Manhattan Postscript II:

        My father’s first cousin Ernie Bloomfield Zeisler, Chicago physician, mathematician, friend of Einstein, Renaissance man, resident of a Lakeshore Drive apartment but an advocate of socialized medicine (and he was, of course, a friend of my as-yet-unfound-wife’s uncle Ted at the Cliff Dwellers literary club that met upstairs at Orchestra Hall), this Ernie, whom I would have loved to have known, was also a foodie, and his granddaughter Laura has shared with me the comments in his address book on the New York restaurants he frequented, embraced, and cast aside in a good old Bloomfieldian righteous huff.

        After reading accounts of Ernie’s starred and ill-starred eateries in Lawton Mackall’s bible-ette for gourmets (the copy I inherited is cryptically inscribed to my father as “For the Rifton Récamier from the Old Mountain Pine,” this being some arcane message out of old summers in Vermont — and I might note that Lawton looked more like an economics professor than a boulevardier), I think my taste and my fascinating cousin’s coincide.

        On Ernie’s NO list was Voisin, and I shudder reading friend Mackall’s account: “Elegance couldn’t be quieter than you find it in this Sloane-decorated room in the basement of Park Avenue’s haughtiest apartment fortress . . . [the owners feel] that their public knows the way to the door, and anybody else might be unprepared for their prices.” But Chateaubriand, an Ernie favorite, “is hosted by beaming-countenanced, sly-humored Alex Hounie . . . this comfortably upholstered room boasts a continuous frieze of distinguished wine bottles autographed with the names of notables who enjoyed emptying them. Water is considered a commodity suitable only for washing the hands.”

        Ernie also favored Charles à la Pomme Soufflée. “Could [the owner] tempt you with some of his leetle, leetle shrimps? He does, and they’re whoppers, exceeded only by his blimp-like spuds, devoured by the hot basketful.”

        I leave it to millennial New Yorkers to figure where Ernie would have hung his gourmet’s hat today . . . and I wonder how he’d feel about the dress code at the Pump Room around the corner from his Chicago apartment!

22 Responses to “Manhattan Postscript II:”

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    Thank you! I stumbled accross your web site when searching for a recipe to fancy up some lamb chops and became so enchanted with your prose that dinner was entirely forgotten! It is quite refreshing to find there are such masters of language–and cuisine–lurking on this internet wasteland.

    Looking forward to reading in full, your recipes and travel suggestions.

    P.S. I’m going to try the baked lamb garni–it looks delicious.

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