Griffith Park was not the last delight that we happened upon on totally by accident. As we were making our way to our dinner destination, we spotted an odd figure perched atop the roof of a building. It wasn’t until we were right on top of it that we realized what it was. Could it be? Oh yes, my friends, it was the Jim Henson Studios! I screeched “turn around, turn around!” as I waved my arms in a muppety fashion.
Not only was this the place where Mr. Henson and his creative team worked on some of the best movies and television ever (oh yes, I said it), this also served as a major set piece for the Muppets movie!
Coincidently, the styling of the Jim Henson Studios looks very similar to our next location. So as not to be confused, this is the Tam O’ Shanter restaurant.
The Tam is located just a few miles away from the Disney Studios in Burbank and is Los Angeles’ oldest restaurant. It has remained in the same location under the same ownership and management since 1922. More importantly, Walt Disney ate here! He frequented the restaurant so often that is was commonly referred to as the “studio commissary.”
The Disney connection is not obvious, but if you know the history you’ll find some special artwork in the lobby that reveals as much.
The dining room is very dark, with wood paneling and all manner of Scottish details.
One of those details is the ahem, traditional dress that the servers don. The men look as if they forge pewter in their off hours. The ladies look more like the St. Pauly Girl.
The fact that this is a Scottish restaurant was a huge draw for us, and I’m not talkin’ bout haggis. It’s the single malt scotch.
We weren’t very hungry at this point, so we decided to hang out in the bar side of the restaurant which has a smaller pub menu.
As much as we would have enjoyed imbibing with that Scotch whisky, we still had a bit of driving ahead of us so we went with an ale instead.
This place is known for their Prime Rib but we were just not hungry enough to appreciate something so heavy (this story is seeming more and more tragic as I tell it). We went with something traditional though, the Scotch Rarebit. I’ve never had any sort of rarebit. The name is confusing, making one think that a furry little garden rodent might be involved. From my extensive research on the Wikipedia, the dish does derive it’s name from the idea that rabbit is the poor man’s meat and cheese is the poorer man’s rabbit.
Now, this may look like Velveeta on toast, but the flavors were far more complex. The whiskey and worcestershire add an unexpected depth of flavor. If you’re so inclined, I’ve provided a recipe, or you can try it yourself at the Tam!
For our dinner we shared a hand carved turkey sandwich. They were nice enough to split it for us, and they piled on enough pickles and side salads to feed four very large men.
We lounged around for a bit and I took a few more pictures of the dining room before we headed out. I nerdily asked the server about the famous (among about 40 people) table 31. This was Walt’s table.
Off to the airport! Believe it or not we STILL had more time to kill even after this marathon day.
Fortunately I had a plan. I had heard on one of my Disney Podcasts about an interesting lounge right in LAX called Encounter. If you didn’t know better, you would think that this was a part of the control tower for the airport, but it’s actually a super groovy restaurant suspended in those parabolic arches.
The building itself was constructed in 1961 as a part of a “jet age terminal project”. It served as a themed monument until 1997 when the Encounter Restaurant was introduced. Everything about the place still reads groovy 1960s.
The interiors are just as bizarre as the building itself.
The shagadelic Encounter lounge is an interesting take to be sure, but visiting at night is a real showstopper. The lighting surrounding the restaurant and off in the distance at LAX is an amazing kaleidoscope of colors.
I am sure that this theme is getting quite tiresome but yes, we had yet even more time to kill before the flight. Really, what else is there to do but have a drink? We spotted the alluring signage for Malibu Al’s Beach Bar. Sounds like a fun mini-vacation right in the middle of the airport doesn’t it?
Well, it wasn’t. I believe the waitstaff at Malibu Al’s must be doing community service hours, they were so dour. I could go on about how terrible this place was, but I will instead call upon some comrades in disappointment that left evidence of their ire on the often hilarious Yelp.com.
“This is not Malibu. There is no Al. There sure as hell is no beach. There is a bar. A very limited bar. A bar with utterly absurd prices and not a local beer in sight. The food is plucked freshly from the refrigerator case, a great example of farm to warehouse to processing plant to freezer to shipping to freezer to refrigerator to table cuisine.” - Jason R. East Point, Georgia
“Just because you work in an airport bar doesn’t mean you have to be incredibly douchey.” -Terrence M. San Diego, CA
“Airport food, airport service, airport prices. The worst part is the lack of tequila in a margarita. How the f**k else am I supposed to get sh*t faced pre-flight when I’m paying $15 for a margarita smoothie labeled as a margarita loaded with my old friend Jose? Ugh.” -Erika V. Topanga, CA
No need for the potty talk, Erika, but I concur. We finished our over priced shots of Rye and moved on to greener pastures.
At this point we were genuinely hungry. Thankfully, there literal King of Sausages had set up shop right at LAX.
So that’s it. It was finally time to get on that plane and head home. I believe that we made the very most of our four days in California. At least Jeff’s face says we did.