Saturday, June 9, 2012

Review: On the Town in New York


On the Town in New York is Michael and Ariane Batterberry’s "Landmark History of Eating, Drinking, and Entertainments from the American Revolution to the Food Revolution." It is the classic culinary history of New York City, from 1776 to when the book was first published in 1973. The 25th anniversary edition adds a chapter on the era from about 1970 to 1998.

As the title suggests, the book is mostly about restaurant and hotel dining, not home cooking and not New York's agriculture or food production. This is about how people ate when they were On the Town, covering the transition from humble taverns to elaborate “pleasure gardens,” the rise of the grand hotels and the extravagant parties thrown in them, the evolution of tea rooms to lunch counters to automats, the influence of immigrant cooking, and development of New York’s modern restaurant scene.

There is a lot of information packed into this entertaining and encyclopedic book. The Batterberrys’ thorough research and love of their subject shows in the details they incorporate and the personalities they showcase. The inclusion of many historical pictures, including reproductions of famous menus, makes it even easier for the reader to appreciate this chronicle of New York’s food culture.


If you would like your review of this book listed here, please leave a comment with a link and I will add it.


The Batterberrys were the founders of Food & Wine Magazine. I first read about this book when Anthony Bourdain recommended it in Kitchen Confidential.

This counts as one of my books for the Foodie Reading Challenge, hosted by Margot at Joyfully Retired.

It also counts for the Mt. TBR, Off The Shelf, TBR Pile, and Non-Fiction, Non-Memoirs challenges.



  1. I moved to NYC a few years ago, and this is a book I would love to read.

  2. I've never seen this book before. It looks very interesting...I love info like this.
    Here's My WC

  3. This sounds like exactly the kind of book I love :)

    Its cool it counts for a lot of the challenges you are doing(!) I need to focus on mine...the year is practically half over!

  4. Thanks for featuring what looks like a fascinating and interesting book. Love to read about NYC restaurants :).

  5. Interesting. Have a good week.

  6. Oooooohhhhhh I was just in New York last week. I need to read this book -- I love food history and food in the city.

  7. sounds very interesting. For us it is an easy decision to eat out, and I have to admit, that I had rarely thought about it being different in decades and centuries past.


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