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on December 14, 2009
I started this wonderful book not knowing what to expect. In it I found not only meticulous research but also an evocation of a past New York. We travel with the author from the brawling port of early nineteenth century New York where cuisine would hardly be the word to describe eating habits into the increasing sophistication of an International destination. Filled with references to actual dishes and menus , to the individual restauranteurs who risked and won or lost, and the chefs, waiters and busboys who manned the kitchens the book reveals through the lens of food the excitement , brashness, and vigor of New York over almost 200 years. In the final chapter we find a personal memoir of Grimes' tenure as critic at the Times. It reveals the author's serious dedication to establishing an analytical approach to food criticism as well as revealing the truly nutty and competitive world of restaurants in contemporary New York. Grimes has a ability to encapsulate in a single phrase many convergent social, philosophical and historical forces that spread the narrative far beyond food and into how we live our lives. I recommend this book heartily to anyone who likes to eat, dines out, and is interested in New York.
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on December 14, 2009
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Grimes is an excellent writer who really brings his subject to life. I found myself immersed in the tastes and excitements of New York from the 1800's until the present. In the author's capable hands, food becomes a fascinating prism in which to understand the history of a great city.
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on November 11, 2009
Well researched,gracefully written, and well designed. Unfortunately,the inferior way in which the book's many illustrations are reproduced is not equal to Mr.Grimes' prose or his insights. The publishing equivalent of a fine silk purse stitched with cotton twine.
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on December 19, 2009
This book took me by surprise. I could not have imagined that a tale of defunct restaurants could be so lively and so funny. Mr. Grimes has managed to summon up, generously and with great wit, bygone places, people, and an entire era.
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on January 26, 2010
My overall impression of this book is that Mr. Grimes was exhausted after doing the research, which I must say was extensive and scrupulously done. I can only imagine the vast amounts of information that were available. But, having found it all and strung it all together, he failed to find the statue hiding in the marble. As he approached the end, it became more of a timeline: and then there was, and then there was, and finally. Where was the editor on this project? In my opinion, what should have been a lively history of a rich topic read more like a somewhat humorless dissertation. There were moments of comic relief, but overall I feel that the subject deserved better.
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on March 20, 2010
Written as a history of NY restaurants, this work by W. Grimes is big on detail of 18th & 19th century NY dining but loses steam as it progresses into the 20th century. The author is to be commended for undertaking such an enormous subject matter, but in order to do it justice the book would have to have been double the pages. If you're a "foodie" who loves NY restaurants, this might book fill your appetite. But the average reader will come away hungry for more.
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on May 28, 2010
This book is so terrific, I have already purchased three copies to give as gifts. Whether it's food or history you're into, this is a must for your culinary library.
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on July 6, 2012
From the days (1820s) when there was literally no place to eat out in New York to the present, this wonderful book reads like a dramatic suspense novel with the heroine as the city itself!

Has your father ever taken you to lunch at the Automat or waited in line with you at Schrafft's for a hot fudge sundae? This book is for you!

Check out the menus, and illustrations such as the one on p.150 of "the infamous dinner on horseback at Sherry's in 1903, where members of the Equestrian Club of New York dined from trays attached to saddles and sipped champagne through long straws. It immediately became a symbol of the excesses of the idle rich."
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on December 8, 2012
This has more great information about restaurants from the Colonial era through the 1920s than about contemporary eateries. Well-written, informative.
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on July 23, 2013
I bought it as a gift. So I guess I'll find out later.
I only got it because I got a good deal.
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