I Dare Say – On going to New York (1-17-44)

The Pittsburgh Press (January 17, 1944)


On going to New York

By Florence Fisher Parry

New York City –
The queries keep coming, even follow me to New York. What to do on a brief visit there? Where to stay? Where to eat? What shows to see? What sights?

So, I have decided that perhaps the best way to inform my questioners is to tell them, quite specifically what we did, where we stayed, where we ate.

Three of us had a grand time on very little money compared with what it is thought one must spend on a gay week in town. Sometimes we deliberately went on a bust and dined extravagantly; for one should not go to New York if one expects to be sensible ALL the time! But our expenses did not greatly exceed those at home.

We always stay somewhere in the Murray Hill district, for it is near everything; the shops, the theaters, even the great terminals, are not far distant; taxis, buses and streetcars dare to be had at every corner, taking one to ANY conceivable place! Three in a taxi make a fare as cheap as in bus.

Engage your rooms in advance; a day or two will suffice, even sometimes a few hours. But never risk going unexpectedly into any hotel in wartime. We usually stay at a little hostelry at Park Ave. and 38th, the 70 Park Avenue Hotel, one of a number of convenient and modestly priced hotels up there. Our suite of a nice large sitting room, bedroom, bath and many closets cost $9 for three.

Across the street is the Midson House, very reasonable, with a “Nantucket” nook where is served quite the nicest food one might ask for, for very low prices. At most of the hotel apartments around there good table denote lunches can be had for 75¢ and dinners for $1.25, and no crowding. Just a few blocks away is Grand Central, with its celebrated Oyster bar which we haunted for the best chopped clam stews on earth.

Places to eat

The “regular” places, such as the known hotels and restaurants, are crowded of course; but the smart thing is to go at odd hours when the food is much better anyway.

You will find that New Yorkers are peculiarly indifferent to the “looks” of a place so long as the food is right, and frequent holes-in-the-wall that the uninformed visitor would turn up his noise at! One of the best Chinese restaurants in town is a little basement spot on West 49th a few doors from Radio City, called Lum’s. Next door is another funny little basement hole called “The G. R. Clam House,” where the best lobsters in town can be had, and any other seafood, for astonishingly low prices. We are fond of going down to a unique old tumbledown place which carries you right off the left bank of Paris, and where good French food is served for less money than any spot in Manhattan! It is at 330 W 31st Street, and is called Bonat’s.

There’s an awfully nice old Italian restaurant down at 321 W 46th called Barbetti’s. I find that the more you consult the headwaiter (or waiter) as to what is his proudest dish that evening, the better service (AND food!) you obtain. Cavanaugh’s, 258 23rd Street, is an old landmark worth going to, for its food has never failed; and Gallagher’s, an amiable rendezvous for Broadwayites, 228 W 52nd, is a place for hungry gourmands but more expensive.

Noon meal

We always try to manage one dinner down at old Brevort on 5th Avenue at 6th Street, principally because the old house simply won’t change its face or raiment, but remains the rambling, old, dingy place it has been these 50 years or so! Lately it has become expensive, alas; but because it is wholly French, the headwaiter is quick to have compassion upon you if you show a determined if sorrowful intention of saving money.

The Gripsholm has one of the best smorgasbords, although it is pretty far uptown. A fair French restaurant right AT Radio City is the Maison de Winter; the lunches there are particularly inexpensive. If one wishes really to save money, then I adjure him to eat his “big square meal” at lunch, and go easy in the evening, for the prices are almost cut in half at noon.

It’s fun at lunch to go up to the Algonquin at 59 W 44th, especially on matinee days. You must go early to get seated, but it’s amusing to see the near-celebrities “being seen” there, just as in Hollywood.

The old Brass Rail used to be a good place to eat if you were really hungry at lunch, but it has grown crowded now, as have most of the conspicuously located restaurants. The best thing is to go to the little favorite places of those who live in New York downtown and have acquired a fine eye to culinary values.