1940s Archive

Spécialités de la Maison

Originally Published July 1949
Featuring downtown Manhattan in the good old summertime.

There is a trend among us New Yorkers to confine our eating and drinking habits to the center of town or to the countryside in summertime. The fun we miss in so doing is really sad. It had not occurred to me for a long time that the possibilities of prowling around through the lower sections of the island might be amusing and rewarding. But getting away from the crowds of midtown to wander or drive through circuitous routes in the lower reaches of the city with practically no one around to bother your meditations or conversations is sheer joy. You'll be surprised at the sights you have overlooked, and I am certain that on hot evenings you will feel the temperature is lower than usual.

Let's start at the Village and consider some of the older and better known spots which you may have forgotten or, in case you are visiting in town for the summer, some of the places you might overlook in the natural course of your wanderings.

Certainly Dick the Oysterman (65 East 8th Street) is one of the spots to include. This restaurant has been in the same family for three generations and has the hearty air of the Victorian or Edwardian restaurant about it. And do not be misled by the name of the restaurant, for it is not primarily a fish restaurant. Mr. Ockendon prides himself on the fact that every dish is a specialty. Fish, poultry, or meat orders all get the same attention. The fish is well cooked and portions are hearty, which probably accounts for the large male clientele, especially for luncheon. Combination fish stew à la Dick is always a good bet, the steaks and chops are excellent, and you will always, during the summer months, find some appetizing cold suggestions.

Desserts are the hearty American type—such things as homemade pies and good apple dumplings and many fruit specialties find their way to the menu. Drinks are ample and reasonably priced. There is a small selection of wines and a good list of beers for the summer drinker. Finally, there is the knowledge that you are eating good food simply and well prepared, plus the fact that there is a personal quality which makes you feel you are enjoying old-time, hearty hospitality.

Entrees run from $1. Service is entirely à la carte. Dick's is closed on Sunday and will be closed for vacation during part of the summer. Better call to make sure.

I live downtown, and somehow, to those of us who do, there is always the feeling that Charles (452 Sixth Avenue) is close at hand and that there one will always find a good luncheon or dinner. I suggest it for summer evenings when you wish a drive or a leisurely stroll through Washington Square. This restaurant, so amply proportioned, gives you a feeling of coolth in addition to the air-conditioning system. The menu is tremendous, and you will find à la carte items as well as a series of complete dinners which have been planned with a sense of balance and to display many of the real specialties of the house. Try the crab meat cocktail with Russian dressing—as good as any in town. Large lump crab meat and a delicious Russian dressing are so much better than the usual bewitched ketchup-and-chili-sauce topping for sea food cocktails. A bowl of fresh raw vegetables in crushed ice is one of the welcome adjuncts to the service, except that you are often tempted to munch too much.

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