Vintage New York Bistro

February 4, 2016

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After reading Pete Wells on the wonderful Benoit (I’m also a fan), I couldn’t help thinking about a much earlier version of a New York bistro.  So I read Gael Greene’s valentine to the restaurant: Cafe Chambord as Love Object. You should too; if nothing else it says a lot about the difference between then and now.

Le Cafe Chambord opened in 1936 at 801 Third Avenue (across the street from where Smith and Wollensky is today), when the Third Avenue El still cast a shadow over the entire area.  Later it moved to East 55th Street, and set up shop on the site of La Cote Basque.  But this enormous menu is from the thirties.

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And then there was this smaller insert – just a small sampling of the restaurant’s specialties. Which gives a sense of their mad ambitions.

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  • Irene Pate says:

    How many people would be able to read , understand , and order from this menu today ?

    I think very few. We’ve lost something.

  • Susan T. Case says:

    Irene Pate, you took the words right out of my mouth. Wish I could sample this menu inside that same mouth. Thanks, Ruth, for these wonderful posts.

  • Tom Steele says:

    If you can speak/read French, you can navigate the menu. If you know a thing or two about French cookery, you’ll know many if not most of the preparations. How I would love to go to this restaurant for dinner tonight!

  • Judi Suttles says:

    I would love to have had rhe opportunity to sample this incredible menu.

  • Rita Waldorf says:

    My mother kept a copy of the menu from the late 30s.
    I am sure I have it buried somewhere. The restaurant was very special to her;
    an anniversary dinner.

  • Heather Copps says:

    Here in Minneapolis, we just lost our wonderful La Belle Vie, a James Beard foundation favorite and, while not as old, a town favorite for special events and accessible dinning luxury. At times my husband and I would simply sit in the lounge for a cocktail and enjoy the ambiance. Its nice to remember the special moments and acknowledge the attention the detail at these wonderful places.

  • Jim Windle says:

    Gael Greene’s piece is about Cafe Chauveron not Cafe Chambord. There’s also an old Craig Claiborne piece about Roger Chauveron in retirement in Florida that has the recipe for Oysters Chauveron.