Steak Row

May 11th, 2018 § 1 comment § permalink

There was a time (namely the 50’s and 60’s) when New York City was world capital of steak. And, the carnivorous center was Steak Row (E.45th Street from Lexington to First and its environs). The Daily Mirror was published an E. 45th and the Daily News on E. 42nd. In addition, the area housed lots of news and wire services, and feature syndicates. Some of the steak houses had news related names: Pen and Pencil, Press Box. The Editorial, Front Page, Late Edition, Fourth Estate. Other steak joints on 45th and the surrounding area were Joe and Rose, Palm, McCarthy’s, Pietro’s, Danny’s Hideaway, Assembly, Mike Manuche’s and Christ Cella. In the west side theater district there were Gallagher’s and Frankie & Johnny. On 23rd Street, the wonderful Cavanagh’s. Of course, in Brooklyn the kingpin was Peter Luger’s (still reigning). Of them all, HG’s favorite was Christ Cella. Not content to serve the best steaks, salads and cocktails HG ever savored, Christ Cella would greet the spring season with the ultimate platter of shad, shad roe and bacon (Christ Cella was one of HG’s seven favorite New York restaurants of all time. The others were Le Pavillon, Fornos, Luchow’s, Gage and Tollner, Gitlitz Delicatessen and Keen’s. Only Keen’s remains). When HG/BSK lived in Colorado, their favored dining spot was the Denver branch of Palm. Unlike Palm on Second Avenue in New York (“Where Tough Guys Feed Big Shots”), The service was gentle and friendly in the western mode. HG’s favorite dish was sliced rare sirloin served over a tossed salad. BSK replicates this dish, improving it with lush blue cheese dressing. Like New York, Denver Palm adorns its walls with cartoons of local celebrities. As a leading local PR pro, HG felt like a Big Shot as HG dined beneath a flattering cartoon of HG’s handsome mug.

Bronx Bakeries: Goyish

May 9th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Okay. “Goyish” means not Jewish. And, “goyish” bakeries abounded in The Bronx of HG’s young days. The Cushman’s chain was venerable. It had a 109-year history with the last unit (in the Port Authority Bus Terminal) closing in 2014. At its height, Cushman’s had 45 stores in New York. Closed them in 1964. Cushman stores had a makeover in the 1930’s. They were instantly recognizable with their beautiful art deco exteriors. Art deco design denoted optimism during the dark days of the Great Depression as exemplified by the exquisite Grand Concourse apartment buildings that can still be viewed today. Cushman’s sold splendid cookies and a lush, egg shaped pastry filled with custard. Hanscom’s was another big chain with exterior design by architect Horace Ginsbern (later the favorite architect of post-World War Two apartment house developers in New York). Their chocolate cream pie was heavenly. The chain went out of business in 1956. Sometimes little HG took a long walk to the Italian bakeries on Arthur Avenue off Fordham Road. Brought back glorious loaves of Italian bread, pignolia cookies and cannoli. (During their New York days. HG/BSK’s favorite Italian bakery was Zito’s on Bleecker Street. Incomparable loaves). The greatest of all bakeries was Sutter’s. Spacious store on the Grand Concourse in The Bronx plus branches in Manhattan (Greenwich Village) and Brooklyn (Flatbush). Sutter’s utilized three baking styles–French, Danish and Viennese. Wonderful croissants and brioche. Pecan rings, And (sorry, Paris) the best baba au rhum in the world.

Bronx Bakeries: Jewish

May 8th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

All main shopping avenues in The Bronx of yesteryear had a “Jewish” bakery. Yes, there were non-Jewish bakeries spread throughout the Bronx and HG will describe them in a following post. But, in HG’s youth, the Jewish bakery on West Kingsbridge Road was the dispenser of joy. Bagels, Bialys, “pletzels” (onion topped flat breads); onion rolls,crisp skinned rolls dotted with poppy seeds, rye bread, pumpernickel bread, corn bread. All of these were worthy companions of the Sunday feast of cream cheese with lox, sturgeon, whitefish, sable, kippered salmon. Plus pickles, olives, sliced tomatoes and onions. Plentiful coffee (and a few shots of brandy). Big time smoked fish jamboree. The bakery also carried a variety of cookies (not great), cheesecake (great); a version of Italian almond biscotti called “mondelbrot” (great), jelly doughnuts and crullers (fair); “mondels” , hollow little balls of dough to be added to soup. HG’s late Mom made tiny balls of dough and baked them into a sticky loaf with honey and ginger. This was called “taigelach” (super great). She also made cinnamon and walnut “rugelach” (ultimate state of the art). Today’s rugelach sold by everyone from Zabar’s to Whole Foods are a pallid imitation. Elaborate, high-cal butter cream cakes were a staple at the bakery. HG’s Mom and Dad brought them to the apartments of friends when they gathered for an evening of gossip, pinochle, Russian tea and vishniak (cherry brandy). The friends reciprocated and little HG ate a left over sliver with breakfast.

Innards Finale: Lungs, Spleen, Heart, Gizzards

May 2nd, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Lungen mit Miltz was on the menu of traditional New York Jewish restaurants (all gone) of yesteryear. (Gluckstern’s also served tripe). Like the African-Americans of the racist South, the impoverished Jews of pre-World War Two Europe ate every bit of the cow, inside and out. (Unlike the African-Americans, Jews, of course, didn’t eat swine). Lungen mit Miltz was a stew of lungs and spleen. Lots of garlic, onion and chicken fat gave it flavor. This was a dish not favored by HG but relished by HG’s late, beloved father. When little HG accompanied his father on a clothes buying expedition to the Lower East Side, Dad and Son lunched at a plain spoken “Romanian/Jewish” eatery. Dad had the lungen stew plus P’tcha, jellied calf’s foot. Son had karnezlach, garlic and onion infused ground beef, shaped into fat cigars and broiled. Accompanied by Mamaliga, the Romanian version of polenta. Both dishes were anointed with plentiful chicken fat poured from a pitcher on the table. Seltzer was the beverage. The only, time HG ever had spleen was in the form of a sandwich (bread was a soft bun) on the street in Palermo, the colorful Sicilian city. It was okay, not great. HG ate braised heart in French bistros on the far West Side that catered to French seamen. A strong taste. Not for the faint hearted. HG tasted grilled chicken gizzards once at a Japanese restaurant (accompanied by SJ). Tasty. However, HG has learned that “Gesiers” (duck gizzards) are superior. Usually served as part of a salad in Paris bistros. Must try if HG ever gets back to Paree.

More Innards: Sweetbreads

April 30th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Sweetbreads are the thymus gland of a cow. When cooked properly, they are one of the truly sublime delicacies. They have always been a staple on the menus of fashionable restaurants in New York. Veal sweetbreads are the best. In Paris, sweetbreads (ris de veau) are served in scores of eating places catering to budgets big and small. They are usually sautéed and served with a variety of sauces. The trick is in making the exterior crispy while keeping the interior meltingly soft. HG’s favorite sweetbreads dish was served at the Oak Room of the Algonquin Hotel. The sweetbreads were presented on a slice of lightly fried Virginia ham and topped with a generous amount of Béarnaise sauce. Very good sweetbreads were obligatory as part of the vast appetizer presentation at Jewish weddings, Bar and Bas Mitzvahs. BSK got a surprising (and shocking) revelation about culinary overabundance at the first New York Bar Mitzvah feast BSK attended with HG after their marriage. The event was at a fancy Queens catering hall. There were two appetizer tables–cold and hot. Cold featured chopped liver, smoked salmon, sable, whitefish, kippered salmon, red salmon caviar, egg salad, herring salad, potato salad, whitefish salad, olives, pickles, sliced onions, scallions, celery, Greek salad, green salad plus cheeses, bread and rolls. The hot table held sweetbreads, sliced tenderloin steak, baby lamb chops, pigs in a blanket, Greek spinach pastry plus bowls of a mushroom, wine and onion sauce. Glass of white wine in hand (later replaced by red), BSK took modest helpings of all the good things, cold and hot. HG, with a frequently refilled glass of vodka, attacked everything with gusto. After more than an hour of eating and drinking, BSK said: “Wow!! What great food. I overdid. I ate too much.” Then a voice sounded over the loudspeaker system. “Ladies and Gentlemen: Dinner is served. Please take your seats in the dining room.” Astonished BSK said: “They’re kidding. This is a joke.” “Nope,” replied HG.

More Innards: Tongue

April 29th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

BSK doesn’t like tongue. Her reason: Cow’s tongue looks like a very large human tongue. This resemblance has never bothered HG. Instead of corned beef or pastrami, HG often ordered a tongue sandwich on rye (slathered with mustard) at traditional New York Jewish delis (alas, now dwindling down to a precious few). Unlike many innards, tongue has a firm, juicy texture. It is delicious. Tongue (you’ve got to special order from your butcher) cooks easily in a crock pot or Instant Cooker. When done, remove the outer membrane and heat in the sauce and juices that are in the pot. Best tongue dish ever was served at Al Cooper’s (long closed), a favorite eatery of New York’s upper crust garmentos. The thick slice of juicy tongue was served with perfect creamed spinach and a crock of hot English mustard. Tongue often appears on Paris bistro menus with a variety of sauces: Horseradish/mustard; mushrooms and onions; capers and shallots, etc. In Santa Fe, HG gets his tongue fix at Adelita’s Taqueria on Cerrillos Road where lengua (tongue) and tripe tacos are on the menu.


April 22nd, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

No, HG is not referring to the intellect or anatomy. Rather, HG is referring to a favorite Paris bistro dish: Cervelles au Beurre Noir (sautéed calf brains with black butter sauce). This is usually served with boiled potatoes dusted with chopped parsley. When HG was in the midst of HG’s Madison Avenue public relations executive career, HG ate them at twice a week luncheons at the venerable Le Veau d’Or. The lush, buttery dish was preceded by mussels in mustard sauce (a freebie), warm sausage in a crust with hot mustard and cornichons. Creme caramel for dessert. Drank hearty Cahors. Afternoon work was impaired by drowsiness. Lots of traditional Jewish restaurants like Moskowitz and Lupowitz served garlic strewn cold brains as appetizers and the small theater district French bistros featured them. Brains are not a health food (high cholesterol) and so have disappeared from New York’s health conscious menus along with the restaurants that featured the delectable dish. Had excellent flour dusted fried brains in Rome with lots of freshly squeezed lemon juice. Also enjoyed fried brains tacos at a nondescript Mexican eatery in Denver. This was also a good place for tongue (lengua) tacos and menudo (tripe stew). Innards heaven.

Some Like It Raw

April 11th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

In HG’s post about carnivorous New York decades ago, HG forgot to mention a favorite red meat dish: Steak Tartare. Yes, spicily flavored chopped raw beef. It was a notable luncheon dish at the long closed German restaurant, Blue Ribbon, (in New York’s west 40’s). HG often ate the dish with the late New York Times journalist, Glenn Fowler, who shared HG’s passion for raw meat. The late Richard Lyman, a Herald-Tribune editor, looked at steak tartare with disdain. He called it “a police dog’s dinner.” Rivaling the Blue Ribbon masterpiece is the steak tartare served at HG’s favorite Paris brasserie, Le Stella (located in the posh 16th). It is accompanied by wonderful French fries. There are numerous recipes for flavoring steak tartare. When HG does it at home the process begins with chopping by hand a 1/2 pound of very lean tenderloin. It is mixed with some finely chopped onion, egg yolk, anchovies, Worcestershire sauce, ground pepper and a dash of ketchup and hot sauce. Accompanied by pumpernickel bread and Black and Tan (half Guinness stout and half IPA). Lusty dining.

Carnivorous Noo Yawk

April 3rd, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

These days HG rarely eats red meat except for a once-a-month rack of lamb or rib steak. But, in yesteryear New York HG was a passionate carnivore. And, the Big Apple was world capital of perfectly cooked red meat. Center of steak worship was the east 40’s (Christ Cella, Palm. Danny’s Hideaway, McCarthy’s, Pen and Pencil, etc.). Christ Cella was HG’s favorite. In the west side theater district there was Gallagher’s; Frankie and Johnnie’s; Dinty Moore’s; Jack Dempsey’s. Cavanagh’s on 23rd Street had splendid steaks in a pleasant atmosphere. Roast beef was great at the Oak Room of the Algonquin Hotel and at Keen’s Chop House. Keen’s also had a giant mutton chop which is still on the menu today. HG preferred the mutton chop with corn fritters at the long closed, alas, Gage & Tollner’s in Brooklyn. The best roast beef sandwich was the French Dip at the Brass Rail on midtown Seventh Avenue. HG had many inexpensive roast beef sandwiches at McGiness on Broadway. Smoked meat–corned beef, pastrami plus lushly fatty brisket–ruled at Jewish delicatessens throughout the five boroughs. HG’s favorite: Gitlitz on 79th and Broadway. Jewish-Romanian steaks were washed down with frozen vodka in the madhouse schmaltz fueled Sammy’s Romanian on the lower east side. Also in the LES, Moscowitz & Lupowitz served a strangely named but tasty “mushk steak.” Scores of Irish taverns served corned beef and cabbage. Favorite of cops and firemen was Conolly’s on 23rd Street that had sublime open faced sandwiches of pot roast doused in an exceptional dark gravy. Yes HG managed to ingest much cholesterol but at 88 HG is still standing (slightly stooped), walking (slowly) and swimming (gracefully).

Baa Baa

February 15th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Looking forward to dinner tonight of New Zealand lamb chops (from Trader Joe’s) accompanied by roasted Kumatos and fingerling potatoes. HG/BSK will be drinking The Velvet Devil Merlot from the blessed state of Washington. Yes, HG loves lamb chops (called them “ompa lomps” in his childhood). HG has posted many appreciations of lamb (see HG archive). TJ’s and Sam’s Club carry excellent racks of lamb from New Zealand. Sometimes, BSK separates the rack and makes “lamb popsicles” using Vikram Vij’s recipe. Lush heaven. The only lamb stew HG ever enjoyed was Spring Lamb Stew (Navarin Printanier) prepared by the late Sandra Segal (she learned to cook in Paris). Back to lamb chops. Best ever were the triple thick beauties served at Leon Lianides’s Coach House in New York’s Greenwich Village (long closed and replaced by Mario Batali’s Babbo’s) (see HG archive for more on Coach House). Perfect meal at Coach House was starter of crab cakes or black bean soup (accompanied by corn sticks); the great chops; pecan pie with vanilla ice cream. A few times a year, Lianides made a Greek tripe stew. Alas, HG was not a tripe fan in those days and so missed the treat.

Where Am I?

You are currently browsing the Restaurants of the Past category at HUNGRY GERALD.