Remains of L.A.

Traces of L.A.'s past can still be found, in the kitsch of '50s diners and the decayed glamour of '40s hotspots… and sometimes the food is good, and there are nice people.

(1974) French Quarter Restaurant, West Hollywood

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frenchmarketsignI got off work a little early, so I decided to have lunch at the French Quarter Restaurant. I’d been meaning to go there because I’d heard it was closing, but now it seems like maybe it’s not? Hard to say. Certainly there are changes happening.

-It’s an adorable set up inside, designed to look as if it’s outdoors, with white wrought iron fences and twisting stairs. The walls used to be lined with cute little shops, but all the rooms are empty now except, for some reason, the little “West Hollywood Mail, Messaging, & Services” shop that never made much sense to me in the first place. It’s still charming in spite of all this, with bright murals on the walls.

-I ordered the petite soup and salad, with minestrone soup and Chinese chicken salad. That’s right. Sometimes I eat healthy.

insidefrenchquarter-There is a round stained glass window at the front of the restaurant, which I sit facing; a red white and blue fleur de lis. The light shines through it and reflects on the polished ceiling, and as cars drive past blocking the light it makes the colors on the ceiling spin and flash and dance. Don’t know if it could have been deliberate, but it is beautiful.

-The soup was delicious, but when got down to broth I found that the soup spoon was too big for the tall skinny cup. There was no one sitting near me at that point, so I quickly lifted the cup and drank, reassuring myself that Miss Manners says there’s no such thing as bad table manners as long as no one can see you.

-This salad was also great, but the plate was nowhere near big enough to contain it. I was not capable of eating it without it spilling everywhere. The restaurant wanted me to have bad manners! They’d better not be filming a reality show. I didn’t sign any releases.

-My straw stopped working and I found that a long, thin piece of lemon peel had lodged itself completely inside. This is only interesting because I’m suddenly wondering why it doesn’t happen all the time. I drink a lot of water with lemon, and this was the first time I’ve ever run into trouble.

-I was nearing the end of the meal when three people sat at the table directly in front of me, maybe two feet away. No one knows why they chose that table in an almost empty restaurant. Two older ex-hippie ladies and a young man who may have been a son of one of them. One of the women ordered a salad, but “No ham, but extra turkey. And I don’t want mixed greens, I want romaine chopped very small. and croutons but I don’t like big croutons so if they’re big you’ll have to break them up. Feta cheese, not goat, and just sprinkle it. Sprinkle it. 1000 island on the side.” Then the other woman said she wanted the same thing, and when the waiter checked that she also wanted 1000 Island she said, ‘no! I hate 1000 island!” and looked at her dining companions like, “what’s wrong with this guy” and then said she wanted blue cheese, but “only if it’s real blue cheese, a lot of places try to sneak in ranch so I need you to promise me right now that it really is blue cheese or I’m not paying for my meal.”

-After the waiter left, one of the woman said something and guffawed in a loud voice and I glanced up, and she was right in my sight line and she immediately smiled this super-sarcastic smile and said, “hello, is there something I can help you with?”

-I added an extra dollar to the waiter’s tip, because no matter how much those women were planning to leave it could not possibly be enough

-The sign on the way to the restroom says “Les Toillettes” which always reminds me of the time I was in France and I’d practiced and practiced saying “where are the restrooms” in French and I said it to a waiter and he blinked, apologized, and turned and left, and I never figured out what I’d actually said to him.

What I Ate: Minestrone soup, Chinese chicken salad, two bites of garlic toast

What I Read: Two Neil Gaiman short stories from a book I always keep in my car so I won’t be caught without something to read if I suddenly decide to go to lunch instead of going home and for some reason I don’t have a book in my purse.

What Sort of Ghost I’d Expect to Find if I Believed in Ghosts Which I do Not: Two gentlemen of a certain age, who moved to West Hollywood together in the mid-seventies to get away from their judgmental families, and are so happy. Note: Unless otherwise stated, all ghosts mentioned in this blog died peacefully of old age and then reverted to the age/place of their choosing.

7985 Santa Monica, W Hollywood, CA 90046

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