Posts Tagged ‘Jim Heimann’

Bookmarks: Menu Design in America

Friday, September 23rd, 2011

"Bookmarks" blog post banner

"Menu Design in America" book surrounded by vintage menus

We have a really fabulous book for today’s Bookmarks post.

front page from "Menu Design in America"

page from "Menu Design in America"

It’s Menu Design in America, 1850-1985 by Steven Heller & John Mariani and edited by Jim Heimann.

'Ale Ale Kai' Tiki-style menu

The Blackhawk and Club Ballyhoo menus

The book charts the history of menu design in America in the 19th & 20th centuries.

Bond Fifth Avenue Flight Deck menu

Billy Rose's Casa Manana menu

The menus featured inevitably incorporate the evolution & development of food.

The French Casino Theatre menu

page from "Menu Design in America"

But they also draw in American and social history, politics, immigration, civil rights, prohibition, social taboos & norms for various eras – some of which can be eye openers.

Hotel Sahara, Las Vegas 'Congo Room' menu

Adams-Sheetz Drive-in menu

Fans of graphic design, illustration and typography will also be in heaven!

page from "Menu Design in America" page from "Menu Design in America"

El Rancho Vegas menu

There’s a broad subject overview at the start of the book, followed by further insightful captions on each page.

page from "Menu Design in America"

Empire Dinner menu

page from "Menu Design in America"

They add details for specific venues or menus – artists/designers, who owned/frequented an establishment, its popularity, dates, details about the food – chefs, new introductions, where items may have been sourced etc.

Fountain Room menu

page from "Menu Design in America"

In some cases, there are accompanying photographs of the actual restaurant locations, buildings, interiors and the diners themselves.

page from "Menu Design in America"

page from "Menu Design in America"

The menus are the real stars of this book, of course. There are nearly 400 pages crammed full of fabulous examples. Both the stunning covers and their menu contents will give hours of visual pleasure.

page from "Menu Design in America"

page from "Menu Design in America" page from "Menu Design in America"

We’ve included lots of images for this post, but even this is only a small portion of those contained within the book.

page from "Menu Design in America"

Howard Johnson's 'delicious food' menu

Art Nouveau to Art Deco, Jazz age to Space age – it’s all in here!

John's Island Cafe menu

Kon-Tiki menu

The menus are sourced from hotels, restaurants, nightclubs, diners, steamships, cruise ships, trains & planes.

'Tropicana' menu

'Mario's Pizza House' menu

We know one thing though – after browsing this book for an hour we were starving!

page from "Menu Design in America"

'mixed drinks' menu

Some of the menus had up to a hundred items to choose from.

page from "Menu Design in America"

page from "Menu Design in America"

There are familiar dishes such as steaks & burgers (done in a myriad of different ways of course).

Orbit Dining Room Coffee Shop menu

Well of the Sea menu

Others have choices that were new to us – ‘stewed terrapin with hominy’, ‘fried smelts with figaro sauce’, ‘calf’s head en tortue’.

page from "Menu Design in America"

page from "Menu Design in America"

There are enjoyable aspects to take from all the menus – our favourites in terms of design & artwork are those dating from the 1930s and the 1950s. There’s a few in this book we’d love to add to our collection.

page from "Menu Design in America"

page from "Menu Design in America"

We started acquiring vintage menus some time ago. In fact, we’ve blogged about the subject before.

Sea Cave menu

page from "Menu Design in America"

We love both the artwork and browsing the dishes on offer. They can be stored in a folder, but also look great framed – and as you can see from the wonderful examples in this book, the designs can be just stunning.

Stan's menu

Subway Cafe 507 menu

So we were sold even before opening a page, but if you are a newcomer to the subject, this book can be enjoyed as pure eye candy or will provide a fascinating insight into the history of a nation through its culinary culture.

Supper Hotel Pennsylvania menu

page from "Menu Design in America"

Mouth-watering stuff – we can highly recommend it!

Town and Country menu

page from "Menu Design in America"

Menu Design in America, 1850-1985 is also available from Hive and the H is for Home vintage design bookshops – UK & US

page from "Menu Design in America"

page from "Menu Design in America"

[Many thanks to Taschen for supplying this review copy]