Tips On Tables

Where to Eat in New York - Robert W. Dana - 1948

Stork Club - 3 East 53rd Street

It’s the most famous night spot in the world, thanks to a high-pressure publicity campaign that goes on like perpetual motion. Walter Winchell decided to adopt it as his own pet hangout and others followed like lambs.

Of course at the bottom of it all is a smart, mild-mannered man named Sherman Billingsley, who hails from Oklahoma. He doesn’t drink or smoke but he knows how to keep the customers coming back night after night.

Some years ago, when the Stork had definitely won its battle for survival, Mr. Billingsley decided to open an inner chamber for his best customers, a place where Hollywoodites, politicians, and other celebrities could sit quietly and chat, drink, or play gin rummy.

Called “The Cub Room” it filled up nightly. Bing Crosby is always there when in town, the only man allowed to smoke a pipe in there. Table NO- 50 is probably the most photographed table in the world, having welcomed such celebrities as Jim Farley, J. Edgar Hoover, the late Damon Runyon, the Roosevelt boys, Admiral William F. Halsey, and, of course, Winchell. That’s where the press agents look for Walter to give him “hot” tips.

The Stork features food as well as celebrities, excellent food from a kitchen stressing French cuisine. Several dishes have been born there, like the famous chicken hamburger, which is a tasty mixture of boned and ground chicken mixed with salt, pepper, nutmeg, butter, heavy cream, and bread crumbs. The hamburger is served with tomato sauce, French-fried sweet potatoes, and buttered green peas.

All of the many wonders of the French cuisine are trotted out at one time or another. They look beautiful, taste delicious, and are presented with smooth efficiency. One of the favorite desserts is a confection called “Snowball,” a ball of ice cream covered with shredded coconut over which chocolate sauce has been poured.

Open daily. A la carte luncheon and dinner. Full-course dinner averages $6. Air-conditioned.

The cover of the Stork Club’s menu had a drawing of many of the stars who frequented that establishment by artist Al Dorne.

Stork Club Menu

The illustration on the cover and back is by artist Al Dorne. My best guess from the front left ... Dorothy Kilgallen, Arthur Godfrey, Tallulah Bankhead, Morton Downey. I don't know whose head that is facing the other way.... on the right ... Owner Sherman Billingsley and (his wife?) ... to their right is columnist Walter Winchell ... below him on the bottom right is Lana Turner(?) ... and could that be Joan Crawford's eyes on the bottom middle(?) ...or that could also be the back of her head on the bottom left. If you recognize any of these celebrities, please email me. Anyone know where this original painting is located today?

Here's the the inside of the Stork Club Menu, from which diners picked their favorite meal. Of course, the sirloin steak is always great, but I'd suggest the shad roe with bacon. These are specials of the day that are stapled on. This is the season when the shad return to New York's own Hudson River and the city has its very own fishing industry at this time of the year. 

Stork Club Prices