Beefsteak (1893); Cabaret (1880)

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Sun Jun 3 01:06:14 UTC 2001

BEEFSTEAK (continued)

   Also in POOLE'S PLUS.
   From FRANK LESLIE'S POPULAR MONTHLY, "New York Restaurant Life," January 1893, pg. 108, col. 2:

   Five or six years ago some glutton revived the barbarous practice of eating great chunks of steak without knife and fork.  It was the season of "Beefsteak Clubs."  A place--sometimes the loft of a stable--was rented by a party of gentlemen for the evening.  The steak was cooked in a square iron box.  The wood fire in the oven was allowed to burn until the embers formed a red-hot bed several inches deep.  Cubical slabs of beef were placed on an ash grate, which is poked into the embers, where it is broiled to a turn or charred mass.  The steaks, each weihging a pound or more, are served on hot pewter plates, together with crackers and pieces of bread, and washed down with copious draughts of ale and porter.  One rule governing a beefsteak club is that there must be no chairs, tables, knives, forks or napkins.  And so the New York "swell," like little Lord Fauntleroy, seated on a cracker box or barrel, helps himself to meat and bread with his dainty fingers.  The Beefsteakers!
 have grown tired of gastronomic
 fooling, and one must look elsewhere for midnight scenes of savagery and revelery.

(The article contains drawings of a "QUICK LUNCH" and "DOWNTOWN MERCHANTS' BEEFSTEAK CLUB"--ed.)

CABARET (continued)

"Life is a cabaret, old chum."

   OED has "cabaret" in 1912 for a restaurant with entertainment.  This is about the time that the "nightclub" began in New York.
   From the NEW YORK TRIBUNE, 30 August 1880, pg. 8, col. 4:

   At the northwest corner of Bleecker and Wooster sts., is an old brick building, bearing on one side the following sign:
   Restaurant du Grand Vatel,
   Francois et Cuban
   Repas a toute lieure
   Sur commande
   On porte en ville.
   And it is a queer set that frequents the Restaurant du Grand Vatel.  The men are usually makers of artificial flowers, dyers, or silk weavers.  Fortunately, the place is yet unknown to the average American, but its Bohemian charms have been long enjoyed by the artistic fraternity.  To them this reproduction of the French _cabaret_ recalls happy hours spent in beloved Paris.

(Is this "cabaret" in the entertainment sense?  Maybe not, but the article says that "itinerant musicians haunt the place, playing airs from familiar operas"--ed.)

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