Schlogl's is my favorite I-really-wish-I-could-visit-but-I-can't-because-its-not-there-anymore restaurant. I've talked a bit about the literary roundtable that it was known for, (see posts on Henry Sell),but like the Fine Arts Building, I never tire of it and am always looking for additional references.
Joy of joys, I recently found two.
The first comes from John Drury's Dining in Chicago published in 1931. (No, not that John Drury)It's full of old cocktail recipes, history, gossip,and restaurant reviews. I absolutely love it! We'll talk more about John Drury in future posts, but here is the wonderful section on my historic happy place:
Meet the Literary Lights!
Robert J. Casey, newspaperman, explorer, humorist and mystery-story writer, has his nose buried deep in a German apple pancake as big as an elephant's ear; Lew Sarett, poet, sturdy woodsman and Indian authority, is making short work of the Southern hash; Henry Justin Smith, managing editor of the Chicago Daily News and author of "Deadlines" and other novels of newspaper life, prefers two boiled eggs, toast and jelly; Vincent Starrett, the handsome bibliophile and essayist, obviously likes his Southern ham with corn fritters, while Howard Vincent O'Brien, literary critic and novelist, goes in for ham and eggs; but big Gene Morgan, the columnist, swears by the corned-beef hash with poached egg.
See them eating, the literary lights of Chicago. It is Saturday noon at Schlogl's. They are crowded about the big round walnut table in the right-hand corner -- talking, laughing, joking and shouting "Hey, Richard!" whenever the waiter is needed. Women are forbidden here. Therefore, male camaraderie prevails, the atmosphere is thick with smoke from many a cigar and pipe, everything is informal, diners take their time and tell stories, and the Hamburger steaks and Wiener Schnitzel are plentiful and appetizing.
Other regulars who come to the "round table" -- although, of course, not all at any one time -- include John T. Frederick, novelist and editor of The Midland magazine; Dr. Morris Fishbein, author of "Medical Follies;" S. L. Huntley, writer, epicure, and creator of the popular comic strip, "Mescal Ike;" the drama critics: Lloyd Lewis, of the Daily News; Gail Borden, of the Times; and Fritz Blocki, of the American; Charles Layng, short-story writer and globe-trotter; Phil R. Davis, lawyer, Loophound, and sometime poet; Jack Brady, "the public-editor;" Hal O'Flaherty, foreign news editor of the Chicago Daily News; Paul Leach, political writer and author of "That Man Dawes;" George Schneider, lawyer and bibliophile; Le Roy T. Goble, the advertising man and connoisseur of the arts; and the Midweek magazine group: Robert D. Andrews, editor, and two of his star contributors, Sterling North and Upton Terrell.
What the Mitre tavern in Fleet Street was to the writers of Dr. Samuel Johnson's day, Schlogl's is to the scribes of Chicago's "Newspaper Row" at the present time. Also, it is one of the oldest restaurants in town, having been founded here in 1879 by Joseph Schlogl as a combined restaurant and weinstube, or wine-room. The interior is the same as on the day it was first opened, only the ornate tin ceiling, the walls and the large oil paintings depicting monks drinking wine in old cellars have become a bit musty and smoky with age -- which is appropriate. The walnut tables, walnut panelling and walnut service bar are kept well-polished by Richard and his two assistant waiters, Charley and August.
Schlogl's had its beginnings as a literary lounge in the days when Carl Sandburg, Sherwood Anderson, Ben Hecht, Robert Herrick, Edgar Lee Masters and Maxwell Bodenheim foregathered here. Others came after them -- Bart Cormack, playwright and author of "The Racket;" J. P. McEvoy, of 'The Potters" fame; Pascal Covici, the publisher; Charles Mac Arthur, who wrote "The Front Page" with Ben Hecht; Clarence Darrow, attorney and writer; John V. A. Weaver, author of "In American;" Harry Hansen, the literary critic; John Gunther, foreign news correspondent and novelist; J. U. Nicolson, author of "The King of the Black Isles;" the drama critics, Ashton Stevens and Charles Collins; Gene Markey, man of letters and bon vivant; Robert
Morss Lovett, of the New Republic staff; James Weber Linn, columnist; Mitchell Dawson, poet and lawyer; Irwin St. John Tucker, poet and rector of Chicago's "poet's church;" Kurt M. Stein, who writes in the German-American dialect; Edward Price Bell, dean of foreign correspondents of the Chicago Daily News; Don Lawder, now of the New Yorker; Sam Putnam, literary critic; W. A. S. Douglass, contributor to the American Mercury; Junius B. Wood, the foreign correspondent; and Horace Bridges, the essayist...
...You will find the autographs of all these literary notables in what has become known as "Richard's Book" -- a copy of "Midwest Portraits," containing literary recollections of the Schlogl gang, written by Harry Hansen and presented by him to Richard Schneider, who waits on the "round table." No other restaurant in the world boasts a book like this, wherein is described the restaurant itself, and the people who eat in it, and having in its end sheets the autographs of those written about.
Naturally, the "Who's Who" of the American literary world would not come here unless the cuisine were such as to meet the approval of fastidious men of letters. This place serves food that the most cosmopolitan of epicures would revel in. The Stewed Chicken a la Schlogl can be gotten nowhere else. Millionaires who can afford sirloins and tenderloins come here for Hamburger steak, which is fried in butter and prepared as only Chef Paul Weber, who has been here for thirty years, knows how to prepare it. The steaks and chops demand more than just this mere listing of them. There is also savory Wiener Schnitzel and Hasenpfeflfer, roast young duck, and bouillabaisse. Too, the Schlogl pancake is deserving of a chapter to itself.
When accompanied by a lady, you eat upstairs in an old dining room, where the ceiling is cracked, the wall-paper is beginning to peel in places and warmth in winter is provided by an old coal stove. All is atmospheric and thrillingly ancient -- except George Kling, who has a youthful alertness in seeing to the culinary needs of the distinguished ladies and gentlemen at his tables.
You haven't dined in Chicago unless you've eaten at least once in this historic restaurant. If you're in any way literary, you are probably on your way over there by now.
37 North Wells Street
Open for luncheon and dinner (closed on Sunday)
A la carte only -- and expensive, but worth it
Maitre d'hotel: Richard Schneider
The second reference to Schlogl's (a picture, actually) comes from an article by Robert Schmuhl, titled "History, Fantasy, Memory: Ben Hencht and a Chicago Hanging," that appeared in the Illinois Historical Journal, Autumn, 1990. This is the first time I have seen a picture taken at Schlogl's.
37 North Wells Street is now the location of the Tokyo Lunch Box and Catering.
Say it ain't so, Joe!