July 17, 2017
This is the menu I stole after a lunch in 1980, at Cecilia Chiang’s elegant Mandarin Restaurant in San Francisco’s Ghirardelli Square.
And speaking of The Mandarin, if you have not seen Wayne Wang’s beautiful movie about owner Cecilia Chiang (still going strong at 97), don’t miss Soul of a Banquet.
Meanwhile, across the Bay in Marin, I was reviewing Maurice et Charles Bistrot. It was less fun than it had been when the irrepressible Robert Charles was on hand, but by then he’d decamped to Truckee to open La Vieille Maison. I got to know him while writing a story about the garlic cult: I accompanied filmmaker Les Blank to Truckee where he was shooting a scene ( Bruce Aidells leaning into a garlic massage at the restaurant), for Garlic is as Good as Ten Mothers.
July 16, 2017
Came upon an old folder filled with menus from when I was a California critic. I’ll be posting them over the next few days. This one, from The Trellis Restaurant in Williamsburg caught my eye. Marcel Desaulniers (despite his name, he’s an American-born chef), has since sold the restaurant. But he remains famous for, among other things, a cake called Death by Chocolate. (It was not on the menu in 1983.)
With its three Michelin stars, Meadowood is now a much more exalted restaurant than it was in 1983. But it’s always been good – it was always a favored place for local winemakers to take clients to dinner – and is still one of the dreamier places to stay in the Napa Valley.
October 4, 2016
A little something to cheer us all up during this crazy political season. It was such a hopeful moment…..
September 29, 2016
Billy Rose was one of the great theater figures of the last century. He began as a lyricist (among other things he wrote It’s Only a Paper Moon), was married to Fanny Brice (Funny Girl) for almost ten years, and became a producer (there is still a Broadway theater named for him). But as I perused this old menu from The Diamond Horseshoe, the nightclub he ran in the Paramount Hotel near Times Square, I realized he also had one of New York’s first farm-to- table restaurants. (The farm was apparently bought before the United States joined the war, in anticipation of rationing.)
If you’d like an image of the dining room, here’s one from the New York Public Library archive.
And here’s the menu. The night club opened in 1938 and closed in 1951; I’m not sure what year this menu dates from, but from this comment about the taxes, I suspect it was during the war years.
(Sorry I cut off the prices; the lemon sole was $3, the lobster $4.25, everything else either $3.50 or $3.75.)
September 28, 2016
Just came upon this trove of menus from a visit to St. Helena in 1988. This French Laundry (same place, different restaurant) belonged to the Schmitt family, who sold it to Thomas Keller and moved up to an apple farm in the Anderson Valley.
The French Laundry, in those days, had a legendary wine list; every wine grower in the Napa Valley was on their list.
Tra Vigne, sadly, closed last year.
Another long-lost restaurant….
Mustard’s, however, soldiers on, still serving Cindy Pawlcyn’s fantastic food after all these years. And look at those wine prices!
And finally, Miramonte, another restaurant that is no longer with us.