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Appetite City: A Culinary History of New York

3.78  ·  Rating Details ·  120 Ratings  ·  22 Reviews
New York is the greatest restaurant city the world has ever seen.

In Appetite City, the former New York Times restaurant critic William Grimes leads us on a grand historical tour of New York's dining culture. Beginning with the era when simple chophouses and oyster bars dominated the culinary scene, he charts the city's transformation into the world restaurant capital it is
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published October 13th 2009 by North Point Press (first published 2009)
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Apr 15, 2013 Bob rated it it was amazing
A fascinating, densely detailed, history of restaurant culture in New York. It necessarily tells a great deal about changing tastes in the food itself, the experience of various immigrant groups and a lot of neighborhood history, e.g how Longacre Square, locus of Manhattan's horse and carriage trade, became Times Square.

It overlaps a bit with Mark Kurlansky's The Big Oyster and certainly no one telling New York food history can resist including the anecdote on Thackeray and oysters (in its longe
Dec 03, 2009 Lex marked it as to-read
Shelves: unfinished
I could only borrow this from the library for 2 weeks because it was a new book and I couldn't finish it... so I asked for it for Christmas. Definitely put it on your list if you are into a) NYC, b) history, and c) food.
Jan 11, 2015 Carmen rated it liked it
Incredibly well researched but a slow read. I always found something interesting but rarely felt compelled to continue reading. Ironic.
Aug 11, 2010 Daphna rated it liked it
Caveat: I read only to the end of Chapter 8, which goes through the turn of the 20th century.

As the former restaurant critic for the Times, Grimes certainly knows food. He’s at his best when he allows himself to discuss it in detail—as in the paragraph where he explains how turtle soup was made in the 1850s. Yet those moments are relatively few. The book reads like the survey its footnotes reveal it to be: Grimes distills most of his information from other, more specific, books or from newspaper
May 04, 2013 Deborah rated it really liked it
William Grimes is not only an excellent writer, he is a former restaurant/food critic for the New York Times.

This history of restaurants, chefs and dining out in New York City is fascinating. From boarding houses to oyster bars to soup stand to pie stalls, food to buy was certainly available but in no way could it be considered a dining experience. Then came Delmonico's....

From the less than sanitary lunchrooms and stalls to the grand lobster palaces to the French dining invasion, New American a
Sep 29, 2016 May added it
Shelves: food
A really fantastic book about the history of the restaurant business in New York. Aside from making me really hungry, it makes me look at the city's food business in a very different way. The history provided as the reasons for diner and cart culture in NYC was really fantastic. It was an absolute pleasure to learn about how little tea houses came into being. Some of the older names and newer celebrity names are featured throughout making for an interesting tale of the growing landscape of how ...more
Jan 24, 2016 Sara rated it liked it
The subject matter was extremely interesting, which got me through the whole book. It was really scattered and seemed to jump randomly. Also, I really didn't trust the scholarship. There was one story about a young woman brought to court by her mother for fear she would become depraved, and the author ended by saying the woman gave in and promised to change her ways. A quick google found that months after "giving in" she reverted. The details of the particular story weren't super important to ...more
Matt Britton
Apr 01, 2012 Matt Britton rated it liked it
Not bad, a little dry. Some of the material around early New York's farm markets, and the chophouses, oyster saloons, beefsteak dinners, and other rough and tumble eateries is fascinating. However, Grimes spends a bit too much time detailing the politics of long-dead restaurateurs, and the more interesting stuff on the change in American appetites and attitudes toward food is subsumed in details of Maitre D's and real estate deals. If you're looking for that kind of social history/historical ...more
Lauren orso
Jul 19, 2010 Lauren orso rated it really liked it
Hot dog, this book was interesting.

It covers the rise of restaurant culture in New York City from its days as a Dutch colony to present, and leaves nothing out along the way. Each successive decade changed food culture dramatically, from NYC's roots as an oyster shack town, to bizarre turn of the century eating clubs, to the splendor brought by World's Fairs, to destruction of prohibition, to how boring the 70s were...its all there, it's all well researched, and it's all fantastic.

And the best
Aug 13, 2010 Ericka rated it liked it
It is a true history (lots of details and little editorializing). I was a bit bored (though I loved learning about the oyster houses and the weirdness of the Russian Tea Room) until the last couple chapters dealing with modern NY restaurants. Only then did my tastebuds, and the corresponding part of the brain, start to tingle.
Joan Keating
Dec 16, 2012 Joan Keating rated it it was amazing
Fantastic history of food in NYC. I learned that I had the good fortunate to eat weekly at Thomas Keller's first restaurant!!!! Rakel on Varick St. where I knew I was in heaven once or twice a week, with my personal waiter Michael bringing me one heavenly dish after another, but had no idea who was in the kitchen. I will read this again and again. What a joy.
Meh, this wasn't doing it for me so I returned it to the library unfinished. I like nonfiction that reads like a novel, and this did not. The pages were crammed with names, dates, places, quotes and none if it seemed well connected. I did thumb through the entire book scanning and looking at the pictures once I decided I wasn't going to finish it.
Sep 12, 2011 Emily rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is pretty much a chronological history, so the beginning dragged because there weren't many restaurants to discuss (or not many hilarious anecdotes about them survived) and the end was boring because there were so many restaurants that needed to be mentioned in quick succession. The middle, though, was really interesting.
Mar 02, 2015 David rated it it was amazing
Meticulous, perceptive and elegantly written. Better, in fact, than many of the establishments Grimes describes deserve and worthy of the best of them.
Apr 14, 2011 Marlies rated it liked it
I love books about NYC history, and food, so it's mostly interesting, but maybe a little too much detail....lots and lots of oysters!
Beth rated it it was amazing
Jan 07, 2013
Dara rated it liked it
Nov 28, 2009
Rebecca rated it liked it
Jul 29, 2012
Timothy York
Jun 30, 2012 Timothy York rated it really liked it
A Deeeeeeeelicious read!
Bsd rated it it was amazing
Jul 23, 2014
Charles rated it really liked it
Oct 21, 2014
Gail rated it liked it
Jan 11, 2010
Stephanie rated it really liked it
Aug 07, 2012
Jedi Timelord
Jedi Timelord rated it really liked it
Feb 23, 2015
May 12, 2011 Gabbi rated it liked it
Light and rather superficial. Interesting trivia, but I didn't finish it.
Patrick rated it really liked it
Oct 04, 2015
May 12, 2010 Elise rated it it was ok
Interesting, but not well written.
Michele rated it really liked it
Apr 29, 2014
Eileen rated it liked it
Jun 19, 2011
Demetri Detsaridis
Demetri Detsaridis rated it it was amazing
Jan 18, 2013
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