Again this week we continue our tour of the New York restaurants that generously donated prizes for our “Dine Like a Mad Man” Sweepstakes, which you can enter from our Facebook page by clicking “Dine Like a Mad Man.”
Today we visit The Algonquin Hotel on West 44th Street, home of the famed Round Table, for which one of the hotel’s current restaurants is named. Between1919 and 1929 a distinguished group of writers, actors, humorists, wits, wags and critics met for lunch every day at The Algonquin and sat at a round table in the hotel restaurant. Membership was fluid and at one time or another included famed sportswriter Heywood Broun, New Yorker editor Harold Ross, actress Tallulah Bankhead and Harpo Marx. (We assume the silent Harpo of the silver screen actually spoke during lunch.) The repartee was quick. According to
the Algonquin’s web site, “one afternoon, Round Table member Edna Ferber arrived at The Algonquin in a new suit similar to the one Noel Coward was wearing. “You look almost like a man,” Coward said as he greeted her. “So do you,” replied Ferber. The cocktails were just as snappy: The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook includes a recipe for a Classic Algonquin Cocktail, courtesy of The Blue Bar’s Rodney Landers.
The Algonquin appears in Mad Men only by reference, in Season 1, Episode 9, “Shoot.” When Jim Hobart, an executive at McCann Erickson, one of New York’s leading ad agencies, tries to lure Don Draper from Sterling Cooper he suggests a meeting at The Algonquin. If the meeting ever takes place, we don’t see it.
The Round Table Restaurant of today was known as the Rose Room in Don Draper’s time. Had they met for lunch they have been given the menu you see pictured here. Don would have had trouble picking from among the delicacies on offer, from Lobster Cocktail ($3.95), Broiled Filet Mignon ($7.25) and Breaded Veal Cutlet Milanaise ($3.95) to Cold Cream Vichyssoise ($.80), Half Broiled Spring Chicken ($3.60) and Filet of Lemon Sole Amandine ($3.50). According to Alex Aubry, Director of Food and Beverage at The Algonquin, the Lemon Sole remains a favorite as do other dishes you could find on 1960s menus from The Algonquin including Chicken Livers Caruso and Scallops Al’anglaise Spaghetti. But there have been changes, too. Today, Don could order a Farmstand salad with baby field greens, roasted beets, goat cheese and candied walnuts in a balsamic glaze ($19.00), BBQ pulled pork sliders ($20.00) or miso glazed ahi tuna ($32.00), though these dishes might be as perplexing to him as an iPhone with built in GPS.
So, if you’d like to win lunch for two at The Algonquin’s Round Table, visit us on Facebook and click “Dine Like a Mad Man.” Good luck!
P.S. If you love Mad Men as we do, visit the Lipp sisters blog Basket of Kisses where you’ll find smart writing about Mad Men and other television favorites.