General Discussion

United States Senate Restaurant Menu (Circa 1968)

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United States Senate Restaurant Menu (Circa 1968)

Chino Wayne | May 20, 2002 02:33 AM

My 82 year old mother has been a closet ‘hound for most of her life. I never realized this until I started putting two and two together recently, like after I heard she was thrilled to be treated to a bagel dog on her last birthday. So, finally realizing that my mother just might understand me, after 54+ years, I consolidated my recent Napa Valley Road Trip reports (posted on the California board) in to one document and faxed it to her and told her all about Chowhound.

Mom enjoyed reading about the Napa Road Trip so much that it stimulated her to dig up an old menu she had as a souvenir of a trip to our nation’s capitol. She photo-copied the menu and faxed it to me. This menu is in the form of a paper booklet, with a front cover, three inside pages and a back cover. The front cover is titled “United States Senate Restaurant” and has a line drawing of the U.S. Capitol on it. Scrawled across the top in handwriting either from a fountain pen or a marker is the phrase: “Best wishes, Strom Thurmond, U.S. Senator –S.C.” Written on the bottom of the cover in my mom’s hand is apparently a list of other diners that day: “Sen. Richard Russell, Ga., Margaret Chase Smith, Sen. Ribicoff – Conn., Sen. Claybourne Pell, R.I., Sen. Jack Miller, Sen. Tidings, Md., Kennedy’s Secretaries, Sen. Thurmond, S.C.”

My mom and sister were visiting our nation’s capitol in June of 1968 doing the tourist thing while I was enjoying the chow at the mess hall at the U.S. Naval Station, in coincidentally, Charleston, South Carolina. The story is that my mom and sister were cruising down a hall in the capitol building when they ran in to Senator Thurmond, who very graciously asked them to join him for lunch. Now a reader who is not very worldly might ask at this point, “Why would a United States Senator invite two strangers to lunch, who are not deep pocketed lobbyists, or big financial contributors, or who aren’t even his own constituents?” But I am sure my fellow ‘hounds who read this, who are naturally much more wise in the ways of the world would understand completely, given that my mom was only 48 years old then, and my sister was an unspoiled 18 years old, and both were of the female gender, and Mr. Thurmond, who I estimate was just getting in to his prime, and was in his 60’s at that time, being a red blooded American politician would only naturally invite two lovely ladies to lunch. (After all, you don’t think Bill Clinton was the first politician that enjoyed the perks of his office, do you?)

The two really interesting thoughts that come to mind about the menu, is what, in that era was apparently thought to be a sophisticated menu suitable for the most powerful politicians in the land, and prices and the cost of living at that time being much lower than today notwithstanding, the fact that apparently we the tax payers have been thoughtful enough to insure that our lawmakers never have to vote on an empty stomach, and apparently, never with any strain on their wallets.

The first inside page of the menu is headed “Luncheon”, and is dated “Wednesday, June 12, 1968”. It is apparently the day’s specials, and apparently each day’s specials were printed up every morning by one of our government printing offices, again courtesy of thoughtful tax payers.

The day’s specials begin with starters of:

“Bean Soup, .25
Potato and Leek (presumably soup -CW), .25
Tomato Juice, .20
Chilled Mixed Fruit Cocktail, .35
Marinated Herring in Sour Cream, 1.00”

The day’s special entrees:

“1. BAKED SMOKED HAM With Madeira Sauce, Sweet Potatoes Imperial, Brussels Sprouts, 1.75

2. BRAISED SHORT RIBS OF BEEF With Burgundy Sauce, Oven-Browned Potatoes, Squash Provencale, 1.50

3. ASSORTED FRIED SEAFOOD PLATE: Breaded Scallops, Shrimp, and Filet of Sole, Laurette Potatoes, Combination Salad, 1.50

4. SWEDISH MEAT BALLS, Country Gravy, Whipped Potatoes, Tossed Salad, 1.25”

(Apparently someone had the forethought to number the entrees, obviously as a time saving measure so that our very important and busy lawmakers could just call out a number and not waste time reciting a dish by its full name, so they could get back to serving the people that much sooner. And never mind the Swedish meat balls with country gravy, at that price the marinated heering in sour cream must have been imported all the way from Brooklyn -CW)

In a box labeled “LOW CALORIE (345 Calories)” a menu of “Cup of Consomme, Corned Beef on Rye Bread (Dry), Small Baked Apple (No Sirup [sic]); Black Coffee, Tea With Lemon, or Skim Milk 1.25”

In a box labeled “COLD PLATE SUGGESTION” a menu of “Tuna Fish Salad on Crisp Lettuce, Quartered Hard-Cooked Egg, Tomato Wedges, Coleslaw, Potato Chips, Assorted Relishes 1.50”

Desserts:

“Angel Food Cake, Vanilla Frosting, .25
Chocolate Meringue Pie, .25
Caramel-Nut Custard Pudding, .25
Criss-Cross Georgia Peach Pie, .25
Senate Rum Pie, Whipped Cream, .35
Hot Fudge Sundae, .50
Ice Cream or Sherbert, .25
Fruit Jello .20
Senate Apple Pie, .25”

(I believe the rum pie clears up a lot of things I never could get a good explanation for from the newspapers or when discussing current events while a student. –CW)

Beverages:

“Coffee, .10
Iced Coffee, .15
Orange Pekoe Tea, .10
Sanka, .10
Metrecal, .45
Pepsi-Cola, .10
Iced Tea, .15
Milk or buttermilk, .15”

(I guess way back in the olden days in 1968, Washington must have still been importing their ice from frozen lakes in upstate New York, since all of the iced beverages cost a premium. The Metrecal, for those ‘hounds that are too young to remember, was the Slim Fast of the ‘60’s. Those senators must have been two fisted drinkers though, since apparently they took their Pepsi neat, without ice. –CW)

The second and third inside pages apparently list the regular, every day menu, the second page has a heading of “Menu A la Carte”, and then:

“Cold Buffet

ROASTED CHOICE TOP SIRLOIN OF BEEF, Sliced Tomatoes, and Potato Salad, 1.75

SLICED BREAST OF TURKEY AND BOILED HAM, Served With Fresh Vegetable Salad, Assorted relishes, 1.75

ASSORTED COLD MEATS With Mexican Slaw and Sweet Pickles, 1.50

SENATE CORNED BEEF With Pickled Beets and Potato Salad, 1.75

CHICKEN SALAD Garnished, 1.60

TUNA FLAKE All White Meat Salad Garnished, 1.50

GULF SHRIMP Salad Garnished, 1.75

CHEF’S SALAD BOWL With julienne of Chicken, Ham and Cheese, 1.60

Sandwiches served with potato chips and pickles

ONE-FOURTH POUND GRILLED PURE GROUND BEEF on Toasted Bun, Served With Chips, Dill Pickle, Bermuda Onion, and Coleslaw, .80

HOME CURED CORNED BEEF on Rye Bread, Dill Pickle, Chips, and Coleslaw (Price is obliterated. –CW)

SENATE RIB EYE STEAK on Toast, Served With French-Fried Potatoes [sic] and Sliced Tomatoes [sic], 1.90

American Cheese, .40
Swiss Cheese, .50
Grilled Cheese, .45
Tuna-Fish Salad, .50
Egg Salad, .35
Sliced Chicken, .75
Boiled Ham, .55
Ham and Egg, .70
Bacon and Egg, .60
Chicken Salad, .65
Senate Club, 1.00
Ham and Cheese, .60
Lettuce and tomato, .45
Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato, .55”

(“Senate Club” boy, those are two synonymous terms if I ever heard any. –CW)

“Salads

Coleslaw, .25
Potato Salad, .25
Sliced Tomatoes, .30
Cottage Cheese, .30
Head of Lettuce, .30
Small Tossed Salad, .30
Egg Salad Bowl, .80
Chicken Salad Bowl, .85
Fresh Greens Salad Bowl, .45
Hearts of Lettuce and Tomato, .40
Fresh Fruit and Cottage Cheese, .95
Elberta Peach and Cottage Cheese, .70
Half Pear or Sliced Pineapple and Cottage Cheese, .70
Tuna-Fish Salad Bowl, .85
Shrimp Salad Bowl, 1.00”

(I wonder where the kitchen staff learned to be so handy with a can opener? –CW)

Then on to the third page, which was apparently the serious stuff:

“Appetizers and Soups

V-8 Juice, .20
Orange Juice, .25
Small Fresh Orange Juice, .30
Large Fresh Orange Juice, .45
Cranberry Juice, .20
Shrimp Cocktail, 1.00
Beef Consomme, Cup, .25
Famous Senate Restaurant Bean Soup, Cup, .20; Bowl, .25
Fruit Supreme, .35
Tomato Juice, .20
Grapefruit Juice, .20
One-Half Grapefruit, .30
Chili con Carne, Bowl, .35
Cream of Tomato Soup, Bowl, .30
Hearts of Celery and Mixed Olives, .35
Jelled Consomme, .25

Corn Bread, Rolls and Butter, When Served With Soup, 10 Cents Extra”

(Apparently the small fresh orange juice was for the junior senator from Florida, the large fresh orange juice for the senior senator from Florida, and the “orange juice” was for the rest of the country. It also seems that the tomato soup must have been very good stuff, it was only available in a bowl and not a cup, and was more expensive than the “Famous Senate Restaurant Bean Soup”, must have been made from vintage tomatoes imported from California. –CW)

“From Our Grill (to order)

Broiled U.S. Choice New York Cut Sirloin Steak (app. 12 oz.), 4.00

Broiled U.S. Choice New York Cut Sirloin Steak (app. 8 oz.), 3.00

Chopped U.S. Choice Sirloin Steak, 1.50

One-Half Broiled Spring Chicken, 1.55

Grilled Ham and Eggs, Any Style, 1.30

Grilled Bacon and Eggs, Any Style, 1.20

Spanish Omelette [sic], 1.25

Cheese Omelette [sic], 1.25

Deep-Fried Filet of Sole, 1.25

Broiled Swordfish Steak, 1.75

Served With French-Fried Potatoes and Green Salad, Hot Rolls and Butter”

(Looks like the 12 ounce New York steak was a real deal at $4.00. –CW)

“Desserts

Baked Cup Custard, .25
Ice Cream or Sherbet, .25
Hot Fudge Sundae, .50
Assorted Fruit Pies, .25
Senate Apple Pie, .25
Fruit Jello, .20
French Pastry, .35”

(It seems the Senate Restaurant was non-partisan, using both spellings, which according to the Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary are both correct, “sherbert” and “sherbet”. –CW)

“Fruits

Preserved Pears, .35
Kadota Figs, .40
Elberta Peach Halves, .35
Stewed Prunes, .25
Baked Apple, .45”

(It was understood by all senators who had served more than one term that the stewed prunes were a filibuster buster. –CW)

“Cheese With Saltines

Swiss, .30
American, .30
Camembert, .35
Imported Danish Bleu, .40
Swiss Gruyere, .35
Philadelphia Cream, .30”

(Sadly, bagels were not present on the menu. –CW)

“Beverages

Coffee, .10
Iced Coffee, .15
Milk or Buttermilk, .15
Sanka, .10
Orange Pekoe Tea, .10
Coca-Cola, .10
Pepsi-Cola, .10
Iced Tea, .15
Sprite, .10
Metrecal, .45”

(Apparently the neither Coca-Cola or Pepsi-Cola had made the proper “political donation”, or were the colas split down party lines? -CW)

On the back cover of the menu:

“The Famous Senate Restaurant Bean Soup Recipe

Take two pounds of small Michigan Navy Beans, wash, and run through hot water until Beans are white again. Put on the fire with four quarts of hot water. Then take one and one-half pounds of Smoked Ham Hocks, boil slowly approximately three hours in covered pot. Braise one onion chopped in a little butter, and, when light brown, put in a Bean Soup. Season with salt and pepper, then serve. Do not add salt until ready to serve. (Either persons.)”

(Notice the recipe serves eight “persons”, not eight senators, as no actual United States senator would be foolish enough to allow any bean product to disturb his orating after lunch. –CW)

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