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I JUST READ Sara Bonisteel’s “The Four-Star Restaurants of New York,” in The New York Times, January 14, 2020. Note, this is the newspaper’s own top ratings, not Michelin’s Three-Star evaluations.
This in turn got me thinking about Big Apple noshing in a previous age, specifically as cited in Rider’s New York City, 1923.
I’m impressed with Arthur Fremont Rider’s precision in calling the place “New York City,” as contrasted with Sara Bonisteel’s “New York.” On the other hand, she might have called it “The City.”
Unlike Michelin guides, which have always eschewed advertising, Rider’s New York City carried 48 pages of “Trade Announcements” in the back of the guide. Here are tidbits gleaned from this section, together with my usual Internet sleuthing and comments.
High-Class International Eateries. Just as New York City is renowned today for international cuisines, Rider’s cited opportunities for enjoying food from around the world. Indeed, several restaurants claimed to be unique in this regard, at least within parameters listed in their ads. For example, there may have been other Scandinavian restaurants, but Henry’s called itself the “only high class” one.
Buon Appetito! Italian restaurants abounded. One page of Rider’s lists four of them, with Gonfarone’s at 38-40-42 West Eighth Street advertised as the oldest.
Several covered their bets with mixed international choices: Though Italian in name, Genova Restaurant offered Spanish and American cooking as well.
Chapultepec called itself “A bit of Mexico and Spain,” but announced in larger type “ITALIAN AND MEXICAN FOOD.”
Here and Now. Come to think of it, one of our favorite restaurants here in 21st-century Orange County, California, has this same menu split. Wife Dottie loves Bella Cocina’s Ravioli with Basil Pesto; I often choose the Shrimp Ceviche.
A Mother’s Choice. Back in the 1950s, Wife Dottie’s mother ordered her a Luchow’s German Cookbook. through the El Centro, California, stationery store. We still enjoy the book and its definitive recipe for German potato pancakes. (Have I ever mentioned that potatoes are worshiped by her family and, through marriage, by me too?)
Luchow’s was among the 1923 New York City international eateries, along with The Alps, Armenian Garden Restaurant, Far East Tea Garden, and others.
Trendy. Wife Dottie tells me that Chicken and Waffles is trendy cuisine today. Curiously, two of Rider’s New York City restaurants were ahead of the trend in 1923.
The Southern Restaurant, with “real home cooking,” offered “Special Chicken and Waffle Dinner Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays.” The Pine Tree had it on “Monday :: Wednesday, and Friday.”
Apparently, on Sundays and Tuesdays, we were on our own. Or did the Pine Tree’s “:” imply Mondays through Wednesdays? We’d have to call Bryant 4817 to know. ds
© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2020
Love the combinations of cuisine. When I lived in Seattle, there was a restaurant called the Crown Hill Cafe. Greek husband, Japanese wife. They made Greek and Japanese food!
Sounds great. Tasty with artful presentation.
Great stuff Dennis, thank you.
Thank you, David, for your kind words.