Alfred Hitchcock would have been celebrating a birthday today, had he lived into his centenarian years. While in New York City, the director enjoyed dining out the 21 Club. He wasn't the only old school A-lister to frequent the restaurant (Nixon still has his own bottle of wine in their secret cellar), though he was a dedicated regular, and even mentioned the place in North by Northwest, when Roger Thornhill (played by Cary Grant) discusses "dinner at 21" to his secretary at the beginning of the movie.
Perhaps Hitchcock enjoyed it a little too much, however. Here is a tale from the Writer's Almanac about his insatiable appetite:
Hitchcock had a legendary appetite. He liked to say, "I'm not a heavy eater. I'm just heavy, and I eat." Apparently, shortly after Hitchcock came to America from England, he went out to New York City's 21 Club. Hitchcock ordered a steak dinner, followed by an ice cream parfait; then he ordered another steak dinner, and another ice cream; and then the entire thing one more time.
At the end of his three meals and three desserts, he drank a cup of strong tea and a glass of brandy, and told his companions: "There is as much anticipation in confronting good food as there is in going on a holiday or seeing a good show. There are two kinds of eating — eating to sustain and eating for pleasure. I eat for pleasure."
Still, the man lived to the ripe old age of 80, which is not bad for a 3-steak-dinner guy.
Ogden Nash wrote a poem titled: "How to Hitchcock," which accompanied photos that John Rawlings took of him at the 21 Club in 1956, mostly hovered over a turkey. It went: "Pick a Hitchcock of opulence rather than corpulence, just pleasingly plump, with a snug silhouette to embellish the board when the places are set. For the ultimate test, more closely examine it. The Hitchcock supreme has a wide streak of ham in it." If you want to Hitchcock, you can get a 28 Day Dry-aged Ribeye Steak in the Bar Room at 21 for $68. But to go Full Hitchcock, be prepared to spend over $300. (And wear a suit jacket if you're a man and no jeans for anybody; the dress code is strictly enforced.)
[h/t City Room]