A Christmas feast at Midtown’s new Hotel Pabst

Never heard of the Hotel Pabst? You’re not alone. The nine-story tower with a steel skeleton swathed in limestone only existed from 1899 to 1902—built on the slender triangle formed by Broadway, Seventh Avenue, and 42nd Street at Longacre Square.

Hotel Pabst in Longacre Square

Run by the Pabst Brewing Company as part of a short-term effort to acquire hotels, the elegant hostelry at the upper reaches of the city’s theater district and lobster palaces was replaced by the New York Times‘ headquarters in 1904 (and Longacre Square became Times Square).

The spicy cover of the Hotel Pabst’s Christmas menu

The Pabst didn’t last, and no one alive today would remember it. But it needs to be noted that on December 25, 1900, the hotel sure cooked up a spectacular Christmas dinner.

The eye-popping Christmas dinner menu has been preserved by the New York Public Library in their Buttolph Collection of Menus. Between the carte de jour oyster offerings to the 20-plus desserts (plum pudding! Cream puffs!) are a dozen or so courses that must have taken an army of chefs to prepare.

Many of the dishes are the typical heavy fare of a hotel menu in New York of the era: terrapin a la Maryland, quail, stuffed turkey, filet of sole, prime beef, and lamb chops.

There’s a fair number of items borrowed from French menus, which makes sense, as French cuisine was seen as the most elegant at the time.

Some of the dishes are completely foreign to contemporary American tastes, however. Cold game pie, Philadelphia squabs, and reed ducks, anyone?

One thing stands out, though: Christmas dinner at a hotel in 1900 was certainly a feast. By the time you finished your Nesselrode pudding and revived yourself with your Turkish coffee, buttons must have been popping off your clothes!

[Top photo: MCNY 93.1.1.6427; menu: NYPL Buttolph Collection of Menus]

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9 Responses to “A Christmas feast at Midtown’s new Hotel Pabst”

  1. aspicco Says:

    Why did it only last three years? Odd. A lot of money and work and boom, gone in three…

    • Bob Says:

      Urban Archive has a story called “The Pabst Hotel vs The New York Times.” See https://www.urbanarchive.org/stories/41fffx9TJ7F

      There are great photos of the interior and the construction and demolition (first of a steel structure).

      Most newspapers had been downtown in Park Row near where Pace University is now. In part in response to its competitor’s Herald Square 1894 relocation, the Times was desirous of the Longacre Square location and apparently actively campaigned against the Pabst and its illegally constructed (but not then uncommon) two-story restaurant portico that extended over the sidewalk. (Apparently the Times’ shady use of eminent domain laws to acquire its most recent headquarters location was not a unique act in its history.). The coming of the 1904 subway stop, also campaigned for by the Times, would eliminate the hotel’s underground beer hall restaurant. Losing both commercial spaces doomed the hotel.

  2. Greg Says:

    Wait . . . this building only stood for THREE YEARS? I wonder if that is a record

    • kenny Says:

      Similar to the history of the original Plaza Hotel which survived only briefly.
      Thank you Pabst for both the architecture and the beer.

  3. Kevin Says:

    Those .40 lamb chops would be $40.00 today. Just move the decimal point over on all the items and this applies. Amazing menu. Thanks for the story, as always.

  4. countrypaul Says:

    Fascinating; the meals look luscious, and the Urban Archive story of the hotel’s demise is quite the tale. I guess even the Old Grey Lady wasn’t above some developer shenanigans, was it?

  5. ironrailsironweights Says:

    I’m undecided between the mallard duck and the calf’s head.

    Peter

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