Romanoff had recognized an essential facet of LA culture, but an older restaurant had already begun to break through and represent something even more intrinsic about Los Angeles. The Brown Derby had opened across the street from the Cocoanut Grove back in 1926; with its exterior shaped like a giant bowler hat, it seemed to hint at the extravagances of the theme restaurant, and, filled with movie stars, it certainly had elan, but over the years it had gained a reputation for its tasty food. It wasn't fancy: pan-fried corned beef hash was a popular dish, as was the grapefruit cake with cream cheese frosting. The most famous dish, the Cobb salad, didn't skew European at all. It is hard to think today of iceberg lettuce, watercress, chicory, romaine, bacon, and avocado as being original, but it was a brilliant combination, as perfect as blinis and caviar, hollandaise and f__ilets de sole, and certainly more interesting than any ersatz European grandeur hashed up under dusty chandeliers.