Posts Tagged ‘Knife and Fork in New York’

Where “discriminating” New Yorkers used to dine

January 18, 2013

Would today’s New York foodies approve of the Skipper restaurants, a mid-century mini-chain of dining establishments centered in midtown?

Well, the food is “well-cooked” and “balanced” (nutritious and no trans fats?), and they do their own baking, which might count as local fare.


The menu items probably wouldn’t go over well. A review in the 1949 restaurant guide Knife and Fork in New York notes the “deviled crab, southern fried chicken,” and “roast beef with Yorkshire pudding.”


And the decor wouldn’t attract a trendy crowd. It’s described in the book as “tearoomy” in the “colonial mood, with colorful wallpapers.” The Skipper sounds like an inexpensive place to grab a bite if you’re hungry and not especially picky.

Interestingly, the chain has a “Men’s Grill” on 44th Street. I know the city had male-only bars well into the 1960s (McSorley’s wasn’t open to women until 1970!). But single-sex public restaurants in the 1940s?

Vintage matchbook ads for ethnic restaurants

September 1, 2011

You can discern a bit about the city’s culinary history based on the ads bars and  restaurants used to print on the free matchbooks they once offered.

Patrissey’s opened in 1906 and served Neapolitan standards. The old-school eatery snagged a new name, Nolita’s, in 2000. Which didn’t last, of course.

“Sometime around 1920, enterprising Mr. Lum took a five-minute walk north from Chinatown and opened this Canal Street Institution—three-story, white-tiled—with clothier Moe Levy as angel,” writes Knife and Fork in New York, a 1948 guide.

Lum Fong is gone, but another Chinese restaurant has taken its place.

“Distinctive European Atmosphere” raves the copy on this matchbook about the Russian Tea Room. Knife and Fork in New York wasn’t too impressed:

“Menu offerings include Russian hors d’oeuvres, beef a la Strogonoff, chicken cutlet a la Kiev, and French and American stand-by dishes.”

The place is currently still open, with the same garish decor it’s been known for for decades.

One of the first Italian restaurants in the Village

September 21, 2010

Italian restaurants have been thriving for so long in New York City, it seems strange to imagine a time when there were none.

That was just before Enrico & Paglieri opened on West 11th Street off Sixth Avenue.

“Countless people’s first Italian table d’hote meal was had here at this proudly immaculate place which, going and growing since 1908, now takes the underparts of three brownstone houses,” states 1948 restaurant guide Knife and Fork in New York.

“A la carte scope is broad and luxurious, taking in all the traditions and offering many specialties of the house, such as pate de foie gras, made on the premises, containing sherry and brandy, straciatella soup, (chicken stock, yolk of eggs, rice), risotto Piemontese (fried in broth with chopped squash, green peas, truffles).”

Enrico & Paglieri closed up shop sometime in the 1970s. Can you still get a full Italian Sunday dinner at a restaurant in New York City at 1 p.m., as listed in the guidebook?