacific Palisades

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Thanks for your great section on restaurants of L.A. past. As a child, I too was taken to many of the places mentioned and several other favorites.

At the Brown Derby, my favorite meal was a plate of mini-hamburgers topped with various sauces, with plenty of pumpernickel toast for starters. My favorite meal of all was eggs Benedict and fresh raspberries with cream in the garden room of the Polo Lounge.

After Sunday school with Jimmy Stewart's children at Beverly Hills Presbyterian, we always repaired to Linny's Deli, the deli of choice in the dark ages before Nate 'n' Al's.

For my birthday, I usually wanted to go to the Luau and throw money in the lagoon. After downing a copious selection of fried appetizers covered in duck sauce, my father always joked that we didn't need to order anything else, but of course we always did.

In the 1970s my boyfriend, no doubt seeking to corrupt an innocent 16-year-old, introduced me to Nanki-Poo's on La Cienega. It was a "waterfall Chinese" place, as Jonathan Gold says, but its main attribute was its willingness to serve multiple daiquiris to teens out for a night on the town.

Another favorite spot was Chez Puce, a quirky creperie in a ramshackle part of Pico Boulevard (across from Santa Monica High). I seem to recall Madame Puce boisterously presiding over the kitchen, a generally raucous atmosphere, and a huge pan of free brownies at the door. Puce's crepes were enormously doughy things stuffed with garlic butter or ratatouille. Madame surfaced briefly at the Mayfair Music hall when it was still open, but where is she now?

--PATRICIA SAPERSTEIN

Los Angeles

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I was quite disappointed to find no caption for the photo running in the Counter Intelligence column (Sept. 29). The gentleman on the right is more than likely the Maitre d', and unless I miss my guess, the man speaking to the waitress is Jack Dempsey. If not, who? And what is the restaurant?

My chagrin deepened as I read Jonathan Gold's pathetic work. I'm curious about his age. His closing paragraph really did me in. He thinks of Oki Dog punkers throwing burritos at passing cars? My God! That certainly puts to the lie the heading of his column: "Counter Intelligence." My aunt's fanny!

When my bride (of 41 years) and I think of "old Hollywood restaurants," our first and second thoughts are of Ciro's, where the food complemented the entertainment and vice versa. I'd like Mr. Gold to imagine dining on a filet mignon charbroiled to perfection while delighting in Rosemarie ("Gee, I'm Glad I'm Not a Cigarette Butt") opening for Lily St. Cyr in her marvelously erogenous (sic) bathtub scene!

Our third choice would be the Mocambo, for dinner and dancing, then next door to the Interlude Room for drinks (Shirley Temples) and entertainment fantastique. One late evening there, stand-up singer, comedian, bon vivant , Lord Byron, replete with white silk ascot and tailed coat, romanced my bride-to-be in a most Chaucerian manner, whisked her onto his stage (the dance floor) and twirled her to the music of the combo on duty. And, oh, could she dance! She was absolutely thrilled, and I was as proud as a young peacock!

Now that was Hollywood!

--WALT HARPER

Los Angeles

Editor's Note: The gentleman is, indeed, former heavyweight champion Jack Dempsey and the restaurant is the dining room at the Baltimore Hotel in Los Angeles.

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