Star Power

Enjoying the food and the scene at Mess Hall

Marilyn Monroe ate there first.

The film stars of Hollywood's Golden Age used to flock to Los Feliz Boulevard to eat, drink–and be seen–at Cecil B. DeMille's The Brown Derby.

Two weeks ago, 52 years after the Derby was turned into a nightclub, MessHall opened in the very same domed-roof building. This effort from Rob Serritella and partner Bill Chait (the restaurateur behind such spots as Picca and Sotto) is already emitting a similar silver- and small-screen glow. And, like neighboring Little Dom's, MessHall will earn its popularity for its food as well as its scene. Chef Keith Silverton isn't breaking any new ground in the kitchen, but his cooking shows that solid fundamental skills can trump big ideas.

Crunchy smoked-corn fritters ($6), served with a smoldering pumpkin-seed-and-poblano dip, are great to munch on while sipping Mess Hall's boozy Rum Swizzle, Destroy All Erik Lund ($13). Silverton's pork chop ($26), is cooked sous-vide until rosy pink in the center, then finished on the grill. The meat, slicked with Tabasco butter, is served with mustard greens and cheddar-spiked grits. Those Southern flavors are tried and true to the point of near-cliché, but when done well, it simply works.

You won't see Marilyn here, but her contemporaries are bound to show up.

MessHall, 4500 Los Feliz Blvd., Los Feliz; 323-660-6377 or messhallla.com