pre-Zagat gourmand makes sense of NYC’s top eateries

Brought to light by BoingBoing–Thanks!

Let’s take a look at the amazing culinary contributions of Robert Browning Sosman- most notably in his publications Gustavademecum for the Island of Manhattan: A Check-List of the Best-Recommended or Most Interesting Eating-Places, Arranged in Approximate Order of Increasing Latitude and Longitude (released from 1941-1962), which boasted itself as a 16-page leaflet “for the convenience of mathematicians, experimental scientists, engineers, and explorers.”

Not sure what that means, exactly? Take a look:

In each of the guide’s at least 15 editions, Sosman reviewed 300 restaurants, relaying facts like cuisine and cost, as well as esoteric observations like tableside lighting (measured in lumens) and waiters’ estimated IQs. All of it was written in a mashup of mathematical figures, glyphs, Greek, and astrological symbols. A sigma meant there was samba dancing. A lowercase “m” suggested that Madison Avenue types frequented the restaurant; Don Drapers of the day might be found slurping bouillabaisse at Le Provençal.

To those who could decipher Sosman’s coding without going blind or getting too hunger-frustrated, it was an invaluable guide to the city’s gastronomical nightlife. For the gentlemen-about-town looking for a quick spot to entertain, the guide even fit discreetly inside one’s inner coat pocket, so that its bearer need not seem untidy.

Read the full article by Hugh Merwin at Saveur.

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