Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Resturant and Hotel Menus from the 1850s

Did you ever wonder what dining out was like in the 1850s?
What did people eat back then?
What were the social norms?
How much was a bottle of champagne?
Well, wonder no more.

We (and I'm using the royal "we" here) were blessed with a scrapbook full of 1850s and 1860s menus from around the United States.
We've scanned them in and will be putting them up in the digital library within the month.
Here is a preview:

The printing on this 1857 menu from the Cataract House in Niagara Falls is wonderful.
Grand Imperial champagne will cost you $2.50.
Dinner was one price for everything.
Calves' feet, a la St Menue was a side dish.
Is calves' feet what I think it is?

Take a really close look at the images on this 1856 menu from the St. Nicholas Hotel.
At the top are images of Santa Claus and a rooster.
What the ?
I didn't get the significance either.
The hanging fish and birds on the sides are an interesting touch.
You would always know what your food looked like before they made
it into Broiled Fresh Shad, a la Maitre d'Hotel.

Look really close.
Can you find the dead rabbit in the hole?
Realism. Ya gotta love it.

Something tells me that
Macaroni a l'Italienne au Fromage de Parmesan
is just really fancy mac and cheese.
From now on that's what I'm calling mac and cheese.
Of course, that is a mouthful so maybe I'll shorten it to

The Louisville Hotel
Sunday, March 15, 1857
They were pretty proud of their building. They made it the center piece.

Meals will be prompt, and no gong sounded.
That's the same rule at my house.
Or it would be the rule if I had rules.
I need to get myself some rules.

A pint of Guinness Stout will set you back .37 cents.
Don't tell JR. I have him convinced the Guinness is just too expensive for everyday drinking and the we need to stay with the 2 buck Chuck from Trader Joes. (Trader Joes, how I miss you)
I don't know about you but $3.00 for medicinal brandy is a lot cheaper then my co-pay.

I will never serve
Form of Potatoes, garnished with Calves Head, Tartar sce.
Just thought I'd let you know.
In case you were waiting for the recipe.

Have a lovely Wednesday everyone. I think we are going out for sushi tonight. I deserve it. Why? Because I'm the one that has to take JR's truck into the shop.



  1. Rooster's Mass

    I'm not saying I understand this - just that there is a connection... Santa and the Rooster are a Mexican tradition. It's called Misa de Gallo

    Xmas Eve (when Santa comes) is referred to as Rooster's Mass. It's the idea that the rooser was one of the first to witness the birth of Jesus and to announce it.

  2. Candy: I'm not sure I would have ever made that connection. Great sluthing!

  3. Oh my gosh!! I love these!!!!!

  4. I love the stuff you share with us.

  5. Sprite is getting mac-n-cheese tonight. I think I will tell her it's Macaroni a l'Italienne au Fromage de Parmesan just to screw with her.

  6. Since this is all the fancy stuff I wonder what the common man ate?!?!?



  7. I should send you a menu from the Eagle Tavern, part of Greenfield Village. The menu is strikingly similar, though less extensive than what you'd have had at a hotel, since it was originally a wayside inn in Clinton, MI. Email me your street address...