I love going out to eat! As a kid, I loved it because it felt "grown up" to eat in a restaurant. As an adult, I like the break from cooking and to possibly try something I normally wouldn't make at home.
One of the best parts of dining out (for me, anyway) is choosing what to eat and reading the menu. Because I'm a pretty fast reader and I like reading anything, I've always liked menus with "fun facts" or trivia included within its pages, or the history of the establishment. There is a restaurant in Fond du Lac which embodies all of these things - Schreiner's!
I know I've spoken of Schreiner's before but it's such an institution here that it bears repeating. Schreiner's has been around in one incarnation or another since 1938, and in its present location since 1973. It is actually the first restaurant I can remember - even though I lived in Green Bay, we stopped at Schreiner's on our way to Hoopeston, IL, where my great-grandpa lived. I remember thinking it was the fanciest place in the world, with its impressive chandeliers and blue plaid carpeting (they still have the chandeliers!). I can't remember the menu from that first visit 37 years ago but I'm sure it was much like it is today, with price comparisons and old photos.
With the advent of do-it-yourself printing, menus don't have the same pizzazz they once had. Case in point - check out these beauties!
I got these wonderful menus from my friend Robin in the latest batch of ephemera she gave to me (like I've said before, the woman is generous to a fault!). I love that on the Tea Room menu, it actually gives the date of Saturday, August 21, 1943 - over 68 years ago! And check out these prices! You could get an entire "party luncheon", consisting of broiled striped bass with lime butter, frozen-fresh asparagus and a baked stuffed tomato, PLUS a choice of soup/salad and dessert, for $1.15?!?!
And how about this "Souvenir Menu" from D&C Lake Lines? There's no date on this menu but on the back it says that they've been in business for 70 years - since they began in 1868 that would put this menu at around 1947-1948 or so. Judging by the little illustrations, I'd say that's accurate. The prices are great on this one, too - and check out the beverage options! You have the usual coffee, tea and milk but also buttermilk, Postum, Sanka and Ovaltine? Marvelous! You can also get a "D&C Salad Plate", which is a combo salad with shredded ham, tongue and turkey. You're not going to see THAT on any modern menu! Here's something else you're not going to see - the heading "Gay Companionship is Yours". Well, you could, I suppose, but that would be a different cruise. :D What a fun cruise this would've been though - start in Detroit and wind up in Cleveland, with stops all along Lake Huron and Lake Erie. How wonderful!
The last menu is for a New Year's dinner at the Penn Athletic Club, 1941, which I received in an AMAZING batch of vintage ephemera from my friend Carolyn. There are no prices for the meal, which appears to be a fixed menu. But the wine list prices are printed and for the time, must've been outrageous for most people! Imagine being able to buy a vintage 1928 bottle of Bollinger Brut Champagne for nine bucks, though - calculating for inflation, that would mean roughly $132 today!
I've only made one collage from a menu - this "Sushi Time" ATC, which was created with a take-out menu from a sushi place on Queen West in Toronto. :D