The illustrations above and hundreds of others are available at the Smithsonian website.
See the Links page(menu, left) to connect to this wonderful collection. Menus courtesy of the
General Research Division, The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations.
Elite restaurants in New York were not only a phenomenon of consumption, they defined high society. New York has always entertained the rich and powerful. Delmonico's, Sherry's and the Hotel Savoy were a few of the establishments that catered to the high-income crowd around 1900. Dinner involved multiple courses and for men featured cigars at the end.

Restaurants benefited or suffered from trends in cuisine, with roof gardens imitating German beer halls, restaurants flamboyantly adopting a cuisine for the night, and in the 1850s, lobster houses brought the elitism and perhaps the prices of the these establishments down a notch. Lobster houses were rowdier, less focused on culinary refinement, more democratic and cheaper. Their clientele was experiencing the joys of "slumming," and their dining habits became slightly less extravagant, though still far outstripping the middle class. Thousands of banquets, professional, social and professionally social were given at restaurants and Hotels in New York: Governor Teddy Roosevelt, latter-day Astors, Vanderbilts, Pierpont-Morgans, and more.

Click for Waldorf Menu
Click for Plaza Menu
In 1898, Delmonico's moved to its Fifth Ave. and 44th St. location, the third major uptown move since its founding in 1828 . Though extravagant dining was not as fashionable as in Delmonico's heyday 20 years before, the restaurant was still a status destination for the elite until its closing in 1923. Click menu icon for exclusive Delmonico's Terrapin recipe.
In 1898, Sherry's opened its Fifth Ave and 44th St. location (across the street from Delmonico's) in a twelve-story building designed by Stanford White (himself murdered in the roofgarden restaurant of the old Madison Square Gardens in 1906). Click icon for Sherry's Menu