I hope no other publisher is thinking of doing a book on menu design because Jim Heimann's wonderful collection in this Taschen title can't be beat. With almost eight hundred covers and nicely, many showing the insides so you can see what was available when your folks ate out decades ago.
It's the inside meal listings that I found intriguing: the Palmer House in Chicago, on May 17, 1885, offered Fried frogs, a la Crapotine; when the Iowa Register and Tribune papers had their banquet in 1917 they could tuck into Dross smothered in onions; United States Lines SS America on Monday June 9, 1930 listed a dessert called Blanc mange; the Sea Cave in Oakland, California, had thirty-three oyster dishes and claimed `We open our oysters daily'.
Little snippets of information pop up everywhere. The 1943 Red Sails Inn in San Diego menu said `We are closed on Tuesdays', because of wartime regulations required meatless Tuesdays. The Disney Studio in 1942 had very low prices for breakfast to prevent their workers going of the lot. Many of the menus before 1940 have daily dates printed on them, presumably they were frown away when the places closed at night. All the up-market menus used a mixture of French and English though the swanky New York Colony in 1954 had every thing in French and handwritten, too.
The menus included aren't just restaurants but from anywhere that provided cooked food, the Colony to Bob's Big Boy and everything in between, no early McDonalds though. The covers come in all sorts of sizes and shapes, a few shown include location maps and I found one that featured photographs of the meals.
The book is the usual well designed Taschen format. Good page layouts and printing with a 150 screen. I would have preferred to see a gloss paper to bring out the wonderful colourful graphics rather than the slightly soft matt art that has been used.
Jim Heimann's book will be a treat for those in the food business and graphic designers will appreciate all the amazing visual goodies. This is his second title on the subject, check out `May I take your order' (ISBN 0811817830) a large paperback from 1998.