Get Groovy at The Grove


The Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, California opened in 1921, designed by a well-known architect, Myron Hunt. The size of the hotel, being 23.7 acres, is astronomically large, which in turn makes it historically stand out. The hotel’s Cocoanut Grove not only had a dinner menu but was formerly known as the spot for its nightclub. This hotel was so highly renowned, it was called The Ambassador Studios since its facilities were so regularly used as a set for film and television. Beyond the use of the facilities for film purposes, Cocoanut Grove was a greatly valued venue for live entertainment. The Hotel is also most widely known for Robert F Kennedy’s assassination in 1968.


Entertainment at The Ambassador Hotel

In noting the importance of this staple in Los Angeles, it is imperative that one is knowledgeable of the people who have been in attendance as well as performed. For example, Barbara Streisand and Bing Crosby started their career there. Alongside these performers, Frank Sinatra also came to perform which should exemplify the importance of this hotel and the attention it brought. With that being said there was a lot of confusion where the movie, Pretty Woman was filmed. Most believed it was filmed inside the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, in turn, it was filmed at The Ambassador Hotel. Pretty Woman is an important moment in cinematic history, which could be opinion based, but regardless this is another example of the importance this hotel placed in history. As if there could be any other people of more importance and films with as great of significance, there are. True Lies, the movie with Arnold Schwarzenegger took place in The Ambassador Hotel. Six Oscar ceremonies were hosted there as well as hosting every U.S President from Hoover to Nixon. Beyond the celebrities, there were a multitude of activities one could indulge in while staying: bowling alley, billiard room, card room, sun porches, bath houses, an Olympic sized pool, a miniature golf course, day care services, horse riding, a tearoom, restaurants and a movie theatre. 

The demolition of The Ambassador Hotel

 In 1989 the hotel closed after undergoing a different succession owners. In 2001, Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) purchased the property and had extraordinarily different ideas in mind. Keep this school in mind while trying to process the insane cost to build it at $578 million which is the most expensive public school in U.S. history.  

Cocoanut Grove Restaurant

The elaborate and highly decorative scheme of the rooms featured pastel tints in the furniture, soft cretonne, beautiful English prints and original paintings on the walls. Ten thousand chairs were needed to furnish the restaurant. The kitchen operated at such a great scale that 4,000 dinners could be prepared at one time. The main dining hall was extraordinarily large and could accommodate twelve hundred persons, which covers half an acre of floor space. Cocoanut Grove opened four months after the hotel which resembled a starry sky decorated with Moorish style. There were coconut palms made of paper machetes swinging from the branches with stuffed monkeys. 

The Menu 

This menu dates back to the early 1930s and celebrated the monkeys that roamed Cocoanut Grove. It shows each item displayed and served in the restaurant, which in previous writing explained the immense number of dishes put out per night due to the large room and capacity it held. An interesting part of this dining is the fact that a $3.00 special dinner offering four different courses. Though, the equivalent of $3.00 back then and today are significantly different, equaling about $50 today which is a great cost for a high-end, well-known restaurant. The fact that this ‘night club’ and dining service brought attention to a variety of people, including celebrities is enticing for the advertised price. 

Onion Au Gratin 

French onion soup dates back to the 17th century by ancient Roman and Greek peoples. Onion soups descent from modern French bouillon. Onion soups are also likely found in early English cookbooks and American cookbooks from colonial days. There were questions that arose of, “why onions?” Well, onions were common in the Old World and were used in numerous recipes in many different ways; boiled, baked and fried. For many centuries, onions were known to be food for the poor while also being knows as a food containing restorative powers. A comical note, people in earlier times believed raw onions caused headaches which is why they boiled them, baked and fried onions. The recipe I will be using is a traditional early recipe which will be exemplified with pictures as well as in a video. 


Serves six

3 medium onions, finely spiced and chopped

3 tablespoon sweet butter

1 teaspoon flour, if desired

2 quarts plain consommé or water

1 tablespoon salt

A little pepper

2 tomatoes, peeled and chopped if desired

3 tablespoons grated parmesan or swiss cheese

Sliced toasted rolls, buttered

*important to note, this recipe dates back to older times, causing some confusion, therefore a combination of modern-day instructions will be used in cooking this dish*

Cooking steps

1.     Put the three tablespoons of sweet butter and three finely sliced onions in a saucepan. Occasionally stir waiting until the onions have an aroma as well as golden brown. 

2.     Add 1 teaspoon of flower to the saucepan in order for the soup to reach its desired thickness. 

3.     Add red wine and 1 cup of water.

4.     Add tomatoes to give the soup more flavor, can be strained if desired.  

5.     Keep soup warm while preparing the broiler. 

6.     Add soup into desired bowls, put buttered bread on top and a layer of swiss cheese over the top.

7.     Keep in broiler until the top is browned. 

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