Jake's is the second oldest continuously operating restaurant, in Portland. Since 1892!
I've had my eye on it, since I first spotted the cool sign in 2018.
Across From Crystal Hotel
Jake's was right across the street from our hotel, in 2018. We were visiting Portland, helping our daughter and son-in-law move into their new home.
We didn't have time for a Dining Adventure at Jake's, but my eyes were drawn to the building with the green awning and flags.
Whitney & Gray Building
The 4-story building on the the corner of Stark and 12th, was built in 1910. A year later, the iconic eatery moved in. I'm guessing at the time, it was a little more of a saloon with crawfish, kind of place. Today, I think it's more about cocktails & seafood!
In 1911, the biz (under another name) had already been operating for 19 years, at another location. It became known as Jake's, when Jacob (Jake) Lewis Freiman became an owner, in 1920. Evidently Jake was quite a colorful character. After his death in 1933, the name never changed. It's actually part of the Landry's chain today, but that's not exactly spotlighted.
Jake's is in the Book!
Back in 1959, Ford Motor Company published this cookbook and shared a recipe from Jake's.
We were traveling with our cookbook... because the vintage book guides us to interesting adventures! I knew we'd have to pay the restaurant a quick visit, even if we didn't have time to dine.
Posing with the Book
We stopped in at Jake's around 10 pm, after we returned to the hotel. I had the book in my bag. We got a table in the busy bar and hoped we could impress someone with a peek at page 230.
As it turned out, the bartender had a spare moment. He seemed a bit amused when I showed him the recipe for "Crabmeat Cakes". Or maybe he was just being polite. But he was a good sport and posed with the book!
The kind bartender looked just a tiny bit like the waiter in the cookbook's fine illustration. I didn't dare tell him that.
The little write up mentioned the Gay Nineties deco... "with oil paintings and chandeliers rescued from famous old homes..." Walter Holman was the owner at that time. The business changed hands many times, before William (Bill) McCormick bought, in 1971. Yes, that would be the name associated with the well known chain, McCormick and Schmicks. Bill hired Doug Schmick as a manager!
A Quick Cookbook Adventure
Don and I only had a little wine. It was hardly a Dining Adventure. But we were still able to soak in the atmosphere.
Besides lots of framed paintings, there were walls covered in framed photos. In over a century there have been numerous famous guests... from Humphrey Bogart to Madonna.
Floors and Walls
We didn't explore the many dining rooms, but we absorbed lots of character in the lounge, from the original tile beneath the stools...
...to the artwork above the bar. I don't believe the spotlighted nude painting, was shown in the cookbook illustration.
Charlie Visits in 2022
So for years, Don and I promised ourselves we'd return for a real dining experience, when visiting our daughter and son-in-law. But the pandemic and the birth of our grand baby, (Charlie) changed the focus of our visits.
Last fall, I was pretty jealous of our little granddaughter, when she had a dining adventure before me! My daughter texted me this photo of Charlie dining at Jake's and paying the bill! Actually her visiting Uncle Chris and Aunt Karen treated. It made me crave Jake's once again.
From the Museum to Jake's
So in February 2023, we headed to Portland for Charlie's second birthday. We planned a special outing that included a visit to the Portland Art Museum, (with dear friend Milissa) and a Dining Adventure at Jake's!
Charlie had her first art museum experience and then we were off to dinner!
The Classic Bar
It was a chilly winter evening. We entered the first door, which took us into the bar. It looked like I remembered. Charlie marched up to an empty chair and slammed her beer mug... I mean sippy cup, on the table.
She then noticed her family had moved on. But she was in no hurry. She sort of strutted through like a "regular" and gave the men at the bar a good glance. I half expected her to stop and study them... like art.
Charlie stopped suddenly near the host's desk and pointed. I thought she was pointing out the artwork above the steps. She'd just come from the museum after all.
But she was mesmerized by the ceiling fan. No budging until she was ready.
So Many Tables
We'd smartly made reservations for 5:30. I had wondered what kind of table we would have. White tablecloths are sort of scary, with a 2.0 year old.
The cozy booth looked fun, with its own little lamp and table-sized oil painting. We heard later that much of the displayed artwork was found in the basement, when the restaurant last changed hands. Worth more than the building! We were told.
I kind of hoped to have a table near the old photos, so I could examine them without rudely leaning across dining strangers.
I sort of hoped for a table that was tucked away, where a 2-year old could be a 2-year old, a little more discretely.
In the Middle
But we were given a big round table in the center of the first room.
It had a plaque on it that read, "St. Patrick's Day Luncheon Table" Hmmm? I would need to look that up. I did later and I found nothing. (Next time ask!)
Well, the table was perfect. I love round tables where we can all see one another. And no tablecloth to yank or stain!
And Charlie was in heaven, because she could see all the bustling activity. She didn't want to miss a thing.
Don, the waiter was exceptional. He'd been there 17 years and he was a real pro, He did not look a bit like the waiter in the cookbook.
We ordered drinks first. Old Fashioneds for most. Martini for me. Water for the little one.
Don served our drinks and graciously took our toasting photo. When I look at the photo, I'm reminded about how much has happened between our 2 visits to Jake's.
Cheers to getting through the pandemic and cheers to a new member of the family. And cheers to our friend Milissa, moving back to Portland so we could celebrate together!
Unfortunately, I did not have the cookbook with us, this time. But we did order the Crab Cakes, which were called Crabmeat Cakes, in the recipe.
I'm sure the recipes don't match a bit. The title on the menu said, "Dungeness Crab and Bay Shrimp Cakes".
I tried to get a photo quickly, before they were gone!
This little girl happens to adore crab cakes. So she got to them first!
Don allowed me to snap a photo of his Prawn Cocktail before it disappeared.Delish!
My House Salad with glazed walnuts and blue cheese was a good, refreshing feast in itself.
Parmesan Crusted Petrale Sole
I only managed to get a photo of my own entree. It was a heavenly serving of sole, with pan seared lemons and capers and warm Beurre Blanc sauce.
The beans and potatoes were excellent as well. I was happily stuffed!
Speaking of happy... this photo of me with Don, shows me looking a little too happy!? That martini was very strong!
But Charlie drank only water and she looks equally tipsy. I think our evening was a happy hit.
By the time we headed off it wasn't even 8:00 yet. The Happy Hour Crowd had left open seats.
Once again, we headed out the door, with no time to pause and study old photos. I didn't stop to ask any questions about Jake's 131 year old history. Next time...
Off We Go
We'll learn more stories next time. Our Dining Adventure was more about celebrating with special people.
The food and atmosphere was wonderful, but the people seated at the round table made it twice as memorable!
Good Bye Jake's
It's been over a month since our Jake's dinner. I'm feeling extra grateful that we squeezed that in!
Charlie and her parents have decided to move back to Texas! We couldn't be happier... but it looks like Jake's won't be an annual thing. Poor Charlie. I think she was getting hooked!
Pea Soup Adventure
Don and I finally sampled the soup, at Pea Soup Anderson's.
This sign itself (in Buellton, CA) was worth the stop! And yes, it's Pea Soup Anderson's. Not Anderson's Pea Soup. This is where we ate.
There are two Pea Soup Anderson's, This one with the windmill, is off of I-5 in Santa Nella, California. We spotted it in 2020, while traveling.
I made Don pull in so I could read the sign and take a pic! It was the pandemic and we weren't dining in any restaurants then. It killed me to not experience this odd place.
Dining Adventure in October 2022
2+ years later, Don and I planned a pea soup stop, on another trip. We learned about the Buellton location, when flipping through our 1950 cookbook. The Buellton restaurant was featured in the book! We knew we wanted to go to that one because it was the original restaurant. It opened in 1924 (with another name) and attracted travelers on Coast Highway 101.
There was no windmill at the Buellton restaurant. There also didn't appear to be too many travelers stopping for soup. The lot looked almost empty. But there were many interesting buildings on the sprawling grounds. We passed a curious building with stained glass and headed towards the doors in the tudor building.
Tudor & Neon
As we got closer, I wondered if the place was even open. Was this was another case of pandemic closure? The exterior looked a little worn. I kept fingers crossed that the biz was open, as the Pepsi banner on the left suggested.
My eyes were drawn to the neon letters on the roof and some whimsical artwork to the right. But I was even more curious about the history behind the brown boards and tan stucco. The rambling structure looked like an old lodge of some kind.
Around the Corner
The entrance was indeed closed. But that was only because we were at the wrong one. The main entrance was around the corner facing another street.
Wow! What was the deal with this building, that went on and on?
There was a glowing OPEN sign near the door! A good sign.
I stepped back and tried to imagine the history behind this iconic place. I had already read that Anton and Juliette Anderson began selling split pea soup (Juliet's family recipe) back in the 1920's.
They started with a small cafe, then added a hotel and dining room in 1928. I'm guessing this was part of that "newer" addition.
We stepped inside and I was a little taken aback by the smell. Was that a pea soup smell? No, I think it was just age. I can usually get past that. We made our way through a large gift shop before finding the dining room.
The spacious area wasn't exactly packed with diners, but it was after 2:00. We had lots of choices for seating.
Those big cushy chairs at the counter were sort of luring me.
Usually you don't get the luxury of leaning back when you enjoy swiveling at a counter. This looked like it was designed for oldsters like us!
There were soft, rounded booths as well.
In fact this whole place was kind of booth heaven!
My photos look neat and tidy, but there were a few tears in the vinyl and some hints of age. So many older, classic restaurants suffered from the pandemic.
I studied the dividers and wondered if the frosted glass was added with the pandemic? Then I noticed the etched glass, with those familiar characters, that I had spotted on billboards long before we arrived.
Hap-pea and Pea-wee
These are the mascots that have been attracting attention since the 1930's.
The image of these cartoon chefs splitting peas with hammer and chisel, can be seen all over the property. At some point, artist Art Clokey, (who also created Gumby) was hired by the Andersons to make stop motion commercials with these characters.
One of these hardworking guys seems to enjoy his work more than the other.
Lots to Read
A very sleepy-looking host took us to our table and handed us some entertaining menus. I enjoyed reading up on more history. Anton was from Denmark. Juliet was from France. Their only child Robert, got into the family biz after graduating from Stanford in the 1930's. Robert took on the nickname Pea Soup Anderson, along with the restaurant in 1947. Did anyone really call him Pea Soup?
I had my own reading material waiting in my bag. The 1950 cookbook was put out by Ford Motor Company during the time when Robert was running the restaurant. Our yawning host clearly was not someone who would be interested in seeing an old book. I hoped our server might be more lively and interested.
Ricky and the Book
We lucked out big time, with Ricky. In the quiet dining room where no one seemed to be talking above a murmur, Ricky came to life when I showed him the cookbook. He had questions for us and we did for him. He was happy to pose for a photo.
Ricky said he'd been working at Anderson's for 22 years. He'd moved from Mexico to Buellton when he was 14 and had never been in the restaurant until he got the job. (I think I got that right) He also said it took him about 10 years to finally taste the soup. Now he likes it and has a cup a day!
The vegetarian soup recipe in our book looked pretty easy. It was fun to look at the illustration again, after seeing the building. The image still didn't exactly match what we saw from the parking lot. Lots of changes.
However, the book's recipe perfectly matched the framed recipe, displayed on the wall. I should try to make it sometime, since Don loves split pea soup.
Don and I both ordered the pea soup, but he's the real fan of the creamy green stuff. Don doesn't have any childhood memories of a getting horribly sick after eating a grandmother's pea soup. I do.
But when in Rome! I just had to order the soup. It was in the book after all. Plus it came with Danish Pumpernickel bread! Actually that's not my favorite either.
But I loved that it was served in a retro bowl, with a basket of onion cheese rolls. I had a choice of coffee, soft drink or milkshake and took about 1 second deciding on that!
So I had split pea soup AND milkshake together! I ate it all and didn't get sick!
Since I ate all my soup, I was rewarded with this image! I could have covered them up with more soup over and over. My order was the "All You Can Eat Traveler's Special". I didn't test the limits. I had one bowl.
Enjoying the Walls
We chatted a little more with Ricky before we departed. He was such a pleasant part of our experience. He steered us towards more photos with such sincere enthusiasm.
It really was amazing to study the old photographs and imagine the excitement and energy of this place. Even when it was closed during WWII, the hotel housed and fed the military.
We wandered through the gift shop on our way out. The bakery goods and candy were neat and tidy, but there were also many empty shelves and no customers.
I found it a little sad. Was this just a slow day? When the shop was added in 1941, business was booming with travelers and tourists. Even in 2012, they were selling 500-600 gallons of pea soup a day.
The place was sadly quiet. I wondered about the metal equipment. Was that for making pea soup? And why didn't I at least buy a Pea Soup Mix, after I took the photo?
Before heading outside, I studied a framed photograph with an aerial view. It showed the property in 1942, before Hwy 101 expanded and some buildings were removed.
The photo helps, but it's still confusing. I wish I could compare to another aerial view from 2022. Don and I headed outside to see what we could figure out. I read later, that the 35,000 square foot property, is now for sale. Sad... but maybe good.
More of the Pea Guys
First we found more of the cartoon chefs. Don found one image that showed the poor guys getting a break from splitting peas. They were holding glasses of wine! Cheers to that.
There were no other folks wandering nearby to take our photo, hamming it up as Hap-pea and Pea-wee. I really wonder how long it's been since 2 people posed their faces in those holes.
Reminders of Another Day
We strolled around the side of the building that was once the Anderson's hotel. What is that second floor space being used for today?
In 1965, Vince Evans bought the business from the Andersons. He had big bucks and ideas. He added onto the business and the whole thing became sort of an amusement park, with an aviary filled with parrots, a children's train and an animal park. He opened up the location in Santa Nella in 1976. The little truck in the corner, looked like a reminder of the past.
Walking and Wondering
I guess we should have asked Ricky more questions. He might have known stories about some of the buildings we found behind the restaurant. What was the place like when he started working around 2000?
click on the images to enlarge
We could see a motel that was added much later, further back. It also looked a bit weary, with less charm than the larger tudor hotel. I so hope that new owners can buy and preserve some of this curious history. It doesn't sound like there are any Andersons or Evans family members left, to carry on the history.
One More Look
Before we got into the car I took one more peek at the mystery building.
It looked like a building from the 1904 World's Fair, that could have housed a carousel. And just today I found an article about Vince Evans and this property. In 1979, he purchased a 100-year old pub in England and had it moved here. This was it! Sadly a year later he died with his wife and daughter in the plane he was flying. Such a sad story.
Good Luck Andersons!
So good luck to Anderson's Pea Soup and to our waiter Ricky.
I hope someone or some group, with lots of funds and great ideas, purchases this business. I hope they give Ricky a position where his enthusiasm and appreciation can be put to good use. I need to be able to come back! I'm just starting to like split pea soup!
Cookbook Adventure, in October
This is the illustration that accompanies a recipe, inside our 1950 Ford Motor Cookbook.
Last fall Don and I had the cookbook with us, while traveling near Santa Barbara. A quick look on the internet told me Cold Spring Tavern was still open for business in 2022!
The sweet looking tavern pretty much matched the vintage image! It looked so darn charming, it could have been part of a movie set. But there's a lot of real history behind those checkered curtains!
The little log structure was originally built in the 1860's, as a stagecoach stop along the San Marcos Pass. Today, visitors drive from Santa Barbara and beyond, to enjoy drinks and food and sometimes live music.
Don and I followed Mapquest directions, winding along this scenic road.
For a while we thought we'd made a wrong turn.
Then we spotted a sign on the hill. It reminded me of arriving at Silver Dollar City (theme park) in the Missouri Ozarks, when I was a kid.
We followed the 2 lane road and spotted a cluster of buildings ahead.
We took the last spot in a small dirt lot and wandered towards the little oasis of weathered shacks.
There seemed to be a fair amount of activity near the green umbrellas.
The air felt like an October day in the Ozarks. Warm air with cool shade. Perfect.
The folks didn't look like Ozark hillbillies or Branson, Missouri tourists. Mostly the guests looked like Santa Barbara locals, who had driven out to the tavern for lunch. I'm sure they wouldn't care for my Ozark comparison.
How did they even know about this place? We only did because of our 60 year old cookbook. I hoped they weren't all waiting for inside tables.
Stone & Wood
The log structure looked larger from the side. I believe it began as one room and 3 more were added in the '40's.
I was eager to get inside and see the place, that's been serving food and drink since 1941.
We stepped inside and I smelled the the same comforting smells I remember from my Uncle Morris' log house in Missouri. Wood and smoke. 80 years worth of fires in this cabin!
The cabin is much older than 80, but it was in 1941 that Adelaide Ovington purchased the property. She was the widow of Earle Ovington, the first airmail pilot. She paid $2,000 for 40 acres, including the tavern.
Don and I practically had the tavern to ourselves. The front room was cozy, with a small bar on the right.
Only one guest was seated in the front room. I imagined the same room on a winter night, with guests begging for the table near the fireplace.
There are 3 fireplaces in the tavern and all were added after Adelaide purchased the property.
The room behind the bar, was the coziest. There were dark wood booths and stacks of wood just waiting for chilly fall weather.
The wood walls and floors were all original. The Tavern didn't even have electricity until 1954. They still use gas lanterns today.
Don and I took a seat at table near the window, in The Long Room. I read that the large round table in The Long Room, once belonged to Gene Autrey. I love that kind of trivia.
There were no other guests in our dining area, but we were not alone. We were surrounded by lots of critters, on the walls above us. They shared the walls with lots of photos and news clippings
The antique "kitchen queen" is evidently the only original piece of furniture from before the Ovington's ownership. It was built in this very room and was too large to be moved when the property changed hands.
The White Room?
I peeked past the white door to see the back room. It appeared to be closed off for dining, but I believe it's called The White Room. Adelaide and her daughter Audrey lived in The White Room, until 1951.
Mother and daughter worked and lived together until they eventually built a small home on the property and named it Blisshaven. After Adelaide died in 1972, Audrey operated the Tavern for 33 more years.
I had a hard time focussing on the menu with everything that surrounded us. I popped up to study the curious divided door. What was that metal thing?
I got sidetracked reading up on some history, on a wooden board.
...Cold Spring Tavern is a stagecoach stop almost 100 years old...
Wow! When was that history board created? The Tavern turned 100 in the 1960's!
Marcos & the Book!
Our waiter, Marcos was the best! He had worked at Cold Spring for 27 years! As we were deciding what to order, I pulled the old cookbook out of the bag and Marcos had the best reaction.
First he laughed and said, no they DID NOT have the Monte Carlo Sandwich on the menu! Then he suddenly seemed totally amazed by the old illustration and asked if he could take a photo with his phone.
We explained the whole cookbook deal... how we travel with it... it helps us find classic restaurants all over the country,.. so many of the featured restaurants are no longer around...
Sometimes it's hard to explain the whole treasure hunt & nostalgia experience to younger people, or to people who didn't grow up with Ford Motor Company advertising gimmicks! But Marcos was someone who was thrilled about history. He reacted with such enthusiasm!
Tri-Tip Sandwich & Wild Game Soup
Marcos also was good at encouraging us with food choices. I ordered the Wild Game Black Bean Soup. Initially I shied away from the soup, packed with venison, rabbit and buffalo. But Marcos raved about it.
Good choice! The flavor was amazing! It was served sour cream and cheese and a fresh hot flour tortilla.
Famous Cold Spring Original Tribute-Tip Sandwich
I wonder if they served try-tip, back when they served Monte Carlos? Marcos talked this up too. He pointed out the window to the stacks of oak used for the outside grill.
The oak-grilled, thick sliced meat was served on a brioche bun. The barbecue sauce was house-made with apple horseradish. Potato salad too!
A perfect feast with a perfect woodsy view!
Marcos and Ashely
Marcos checked on us often. We talked about everything from fires to droughts. He showed us a photo of the Tavern in the snow. It's a miracle the buildings have survived, over all this time.
At one point another server stopped by the table and wanted to see the cookbook. Ashely was young, but seemed surprisingly interested in the funny old book. She introduced me to her mom later. Her mom was even more curious, since she'd worked at the Tavern for 33 years! Another mother/daughter team! Did her name start with an A too?
We weren't able to linger as long as I wanted, since we had hours of driving ahead. But we wandered the property a bit.
We headed past the picnic tables and took a peek inside two other buildings.
Log Cabin Bar
In the early 1900's, this building held a water bottling plant. The Orvingtons changed it into a bar in 1955.
Inside, the bartender looked a little bored. No one seemed to want to spend anytime inside, on a beautiful Friday afternoon.
The fireplace at the end of the bar was added in the fifties. They had to take down the wall, in order to remove the bottling equipment. They added the fireplace and used a local telephone pole for the mantle..
Old Bunk House
This little gift shop was once a bunkhouse used by stagecoach drivers.
It's hard to imagine horses and stagecoaches traveling through this area, way over a century ago. Evidently you can still see ruts made by the wheels, in the stone along the old pass.
Questions for Audrey
We didn't explore nearly enough. There are more structures on the property, that we totally missed. I sure wish we could have visited when Audtry was still running the tavern. She died in 2005, but evidently left behind an enormous collection of cookbooks. I'll bet she had a Ford book, like ours.
We saw and learned a lot during our short visit. And the website is excellent for learning more later. It has a very fun list of interesting facts and stories. It was nice to find out that a third generation (Wayne & Joy Ovington Wilson) still operate the Cold Spring Tavern today!
November in Nola - 2021
In November Don and I met up with family, for our 5th Nola Thanksgiving.
The gathering involved my 3 siblings and their spouses. 6 of us traveled from 3 different states to have the big turkey feast at my brother and sis-in-law's home. But we made sure to squeeze in one dinner, in the French Quarter.
The outing to Antoine's felt sinful for many reasons. It seemed crazy to indulge in a big dining adventure, before Thanksgiving! (but we always do)
I also felt some nagging guilt, about leaving my poor hubby behind. We love to share adventures, at iconic restaurants. But we planned this gathering (with my sibs and spouses) a year before. We had no clue that Don would have bypass surgery in October and a fractured back in November. Actually, Don was sort of happy to relax at the hotel, after our 6 hour drive from Texas.
After nearly 2 months of hunkering at home during Don's recovery, it felt odd to walk into a restaurant. It also felt strange to enter a New Orleans building, where we actually felt comfortable removing our masks. We've all been so cautious.
A year ago, we never guessed we'd be dealing with our second Pandemic Thanksgiving. But our group felt at ease, knowing that Nola restaurants required vaccination cards. (This was before omicron worries invaded the 2021 holidays!)
Mirrors and Windows
After we each showed our proof of vaccine to the host, we were escorted to a corner table in the front of the room. The floor to ceiling windows were perfect for peeking out at St. Louis street. The mirrored walls made it easy to spy on other guests.
Our table felt like an oasis. We were suddenly being pampered. They even rushed a coatrack over, for my brother's hat. Love that.
After nearly 2 years of zooming with my sibs/spouses, we were suddenly together in person... toasting across a round table. Ah, so many memories and photos of this family sitting around the round the Meyer Table, that moved with family from state to state! (blog tangent!)
Honestly the feeling was a bit surreal. There have been so many ups and downs and so many cancelled trips for all of us, during the pandemic. We weren't sure until this very day, that we'd really pull this reunion off.
Main Dining Room
Antoine's has over a dozen dining rooms and I was so pleased to be seated in the main one. This is the space that all guests have entered, for 154 years.
It was fun to settle in, on a chilly November night. The large Christmas tree was cleverly reflected, in all the mirrors! The room felt festive and warm. Cheers for warmth! Even as recently as the 1950's, the gas chandeliers were the only source of heat.
The menu was a quick reminder that Antoine's goes back 182 years! Antoine Alciatore started the French Creole business a block or two away, in 1840.
I was starved after a day of driving from Houston. I dug into the bread as I studied the menu.
Our waiter Austin took good care of us.
Luckily he was willing to humor me when I pulled out the old cookbook.
First, I asked Austin if they served French Pancakes A La Gelee. He said no, so I had to pull out the 1954 book to remind him, that they once did. He was a good sport and chuckled and posed for a photo. But it was a busy night and I hardly expected him to pull up a chair and flip through the pages... like some waiters have, with past cookbook encounters.
No pancakes for me, so I went for the dish that Antoine's is known for. Austin wisely reminded me that there was no spinach. Most people expect that, when they order this famous oyster treat. But Antoine's created the dish in 1889, with green sauce and a mix of herbs and vegetables. No spinach.
There's a story about how this creation came about. There was evidently once a shortage of escargot and this was a creative replacement. My Oysters Rockefeller was tasty, but I'll admit I missed the spinach. I also missed my special fork. The little utensil was hidden by my plate and showed itself, when my plate was cleared. Oops.
For my main dish, I chose the herb-roasted chicken with smoked ham, onion rice and 2 sauces.
Double sauce! Rochambeau and bernaise, pineapple confit! And how about the classic dish it was served in!
There was another classic dish that I was dying to try.
Luckily my Sis-in-law shared some of her Soufflé Potatoes! Thanks, Kate! Fried little airy puffs of yummy potato!
My other Sis-in-law was sad that we hadn't been warned to order the Baked Alaska earlier. But Austin was able to set us up, with a mini version.
Karen deserved this treat, since she had been a good sport, putting up with a nose scrape. She was also a good sport sharing this goodie, which meant she didn't get a whole lot for herself!
Our server Austin couldn't have been more delightful. When he brought out the check, it was on a very special little plate.
It's hard to read in the photo, but the words say: "Antoine's Restaurant Since 1840 (and) Austin Murray Serving Since 1978" That is impressive! Austin told us some quick stories about rescuing dogs during Katrina. But I wish I could have heard more stories from his 4+ decades, working at Antoine's.
Off to the Ladies Room
After finishing up, I took a trip to the Toilette Des Dames! I took a photo of the sitting area. I was curious about the art covered screen that covered the back door.
Only later with some reading, did I learn about a special door in the back of the Ladies' Room. The door was known to some special regular guests, during prohibition.
After dinner, we did a little wandering. We meandered through most of the endless rooms, on the first floor. The Mystery Room was one of them.
The Mystery Room was once a full bar, hidden in the carriage house. During prohibition, regular guests were given a cup with a key. The key opened that little door in the Ladies' washroom. Guests could get something a little stronger than coffee, for their cups. If anyone later inquired about their beverage, they were to answer, "It's a mystery to me."
Oh I love stories like this!
The 1840 Room
It was about 10 pm, so we did a fairly quick sweep through the halls and rooms. I could have spent an hour in each.
The 1840 Room was built in honor of the restaurant's centennial celebration, in 1940.
The Rex Room
A number of rooms are named for Mardi Gras krewes.
This bright green & gold room, was decorated in honor of one of New Orlean's oldest. The Krewe of Rex.
The Proteus Room
The seaside colors in the Proteus room, were a little more calming!
This was another private dining room, named for a carnival krewe.
I was glad to be touring around at 10 pm, on a weeknight so close to Thanksgiving. If it had been a Saturday a few weeks later, these doors might have been shut for private parties.
Escargot Society Room
I loved the snail on this wall!
This room was established for the Escargot Society, (of distinguished culinary enthusiasts) so I read. I Googled the club and didn't exactly find any scoop, so I guess I won't try to join.
I headed past a lovely old fireplace to find a totally empty bar.
This bar with windows onto St. Louis Street, would probably look very different on a Saturday in the summer. I was surprised to learn it was added in recent years.
The biggest dining area was in the center of the building.
It was busy when I first walked through to the Ladies' Room. I noticed that fewer men were wearing jackets. The jacket rule ended with Hurricane Katrina.
The large red room was empty when we headed back to the main room after our exploring. I was able to peek at some of the famous folks on the wall, without bothering diners.
There are way too many to name. Whoopi and Groucho looked down at one table, Katharine Hepburn at another. Almost every president since Hoover has dined here. And Brad Pitt has been known to ride his bike here.
Last to Leave
As we headed into the main dining room, it looked like we were about the last to leave.
We wished the fabulous staff a Happy Thanksgiving!
Before we took off, we got a photo of our family. (Missing Don and my sis-in-law on this night) It looks like the Meyer gang wasn't the only family in our photograph. Are those members of Antoine's family on the wall behind us?
What an amazing history. Antoine would be pretty happy to know that the restaurant he worked so hard to create was still making diners happy! His great-great grandson, Rick Blount is the CEO today. 5th generation! I love a good family and I love mine!
McAllen, Texas in the Rio Grande Valley
On May 19, Don and I ventured to McAllen, Texas.
This was our time in the city, at the southern end of the state. Mexican The historic hotel and restaurant, just 5 minutes from the Mexican border, was the reason for our visit.
The 103 year old mission/Spanish revival-style building looked pretty good!
The towering palms were neatly trimmed. That was a nice surprise since most of the palms we'd seen on our 5 hour drive, looked dead. The February 2021 Texas Freeze did a number on palms throughout the state.
The Hotel in 1950
I guess a hotel named Casa de Palmas, should try to keep their palms healthy.
This is how an Harry Borgman depicted the hotel, 71 years ago. This is the image in our 1950 cookbook, put out by Ford Motors. Once again, our old book lured us to a destination!
Much of the hotel had been renovated during 2020, while pandemic healthcare workers took over some of the hotel. The Satillo-tiled floors and swirling staircase, had a retro feel. The furnishings and fixtures were all fresh and modern.
It was hard to imagine Marlon Brando and Anthony Quinn staying here in 1952, during filming of Viva Zapata. It was even harder to picture this lobby filled with families, taking shelter from the 1919 hurricane.
I'm not sure what the bar looked like, 100 years ago in the 1920's. That's when tourists and traveling salesmen came by train.
You can tell this photo is from the 2020's, since the bartender is wearing a face mask.
After checking into our room, Don and I headed in search of a good Happy Hour.
In mid May 2021, we were just getting back to inside dining. We weren't quite ready for gabbing with strangers at a bar. We ordered 2 glasses of wine and headed to a lovely porch. There were a few to choose from. This was our view!
The Spanish Room
Later in the evening, we headed for the Spanish Room Restaurant.
This is not how the restaurant looked. I found this old photo on the internet.
I took this photo in the late afternoon.
I wanted to take a capture some of the new decor, without disturbing diners.
I didn't have to worry about disturbing anyone. There was only one other couple. Like us, they were seated in a cozy booth, out of sight.
Our waiter Oscar, was attentive and gracious. He apologized when our food was a little slow coming out. He brought us two complimentary salads!
Dinner is Served!
We were perfectly content with the pace. The wine and bread stick rolls kept me happy until our meal came.
Chef's Ravioli of the Day
I went for a the ravioli of the day.
It was stuffed with Osso Bucco and topped with mushrooms and a rich, thick sauce. It was worth the wait!
Catch of the Day
Don went for the catch of the day. His grilled salmon came with fingerling potatoes and fresh zucchini & squash. Don hardly wanted to share, but I stole a bite.
Chef Avi stopped by our booth and we raved about our meal. I decided it was time to dig out the cookbook. "Have you seen one of these books before?" I asked.
He looked surprised as he studied the recipe. He pulled out his phone to record the image. Its always extra fun, when we get to share the old cookbook with the chef!
Oscar and Turkey Mornay Recipe
Oscar came over to check on things. We were both wearing masks when I got up to pose with him. Then we had that funny exchange. that's becoming common, these days. "Oh, I'm vaccinated, too. We can pull our masks down."
Oscar had been a gracious and serious server. This silly book paved the way for a fun conversation. It was heart warming to hear his stories of getting through the pandemic. He talked about his joy at seeing the hotel coming back to life. He was excited to know that families were planning weddings and quinceaneras again.
We had such a lovely and quiet meal. It made me a little sad to see that there weren't more people dining.
We wandered a little after dinner and imagined how busy this hotel might become in a few months.
I hope so. This iconic hotel and restaurant has worked hard to reopen!
The Dining Blog
This is a blog about Dining Adventures. Sometimes, I talk about food. Below, you can read how this started.
On July 4th 2011, I set a goal to try 50 culturally diverse restaurants in one year! (I knew that was possible, living in the Houston area) I spent the year pulling in friends and family to join me, on some unusual dining adventures. I met some curious people, tried some scary foods and explored places and cultures I never would have otherwise. Even though I met my goal, I learned too much to end my adventures in dining. I have continued blogging about memorable dining adventures of all kinds, near and far... and all the discoveries and funny things I've learned along the way!
Locations and types of dining adventures, are listed further down.