When The Great White Way Was Appetizing

March 17th, 2014 § 0 comments

There is a glittery expanse of Montparnasse in Paris that is filled with movie houses, creperies and four landmark restaurants. The super-pricey (and worth it) Le Dome which serves the best grilled sole in Paris (the fish swims in sublime lemony melted butter). La Rotonde which has fine oysters and steak tartare. Select (nice for a pre-dinner drink). La Coupole (beautiful art deco decor and fine oysters but everything else is miserable in this chain-operated trap for tourists). Montparnasse reminds HG of New York’s Broadway in its glory days (which ended in the 60’s). There were the big time movie houses: Paramount (where Frank Sinatra thrilled the bobby soxers); Capitol, Strand (all with stage shows in addition to first run movies)). Also Criterion, Trans-Lux, Palace, etc. Loads of good restaurants (mass and class) starting at 42nd Street and moving north into the 50’s where they gave way to auto showrooms. Here were some of them: Hector’s Cafeteria (good, cheap food); Rosoff’s (excellent roast duck); Turf (fine cheesecake); McGinnis’ (lavish roast beef sandwiches plus sea food specialties); Jack Dempsey’s (The champ served fine steaks). Just a few steps oiff Broadway was Gluckstern’s, a top flight Jewish kosher restaurant (not to be confused with the OTHER Gluckstern’s that was on Delancey St.). Also just off Broadway was Dinty Moore’s (best corned beef and cabbage plus liver with onions and bacon). The unquestioned essential Broadway restaurant was Lindy’s. Immortalized in Damon Runyon’s fiction. Comedians like Milton Berle, Jack E.Leonard, Jack Carter and Henny Youngman topped each other with one liners in its environs. It was where the powerful columnist Walter Winchell lunched. Song writers, bookmakers, gamblers, press agents, actors, producers, musicians and other colorful folk filled the tables. The food, which ranged from Jewish-American specialties to superb pork sausages with eggs, was splendid. And, the cheesecake was legendary (even better than Junior’s or Turf). What happened to the wonderful New York cuisine that Lindy’s exemplified? Gone. The world changes and not always for the better.

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