Tips On Tables

Tips on Tables - By Robert W. Dana - April 16, 1951

Algonquin is Rich in Tradition

There's no wishing well in the small Hotel Algonquin, 59 W. 44t St., but there is enough lore spread over four decades to fill many volumes. Ever since 1907, when Frank Case, whose name Is legendary in the annals of hotels throughout the world, became manager, it has been a tradition more than hotel. The late Mr. Case, who started at the Algonquin as a clerk and was owner from 1927 to his death in 1946, made the venerable hostelry the favorite of theater, literary and artistic circles. He moved among them with friendly meetings and bon mots, but seldom sat down. And he wrote about them and the Algonquin in his book, "Do Not Disturb." Although Frank Case is gone, the small world of his hotel goes on as before, his story carried on and just immortalized by his daughter, Margaret Case Harriman in her book, "The Vicious Circle."

Clock For Cocktails.

One of the fondest sights of the Algonquin lobby, where cocktail sippers have reserved the same table, for years, is the old grandfather clock, Grandfather Clock which Mr. Case accepted in 1910 for an unpaid bill. 

The present owner is Ben B. Bodne, who came to the Algonquin on his honeymoon, in 1924 and resolved that some day he would own it. A native of Charleston, S. C., he enjoys nothing, better than spending his money to maintain the old tradition of the hotel. 

 Spending thousands of dollars on new kitchens, beds and stepped-up elevator service-comforts for which he’s received many compliments. He has kept the tradition with the staff: Nicky, who has been in charge of room service 35 years; Alfred Mitchell, at the desk 40 years; John Rose, Room head waiter and Algonquinite for 27 years, Raul, headwaiter. in the Oak Room 12 years, and John Martin, the manager who worked so closely with Mr. Case.

The Round Table. 

There is the fine held-over tradition of the Round Table, where the town’s ,wits began exchanging witticisms in 1919 - among them, Franklin P. Adams, Deems Taylor, George S. Kaufman, Marc Connelly, Robert Sherwood, Dorothy Parker, Edna Ferber, 0. 0. McIntyre and Heywood Broun. 

Cozy is the atmosphere in the Oak Room, more formal the Rose Room. Some of its specialties are pancake stuffed with chicken hash and new peas Bergere ($3). calf’s liver steak with bacon and smothered onions ($3.25), frog legs provencale ($3.25), and curried shrimp with rice and chutney ($3.25).

There are desserts to please the many leading actresses” who frequent the place, ones like snow ball with chocolate sauce, parfait. Algonquin and peach Melba. The rolls and popovers, which look so attractive by the side of your courses, are baked in the hotel’s kitchen. But if you don’t have time for a meal, you might stop by the cozy bar right off the entrance and sample a drink well made by George Galani, there since 1933. 

Pictured is a photo of me in the Algonquin lobby setting my wristwatch, 53 years later. I had to ask one of the staff where the famous clock was. Astonishingly, we were seated about 10 feet from it. The room is very dark (oak) and there’s a lot to take in so that’s my excuse. The clock is flat on top, not triangular like the cartoon. Behind me is the Oak Room, which isn’t really closed off from the lobby. The famous Oak room is smaller than I would have imagined. Below is the entrance to the hotel in 2004.