It’s easy to imagine comedian Fanny Brice spending many a festive night at storied Hollywood eateries like Perino’s and the Brown Derby. Newly opened for dinner service, Fanny’s — at Los Angeles’ recently launched Academy Museum of Motion Pictures — interprets the comfortable, classy feel of those vintage spots in its own sleek, contemporary way.
Longtime L.A. restaurateur Bill Chait and partner Carl Schuster oversee the restaurant along with executive chef Raphael Francois, the Belgian-French charcuterie maestro behind Tesse on the Sunset Strip. Museum benefactor Wendy Stark, whose late father, producer Ray Stark, was Brice’s son-in-law, named the restaurant for the vaudeville and radio entertainer who inspired “Funny Girl.”
Fanny’s has a tricky balancing act to pull off: By day, it’s a casual café and coffee stop for visitors to the museum. At night, diners can pull up on Fairfax just north of Wilshire and valet their cars for dinner or drinks. The elegant 10,000-square-foot corner space — just about where the May Co. cosmetics counter was in Brice’s day — was designed by Commune and conceptualized by the late architect Osvaldo Maiozzi.
Lipstick-red mohair banquettes and maple wood paneling serve as backdrops for Konstantin Kakanias’ playful wraparound mural, which depicts Hollywood landmarks and stars including Sammy Davis Jr., Liza Minnelli, John Travolta and the Funny Girl herself, Barbra Streisand.
While the lunch menu skews globally eclectic, with dishes like lamb meatballs, short rib burritos and smoked fish rillettes, dinner is “old-school dining — good food but not pretentious,” Francois tells Variety. “We’re going to add a tableside Caesar salad and a côte du boeuf with a salt crust,” he says, and entrées include orata fish with hollandaise and pork porterhouse steak.
Fanny’s burger with Fiscalini cheddar and chili aioli will stay on the menu at dinner, since Francois points out that back in the day, “The old school diners were wearing dinner jackets but still eating hamburgers for dinner.”
Cocktails are handled by longtime L.A. mixologist Julian Cox, and Francois hopes to also introduce a martini cart.
“I want to do a sabayon custard sauce tableside, cracking the eggshell and adding champagne,” Francois says, though the kitchen is ramping up gradually for the next month as staffing remains a challenge. He’s also trying to find a way to make crepes Suzette flambé without setting off a cascade of ceiling sprinklers.