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Just wondering... Old NYC Restaurants

a
agaaga Sep 8, 2009 08:35 PM

I am cautious to say this cause I may sound too senile (sweat), but when I was living in NYC, which is about 25 years ago, there was no Jean Georges, no Per Se, no Bernardin, no Daniel, no Nobu. :)
Rather, there were Lutece (closed, I heard?), La Grenouille (seems it's still in business), Hatsuhana (once called the best sushi restaurant in NY), Four Seasons (I can see it's still in business), and Windows on the Worlds (gone with the tragic 9/11 terrorist attacks)

Best hotels also used to be the Palace (used to be called the 'Helmsley Palace'), the Plaza, Waldorf Astoria, United Nations Plaza Hotel (it was operated by Hyatt International. Now the hotel seems to be run by some other group?), Pierre, ST. Regis, Algonquin, etc. There was no W Hotel, no Peninsula or Mandarin, no Four Seasons, no Trump Hotel (There was Trump Tower though.)..

What do you think about these restaurants or hotels now?
Just curious... :)

  1. alkapal Sep 8, 2009 08:42 PM

    agaaga, you may enjoy finding menus from some of those places, through this very neat l.a. public library database: http://www.lapl.org/resources/en/menu...

    3 Replies
    1. re: alkapal
      a
      agaaga Sep 9, 2009 05:08 PM

      Oh wow! That is so cool! I could find some familiar restaurants' menus in jpg files! They even have the menu for Hatsuhana. Thanks! :)

      1. re: agaaga
        alkapal Sep 10, 2009 07:31 AM

        great! what's really neat is to go back in time, and search for menus from the '20s or '30s (or any modern decade, i suppose) -- a real slice of history!

        i learned of this when someone wanted to do a '20s-era party, and sought dishes that were popular then. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/644326

        1. re: alkapal
          a
          agaaga Sep 10, 2009 07:12 PM

          alkapal, thanks again! For the reenactment of dishes from a 20s-era party, what could be a better historical reference than the actual menu from that era? You are awsome! :)

    2. r
      RGR Sep 8, 2009 10:05 PM

      Yes, Lutece is long gone. Also no more are La Cote Basque and La Caravelle, two of the Grand Dames of classic haute French cuisine.

      For the longest time, I had wanted to go to La Genouille, one of the last remaining of that breed. We finally had dinner there in May. What surprised me was that they have really packed in the number of tables, which takes something away from the luxuriousness one expects. In fact, there was often a traffic jam of waiters along the narrow aisle leading from the kitchen in the rear to the service table in the middle. We lucked out and had a cozy table for two in a corner. The room is very pretty, and the famous floral arrangements are magnificent. Service was courteous and efficient. Our food was excellent.

      4 Replies
      1. re: RGR
        a
        agaaga Sep 9, 2009 05:10 PM

        RGR, you seem to have tried almost all the restaurants in NYC! You are awsome! :) Yes! As you said, I really loved La Genouille's floral ambience. It was at La Genouille that I tried frog meat for the first time in my life. :)

        1. re: agaaga
          r
          RGR Sep 9, 2009 05:35 PM

          agaaga,

          Well, I do go back a long way! lol Honestly, though, when it comes to the number of restaurants tried, there are many people who have me beat by a NY mile. I'm constantly saying to Mr. R., "So many restaurants, so little time!" Considering our ages, there's more truth to that statement than I care to think about.

          This year, I've made a concerted effort to get to restaurants -- "oldies, but goodies," so to speak -- that have been on my "go to" list for a long time, La Grenouille being one of them. Another was Chanterelle. And, of course, there are always new restaurants opening, so every time I check off some on the list, there are others that get added. I generally avoid going to restaurants that are brand new, though I occasionally make exceptions.

          Btw, at La Grenouille, my husband had rognons de veau (veal kidneys), prepared in a classic mustard sauce. It's one of his favorites and is rarely found on NYC menu, so he was thrilled.

          1. re: RGR
            a
            agaaga Sep 10, 2009 02:50 AM

            You must be a real foodie to try out 'oldies but goodies' especially in a city like New York, where a number of restaurants open daily. But good for you! Sometimes it is sad to watch my old time favorite restaurants go down the hill but I was so glad to hear that La Grenouille is still good foodwise. Thanks! :)

        2. re: RGR
          j
          Jane A. Oct 12, 2009 01:43 PM

          The one I still miss goes way back - Café Chambord - that's back to the 50s and farther. Also from the 50s and early 60s: Sea Fare of the Agean, Bruce Ho's Four Seas, Longchamps, Schrafft's, Christ Cella, Pavillion, and I'm sure I'll think of a few more soon!

        3. hcbk0702 Sep 8, 2009 11:00 PM

          I wasn't around 25 years ago, but I can offer some insight:

          Lutèce closed in 2004. La Grenouille is still hanging on and remains the last bastion of traditional French haute cuisine in NYC. Frank Bruni, the recently departed NY Times restaurant critic, has mentioned it in an interview with Eater: http://ny.eater.com/archives/2009/08/...
          If you're feeling nostalgic, Le Bernardin is the closest thing NYC has to a fine dining mainstay: 23 years in business and 23 unbroken years with the NY Times 4* rating. Eric Ripert is only in his 40's and if anything it seems like the restaurant continues to improve and evolve. It may leave a legacy longer and greater than Lutèce's.

          I don't think Hatsuhana has been in the discussion of serious sushi restaurants in a long time, as they aren't as exacting in terms of fish and rice quality as the top places (to be fair, they are also less expensive). Having things like California rolls and spicy tuna rolls on the menu gives the impression of a second-tier sushi restaurant.

          The Four Seasons (restaurant) is still chugging along. The food there isn't the most exciting, but it's usually well-executed and benefits from the unique dining rooms.

          The Helmsley Palace Hotel is now called The New York Palace, and it is supposedly still in the top tier of luxury hotels in NYC along with the Four Seasons, Mandarin Oriental, Peninsula, St. Regis, the Ritz-Carltons etc. The Pierre is probably a step or two behind, and while the Plaza and Waldorf-Astoria have long histories, they have been overshadowed by the above.

          2 Replies
          1. re: hcbk0702
            a
            agaaga Sep 9, 2009 05:17 PM

            Thanks very much for your information. I didn't know that Le Bernardin has been around for 23 years!

            Back then, Hatsuhana was mentioned in almost all the NYC guidebooks as 'the best sushi restaurant in NYC'. Their business was so good that they opened branches (also in Manhattan). Of course, it seems they've been falling behind since then.

            As I remember, 'The Helmsley Palace' used to have a restaurant called 'Trianon'. They served breakfast there too, as I recall. Good old memories... :)

            I also wonder whether Waldorf-Astoria still has a cafe called "Peacock Alley", where they served tea sets and cocktails and a charming lady used to play a harp in the afternoon.

            1. re: agaaga
              k
              ken in california Apr 8, 2012 05:56 PM

              The harpist was Darryl Sherman...a lot of her tunes are on my Comcast Music channel...beautiful sound and voice.

          2. b
            bronwen Sep 9, 2009 07:34 AM

            La Grenouille and Four Seasons are going strong, as is 21 Club, Delmonico's and other bastions.
            The Plaza is fine except for the Palm Court. I spent an afternoon in the Oak Bar drinking champagne last month and it looks wonderful, the murals are sparkling. The Pierre is getting ready to open Le Caprice in their old restaurant space - I popped in and checked out the wonderful Rotunda Room - really my favourite hotel, apart from the Carlyle which is also going strong. So although there are changes (Tavern on the Green will be under new ownership next year and Cafe des Artistes closed), lots of the old fabulous places are still there!! (P.S. Gabriel Kreuther at the Modern is from Alsace as was Andre Soltner of Lutece and has some Alsatian-inspired items on his menu if you're missing Lutece)

            4 Replies
            1. re: bronwen
              a
              agaaga Sep 9, 2009 05:21 PM

              Hi bronwen! Really? Cafe des Artistes is closed?? Won't they open again? Wow... I liked their ambience and I will be sad if it is gone...

              I wonder what the Plaza will look like after renovaion. I plan to check it out this time when I am in NY. :)

              1. re: agaaga
                iluvcookies Sep 10, 2009 05:27 AM

                Cafe des Artistes just closed about 2 weeks ago... from the article in the NY Times, it doesn't look like they will be reopening.

                1. re: iluvcookies
                  r
                  RGR Sep 10, 2009 06:53 AM

                  agaaga,

                  The Plaza's restaurant, the Oak Room, reopened earlier this year, and the food received a pretty scathing review and only one star from Bruni.

                  http://events.nytimes.com/2009/02/04/...

                  Chef Joel Antunes, was prompty fired, and a new chef (whose name escapes me) was hired. He revamped the menu -- more New American than French -- and prices were lowered substantially. I have not heard much about the Oak Room since.

                  iluvcookies,

                  The Langs will definitely not be reopening Cafe des Artistes. Plus, they've filed for bankruptcy.

                  The restaurant's name belongs to the Des Artistes building, and most people think, eventually, a restaurant will occupy the space again. In fact, Drew Nierporent has made noises indicating he may be interested.

                  1. re: RGR
                    a
                    agaaga Sep 10, 2009 07:05 PM

                    RGR, thanks again, for your very informative comments. :) Fortunately, I plan to try only afternoon tea at the Champagne Bar this time. But I feel sorry to see that the Oak Room isn't doing well now. The place is part of my old memories... Here are some photos of a guest room at the Plaza and myself during the early 1980s (sweat), just for fun.

                     
                     
            2. iluvcookies Sep 10, 2009 05:35 AM

              This may be of interest to you

              http://lostnewyorkcity.blogspot.com/2...

              the blogger visits old restaurants in NY and reviews them... very interesting!

              2 Replies
              1. re: iluvcookies
                a
                agaaga Sep 10, 2009 07:13 PM

                It is interesting indeed, although there are also many restaurants that I am not that familiar with. Thanks! :)

                1. re: agaaga
                  iluvcookies Sep 11, 2009 05:45 AM

                  The places he reviews are not really well known, just neighborhood stalwarts that seem to be in a time warp... places one might pass by and think "Wow, do people still go there?" Hence the feature's name. "Who Goes There?".

              2. t
                tkm616 Sep 10, 2009 09:18 AM

                i went to the four seasons about a yr and half ago. the service was horrendous but the food was almost amazing enough for me to go back.

                1 Reply
                1. re: tkm616
                  a
                  agaaga Sep 10, 2009 07:14 PM

                  Oh service wasn't that good at Four Seasons? Pity... But good thing that you could enjoy the food at least. :)

                2. s
                  smdavid Oct 12, 2009 08:37 AM

                  Remember Chanterelle. It too has closed.

                  1. r
                    rosenn Oct 12, 2009 09:19 AM

                    Le Perigord is still around and I think I heard somewhere that Andre Bouterin was back at the helm in the kitchen.

                    Sad to hear about the passing of La Cote Basque. I had an incredible meal there once. Same thing for Lutece. I was really sad about the passing of Ducasse at the Essex House- not an oldie, but we had a meal there than really can't be equalled. Such brilliance proved to be unsustainable.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: rosenn
                      h
                      hazelhurst Oct 12, 2009 11:55 AM

                      I'd heard ruours about Cafe de Artiste and a sorry it is gone...always a fun place (until a certain former Sec of State starting using MY table). Perigord is the survivor from my youth and childood..we used to also go to Le Marmiton, the old Gripsholm was a favorite, and the Brussels was lots of fun. Cella for steak, of course.
                      I remember my father's ire when skate was n longer publically available in NYC. He blamed it on John Lindsay

                    2. shaogo Oct 12, 2009 12:22 PM

                      I lived in Manhattan until 1988.

                      Lutece was a singular restaurant. I only got to go once. Le Cote Basque was also a bastion of excellence.

                      I recall eating at Rao's when Vincent Rao was still alive. Boy, were things different back then at that place. It was, and still is, among the most amusing places to have dinner in New York. If you've got a friend with a table, that is.

                      Peacock Alley is still great at the Waldorf. However, they sadly got rid of the great Daryl Sherman, a songstress who'd play the standards on Cole Porter's piano at high tea on weekdays, with a kid-friendly session on Sundays.

                      I didn't keep tabs much on the NY hotels. I do recall being a guest at a wedding at the Plaza. Guests from outside of the city got rooms for the night, and all were invited to a brunch the day following the wedding. A few of us were having drinks in one of the rooms and noticed that the wallpaper was peeling, the furniture was run-down, and the window looked out onto an airway (directly at other windows). We were aghast, thinking that the Plaza was far mor luxurious than that. Perhaps the room in question was reserved for staff of guests, e.g., drivers, etc. The high-end hotel business is competitive now in the City; it appears to me as if there's really no such thing as a run-down hotel room in New York any longer, unless one's spending $150 a night or less.

                      Finally, I remember when The Waverly Inn was a place you could get a 3-course roast beef dinner for $7.95. And eat in front of a working fireplace in an historical old inn. Boy, those were the days!

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: shaogo
                        shaogo Oct 12, 2009 01:12 PM

                        I forgot all about Luchow's. It was fabulous on 14th street and died when they moved it uptown.

                        Deserving of a nod is the oldest continuously-operating Chinese restaurant in NYC, the Nom Wah Tea Parlor on Doyers Street. They're still alive and ticking after nearly 90 years!

                      2. m
                        mairemartello Oct 12, 2009 02:54 PM

                        I know this thread is primarily about long gone upscale restaurants, but I long for: Bun 'n Burger, Starks, Longchamps, The Women's Exchange, Child's, Schraffts, the perfectly awful Monk's Inn that college kids took their dates to...and so many more.

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: mairemartello
                          shaogo Oct 12, 2009 02:58 PM

                          Bun 'n Burger, Prexy's, Chock full o' Nuts (boy, do I really miss their orange drink, hot dogs and nutted cheese sandwiches). Schrafft's and Stouffers (remember Top O' The Sixes?).

                          How about lunch at the Charleston Garden in the old B. Altman's department store? It was about $2.00 for a luncheon of meat loaf, mashed potatoes, vegetable, and their signature salad with the strawberry mayonnaise dressing.

                          And while I'm at it, I'd like to mention the old Horn and Hardart restaurant chain - the originator of the Automat.

                          1. re: shaogo
                            a
                            acoolr Dec 4, 2009 04:03 PM

                            OMG - Chock full o'Nuts - those hotdogs were the best and those nutty sandwiches. The automat was sooooo much fun as a kid - fast food at its best. Top of the Sixes - I remember birthday parties there. And who can forget Trader Vic's in the Plaza.

                            It is sad that all those great upscale places are gone. I remember going to Cote Basque for a job interview luncheon in the early 80s - what a meal and got the job.

                            How about Christ Cella and Pen and Pencil? Two great old steak places

                            1. re: acoolr
                              h
                              hazelhurst Dec 5, 2009 06:29 AM

                              I'm still saddened a little when I think of Cella's and realize again that it is gone. The End was grisly..but I cheer myself up remembering what it once was

                          2. re: mairemartello
                            iluvcookies Oct 14, 2009 08:59 AM

                            I thought it was about upscale restos still operating... If we're going to bring up not-so-upscale places then Katz's, Eisenberg's.... these places haven't changed their decor in my lifetime.

                            1. re: mairemartello
                              c
                              cblog Nov 2, 2012 01:35 AM

                              The Monks Inn! Dates used to take me there..in college! Ha! Always stuck with spinach salad. Waiters were very forward, in cassocks.

                              1. re: mairemartello
                                c
                                cblog Nov 2, 2012 02:03 AM

                                Regarding the Women's Exchange, also remembering Zoe Chase's (East 60th), and the Schrafft's on 13th and Fifth. NY Mag Best Bets wrote great reviews of these, now found in the entire magazine on Google books. At that Schrafft's, I would say 'Look mother, that lady is GASSED', and mom would say 'Don't look, dear'. My plate was a ham and butter sandwich on white with the crusts removed. That Schrafft's did NOT make the peter rabbit sundae.

                              2. k
                                ken in california Nov 26, 2009 08:46 PM

                                Gosh, do I remember Prexy's...the Hamburger with the College Education. They had a little location in the subway station under the Plaza Hotel off 58th St. It was just a hole in the wall, but what great burgers! Anybody remember a coffee shop in the east 50's off 5th Ave...Robert Day Dean? How about the funky Hamburg Cafe next to the 59th ST Bridge? Still remember the round windows. Also the Gibson on East 28th St.?

                                1. d
                                  debinqueens Nov 2, 2012 07:47 AM

                                  I have fond memories of my first visits to 'fancy' restaurants with my mom, when i was in my early teens. La Grillade -- really no more than a bistro -- on eighth in the low 50s was a favorite of hers, 'cause of the mussels. i really liked the overall vibe. and there was a Chinese place -- with a man's name as it's name -- whose name i can't recall, with the best moo shoo pork i ever had (before my 13th birthday, that is).

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: debinqueens
                                    c
                                    cblog Nov 6, 2012 05:49 PM

                                    Deb, was the Chinese place David K's? I got 'stuck' there once when my date didn't realize it was $30 combined cover + minimum pp. The Hermes and Grima jewelry got us a reprieve. Hugh Shannon was playing piano while the vertical minks cooed 'Hugh, play what you played me in Capri'!. HS also played the Bath + Tennis in WHB.

                                    1. re: cblog
                                      d
                                      debinqueens Nov 6, 2012 06:12 PM

                                      what a funny memory, cblog!

                                      no, it wasn't that place. it was a specific name a la Danny Ng and while it was more expensive than i was used to for the time -- i remember the moo shoo being somewhere in the neighborhood of $15, which seemed outlandish to me in 1980/1981 -- it wasn't quite that bad!

                                      now i am on a mission to remember/recover that memory...

                                      1. re: debinqueens
                                        s
                                        Sneakeater Nov 7, 2012 08:39 AM

                                        I know just the place you mean and I can't remember the name and it's killing me.

                                        Bill Something?

                                        1. re: Sneakeater
                                          s
                                          small h Nov 7, 2012 08:43 AM

                                          BIll Hong's?

                                          http://nymag.com/listings/restaurant/...

                                          I used to work nearby, in the mid-'90s. I thought it was crazy expensive, myself. Good, but not THAT good.

                                          1. re: small h
                                            s
                                            Sneakeater Nov 7, 2012 09:46 AM

                                            YES. THAT'S IT!

                                            (At least the one *I* was thinking of.)

                                  2. p
                                    pauliface Nov 7, 2012 09:35 AM

                                    Peter Luger is still around!

                                    1. Motosport Nov 7, 2012 10:07 AM

                                      Let us not forget Tad's Steak House. Still going strong.
                                      Once a year our family of 7 would go to Radio City Music hall for the show and a movie. Afterward we'd all go to Tad's. My dad was a mailman and Tad's was the only place in our burget. To us it was like Per Se!! Great memories.

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