Thursday, July 01, 2010

Menu From The Pepper Pot, 1929

"I don't know where [June] is living now--she told me to mail my letters c/o The Pepper Pot--which I did, but still no answer."
Henry Miller, June 18, 1930 (Letters To Emil, p.58)
Three years ago, I wrote about The Pepper Pot, the Greenwich Village restaurant and club at which June Mansfield worked (at least) from 1925-1927. In Miller's novels, the Pot is usually referred to as The Iron Cauldron. In my old posting, I highlight the fact that June often worked in the basement of the Pot. Jay Martin had described this as 'The Catacomb."

Thanks to a tip from "Jean" in Denmark, I was recently led to a blog on which someone has posted a vintage menu of The Pepper Pot from 1929. Besides the curiosity of the menu items, it offers a real ephemeral smorgasbord: illustrations of the activities and physical layout of the restaurant. The image that caught my attention most was that of a sign leading to "The Samovar: Lower level of the Pepper Pot" [image at left]. As is evident in my old Pepper Pot posting, I was confused as to the number of floors to be found at the Pepper Pot. Thanks to this menu, I am somewhat clearer on the way this place stacked up, although the wording confuses me--was the Samovar a sub-basement, or a "lower level" above the basement? Therefore, I'm not sure whether June worked the "dining only" basement room or the Samovar room.

According to the menu itself, which includes a history of The Pepper Pot, "The basement of the building, which is the Original Pepper Pot, is for eating only. One flight up are two dance floors, side by side, but on different levels. Beyond these and still lower, is the Samovar floor, the oldest restaurant in New York City. Two hundred years ago it was an old Cow Barn. The old posts and beams are still there. On the third floor is the Bridge Room, for the accomodation of private parties, fraternity affairs, private luncheons and dinners, etc."

A detail from the illustrations of the 1929 menu for The Pepper Pot. The fact that the sign here says that "dining and dancing [is] upstairs," suggests this may be a view of the Samovar.

In another section of the menu, it mentions that "the little building to the right of the barn [Samovar] was the farmhouse."

The cover of the menu confirms the address at 146 West Fourth Street, and shows a sketched detail of the unique table candles used at The Pepper Pot. Its cover illustrations of paint brushes, pens, photographers, etc. acknowledges its relevance to its Greenwich arts clientele. For $1.50, you could order a "Bohemian plate."

View the large, hi-res menus at Jack Stanley's History in the Raw blog.

"At the Pepper Pot, meet the people you used to know, the people you do know, the people you'd ike to know."


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