Dine IN at The Brown Derby

Welcome to a new Wildcard Wednesday! This week, I thought it would be fun to share a few recipes from the famous Brown Derby, a chain of restaurants in the Hollywood and Los Angeles area best known for being a gathering place of stars, as evidenced in the classic 1955 “L.A. At Last!” episode of I Love Lucy, where Lucy aggravates Bill Holden in the next booth. Although a replica version exists at Walt Disney World, few of the original restaurants’ items remain, so this is a taste of what the real Brown Derby — Lucy’s Brown Derby — was like!

These recipes are from a copy I own of the original 1949 first edition cookbook. Here’s the popular Spaghetti dish that Lucy and Ethel ordered in “L.A. At Last!” — it’s a Derby specialty.

Here’s the Mixed Green Salad they ordered, with the Derby’s own French Dressing.

And here’s the more famous salad — the Cobb Salad, which Bill Holden requested on the I Love Lucy episode. (See the recipe for the Derby’s French Dressing above.)

Fred Mertz ordered the “Veal Cutlet Marco Polo” (which was “Turkey Marco Polo” in an earlier draft of the script), but that doesn’t appear in the Brown Derby’s cookbook. Instead, there are a half-dozen other ways to do Veal Cutlets. This is the Italian way: Veal Cacciatore.

Now for some more specialties, starting with Turkey Derby…

Here’s the restaurants’ beloved Corned Beef Hash…

And their well-liked Enchiladas…

As for dessert, Bill Holden probably got a Bavarian Cream Pie in the face, but the best-known sweet dish at the Brown Derby was the Grapefruit Chiffon Cake, which was not in the 1949 cookbook, but added to the 1976 edition. It’s first referenced in a 1954 newspaper article, from which I take this recipe. (I’m also sharing the book’s Basic Chiffon Cake instructions.)

If you decide to make any of these dishes, please let me know how it goes! The only ones I’ve tried to date are the Cobb Salad and Grapefruit Cake — the latter of which is a fun treat!



Bon Appétit! Come back next week for a new Wildcard — and stay tuned Tuesday for my thoughts on the short-lived 2018 Roseanne revival!

11 thoughts on “Dine IN at The Brown Derby

  1. This is so cool! I really want to make that grapefruit cake. I had it many years ago at the Brown Derby in WDW and recall it being very tasty!

  2. I’m living for this! I’m so jealous! That cookbook was an amazing find. My husband Michael and I both loved Lucy and spent countless hours laughing over the classic sitcom during the years before he died. We ate the Disney World restaurant every time we visited. I will be making some of these recipes. Thanks!

    • Hi, Susan! Thanks for reading and commenting.

      It’s possible “Veal Cutlet Marco Polo” was on the menu at the Brown Derby at some point, but there’s no mention of it ever being a speciality. It seems like the famous Perino’s was known for its “Turkey Marco Polo,” while the Brown Derby specialized in several good veal dishes. I imagine the LUCY scribes just combined the two for this scene.

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