Gone, Gone, Gone

January 11th, 2018 § 2 comments § permalink

The bustling, noisy, fragrant Fulton Fish Market on Fulton Street and the East River in lower Manhattan is long gone. Together with the produce market that flourished on the lower west side of the borough. Both moved to Hunts Point in The Bronx. Yes, there’s better refrigeration facilities there plus transportation advantages. However, the Fulton Fish Market had a certain ambiance that was unique. Joseph Mitchell, the late New Yorker Magazine writer, liked to hang around there. He captured its essence in “Old Mr. Flood” and “Up in the Old Hotel” (about the building that housed the Sloppy Louie’s Restaurant). Close to Louie’s was the venerable Sweet’s seafood restaurant (Founded in 1845 and closed in 1992). HG dined there often circa 1959-1962 when business brought HG downtown. One dozen oysters on the half shell. Fried smelts and cole slaw. Martini before lunch. Bass ale and Guinness with the food. Cost: Six bucks. Yes. Check out the 1960 menu on the New York Public Library website and be dazzled. Louie’s was plain spoken but not sloppy. (Opened in 1930 and shuttered in 1998). The owner, Louis Morino, served very fresh seafood at low prices. There were some surprises. HG had his first taste of sea urchin roe (Uni) there. Old fogey HG mourns the transformation of the meatpacking district into a high fashion zone. (However, HG loves Daughter Victoria’s Cookshop Restaurant on Tenth Avenue, the lovely High Line promenade and the wondrous Whitney Museum). The gritty Bronx Terminal Market in the shadow of Yankee Stadium still bears the name but has become a vast shopping center with the usual tenants and dining highlights like Subway and Applebee’s. Before its dread metamorphosis, HG was the battling public relations spokesmen for the wholesale fruit and vegetable merchants that occupied sprawling stalls there. The merchants were fighting displacement. HG fought the good fight but dubious “Progress” won out. And, another colorful, lively bit of New York was erased.

Gone But Not Forgotten Restaurants: 4 Seafood Greats

June 27th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

While New York is still chock full of great seafood restaurant there are four (now shuttered) that HG still pines for.

1. Gage and Tollner in downtown Brooklyn. One of the oldest restaurants in New York City, this was a hangout for aristocratic old families of Brooklyn Heights. Entirely illuminated by gas lighting, the untouched turn of the century decor was just wonderful. Dignified, African-American waiters. The sleeves of their jackets had stripes denoting years of service. Average was 25 years. Best dishes: Sauteed clam bellies. Shad and shad roe (in season). Clams and oysters on the half shell. There was also a meat dish fancied by HG: A big, rare (Juicy and gamy) mutton chop accompanied by corn fritters.

2. Gloucester House in the East 50’s. Chaste New England decor. Very expensive. Clientele: Rich Park Avenue types and publishing biggies. HG often saw Helen Gurley Brown (One time Editor of Cosmopolitan Magazine, author of Sex and the Single Girl and longtime advocate of sexual liberation) and her film producer husband David Brown (“Jaws”, “The Sting.” etc.). Best Dishes: Broiled lobster. Lobster Newburg. Potatoes au gratin. Fried onion rings. Swordfish.

3. Seafood of the Aegean in the East 50’s. Decor: Stylish, yet Greek (hard to imagine, well…just try!). Clientele: Madison Avenue advertising executives. Best dishes: a lemony Avoglemono soup. Shrimp Santorini — Jumbo shrimp with grilled whole tomatoes, tomato sauce and sharp feta cheese — served bubbling hot.

4. Sweets located on the East River waterfront near Wall Street. Decor: Very austere, no frills. Crusty, bad tempered old waiters. Clientele: Wall Streeters and the coffee, tea and cocoa importers that were HQ’d on Water Street. Best dishes: The very best and freshest simply broiled and sauteed fish; clams, oysters, lobsters and crabs—all purchased that morning from the nearby Fulton Street Fish Market.

Anchors Aweigh, Indeed.