When Renzo Piano met with Bill Chait about the design for Fanny’s at the new Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, the famed Italian architect’s vision was to have the restaurant be completely open to and visible from the museum’s exhibits.
“One side of the whole restaurant is glass,” says Chait. “Renzo’s idea originally was to not even have the glass, until we explained to him there’s no way to do that in the Los Angeles permitting world. But the idea was to make it so you could feel like you’re walking right into the restaurant and kitchen and see the waiters bustling around—almost like a set.”
Even with the glass wall, Piano succeeded in creating an eatery that feels quite cinematic. While by day, Fanny’s is a café that serves salads and sandwiches to museumgoers, by night, it’s a glam, modern vision of an old-school Hollywood hangout. Captains in suits push carts of gooey, French, washed-rind cow’s milk cheeses and carve thick bloody slices of côte de boeuf tableside.
“It’s definitely in some sense ‘finer’ dining, but it’s more about the theater of how the service used to work,” says Chait, who refers frequently to the Brown Derby—a bygone-era Hollywood haunt that is, in many ways, the inspiration for the atmosphere of Fanny’s.
“The booths were just like the ones we have. They’re clamshells,” Chait gushes. “They almost merchandise the people sitting in them as much as the restaurant.”
But there are also plenty of modern touches. Instead of a live band, Fanny’s has a different DJ spinning records every night, providing an upbeat soundtrack for cocktails from acclaimed mixologist Julian Cox.
Chef Raphael Francois (Le Cirque, Tesse) sends out perfect twists on a Caesar salad and plays around with menu items that are more 2022 than old Hollywood, like hamachi crudo on a bed of sweet pickled grapes and jicama with brown butter and cilantro.
While the museum closes at 6 p.m. most nights, the two-story, 10,000-square-foot, 270-seat dining room is open until 10 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday.
“At night, it’s certainly not a museum restaurant,” says Chait. “It’s a restaurant that happens to be at a museum.”
6067 Wilshire Blvd., Mid Wilshire, fannysla.com.
Other New & Notable Restauants
» Chef Joel Stovall, formerly of Orsa & Winston, uses California produce in his ode-to-Rome menu at this upscale neighborhood stunner. Sunchokes tossed with dates, sunflower seeds, and za’atar surprise, while the al dente rigatoni all’amatriciana comforts.
1509 Echo Park Ave., bacetti-la.com.
De la Nonna
» This pop-up-turnedbrick-and-mortar is a destination for its delicious, crunchy rectangular pizzas alone. But there’ s also a lovely, sprawling patio, warm service, and a substantial selection of natural wines. 710 E. 4th Pl., delanonna.com.
» Two alums of the great Restaurant at Meadowood in Napa have opened a 5,000-square-foot Korean American deli and market. Whether you’re craving hot smoked trout or a rice bowl with banchan, you’ll be satisfied. 712 S. Santa Fe Ave., yangbanla.com.
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