Recipes for Old Menus

Farm to Table, Circa 1938

September 29, 2016

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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.)

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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.

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(Sorry I cut off the prices; the lemon sole was $3, the lobster $4.25, everything else either $3.50 or $3.75.)

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When the Napa Valley Restaurant Scene was Young

September 28, 2016

 

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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.

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Tra Vigne, sadly, closed last year.

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Another long-lost restaurant….

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And another….

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Mustard’s, however, soldiers on, still serving Cindy Pawlcyn’s fantastic food after all these years.  And look at those wine prices!

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And finally, Miramonte, another restaurant that is no longer with us. fullsizerender-8

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Looking Back: DiMaggio’s Restaurant

September 27, 2016

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Please excuse the quality of the reproduction: this is a forty year old Xerox of a menu that was already forty years old when I copied it.  But there’s a lot to look at here, from the fact that abalone was still pretty inexpensive, that Olympia oysters were still available (they all but disappeared for many years), and that a child’s plate consisted of filet of sole or lamb chop (one). Not exactly what we’d consider kid food today.

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If you want to see what Di Maggio’s Restaurant looked like, this article includes wonderful vintage video of the place.

 

What isn’t mentioned?  That Joltin’ Joe’s Dad, Giuseppe, a lifelong fisherman, was not allowed to fish during World War II because he was Italian, and considered an alien risk. He was not, in fact, even allowed to visit the family restaurant: As an enemy alien, he was prohibited from traveling more than five miles without permission. (Italians in San Francisco also had a curfew, and many of their homes were seized by the government.)

For more information on the family, this article is instructive.

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