Watch Out, Dan Tana's: Make Red-Booth-Worthy Caesar Salad at Home
One of the coolest, most classic things about that most classic of old-school Hollywood restaurants, Dan Tana's, is that the servers will toss your Caesar salad for you right at your table. The white-clad waiters wheel the whole station out on a little wooden cart, and fling those frilly romaine leaves about with a kind of carefree showmanship. Besides the tart, creamy taste of freshly made dressing, what puts their salad over the top is that they add anchovies, bless their little hearts! Dan Tana's is quite literally the George Clooney of Los Angeles restaurants: in fact, the ol' heartthrob and Go Fug Yourself intern holds his post-Oscar parties there, and comes in for dinner often - you know, when he's not vacationing in Lake Como or making another Ocean's Eleven sequel or whatever it is he does most of the time. Besides being really really hot.
Dan Tana's is one of those places where you can pull up a stool at the cocktail bar on a weekday night and have a good chat with the locals - locals who are, of course former record producers, studio suits, and celebrities looking for low lighting and a reliable drink. You can even order menu items like chicken parmegiana a la Ted Demme, or steak and peppers Sinatra-style, or even Vlade Divac's Braciola. If you show up often enough (it helps to be female), the maitre d', Craig, will become a familar and pleasant face. While the appetizers are good (buttery, tender escargots! that garlic bread! oh the anchovy-wrapped pimentos! I've mentioned the anchovies), I've found that the pastas and even the veal parmigiana are a bit run-of-the-mill.
The salad bit is pretty cool, I have to admit. But caesar salad - and I mean impressive, homemade-dressing-and-toasted-croutons-type salad - is actually fairly fun and easy to make at home. Recipe below the jump.
Photo by Stu Spivak via Flickr