There Were No Monkeys At Monkey Bar — But Everyone Else Was There
Yesterday the LA Weekly featured a story on the 90’s Los Angeles hot spot The Monkey Room where Gordon Naccarato was Executive Chef.
Gordon says ” Gordon says “was a crazy time! Every night insanity”
The food wasn’t shoddy either, boasting a fusion menu from the “global table” that Reichl mused was the “90s on a plate.” Head Chef Gordon Naccarato had cut his teeth at Michael’s in Santa Monica, before opening the celebrity mecca Gordon’s in Aspen with Bruce Paltrow and Blythe Danner. “Naccarato cooks as someone who loves ethnic food,” food writer Laurie Ochoa wrote. “If we’re lucky, this is the direction high-end ethnic cooking is going- food inspired not by cookbooks, but by direct experience.” She particularly liked Monkey Bar’s Puerto Nuevo-style lobster tacos, while Jonathan Gold loved the chili noodles.
Monkey Bar’s food even had the approval of Julia Phillips, producing powerhouse and author of the scandalous 1991 Hollywood expose “You’ll Never Eat Lunch in This Town Again.” “The roast chicken stuffed with mushrooms and dressing and garlic mashed potatoes from Monkey Bar” was her favorite meal in L.A., she told the Los Angeles Times. “That place is such an absolute scene right now, if someone had it sent to my home I’d be happy. And except for the mashed potatoes it is really low-cal.”
What Monkey Bar really served up was sleazy-chic star-power. It was particularly popular with beefy male hotties from the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s on the prowl. Nicholson was, of course, a constant presence. Don Henley, Mickey Rourke and Kiefer Sutherland were all regulars. Shannon Doherty made it one of her party stops, while more refined stars like Glenn Close and Nick Nolte dined with James Brooks in a secluded booth. There were many industry soirees: at a Grammy party for the Atlantic Group, Nicholson partied with David Crosby, Mr. Big (no, not that Mr. Big) and First Brother Roger Clinton. When Nicholson received the Life Achievement Award from AFI, he unsurprisingly held the after-party at Monkey Bar.
From its opening, Monkey Bar was also the favorite hang-out of Heidi Fleiss, ‘90s “madam-to-the-stars” and current macaw breeder.
Read More about the wild times at The Monkey Bar here