The original Brown Derby, which opened on Valentine’s Day of either 1926 or 1929 (accounts differ) and moved one block away in 1937.
Apart from the gimmick of the name and pretty good food, the restaurant had two things going for it. One was the Cobb Salad, which was invented at the Brown Derby, which was owned by the Cobb Family. As the delicacy caught on in other eateries, there was much publicity as to where it had begun, and many people wanted to to and try the original. Many people also wanted to dine where the stars ate, and that was an even better reason to dine at the Derby. Like many restaurants where the big attraction is celebrity clientele, the proprietors advertised their famous patrons by covering the walls with their caricatures.
Original Brown Derby Cobb Salad
Get out your large chopping block and best knife /p>
1/2 head of chilled iceberg lettuce, 1/2 bunch chilled watercress, 1 small bunch of chilled chicory, 1/2 head of chilled romaine, 2 medium-sized peeled tomatoes, 8 ounces breasts of roasted chicken or turkey (depending on what story you believe and the whims of the chef), 6 strips crisp bacon, 1 avocado, 2 hard-cooked eggs, 2 tbs., chopped chives, 1/2 cup fine grated imported Roquefort cheese, Plus, 1 cup Brown Derby Old-Fashioned French Dressing (see recipe below)
Finely chop the lettuce, watercress, chicory and romaine, and arrange in a wooden salad bowl. Cut the tomatoes in half, remove seeds, dice finely and arrange in a strip across the salad. Dice the turkey meat and arrange over top of the chopped greens, Chop the bacon finely and sprinkle over the salad. Decorate the salad by sprinkling over the top the chopped eggs, chopped chives, and grated cheese. Just before serving, mix the salad thoroughly with Original Cobb Dressing.
Brown Derby Old-Fashioned French Dressing
This is the French dressing which became so popular with the “Stars”. The cup of water is optional, depending upon the degree of oiliness or thickness desired in the dressing.
1 cup water, 1 cup red wine vinegar, 1tsp. sugar, juice of 1/2 lemon, 2 1/2 tbs. salt, 1 tbs. ground black pepper, 1 tbs. Worcestershire Sauce, 1 tbs. English mustard, 1 clove garlic (chopped), 1 cup olive oil, 3 cups salad oil.
Blend together all ingredients except oils. Add olive oil and salad oils and mix well again. Chill well and shake before serving.
Some patrons couldn’t get enough of the Roquefort cheese. This was the roaring “20s” and many people had never tasted anything quite like this, so they either loved it or hated it. One day Gloria Swanson heard that someone didn’t want their blue-veined cheese. “What a waste,” she declared. Not wanting to waste anything, she had the waiter blend it into her salad dressing before it was poured over the Cobb Salad. From that day on there were two choices of dressing–with and without.
Makes 1-1/2 qts.
(The Brown Derby closed in 1985, but you can visit the Disney-MGM Studio theme park in Florida–minus the big hat).