Hello! A few weeks back I remarked about the nice warm spring weather we were having, but I also said I was not quite ready to put away the snow shovels and scrapers. Well, I put the snow scraper to use yesterday as temps fell during a rainstorm, bringing snow to most of Massachusetts. Coming out of an appointment around 11 a.m. yesterday, I found the car windows covered with ½ an inch of very heavy, wet snow. So much for spring in New England!
With the expected arrival of real spring weather, restaurants are gearing up for outdoor dining. Today I want to share a menu we recently acquired thanks to help from Bob Vogel. Brooks Farrar was well known in the area for his duck farm which stood in the vicinity of 300 Turnpike Street in South Easton. Known as State Road 138 in the days before the highway system was implemented, Route 138 was populated with a number of roadside stops for travelers, and Farrar’s was one of them. Besides raising ducks for the commercial market, he also had a gas station and a restaurant. In the days before World War II duck was a very popular food choice. Farrar goes into great detail on the superiority of fresh duck on the back of this menu, pointing out the high caloric count and how it exceeded both nutritionally and economically other meats and seafoods. Given that this menu probably dates from the late 1930’s it was important to point out that your money went further by purchasing duck rather than seafood or other meat items!
What might you find on the menu at Brooks Farrar’s Restaurant? Many familiar things as well as food items that were once popular, but now forgotten by most. Upon opening the menu, you are immediately looking at three dinner menus, priced at $2.00, $1.50, and $1.00. The offerings for a nice dinner range from a full hot duckling with an appetizer and all the trimmings, to a more basic dinner of a ¼ duckling, potato, peas, stuffing, dessert and a drink. Fresh bread is also provided. If you were looking for a lighter meal, there were plenty of menu items available to choose from. You could get such standard fare as bacon and eggs (presumably duck eggs) for 40 cents, baked beans for 20 cents, a toasted egg salad sandwich for 25 cents, a hamburger for 10 cents, or a roasted skinless hot dog for 10 cents. Among items you will not find on a menu today are creamed duck (or chicken, an up-and-coming alternative) for 75 cents, duckling pies with potato, gravy and bread for 50 cents, a capon sandwich for 40 cents, a sardine sandwich for 10 cents, or cream cheese and jelly for 15 cents. You could also choose from duckling soup, tomato bisque, or fish chowder for 15 cents. Salads ranged in price from capon salad at 60 cents, to shrimp salad at 40 cents, and sardine or egg salad at 25 cents. Sides included mashed potatoes for 5 cents, french fries for 10 cents, and potato chips for 10 cents. On the back cover you could choose from any of a number of lunch specials. You might order bacon and asparagus tips on toast for 45 cents, sauteed duck livers with french fries for 60 cents, or perhaps a broiler sandwich with cranberry sauce, lettuce and mayonnaise for 60 cents. Prices for lunch specials included pie or ice cream, and coffee, tea or milk. A selection of beer or ale might finish off your lunch or dinner. A note implores the customer to take the menu home with them so they could call in a telephone order.
Wherever and whenever you choose to dine out this spring, take a good look at the menu. I wonder what future diners will think when they see the food offerings we have to choose from?
Until next week, stay well!
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Anne Wooster Drury