The tradition of New Year's Eve Champagne dining extends back at least as far as the menu archives at the Los Angeles Public Library — that is to say, over 100 years. This week we take a look at that tradition through the last century in Los Angeles. Read about those menus below, and scroll down to see images of them.
In 1911, one of our favorites, the Nat Goodwin Cafe in Santa Monica, served a 12-course meal that included filet of sole and sweetbreads en cases. You could purchase champagne by the quart or pint, for around $5 and $2.50 respectively.
On New Year's Day in 1927, the Cafe Montmartre in Hollywood served a $3 menu with lobster Louis and “consomme grand mere.”
In 1958 at Pikes Verdugo Oaks, an extremely elegant restaurant that once existed in Glendale where Glendale Road and Verdugo Road split, you could have a 7-course Champagne dinner (or “sparkling Burgundy if you prefer”) for $8, including consomme double au sherry, a broiled half lobster, “entertainment, noise makers, fun and hats.” By 1961, the price for New Years Eve dinner at Pikes had gone up to $10.
In the late '50s or early '60s in Pasadena, Woody and Eddy's was serving a choice of Dover sole for $4, breast of capon for $4.25, prime rib for $5.50 or Australian lobster tails for $5.95. Soup, salad and ice cream was included; homemade pies would cost you $0.35 more. You can see a postcard with the interior of Woody and Eddy's here.
In the early '60s, a restaurant named Sarnez was serving celery and olives, cream of tomato soup and roast stuffed capon. The drinking and dancing spot on restaurant row in Beverly Hills closed by the mid-'60s. You can see a picture of its neon splendor in this article about the heyday of restaurant row.
In 1985, the Rangoon Racquet Club in Beverly Hills (which opened in 1975 and closed in the early '90s) was serving a lavish Scandinavian feast for New Year's Eve, though price is not mentioned on the menu. In 1987 the feast was Scottish, and the dress code was “black tie or kilt.”
Hear Besha talk about the LAPL menu project in the last 10 minutes of this week's Good Food on KCRW.
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