Throwback Thursday: Menus in a Drawer Spark Delicious Memories

Doc Rich Weiss found some old menus and sent us a photo of them, writing a little about what makes those memories special. The restaurants featured include T&R Pizza, Harriet’s Kitchen, Williams Bar-B-Q, Saigon Grill, Bardolino Pizza, Brother Jimmy’s, Sushi Hana and Cafe Con Leche.

“These menus buried in a kitchen drawer are reminders of my favorite takeout places of the last 20 years in our neighborhood! Saigon Grill (prior to the labor issues) was a must go with out of town friends, loved #44 – Bau Luc Luc! Harriet’s Kitchen might very well be the city’s best “effin’ cheeseburger (If you believed the sign in their window!). I went to Williams BBQ for takeout the evening of the Great Blackout of ‘03 (or was it ‘04?). Brother Jimmy’s fried chicken was as good as any I’ve ever had! Sigh, the times they are a-changing…”

Anyone having a similar mouth-watering reaction?

Check out our other Throwback Thursday posts here.

FOOD, HISTORY | 49 comments | permalink
    1. Bathrobe Guy says:

      Wow, Rich, you gotta clean out your apartment sooner!! Are you a hoarder?! Lol. Congrats on a funny news article, Doc!

      • Tom says:

        To this day, I still miss Williams Chicken. When they closed the owner was still doing deliveries to the UWS from where he moved to. Does anyone know if this is still the case?
        Also Cafe con Leche moved to East Harlem up on Second Avenue but unfortunately closed there as well.
        Best coffee and Huevos Rancheros.

      • Richard Weiss says:

        Thanks “Bathrobe Guy”!! Yes – definitely time to de-clutter. May as well start with take-out menus from places that no longer exist!

    2. I had my first barbecued rotisserie chicken at Williams in 1959. Harriet’s kitchen is sorely missed they had some incredible food especially their hamburger and that wonderful chicken sandwich. And Saigon Grill and Jimmy’s BBQ Irreplaceable all of them

    3. I keep a copy of Big Nick’s Burger Joint & Pizza Joint menu, 28 pages long, on my dining room table where I can look at it from time to time, like right now…

      Now that the whole town’s boarded up tight as a drum, & even those places that are open
      give it up by 8pm, I’m forced by plague to turn to nostalgia…

      I mean, where else could you get a tasty Ostrich Burger in a Pocket with mixed waffle fries at 1am, while watching an old VHS loop of the 3 Stooges on a black and white with the sound off?

      And they were welcoming and modest in their ambitions too:

      As Gael Greene boasts on the back of said menu: “Good Grub… a meal for $15 you’d be willing to eat!”

      And I miss Big Nick’s lumbering & genial(mostly) presence too, maybe 6’5″ or so, his proprietorial gaze overlooking the gustatory commerce from high above, in The City That Never Sleeps.


    4. Mark Moore says:

      I had the Saigon Grill and Cafe con Leche menus too. Miss both those places. We still keep a folder of paper menus and never use those rip-off apps like Grubhub.

    5. jezbel says:

      I miss Brother Jimmy’s BBQ. My personal fave.

    6. Susan says:

      Cafe con Leche !! Loved the chicken with garlic sauce!

    7. Mike Lambe says:

      I have a “menu drawer” too and hope my favorites will still be there after this pandemic! 😀

    8. Ethan says:

      “Old” menus? Hardly! I would employ the descriptor “from the recent past” for these establishments. But then I go back quite a few years in the neighborhood. (But not as many as you do, inevitable one-upsman replier…)

      • UWSEd says:

        Those are menus of newcomers! How about

        The Cherry on Columbus and 76th, the original Cottage on 76th at Columbus, Ruell’s on Columbus btwn 75th & 76th, The Green noodle on Columbus btwn 74th & 75th, Benny’s Takeout on Amsterdam btwn 75th & 76th, The Westside Grill on Columbus btwn 72nd & 73rd, Mikado on 72 btwn Columbus & Amsterdam… Not one-upsmanship, but rather, misery loving company!

    9. UWSHebrew says:

      Saigon Grill did kick ass. I miss it.

    10. Marcy Katz says:

      The blackout was August ‘03. Our daughters wedding was Aug 13 here in Honolulu, and a lot of our East coast wedding guests were stranded here in Paradise.They didn’t complain much.🥴

    11. Jimmmmeeeee! says:

      Saigon Grill. Missed terribly.

    12. Charlie says:

      Bau Luc Lac was the best at Saigon Grill. I can still remember the taste of those tender savory delicious beef morsels. What I really loved was that they would arrive at the table before you could say “Lac”

    13. Leon says:

      Those were some of my favorites, and also some of the places that did the most “menu bombing.”

      I really miss Brother Jimmy’s. Kids ate free or for very little. Food was great. Fun place to watch a game. I actually tried to go there on the day they closed – June 2015 – someone greeted me at the door and told me they had just closed. I didn’t realize it was permanent. Several of their other locations (UES, MSG) have also closed.

      There was a Vietnamese place on Amsterdam around 80 or 81 that had the best bo luck lac – I generally don’t really like Vietnamese food but it was incredible.

    14. Johnny says:

      Bring back Bro J’s!

    15. stevieboy says:

      Brother Jimmy’s was OK but before it existed that space was an amazing bar and restaurant called Amsterdam’s.

      Back in the 90’s this place was legendary. Great staff, classic music and excellent food. Amsterdam Avenue in general was pretty happening back then.

    16. Yessika pazmiño says:

      Saigon grill and sushi hana. Great places

    17. 10024_10025 says:

      I’m pretty sure Saigon Market on University in the Village is the same people as Saigon grill, Bo Luc Lac is still on the menu and still good!

    18. Bill says:

      It was always a hoot @ Williams when being behind a new customer who had no idea you had to order, pay, then get your food.

    19. SBG says:

      Chicken Pie from Williams was a takeout favorite back in the day. My husband would bring one home if I was sick.
      And of course we loved Big Nick’s.

    20. Westsider says:

      Amsterdams, Poletti’s, Teachers, Teachers Too, Marvin Gardens, Sakura… going back too far?

      • Llewelyn Triche says:

        Teachers and Teachers 2, Al Buono Gusto, Marvin Gardens, Cantina, Victor’s, Big Nick’s, Captain Nemos, you name it. Some of us do remember. The only left is La Caridad at 78th and Broadway and the coffee shops at 69th and Broadway and between 72nd and 73rd and Amsterdam.

    21. Carlos says:

      What was the name of the great little Mexican place on 85 just east of Broadway (between French Roast and what is now Han Dynasty)? Basic Mexican food at reasonable prices – perfect for tacos, enchiladas, etc. and drinks. It was there in the mid-2000s. Cilantro doesn’t quite replace it.

      And of course no one has mentioned Artie’s! I also miss Firehouse – I think the place that recently moved into the place looks similar but I haven’t tried it yet.

      • Doc Rich Weiss says:

        Carlos – That Mexican place to which you are referring (where Han Dynasty is now) was Maryann’s. Cool spot!

      • 201West85 says:

        Place on 85th was La Cocina.

        • Carlos says:

          Thanks – La Cocina is what I was referring to. Nothing fancy about it but it is nice having a few places in the neighborhood for your basics. I think the location is now a Greek place, was a kosher spot for a while – hasn’t been La Cocina for at least 10 years. It is next door to Han Dynasty, which I think was Dean’s pizza at the time.

    22. Petunia says:

      Loved Saigon Grill, Brother Jimmy’s and Harriet’s, could do with some of that wonderful food.

    23. UWSmaven says:

      Does anyone else remember Piccolino, a very small pasta place that straddled two storefronts on Amsterdam between 81st and 82nd (where Cozy Cuts ultimately went, also now closed). They made incredible fresh pasta with amazing sauces. It was co-owned by the maitre d’ (Tony) and the chef, and they were wonderful and hilarious. My now-wife and I celebrated our engagement there in 1988 among other occasions. Miss them so, every time I walk by.

    24. ellyn miller says:

      saigon grill morphed into vietnam on 88th and 2nd- same menu same bau lu luc- same delivery bags. they have been closed since march i hope they survive the pandemic. thanks for the throw back

      • lynn says:

        Would you know if anything went into the old Chef Ho’s location? I haven’t been over there since they closed after the fire.

    25. Ira says:

      Once got delivery from Saigon Grill in under 10 minutes from the time I hung up the phone(pre-Seamless) till the time my doorman buzzed me!!Miss that place.

    26. MA says:

      I have memories of eating at a 2-level restaurant with murals called the Boulevard (I think) while visiting family in the area as a kid (I’m in my 30s now – this was probably in the early ’90s). I’ve tried to research where this was but haven’t been able to find any mention — does anyone remember this place?

      • 201West85 says:

        Boulevard was on Broadway and 88th I believe. It is now the Urgent Care .

    27. Scoant says:

      Miss planet sushi, cherry diner and poulet take away

    28. Matt says:

      Does anyone remember there was a chinese place right at the corner of 71st and Columbus called Hunan Village or something? Maybe I was hallucinating.

      • rteplow says:

        China Fun? There was another chinese place about a block away that had the best twice-cooked pork I’ve ever had.

        I also miss: stuffed cabbage at Williams, prune danish at Lichtmann’s Bakery, Saigon Grille, barbecued wings at Artie’s (before they went downhill), Harriet’s Kitchen, old-style Chinese restaurants like Moon Palace, breakfast at La Rosita, lamb sandwich at that sandwich deli on Broadway around 112th, artichoke pizza at pizza place on Columbus near 69th…

    29. Cato says:

      Chun Cha Fu, Broadway and around 90th.

      There was also an Indian restaurant in that area (west side of Broadway?) called maybe Maharaja’s Palace? This goes back to the late 70’s, early 80’s.

      Great food at both, and I don’t remember ever having to wait for a table. Reservations? Unheard of in those days.

    30. Cami says:

      Loved both Saigon grill and Cafe con Leche and miss eating there!

    31. Lynne Allen says:

      Oh my – what a wonderful find. I still miss both Williams Chicken – my old go to place for take out on the way home from work, along with their wonderful coleslaw, and Brother Jimmys “Put Some South in Your Mouth” which had the BEST barbecued wings and mac and cheese. I literally would choose to go there for my birthday. MY long time favorite – and I PRAY it lasts (I freaked when they were renovating – which usually means closing) is Flor de Mayo on Amsterdam (also up on Broadway about 100th St.) BEST Peruvian chicken and special fried rice plate. Great whiskey sours too.

    32. MQue says:

      These are great but I have real old menus still such as teriyaki boy 😮 and 88 Noodle

    33. Bengert11851 says:

      How about Blondies when it was 77th and B-way, Bear bar, Amsterdam’s, Night Cafe with their opposite happy hour, Yellow Rose of Texas (Ginmill), KCOU Radio(now Jakes Dilemma), Louie’s……
      What was that fancy seafood joint on east side of Bway between 77-78? Was also a Cajun place at one point.