Saturday, January 31, 2015

Remember Patricia Murphy's Restaurants?

This was once the original Patricia Murphy's in Brooklyn Heights.

I try not to turn back the clock too much. It can get to be maudlin, if not downright depressing.
But sometimes, it's hard to resist.
Especially when we're turning it back to the 1960s -- an era that (what with Mad Men, etc.) has generated renewed interest.
Well. there was a restaurant (a chain of restaurants, really) that become the epitome of '60s pop chic.
Do you remember Patricia Murphy's Candlelight Restaurants?
These restaurants were legendary -- and famous for their incredibly luscious popovers. They featured fresh linen, flocked wallpaper, sparkling chandeliers, lots of crystal and china, the glow of candlelight and plenty of hot, tasty American food.
Some of the Patricia Murphy's suburban locations (such as on Long Island, in Yonkers and later in Ft. Lauderdale) also featured beautiful gardens.
New York magazine describes Patricia Murphy's as a place "where waitresses in gingham walked around with baskets of popovers." And yes, you were welcomed to take all the popovers you could eat -- but usually just one at a time, please.
Patricia Murphy opened her first restaurant in Brooklyn Heights in the 1940s and things just took off from there. Or, to put it another way -- those popovers really popped.
What you see above is the site of the original Patricia Murphy's as it looked a few years ago.
In Manhattan Patricia Murphy's was at 38th & Madison and also on 49th St. Those two locations were very popular and often attracted crowds that ranged from busy professionals to tourists, theater-goers, ladies who lunch and even some starry-eyed diners out for a romantic, low-lit dinner for two.
They came for the popovers and they stayed for everything else. And in the larger, out-of-the-city locations the everything else even included a gift shop where you could purchase Patricia Murphy's own story, entitled "The Glow of Candlelight."
Yes, there really was a Patricia Murphy. She started the first restaurant with just a few dollars and a dream. Word is she didn't even know how to cook. But she had a good head for business and a magic touch. And she certainly must have worked hard.
The restaurants reportedly slipped when the chain grew too large and Patricia Murphy removed herself from the day-to-day operation. Eventually, Patricia Murphy's went bankrupt.
Times-- and eating habits -- changed as well.
But just for nostalgia's sake, here's the recipe for those famous popovers. Not that they'll really taste exactly like the one at Patricia Murphy's, but why not give it a try?

Patricia Murphy Popovers:
Put 1/3 tsp butter or Crisco in each muffin pan (or custard cup). Heat in oven 5 minutes while you are mixing batter.
1/4 tsp salt 1 cup sifted flour 1 cup milk 2 eggs 1 tbsn butter, melted
Sift flour and salt into a bowl. Beat eggs with rotary beater, add milk, butter and sift in flout, beating only enough to make a smooth batter. Fill hot muffin pans one-third full of the mixture. Bake in hot (450) oven 30 minutes, then at 350 for 15 minutes or until firm, brown and popped. Keep oven door closed while baking. Makes 6 large or 9 small.

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