Sunday, March 29, 2015

A Mere 100 Years Ago

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"Table d'hote is the feature of San Francisco's restaurant life. It is the ideal method for those who wish a good dinner and who have not the inclination, or the knowledge, to order a special dinner. It is also the least expensive way of getting a good dinner. It also saves an exhibition of ignorance regarding the dishes, for if you are in doubt all you have to do is to leave it to the waiter, and he will bring the best there is on the day's menu and will serve it properly.

It is really something to elicit wonder when one considers the possibilities of a table d'hote dinner in some of the less expensive restaurants. Take, for instance, the Buon Gusto, in Broadway. This restaurant boasts a good chef, and the food is the finest the market affords. Here is served a six course dinner for fifty cents, and the menu card is typical of this class of restaurants. What is provided is shown by the following taken from the bill of fare as it was served us:

Hor d'ouvres—four kinds; five kinds of salad; two kinds of soup; seven kinds of fish; four kinds of paste; broiled spring chicken; green salad with French dressing; ice cream or rum omelet; mixed fruits; demi tasse.

With this is served a pint of good table wine.

As one goes up with the scale of prices in the restaurants that charge $1, $1.25, $1.50, $2, $2.50, and $3 for their dinners it will be found that the difference lies chiefly in the variety from which to choose and from the surroundings and service.

Take, for example, the following typical menu for a dollar dinner, served at the Fior d'Italia, and compare it with the fifty-cent dinner just mentioned:

Salami and anchovies; salad; chicken broth with Italian paste; fillet of English sole, sauce tartare; spaghetti or ravioli; escallop of veal, caper sauce; French peas with butter; roast chicken with chiffon salad; ice cream or fried cream; assorted fruits and cakes; demi tasse. Wine with this dinner is extra.

Now going a step up in the scale we come to the $1.50 dinner as follows:

Anchovies, salami (note that it is the same as above); combination salad; tortellini di Bologna soup; striped bass a la Livornaise; ravioli a la Genoese and spaghetti with mushrooms; chicken saute, Italian style, with green peas; squab with lettuce; zabaione; fruit; cheese; coffee. Wine is extra.

Let us now look at the menu of the $3.50 dinner, without wine:

Pate 'de foie gras—truffles on toast; salad; olives; Alice Fallstaff; Italian ham "Prosciutto;" soup—semino Italiani with Brodo de Cappone; pompano a la papillote; tortellini with fungi a funghetto; fritto misto; spring chicken saute; Carcioffi all'Inferno; Capretto al Forno con Insallata; omelet Celestine; fruit; cheese, and black coffee.

This dinner must be ordered three days in advance."

From Bohemia in San Francisco, by Clarence E. Edwards, published 1914.

1 comment:

Lady Anne said...

For $3.50, I hope Alice comes to your room after the meal! Yeesh! Any one of those meals would feed an entire family.