EATING PLACES IN NEW YORK
The tourist no doubt would like to see some of the real foreign places. As a matter of fact, the best of these are on the lower East Side on Second Avenue, between 1st and 14th Streets.
A great many of the emigrants from Russia and Rumania, even after years of alienation, have an intense craving for the dishes of their native province. It is, therefore, the practice of one of the inhabitants of a particular province to convert her front parlor (usually located on the ground floor of a tenement) into a miniature dining room, where she caters to a limited number of her home town folk. Her shingle announces the name of her province, such as "Pinsker," "Dwinsker," "Mnisker," "Saraslover," "Bialystokter," etc., as the case may be. Here the aliens meet their friends from the Old Country and lose their homesickness in the midst of familiar faces and dialects and in the odors from the kitchen, which evoke for them images of their home and surroundings.
Near by are the famous Bohemian cafes, crowded every night to dawn with Yiddish artists, musicians, actors and litterateurs, all industriously and vehemently engaged in gesticulating and creating a sophisticated hubbub. These places are more like clubs, because the patrons are all habitues and known to each other. The cafes have added a Parisian touch with their open-air (lining, and the guests lend an air of cosmopolitanism with their conversations and faces.
Around the corner, in a wide street, are a group of Italian spaghetti houses, where the serpentine food rules in all its tortuous forms and draws the innocent and unwary diner into its maze of intricacies.
Further down is an Hungarian restaurant, serving its native menu in all its dressings and odors, and, cheek by jowl, is a Rumanian "casino," displaying its bill of fare au naturel—an array of uncooked dishes in a showcase in the window—to tempt the eyes and snare the stomach of the passersby. Here, too, the steaks are broiled and served, bloody and hot, right off the grill, on circular wooden platters.
In the upper reaches of this section are the French pastry parlors, which cater to the elite of the younger set. The sumptuous surroundings of thick green carpets, artificial palms and little glass-topped mahogany tables are reflected in the high prices charged. But the East Side beaux disregard the extravagance if they can bask a little while with a pretty girl in the atmosphere of this fictitious affluence.
The most interesting, however, are the vegetarian restaurants. These places were started by Russian refugees who were disciples of Tolstoy. Flesh, fish and fowl are utterly taboo here. For a time the patrons were confined to the rigid adherents of vegetarianism, but the creed spread, and they are now doing a flourishing business. In all, there are four such places on the East Side. Monotony has been banished from the diet by the invention of ingenious dishes that stimulate in name, taste and form the forbidden meat dishes, but the sub-stance remains faithfully vegetarian.
While these places are interesting to read about, it must be borne in mind that some of them are not attractive; but of course they are novel and malodorous. They are quite thick along Second Avenue, sometimes as many as three on a block.
French cooking is a feature of nearly every first class hotel, and there is no difficulty in obtaining strictly French dishes, even to snails, prepared by a French chef in any of the de luxe hotels or restaurants, like the Biltmore or the Vanderbilt. The Cafe Lafayette, Brevoort and Mouqin's are three leading French restaurants.
Italian restaurants are everywhere in evidence. Guffanti's, on Seventh Avenue near the Pennsylvania Station; Gonfarone's, on Waverly Place; Enrico's, on 12th Street. See back of book for more complete list.
The most famous of the Hungarian restaurants is, of course, "Little Hungary," quite a favorite with the late Colonel Roosevelt and brought into great notoriety by the dinner he attended there after his first election in payment of a promise to the proprietor. It is the proper place to go for the tourist, and although there are many others, such as Cafe Boheme and Barth's, Little Hungary leads them all.
The Americain Hotel, on 14th Street near Sixth Avenue, is a good Spanish restaurant. The portions are numerous and generous and price medium. There are others on the same block. They are small places, how-ever, for local trade only. Uptown in the neighborhood of 72nd Street and Riverside Drive, is another Spanish section.
A typical Russian restaurant is the Russian Inn, at 57 West 37th Street. It is much frequented by Russians and here the conversation is all about Russia. The waitresses are in peasant costume; embroidered blouses with puffed sleeves, white aprons over colored skirts, strings of tinted beads wound about the throat several times. At the Sunday dinner there is Russian music. This is an attractive place, slightly artificial.
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