Ah, nostalgia. Sentimental memories of yesteryear are bittersweet. HG is nostalgic about the New York HG left many decades ago. Cheap rents on the Upper West Side. Even cheaper rents in Greenwich Village and Chelsea. Mom and Pop stores everywhere. Friendly greetings. Shopkeepers who would always cash a check in the days before ATM’s. All wiped out by the chains and high priced, high rise condos. “Co-op conversions” destroyed the distinguished old apartment houses where artists and intellectuals paid affordable rents. Dining out is a questionable experience (except, of course, at Daughter Victoria’s four restaurants–Rosie’s, Cookshop, Vic’s, Hundred Acres— where her husband, Marc Meyer, is the supervising chef). Everything in most restaurants is fancy, “creative” and centered around kale, small plates and expensive wine. Cheap meals? Fuhgeddabout it!! The Automat with its good coffee and splendid casseroles is gone. So is serviceable Bickford’s. There are still a number of Jewish pastrami heavens. All lousy. Even Katz’s and Carnegie. Sadly, the Jewish “dairy” restaurants are almost all gone, There are a few left. B & H at 127 Second Avenue maintains the old traditions. For those unfamiliar with the term, a Jewish “dairy” restaurant serves fish, vegetables, dairy products. No meat or meat products. The two great New York dairy restaurants were Ratner’s (on Delancey) and Rappaport’s (on Second Avenue). What did they serve? Herring in an infinite variety,. Gefilte fish. Borscht. Schav. Pirogen. Blintzes. Noodles with butter and pot cheese. Scores of smoked fish, tuna and sardine salads. HG is only, scratching the surface. Uptown on the Upper West Side there was the Paramount Famous on W. 72nd Street and the fancy Steinberg’s on Broadway in the 80’s. There were many other good dairy eateries in The Bronx and Brooklyn. All had great bread baskets filled with bagels, bialys, rye bread, challah and pletzels (onion rolls). Gallons of sour cream adorned the tables. Enough. HG is getting tearful.
(SJ here. Please look for a rebuttal to this very good, but highly suspect post tomorrow.)