Los Angeles

Photos by Wonho Frank Lee, courtesy of Fanny’s

The RundownLos Angeles

Fanny’s at the Academy Museum Is Ready for Its Close-Up

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Before you go to a restaurant, what do you want — or need — to know most? In our series, The Rundown, we’re sharing all the essentials about newly opened (as well as some of your favorite) restaurants.

Between tableside theatrics and an A-list cast behind the stoves and bar, a meal at Fanny’s means, quite literally, dinner and a show.

The restaurant’s debut last year coincided with the star-studded opening of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, a project decades in the making that memorializes Hollywood’s storied and, at times, troubled past. The 50,000-square-foot museum revitalized the historic Saban building with help from Pritzker Prize-winning architect Renzo Piano. With a project this high-profile, creating a flagship restaurant to match the museum’s pedigree was a tall order. So ownership brought out the big guns, tapping restaurateur Bill Chait (Republique, Redbird, Bicyclette) and partner Carl Schuster (Wolfgang Puck Catering) to operate the restaurant, alongside Michelin-starred chef Raphael Francois and acclaimed barman Julian Cox. Here’s everything you need to know about dining at Fanny’s.

An epic club sandwich during the day.
An epic club sandwich during the day.

1. It’s a European-inspired cafe by day…

From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Fanny’s is a cafeteria-style breakfast, lunch, and brunch destination with everything from pastries to short rib burritos, to crudos, fish rillettes, salads, and vegetable dishes like fava bean with almond romesco and grilled lemon. “Obviously, the clientele that goes to the museum is super-diverse,” says Francois. “I thought, let’s do something small with global inspirations.” Aside from global influences, some of the food at Fanny’s was also inspired by Francois’ memories — from his grandmother’s recipes to the long list of famed restaurants he’s cooked at throughout Europe. The chicken club, for example, is a take on the one at Les Climats, the restaurant in Paris’ legendary Musée d’Orsay, where Francois used to work.

Dry-aged côte de boeuf for two.
Dry-aged côte de boeuf for two.

 2. …and a swanky dinner destination by night.

After 4 p.m., Fanny’s lowers the curtain to transform into a vibey, full-service restaurant. “For dinner, because the museum closes, we have the atmosphere a little darker and sexier, which makes it feel a bit more old-school,” says Francois. The menu ranges from classics like a tableside Caesar to wood-grilled meats to comforting pastas. On weekends, there’s often live music, including a recent collaboration with KCRW’s former music director, Jason Bentley, and a live jazz band that the restaurant hopes to bring back in October for a supper club-esque feel.

The Kiddo (L) and Easy Rider cocktails.

3. The restaurant is inspired by a Hollywood legend.

The restaurant is named after Fanny Brice, the trailblazing Jewish comedienne famously depicted by Barbra Streisand in the 1968 film “Funny Girl.” Fanny’s was partially funded by the Fran & Ray Stark Foundation via philanthropist Wendy Stark, Fanny’s daughter. (Adjacent LACMA’s restaurant concept is named for the Stark family.) Throughout the restaurant, the theme of old Hollywood is hard to miss. For one thing, the space itself features a dramatic two-floor, high-ceiling layout, lined with red mohair booths that nod to the era along with a custom wraparound mural by L.A. artist and illustrator Konstantin Kakanias that celebrates various film and music legends. Cocktails are named after Hollywood film titles of past and present, with a custom mocktail option, Baby Snooks, named for Brice’s beloved radio show.

Salmon crudo.
Salmon crudo.

4. Dinner comes with a side of theatrics.

Continuing the cinematic theme, the dinner section of the menu, titled “Live Performances,” involves dishes served with a side of flair, aka tableside presentation. Featuring primarily large cuts of meat (like a 32-ounce tomahawk steak), the pièce de résistance is the show-stopping côte de boeuf, a massive dry-aged prime rib.

Francois, whose resume reads like a culinary bucket list, worked at Maison de Boeuf in Brussels as a young chef and decided to reinterpret the starring dish at Fanny’s. “We dry-brine it simply with sea salt like they did at Maison du Boeuf. You don’t see that much in L.A. or in New York, quite frankly,” he says. “So I thought, let’s try to do it here.” 

Another tableside dish close to Francois’ heart is the chocolate tart, inspired by his grandmother’s recipe. Made with an almond sable, the tart is filled with rich chocolate ganache and served with creamy vanilla gelato, then cut to order and plated at the table for each guest. Keep an eye out for a take on crepes Suzette to be flambéed tableside in the coming months, according to Francois.

A handsome dining room.
A handsome dining room.

5. The cocktail menu deserves its own top billing.

Cocktailian Julian Cox, who has designed bar menus for other Chait ventures like Bestia, Tartine, and Otium (and plenty more), is behind the beverage program at Fanny’s as well. All of the drinks are named after Oscar-nominated films, like the All About Eve (Lo-Fi Aperitif, red plum, and shiso granita) and the Don’t Look Up (matcha, vodka, oat milk, lavender agave, vanilla, and toasted cinnamon). They, too, have a dramatic presentation element, whether it be a flaming garnish, a striking color balance, or unique ingredient like in the buttered popcorn bourbon in the Some Like it Hot, as a final nod to the cinematic theme. 

 

Kelly Dobkin is an L.A.-based writer/editor and former New Yorker. She has contributed to Bon Appetit, Grub Street, Michelin, Here Magazine, and is a former editor at Thrillist, Zagat, and Eater. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter. Follow Resy, too.