Posts Tagged ‘vintage menus’

Thanksgiving dinner at the Waldorf Astoria, 1956

November 12, 2013

It’s Thanksgiving during the Eisenhower years. You’re rich, you live in New York City, you don’t really want to schlep around and then prepare your own turkey dinner.

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Good thing the Waldorf Astoria hotel, between Lexington and Park Avenues and 49th to 50th Streets, is open for the holiday.

Everything on this vintage menu still sounds wonderful (note the Waldorf salad, invented by hotel chefs in 1893), and very regional American: old fashioned cream of pumpkin Carolina, roast Vermont turkey, Iowa succotash. Who knew New Jersey specialized in cider?

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This relatively contemporary menu has been pared down from the massive bills of fare handed out by the city’s luxurious hotel restaurants during Gilded Age Thanksgivings.

Browse them in the New York Public Library’s Buttolph menu collection, which can be viewed in their Digital Gallery—an exceptional resource.

A 1960s menu from a Chinatown restaurant

May 10, 2012

A buck bought you a lot of food at the Rice Bowl, a Cantonese place at 44 Mott Street: “in the heart of Chinatown,” as the massive menu points out.

Open from 1939 to 1970, it was a “sophisticated high-class restaurant that required gentlemen to dress in suit and tie,” writes Daniel Ostrow and Mary Sham, authors of Manhattan’s Chinatown.

The Rice Bowl had quite an assortment of chow mein, the Americanized noodle dish topped with soupy vegetables that epitomized Chinese food decades ago.

It’s tough to find a bowl of chow mein in the city today, amid all the trendy Asian fusion spots. Even the last chow mein neon sign is gone.

A 1950s menu from New York favorite Schrafft’s

July 23, 2011

Until the 1970s, the city was dotted with Schrafft’s restaurants, a popular mini-chain in the tradition of Child’s and Chock Full o’Nuts that offered sandwiches and ice cream—mostly to female diners.

“Despite efforts to attract more men as customers with the addition of cocktail bars at many “stores” as they were known, Schrafft’s remained known primarily as a woman’s emporium,” states the Oxford Companion to American Food and Drink, published in 2007.

“Hot fudge sundaes, lobster Newberg, and creamed chicken on toast could be had in an atmosphere of middle-class gentility.”

This 1959 menu comes from the wonderful menu collection that’s part of the New York Public Library Digital Collection.

Check out the offerings here—such as eggs scrambled in butter and crushed strawberry sundae.

Top photo: a Schrafft’s on Fifth Avenue and 13th Street, no longer there

Drinks and then some jazz on 52nd Street

March 19, 2010

Based on this vintage menu from The Hickory House, I’d guess it was a swinging little place to have cocktails and dinner and then catch a show on West 52nd Street.

That stretch of midtown used to be crowded with jazz clubs in the 1940s and 1950s.

Turns out The Hickory House, opened in 1933, was known for its steaks and jazz lineups.

But The Hickory House couldn’t have been too cool; according to the menu, they had a branch in Miami Beach. 

Still, check out these cheapo drink prices. Post-Prohibition New York City was a hard-drinking town.