The Rustic Cabin is where Frank Sinatra first sang professionally, when he wasn't waiting tables, telling jokes and emceeing the night's entertainment. Located in Englewood Cliffs (“ON TOP OF THE PALISADES”), Frank liked the place because they did a regular radio broadcast over WNEW in New York. Harry James, the man who "discovered" Sinatra, first heard him singing over the air from the Rustic Cabin in 1939.
A recent flea-market find, this Rustic Cabin menu dates from the period (1937 - 1939) when Sinatra would've been in attendance. Measuring 8 1/2“ x 11”, it consists of an outer jacket and one inner page, folded in half. Open it up and you see the “A LA CARTE” listing. Imported Sardines are the first item, at 35 cents. You can also get Pickles and Olives (25 cents), Anchovies (40 cents) and Antipasto (50 cents). I’m confused by the heading COLD CUTS. What does that mean? Just a plate of cold cuts? Was there bread? Just below COLD CUTS, the Rustic Cabin offered an amazing number of SALADS: twelve in all. That’s more than any other category, save sandwiches (27).
Beneath the salads are the EGGS and OMELETTES. Standard stuff. Wheat Cakes with Syrup for 35 cents. Waffles are available with Syrup (34 cents) or Ice Cream (40 cents).
The inside of the outer jacket continues with VEGETABLES. I'd probably order the Candied Sweet Potatoes (30 cents) and Green Peas (15 cents) just because they’re slightly exotic compared to what else is available. I wonder if the Creamed Carrots were any good...
Available under DESSERTS are "Home Made Pieces" of Apple, Pineapple Cheese, Pineapple and Berry Pie (in Season): 20 cents. If it’s cake your after the Rustic Cabin offers a three-tier pricing scheme: 10 cents for your choice of Raisin, Applesauce or Pound cake; bump it up a nickel and have your coffee with Marble, French Cheese or Chocolate Sprinkle; if it’s a special occasion or you just feel like indulging, the Chocolate Layer Cake is the Rustic Cabin’s most expensive at 20 cents. Double that and top your pie or cake with Chocolate, Vanilla or Strawberry Ice Cream. Spumoni or Bisque Tortoni, like the Sundaes, Frappes and Ice Cream Sodas are the same price.
The final category inside the jacket – BEVERAGES – features one of four hand corrections. "Milk, Shakes, all flavors" is marked up to 25 cents from 15. Malted Milk, all flavors has risen a nickel to 25 cents. Frosted Drinks and Floats remain 30 cents. There is no price for Pale Dry Ginger Ale – did this fluctuate? Was Ginger Ale a rare commodity in 1938? Or is it a printing error?
The only beer available at the Rustic Cabin – which means Frank probably drank it – is Old Heidleberg. I doubt the owners laid in something special for the "Skinny Guinea" from Hoboken. The kid had a good voice – true - but who the hell knew him from a hole in the wall? Which is basically what the Rustic Cabin was. A nice hole in the wall – don’t misunderstand me. But a hole in the wall all the same.
The menu’s insert lists dinner SPECIAL COMBINATIONS, like No. 7 - Hot Chicken Sandwich, Candied Sweet Potatoes, Jelly, Coffee and Dessert for 85 cents. The most expensive special combination - $1.00 (another hand correction) is No. 10: Steak Sandwich, Coffee and Dessert. French Fried Potatoes or Soup with any of the above combinations are 10 cents extra. As mentioned, there’s a healthy selection of SANDWICHES. I kid you not: I might’ve ordered the Anchovy on Toast.
One of the most infuriating things about the insert is the re-listing of Pale Dry Ginger Ale – again, no price. Does this confirm my theory? That Pale Dry Ginger Ale had a seasonal price?