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On the Town in New York: The Landmark History of Eating, Drinking, and Entertainments from the American Revolution to the Food Revolution Hardcover – September 23, 1998

3.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

"A delightfully nostalgic look at some of the notable eating and drinking establishments and their celebrated clientele," said LJ's reviewer of this volume, which takes readers on a tour of such sites as Brodie's, Delmonico's, McSorley's, the Waldorf Astoria, and the Plaza Hotel. With most of the text covering 1860 to 1970, this book "is a portrait of changing American tastes, habits, and behavior" (LJ 2/15/74).
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.


"Newcomers to the title will relish the detailed survey of New York history and food culture."
-"The Midwest Book Review
..."a rich stew of American history, both savory and social. There is no other work like it...this 25th anniversary edition is sure to remain a definitive account well into the next millennium."
-"Market Watch
"If you relish social history mixed with eating, drinking, and gossip tossed in, "On the Town in New York, is a feast."
-Sheldon Landwehr
"A stylish new history of the city's favorite pastime, "On the Town in New York, puts the myth before the menu. Its authors, Michael and Ariane Batterberry, lard their assured, breezy, three century narrative with rich vignettes of famo us feasters, from Washington Irving to Salvador Dali."
-"The New Yorker, Nov 1998
..."for those who want to know how the Astor's entertained or what it was like to dine at the original Delmonico's, [On the Town in New York] is a must."
-Florence Fabricant, The New York Times

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 408 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; 2 edition (September 23, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415920205
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415920209
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 1.1 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,416,973 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Rocco Dormarunno on January 30, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Michael and Ariane Batterby have given us, in ON THE TOWN IN NEW YORK, a fairly comprehensive look at New Yorkers doing what they do best: eating and partying. I appreciate the earlier reviewer's complaint about historical inaccuracies--he's right, they are BIG errors. However, as a serious investigation into what New Yorkers put in their stomachs, I was pleasantly enlightened. Turtle Soup?! Turtle Soup?! What the...?
I loved the reprints of the menus of hoidy-toidy restaurants. It really gives you a sense of extravagance bordering on gluttony that went on in 19th Century NYC. And then there are the vivid chapters of New Yorkers at play: The Stork Club, The El Morocco, etc. The all-night bashes of the 20th Century, as well as extravagant somber dinners of the 19th Century are wonderfully described. (Note: The number of eateries that were brought down by organized crime seemed a little inflated. I know it ruined many a joint, but all the joints presented in the book? I had a hard time swallowing that. Pun intended.)
As a History, no, I would not base a dissertation on it. As a thorouhghly enjoyable look back at a world now long gone and what the people ate and did in it, I wish to pay my compliments to the chefs. Delicioso!
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Format: Hardcover
One would have thought that the authors would have corrected their earlier mistakes when re-issuing a 25th anniversary edition but the kindest word for their research is "haphazard" at best. Rather than attempt the most elementary primary research, they have instead relied upon trite retellings of events with no regard for veracity. One example - they insist that the Bradley Martin Ball of 1897 requested attendees (and there were 900 documented - not 700 as the authors allege) attend "as courtiers of Louis XV." Copies of the invitation abound at several locations and would have revealed the wording, "Costumes of the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries de rigueur." Further, the Martins did not "flee America forever and seek asylum in England" as a result of the dinner. They had lived primarily in England and Scotland for three years PRIOR to the Ball - their only daughter, the Countess of Craven, lived there as well with the Martins' then-only grandchild. The final insult is the authors' allegation that Mrs. Martin "with her legendary grace ... bawled" at visitors to a dinner she later gave at the Waldorf. That charge is pure fiction and the authors cannot possibly lay claim to having been there more than 100 years ago either to hear such a supposed exclamation nor to observe how it was delivered. The authors need to spend more time in a library and less in a kitchen.
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