A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from October 07, 2007
Astor House Rolls; Roast Beef “a la Astor House”

The Astor House (1836-1926) was once one of the most famous hotels in New York City. It stood at Broadway, between Vesey and Barclay Streets (not far from city hall).

Dining at the Astor House was enjoyed by some of the most famous Americans (including several presidents). The “Astor House rolls” recipe was widely reprinted in newspapers and cookbooks. The hot roast beef sandwich “a la Astor House” was a recipe in Washington, D.C.’s Congressional restaurant.


Wikipedia: Astor House
The Astor House was for a time the finest hotel in New York City.

John Jacob Astor built this luxurious, Greek Revival style, Isaiah Rogers designed hotel across Broadway from New York City Hall Vesey in 1836. It was originally called the Park Hotel with 309 rooms in its 6 stories with gaslights and bathing/toilet facilities on each floor and was diagonally across the corner from the New York Herald. Mathew Brady lived there in the 1840s and Abraham Lincoln stayed there in February 1860. By the early 1870s it was considered old-fashioned and unappealing and principally used by businessmen. It was a safe haven during the Great Blizzard of ‘88 and in 1916, Charles Evans Hughes stayed there while his presidential bid stood in the balance.

PictureHistory
“Astor House, New York City”
“Astor House, New York City: The pillars mark the main entrance of the giant hotel located on Broadway between Vesey and Barclay Streets. Opened in 1836, it was considered for many years the finest hotel in the country. The old building was demolished in 1926.”

Feeding America
Miss Corson’s Practical American Cookery and Household Management
by Juliet Corson
New York, NY: Dodd, Mead & Company
1885
Pg. 491:
ASTOR-HOUSE ROLLS.
Put two quarts of sifted flour into a deep bowl, make a hollow in the centre, and put into it the following ingredients: a pint of lukewarm milk with a tablespoonful of butter dissolved in it, a level teaspoonful of salt, a tablespoonful of sugar, and two gills of yeast; with the hand mix with these ingredients enough of the flour to form a smooth thin batter; cover the bowl with a folded cloth, and put it in a (Pg. 492—ed.) warm place until the batter is light and foamy; then mix in the rest of the flour, knead the dough for five minutes, cover it again, and let it stand until it is twice its original size; when the dough is light, roll and shape it, and bake the rolls as directed in the recipe for Parker-House rolls. 

15 November 1893, Salem (OH) Daily News, pg. 3, col. 4:
A Luscious Sandwich.
There is served at the house restaurant—and for that matter at the senate restaurant—a dish that is fit for the interior of any man, high or low, rich or poor, old or young, whom the Lord has ever
suffered to live and sin. It is composed of a couple of slices of tender beef, divinely roasted, inclosed between slices of bread, divinely browned, and over all is poured a half pint of the golden
juice of the meat, vulgarly known as gravy, but whose right name is “ambrosia.” This dish in its entirety is down on the bills as “hot roast beef sandwich.” It had its birth in the once famed Astor House and is the favorite brain child of a cook upon whom one day descended an inspiration. For a long time it was distinguished upon the capitol cartes as “a la Astor House.” It has become so much a favorite with the feeders in the big building, however, that its New York patronymic has been dropped.—Washington Post.

FoodReference.com
The Inglenook Cook Book (1906)
BREADS - WARM AND COLD
ASTOR HOUSE ROLLS

Take 1 pint of sweet milk boiled and while warm put in a lump of butter the size of an egg, 2 tablespoonfuls of sugar, a little salt and 1/2 cake of yeast dissolved in a little warm water; stir in flour enough to make a stiff batter. When light, put in a ‘little more salt and knead 15 minutes; let rise again, roll out and cut into round cakes, spread each with butter and fold one half over the other half. Put into pans and when light bake in a quick oven.

7 April 1910, Oelwein (Iowa) Daily Register, pg. 2, col. 4:
Astor House Rolls.
Take one pint of sweet milk, boil, and while still warm put in lump of butter size of an egg, two tablespoonfuls sugar, a little salt and one-half cake compressed yeast. Mix with one quart best bread flour, or a little more if needed to form a smooth dough. When light mold 15 minutes. let rise up light again and turn out on pastry board and roll. Cut into round cakes, brush over in greased tins. Brush tops of rolls with melted butter and let rise up light again and bake in a quick oven.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • (0) Comments • Sunday, October 07, 2007 • Permalink