The Price Was Right

May 23rd, 2012 § 0 comments

HG flexed his dining muscles in the 1950’s when New York restaurants were very inexpensive and contained many delights for the adventurous fledgling gourmand. An HG favorite was a warm and friendly French bistro, Fleur de Lis, located at 141 W. 69th Street. It was here that HG delved into the wonderful world of innards prepared in traditional French style. Brains in black butter. Tripe in the style of Caen. Roast kidneys and kidneys in mustard sauce. Tete de Veau (all the little goodies plucked from the head of a cow and served in a thick vinaigrette). Sweetbreads in a lush red wine sauce.These dishes ranged in price from $1.35 to $1.60. Yes, you read it right. A generous plate of Sole Meuniere was $1.15 as was a heaping bowl of mussels (accompanied by pomme frites). The most expensive dish on the menu was a one and-a-half pound lobster for $3.00. HG liked to start the meal with Saucisson and warm potato salad ($.35) or pickled herring ($.35) or a copious crabmeat cocktail ($.50). Red and white wine was served by the glass ($.25). A nice aperitif was dry, chilled sherry ($.25). The cheese selection was composed of Camembert, goat, Port du Salut and blue cheese. Served generously and at the right temperature ($.25 each) Went nicely with port ($.25 a glass). Desserts included creme caramel and chocolate mousse (each $.35). All of these prices are from the Nov. 1955 Fleur de Lis menu.

At that time, HG was a highly paid journalist ($175 a week) who supplemented his pay by moonlighting as a press agent. When HG and BSK wed in 1963 they lived at 27 W. 67th Street in a dramatic artist’s studio one bedroom apartment (Rent: $140 a month). HG had left journalism for the more lucrative field of press agentry. The nearby Fleur de Lis was still going strong and the newlyweds ate there often. Prices had risen, of course, but the bistro remained quite affordable. On their wedding night (a sultry and stuffy July night) HG and BSK dined there with family members. HG had escargots (lots of garlic), mussels (lots of garlic), rare tenderloin steak (lots of garlic). Later that night, in their non-air conditioned bedroom, BSK contemplated HG, her sleep companion, her husband, her life-long partner and what she saw was a hairy man with fragrant garlic oozing from every sweaty pore. It crossed BSK’s mind then (and probably not the only time during the ensuing 49 years) that she had made a dreadful mistake.

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