Helpful ReplyA New Food-Related Interest: Classic Menus

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phlmaestro
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2019/07/06 12:24:01 (permalink)

A New Food-Related Interest: Classic Menus

I've always been interested when I happen to come across an old menu from a different era. But I never made an effort to seek them out until I recently happened to notice that they have a lot of them on Ebay.  I haven't bought any because they are expensive, but most of them can be viewed online.  
 
So I started looking for things like Polynesian restaurant menus and I noticed a 1977 Philadelphia-area menu book. I mentioned it to my wife and she bought it for my birthday. I was very excited when I saw it and flipped to a page in the middle. Incredibly, the menu I happened to open to was for a restaurant called the Great Wall. It was around the corner from where my grandparents lived until the mid 70s and the owners lived across the street from my grandparents. But we never ate there because my grandparents didn't eat Chinese food. We always went to the Howard Johnson's next to the Great Wall if we were dining out. I think the Great Wall closed about a decade ago and may even still be there as an abandoned building. I regret that I never ate there. A place called Charlie's Pizza, which dates back to the late 50s, was on the Great Wall's other side and that's actually still there. I need to get to Charlie's. The photos of the pizza  don't look that appealing, but for nostalgia's sake. It was the first pizza joint my mother went to when she was a teen. 
 
Anyway, I've got a lot of good reading ahead of my in this menu book.
 


#1
Wintahaba
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Re: A New Food-Related Interest: Classic Menus 2019/07/06 14:03:18 (permalink) ☄ Helpfulby phlmaestro 2019/07/06 18:51:30
Great book and thread phlmaestro, I have been collecting menu's for years and have slowly weened my collection of @ 1000  down to @ 100. 
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leethebard
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Re: A New Food-Related Interest: Classic Menus 2019/07/06 14:15:03 (permalink)
Wintahaba
Great book and thread phlmaestro, I have been collecting menu's for years and have slowly weened my collection of @ 1000  down to @ 100. 


Hell, that must have been difficult!
 
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phlmaestro
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Re: A New Food-Related Interest: Classic Menus 2019/07/06 19:24:39 (permalink)
Wintahaba
Great book and thread phlmaestro, I have been collecting menu's for years and have slowly weened my collection of @ 1000  down to @ 100. 




What did you emphasize in deciding which 100 to keep? 
 
At least at this point, I'm satisfied to just read them online or in this book and don't feel the need to have actual old menus in hand. If I see a menu for a restaurant to which I had a close attachment, I may make an exception and buy it. An Imperial Inn menu would definitely interest me. I've written about that place and how much it meant to me extensively on here.
post edited by phlmaestro - 2019/07/06 19:36:46
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Louis
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Re: A New Food-Related Interest: Classic Menus 2019/07/07 11:51:47 (permalink)
I was looking at those prices from 1977.  It reminds me of the six months I lived in the Detroit area in the latter half of 1976.  I could eat three large restaurant meals a day for less than $10.  Because it was close by, 1/4 of the time I ate at Elias Brothers' Big Boy restaurant chain, but I explored as many of the restaurants in the area as my $70 a week in extra spending money would allow.  I ate so much that I gained 25 pounds in the first two months.
 
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JRPfeff
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Re: A New Food-Related Interest: Classic Menus 2019/07/07 12:56:26 (permalink)
Louis
I was looking at those prices from 1977.  It reminds me of the six months I lived in the Detroit area in the latter half of 1976.  I could eat three large restaurant meals a day for less than $10.  Because it was close by, 1/4 of the time I ate at Elias Brothers' Big Boy restaurant chain, but I explored as many of the restaurants in the area as my $70 a week in extra spending money would allow.  I ate so much that I gained 25 pounds in the first two months.
 


Louis,
 
I remember the first time I spent more than $10 for a single meal. It was for a steak dinner in the early 1980's. I was aghast. Now that $10 gets you two coffees at Starbucks.
 
Jim
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phlmaestro
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Re: A New Food-Related Interest: Classic Menus 2019/07/07 13:10:05 (permalink)
I glanced through a few dozen menus last night. Keep in mind they're all from 1977.
 
The going rate for a shrimp cocktail was $3-$3.50.  A fancy place downtown offered a fresh lobster cocktail for $4.  A steak at a nice restaurant was around $10, and included a salad and sides. A lobster entrée at a nice restaurant ran between $10 and $12.50.
 
Most casual restaurants appeared to have appetizers that were a little over a dollar and sandwiches for a couple dollars.
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Wintahaba
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Re: A New Food-Related Interest: Classic Menus 2019/07/07 13:28:13 (permalink)
phlmaestro
Wintahaba
Great book and thread phlmaestro, I have been collecting menu's for years and have slowly weened my collection of @ 1000  down to @ 100. 




What did you emphasize in deciding which 100 to keep? 
 
At least at this point, I'm satisfied to just read them online or in this book and don't feel the need to have actual old menus in hand. If I see a menu for a restaurant to which I had a close attachment, I may make an exception and buy it. An Imperial Inn menu would definitely interest me. I've written about that place and how much it meant to me extensively on here.


phlmaestro, Good question. Having been in the Restaurant Biz all my life along w/ being an artist, I am drawn to both the graphics and the regions. Places near where I have lived or frequented. I enjoy the history of restaurants and have always collected vintage Restaurant memorabilia and Roadside items (Gas-Food-Lodging pics/postcard/etc) including service ware. Tiki and Diner have also played a part.
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Louis
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Re: A New Food-Related Interest: Classic Menus 2019/07/07 18:52:08 (permalink)
About five years ago, I found a website that listed a few old restaurant menus from 100 years ago.  It compared the menus of 1914 to those of 2014.  (I may have found it through a link on this site.  I don't remember.)  If you are interested in restaurant menu history, you may enjoy this.  (Scroll your cursor back and forth to see the difference between the menus.)
 
https://www.buzzfeed.com/rachelysanders/nyc-restaurant-menus-100-years-ago?utm_term=.auJroLJ2z
 
post edited by Louis - 2019/07/07 18:54:58
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ScreamingChicken
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Re: A New Food-Related Interest: Classic Menus 2019/07/07 18:57:20 (permalink)
JRPfeff
I remember the first time I spent more than $10 for a single meal. It was for a steak dinner in the early 1980's.

Hmmm...while I can't be sure I wouldn't be surprised if the first time I spent more than $10 on a meal was the Aurelio's pizza I bought with my football pool winnings after the Dolphins beat the Bears in 1985.  Back then $10 would get you a decent amount of pizza and I was young enough to be able to eat it all.
 
I'm also a big fan of old menus, and old barbecue books as well.
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leethebard
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Re: A New Food-Related Interest: Classic Menus 2019/07/07 19:32:11 (permalink)
Have you ever seen "The Complete Family Cookbook"? I bought one at an antique book store in large, thick format paperback...Thousands of every day c9mmon recipes, and cooking charts. My mom, rest her soul. loved that book(of the many, many she had. I've used it ever since. It started to fall apart a bit as paperbacks are wont to do. I looked on Amazon and was surprised to see copies for sale, used. Also found it in a looseleaf hard cover edition, which now has an honored position on our cookbook shelf.

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phlmaestro
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Re: A New Food-Related Interest: Classic Menus 2019/07/23 17:00:05 (permalink)
I just noticed that there is a menu from Arthur's Steakhouse available for a fairly reasonable price from Ebay. I think I'm going to get it.  I'm not saying this will be the first of many, but who knows.
 
From what I understand, Arthur's was THE steakhouse to go to in Philadelphia for special occasions for decades. I think it went out of business in the 70s or 80s.
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Wintahaba
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Re: A New Food-Related Interest: Classic Menus 2019/07/24 14:35:09 (permalink)
phlmaestro, That's a nice one...congrats. Here are a couple you should look for in the wild in your area. If you can find one online you will pay $$$.



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phlmaestro
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Re: A New Food-Related Interest: Classic Menus 2019/07/24 15:09:35 (permalink)
Wintahaba
phlmaestro, That's a nice one...congrats. Here are a couple you should look for in the wild in your area. If you can find one online you will pay $$$.







 
Thanks, Wintahaba. Appreciate that.
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phlmaestro
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Re: A New Food-Related Interest: Classic Menus 2019/07/24 22:39:58 (permalink)
I thought there may have been a problem with my work computer, but I can't see the photos on my home computer either.
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Re: A New Food-Related Interest: Classic Menus 2019/07/25 22:09:53 (permalink)
I had never heard of Lew Tendler's, a Philadelphia restaurant that closed when I was very young, until a columnist from the paper where I work wrote this piece:
https://www.inquirer.com/philly/sports/20170326_Frank_s_Place__Now_this_was_a_sports_bar.html
 
But reading this column made me wish I could go back in time to eat there when it was in it's heyday.
 
I was excited when I found that there are copies of the menu on Ebay. I will probably eventually buy one, but for now, I'm content to view it online. 
 
It's an amazing menu for the array of food on it. There is sirloin steak for two, prime rib, Chinese pepper steak, chicken a la king, corned beef, pastraimi and chopped liver sandwiches, Welsh rarebit, chicken a la Mexicaine, a nice array of seafood and desserts, and much, much more; even a limited breakfast selection.
 
 

 
Tendler had been a world class boxer who fell just short of winning a championship. He was inspired to open his restaurant by Jack Dempsey's place in New York City. The article goes into the extent to which visiting athletes would frequent the restaurant.
post edited by phlmaestro - 2019/07/25 22:16:03
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Re: A New Food-Related Interest: Classic Menus 2019/07/26 11:36:39 (permalink)
Ugo Sguanci was a Long Island, NY, chef and restaurant owner. Even though I lived on Long Island and may have eaten in one of his places, our paths never crossed until after we had both retired. I met him in Quito, Ecuador, where he and his second wife had settled. His wife, Cecy, knew my wife from years ago in NY. My wife and I were in Quito and we were invited to their home for their annual Thanksgiving dinner. The dinner was great. Ugo and Cecy were very charming and the perfect hosts.
 
Afterwards, Ugo and I talked for a long time. Mostly, we talked about NY and all the places we both knew, from Monte’s Venetian Room in Brooklyn to Nick’s other place on the other end of Long Island, Gurney’s Inn in Montauk.
 
He told me how he had first come to the US from Bologna, Italy, to cook for his aunt in her Manhattan restaurant. She owned the Mama Laura Restaurant on East 58th Street.
 
I looked around online to see what I could find out about the long gone Mama Laura Restaurant. I couldn’t obtain the real thing, but I did get a copy of the menu dating from, I’m guessing, the late 1950s. I had it framed and brought it to Ugo. Even though I explained the pages were just copies, he was deeply touched. He explained that his tears were for his aunt, Laura. He recognized her handwriting on the menu.
 
Check out the prices of a NYC restaurant back then. From the full-dinner page, I think I’d have the baked oysters, the onion soup, the filet mignon and the profiteroles glace for dessert. Not bad for $7.00.
 

 

 
 
post edited by bigbear - 2019/07/26 11:39:21
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phlmaestro
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Re: A New Food-Related Interest: Classic Menus 2019/07/26 11:49:48 (permalink)
I think I'd have been happy dining out in the 50s at places like Lew Tendler's and Mama Laura. They are great menus. I love the variety.
 
I don't even understand much of what's written on some of the top upscale restaurants today. In the first place, many of them don't give you any choices. You pay a high price and take whatever the chef feels like cooking that night. There are a lot of popular foods I don't eat, so that approach doesn't work for me.
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Wintahaba
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Re: A New Food-Related Interest: Classic Menus 2019/07/26 13:33:24 (permalink)
More great stuff gents....keep them coming. phlmaestro, Are you saying you can't see my pics? Because I can. Hmmm.
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phlmaestro
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Re: A New Food-Related Interest: Classic Menus 2019/07/26 15:24:47 (permalink)
Wintahaba
More great stuff gents....keep them coming. phlmaestro, Are you saying you can't see my pics? Because I can. Hmmm.


Yes. I cannot see the menu photos you posed. It looks like there should be three of them.
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cavandre
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Re: A New Food-Related Interest: Classic Menus 2019/07/28 10:05:31 (permalink)
phlmaestro
Wintahaba
More great stuff gents....keep them coming. phlmaestro, Are you saying you can't see my pics? Because I can. Hmmm.


Yes. I cannot see the menu photos you posed. It looks like there should be three of them.


You're not alone...just little black squares on mine!
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leethebard
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Re: A New Food-Related Interest: Classic Menus 2019/07/28 11:50:18 (permalink)
Menu photos DO show up for me BUT at other times on different threads, I do get the dreaded little boxes. Anybody know why that happens sometimes and sometimes not for different posters at different times? Fine for one poster, but not another?
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cavandre
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Re: A New Food-Related Interest: Classic Menus 2019/07/29 12:27:30 (permalink)
leethebard
Menu photos DO show up for me BUT at other times on different threads, I do get the dreaded little boxes. Anybody know why that happens sometimes and sometimes not for different posters at different times? Fine for one poster, but not another?


Different browser?
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