My venture into the history of Oscar's Salt of the Sea got me looking at old New York City menus on Ebay. There are many. Here are a few.
It's somehow fascinating to see what people used to eat--and what they used to pay for it. Like sugar cured ham steak followed by preserved figs in cream at Dempsey's. Or Creamed Chicken a la King on toast at the Nut Club in Greenwich Village.
Luchow's Black Forest Festival of 1958 featured Eisbein in Gelee (pig's knuckles in jelly) with home-fried potatoes for $2.25. You could also get Saure Leber (sliced calf's liver in chablis) with home-fried potatoes for $2.65.
How about an Eggburger Plate with Curleycue Fries at The Californian, 1950s "Times Square's most unusual restaurant"?
A Waldorf salad and Lobster Thermidor at Toots Shor's, in 1951, would only cost you a few bucks. At Hamburg Heaven in 1954, a "heavenly hamburg" was 55 cents and you could wash it down with a 15-cent glass of buttermilk.
By the early 1980s, a burger at Soup Burg cost you $1.30.
A Sirloin Steak for 2 at Gage & Tollner cost $10 in 1962 and a Filet Mignon went for $5.25.
You could get Scampi Puccini at Asti on 12th Street for $7.25 in 1968--plus lots of pictures of opera singers.
A hot pastrami sandwich at The Stage Deli ran you $2.45 in 1973. Today it's a bit more expensive.
At the Russian Bear you could get something called the Moscow Mule for $1.50. I bet it came with quite a kick.
And wouldn't a 55-cent King of the Sea Cooler, made with Valliant California burgundy, be refreshing on a hot day in the 1940s? They thought so with this colorful menu.
But for pure visual pleasure, the best menu in the bunch is from the fabulous Leon & Eddie's who greeted their patrons with a topless burlesque girl and the charge to "Push the first valve down." (That's a line from an old Tommy Dorsey tune, which may or may not have become a double entendre.) Inside the menu, they insist, "This is no time to be thinking of diets--sail right in and have some fun!"
This last image is not a menu, but a cocktail napkin from the Astor Roof Bar. I just like it. It's autographed by Marsha Hunt and Olga San Juan, actresses of the 1940s that someone was excited enough about, on the roof of the Astor Hotel, to ask for their autographs.