007's New York (Part 2)
16th September 2010
See New York City, 007 style. Let MI6 be your guide to exploring locations from Ian Fleming's novels
By Ben Williams
Continuing from Part I... Settled in? Good. Now it's time to get out and about and spend some coin like Bond.
First stop for Bond was Hoffritz, Madison Avenue where he buys a razor. Hoffritz is now called International Cutlery and you can find them at 367 Madison Avenue. Indecently, if you want Bond's razor, you can purchase a Merkur who produced the razors for Hoffritz from International Cutlery. Bond's was most likely the Mekur safety razor or the Mekur adjustable.
Where to next? Bond goes to F.R. Tripler's for French golf socks by Izod, which is just across the street at 366 Madison Ave. Now JoS A. Bank, a men's clothing store. You can still buy socks there. At one time Tripler's was the main competition to Brooks Brothers, although they were considered to be superior in quality. No surprises there then.
Bond then heads to Abercrombie & Fitchsports department store, Madison Avenue. Abercrombie & Fitch was at one time a massive sporting goods store and not the fashion house it is today, staffed by models and with a ridiculous door policy. Bond visits the store to meet up with his occasional lover, Solange, who "appropriately" works in their indoor games department. A&F is now on 5th Avenue, but the store Bond visits would have been on the corner of Madison Ave and East 45th Street, the site of their original 12 floor department store.
Bond fancies some light reading and he decides to visit Scribner's Bookseller, as there is someone there who has a nose for a good thriller. Scribner's is no longer a bookstore, but its magnificent glass front façade can still be seen. It's number 597 5th Ave.
In "Live And Let Die", Bond spends a day on 5th Avenue and on Broadway, window shopping and learning to walk like an American.
Hungry? I'm sure you will be after all that shopping. Well, here is where Fleming really excels. He loves to have Bond and his companions talk over food and drink, and there are plenty of examples from Bond's New York visits.
In "Diamonds Are Forever", Tiffany suggests they dine at 21. Bond has never been, but has heard of it, and he readily agrees. At their dinner, Bond and Tiffany are approached by Mac Kriendler, one of the owners of 21 at the time, who knows Tiffany personally. Mac laments that there is "too much expense account aristocracy", a phrase that Fleming reuses later in "007 In New York" when Bond reflects that it has inflated the prices and deflated the quality of the food. In "007 In New York", Bond intends to order Beefeater Martini's with a domestic vermouth, shaken with a twist, however, when Tiffany and Bond eat here they order Martinis - shaken, not stirred - to start, followed by caviar, with a main of cutlets served with asparagus. They drink Clicquot Rosé pink champagne with their meal and finish with coffee and stingers made with white crème de menthe. Tiffany jokingly tells Bond that 21 is "all you can eat for $300." In 1956, $300 would be the equivalent to around $2,400 today. Good thing she's joking.
21 is still just as expensive, however, it's worth visiting to take a look at the interesting fa¸ade and to soak up the Bond ambiance. It is, unsurprisingly, 21 West 52nd Street.
Lutece is where Bond plans to dine with Solange, as Fleming considers Lutece in the Sixties to be one of the finest restaurants in the World. Unfortunately it closed in 2004. It was situated at 249 East 50th Street. (Out of interest, Bond also entertains the notion of taking Solange to see a blue movie. He considers an S&M club to be "worth a look", like the transvestite places in Paris and Berlin. Bond doesn't end up doing this, however, what you decide to do with your time is your own affair.)
Oyster Bar Grand Central. Bond doesn't visit here in any of the books, but recalls it in 007 In New York. He describes the oyster stew with cream & crackers washed down with a Miller High Life, as the best meal in New York.
High praise indeed from a culinary expert! It's still considered to be one of the best places to eat, so check it out. It's on Park Ave and 42nd Street.
Edwardian Room, The Plaza. The Plaza is located on 5th Ave and W59th and has wonderful views of Central Park. Bond wants a corner table in the Edwardian Room. Although they don't know Bond he's sure he can get what he wants there, as Leiter knows the head waiter. Bond plans to have a dry martini and scrambled eggs with smoked salmon - Bond hopes it is Scotch salmon they used to serve and not the dry tasteless Canadian variety!) Bond doesn't end up eating there. Although The Plaza does have a number of dining areas, the Edwardian Room no longer exists.
In "Diamonds Are Forever", Leiter takes Bond to Sardi's, 234 West 44th Street, just off from Times Square, in the heart of the theatre district. Sardi's has been a popular haunt for actors and writers for decades; however, when Bond and Leiter visit they avoid the fashionable ground floor dining room and instead head upstairs. Bond uses the washroom here as he weighs up his old friend's injuries. They order Martinis made with Cresta Blanca (which Bond declares is the "best vermouth I've ever tasted.") They follow with Canadian smoked salmon and Brizzola's (roast beef cut across the bone, roasted then broiled.) Bond finishes with half an avocado and French dressing with an espresso.
Before Bond heads off to Saratoga with Felix he visits Voisin's where he has two vodka Martinis, Oeufs Benedict and strawberries. Voisin was to be found at 375 Park Avenue and East 53rd Street, just a few blocks from the St. Regis.
Bond also has ham & eggs somewhere on Lexington, although Fleming isn't specific. Although he does mention their memorable advertisement of their fresh eggs: "The eggs we serve tomorrow are still in the chickens!"
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