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THERE’S ALWAYS  THE COLONEL 

by David Westheimer

 

When Dody’s uncle gave us a dream of a honeymoon in New York for a wedding present in 1945, we took along a list of restaurants prepared by a bon vivant and gourmet.  The senior partner in my lawyer brother’s law firm, who had spent much of the war in Washington as a general.  He’d compiled the list for officers in the District of Columbia who were visiting New York City for the first time.

I ran across the list while rummaging through some old files and wondered if any of the eateries were still around in 2005.  Here is what I found:

Cordon Bleu—117 East 60th, Luncheon — Specialty Omelets.
Gone.

Le Beaujolais— 17 East 60th — Moderately expensive, superb French food — specialties: Mussels, Crabs, Frog Legs, Soft Shell Crabs, Tripe Crepe
Caen. Gone.

Grotta Azzurra Inn—387 Broome.  An unusual place patronized by the best Italian diners in
New York.  Kitchen in view of dining area and presided over by the mother of the young man who helps her run the place.  Has extraordinarily fine food.  Specialties — Steamed Clams (and on and on).  Order pitcher of red wine and peaches. Still there. 

 

I think we had Lobster Diavolo and a pitcher of red wine with peaches. Dody didn’t drink the wine (still doesn’t like wine) but may have eaten some of the peaches.

La Fourchette Restaurant — 342 W. 46th.
Gone.

Giovanni Restaurant,
66 E.55th. Gone, but you can get your hair done at Giovanna Sacci on Lexington.

   

Eldorado Restaurant — 33 West37th. Excellent Italian food. Gone

Chambord Restaurant —
893 3rd Avenue.  Very Expensive — takes a long time to get service; everything is specially prepared but is as good as there is in fine cuisine. Gone, but there’s a Chambord Delicatessen on The Avenue of The Americas. 

We thought the 1945 Chambord outrageously expensive. $6 a person for lunch when, as I  had told my slavering roommates in Stalag Luft III. I could get shrimp and crab prepared four different ways, fried chicken, biscuits with honey and apple pie a la mode at the San Jacinto Inn outside of Houston in 1941 for $2, “but it was worth it.”  Though country bumpkins, we had tipped  the waiter handsomely but didn’t know we were we supposed to tip the waiter captain as well and he chased us down on the street outside to apprise us of the fact.

Rueben’s Restaurant — 6 East 58th.
Gone, I’m sorry to say.  In the post-war years if you were in uniform, they moved you to the head of the line for the next table. 

 

Longchamps Restaurants — Various locations.  Good food.  Interesting place for lunch if way down in the Wall Street Area. No Longchamps Restaurant listed but there is Longchamp Leather Goods at a different address.

Ye Olde Chop House — 118 Cedar.
Gone.

The Gripsholm — 324 E. 57th.  For Scandinavian food.
Gone.

La Chaumiere, Inc. — 163 E. 56th.  For very fine French food.
Gone.

Ye Old Chop House — 118 Cedar
. Gone.

Ritz Carlton Hotel — For luncheon.  Garden Restaurant.  Madison Ave. and 46th. Still there.

Grand Central Station Oyster Bar — Try to get a soft clam stew — sit directly at the corner  where food is being prepared.
Still there and still well regarded.

Charles a la Pomme Souffle — 157 E. 55th.  Luncheon and dinner.
Gone but fondly remembered.  Dody and I had had lunch or dinner there whenever we in New York, always having soufflé potatoes and stuffed mushrooms.

Peter’s Backyard — 64 W.  10th.  Italian food.
Gone.

Manny Wolf Restaurant — 201 F. 49th.   Steaks. The restaurant is gone but there is a Manny Wolf real estate office in New York.

Billy the Oysterman Restaurant — 7
E. 20th. Gone.

Dinty
Moore’s — 216 W. 46th.  Expensive — small portions but very good. Recommend in season blueberry shortcake, also boiled chicken en casserole. Gone but not missed.  Had the only meal on our honeymoon that I didn’t care for.  Had the house specialty, corned beef and cabbage.  The cabbage tasted just as it did in Stalag  Luft III.

Hickory
House — 144 N. 52nd.Gone.

Brussels Restaurant — 26 E. 63rd.  French food — steaks, lobster, duck; specialties, expensive
. Gone.

Gloucester
  House — seafood — 59 E. 51st. Gone, but there’s a Gloucester House Fish Market in the Bronx.

La Belle Meuniere Restaurant — 12 N. 52nd. Gone.

Swiss Food — La Petite Suisse  6 N. 52nd.
Gone.

Du Midi Restaurant — 311 N.  48th.  Dinner only.  Closed Tuesdays.  Personally operated by owners.
Gone but the name lives on with Dody and me. 

 

When we went there on our honeymoon a woman at the next table kept spearing morsels from her male companion’s plate as a waiter was carrying it away.  When one of us takes something from the other’s plate, the other cries, “Du Midi, Du Midi!”

 

But don’t worry about finding a place for a bite to eat.  In a town where there wasn’t a single one in 1945, there are now 17 KFCs.  Sounds good to us but I doubt if General Hirsch would have eaten at the Colonel’s.

 

 

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