Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Marcell Inn, from the book: CURIOUS CALIFORNIA CUSTOMS, 1935

Just recently I received notice that signs from the Marcell Inn in Altadena have been found in an old Altadena barn. I'm still waiting to see pictures from that marvelous find and hope these artifacts of Altadena history will be preserved.  More on the Marcell Inn here:

Going through all my historical materials recently, I came across this article I wanted to share with you: 
From the book:  CURIOUS CALIFORNIA CUSTOMS, By Elisabeth Webb Herrick, Pacific Carbon and Printing Company, Los Angeles, California 1935

Marcell Inn, Los Angeles, California

This historic and popular old dining room is one of the high spots of our culinary tour, Lucullus himself would have been delighted to make it his permanent hangout.  Situated at 2900 Lincoln Avenue, Altadena, in an old garden, it is a monument to the epicurean tastes of those enlightened souls who have discovered it and kept it up.

All during those dark days of prohibition, it struggled along, goodness knows how because any good cook will tell you that it is utterly impossible to turn out anything fit to eat without wine to flavor the sauces, and any epicure will tell you how much alcoholic stimulants have to do with the enjoyment of the delicate nuances in viands.  But they're happy now at the Inn and they'll be glad to promote you to a state of exhilaration also, if you'll just give them the opportunity.

Their $2.50 dinner is something to conjure with!  If you are dieting, call up the masseuse and make a date for early next morning, but don't we beg of you, pass up any of their courses!  It would be an insult to the chef and a slight to the house which no amount of explanation could overcome.

The cherubic George Rector and Henri Charpentier used to do this sort of thing with air, but they couldn't possibly surpass the sweet breads saute sec.  Diamond Jim Brady, five stomachs and all, would have hailed their chicken with the reverence he felt for such artistic triumphs, and would have heralded their salads from the housetops.

There is an orchestra and dancing - talk about gilding the lily!  Inasmuch as your true gourmet never under any circumstances takes a sweet after dining, it is a very gracious gesture on the part of the management to feature such tantalizing delicacies for dessert as their special pudding, real Italian spumoni ice cream and petit fours.  By the time this course is reached, you are shrugging off the possibility of extra poundage anyhow, so you might as well go ahead and partake.  After one of these dinners, served with all the elegance of the Nineties, it is very easy to understand the fashionable figures of the day.  No wonder Lillian Russell had nothing left but her famous chiseled profile when we got around to see her!  Just be grateful that you were lucky enough to find out about this place, and remember there are no luncheons but the doors are open about 6:00 p.m., Sundays earlier.

I truly miss Michael's with its miniature golf and the Marcell Inn with its beautiful gardens.  I will continue to advocate for dining establishments with ambiance in Altadena and Pasadena along and adjacent to Lake Avenue.  Just recently I was taken to Julienne's in San Marino for lunch.  The spirit of the Marcell Inn lives on not too far from our North Pasadena abode.  What a pleasant suprise!  The ghost of Marcell sat with me for lunch.  This place is magical! Don't fail to try it:  Julienne Restaurant, 2649 Mission Street, San Marino, California.  (And thank you to my muse, who took me to this gem, and didn't let me pine only for all things lost, but let me rejoice in things found....)