Graphically, it’s not a very impressive menu, but it caught my eye. That was because the typography suggested that the menu was printed earlier than the seller’s estimate of the 1920s. Oregon restaurant menus prior to the 1930s are pretty scarce, so I looked inside: what’s to eat? The variety of offerings, as well as the prices, represented that the Elk Restaurant, Lunch and Oyster House was a modest, middle-class downtown establishment. And the date? About 1902. The location was on Alder Street near 4th.
A search of the Oregonian first turned up mention of the Elk in an ad section, “Where to Dine Today,” on August 25, 1901: “Take your dinner at the Elk Restaurant, 268 Alder street. Genuine French cooking.” Similar ads appeared into 1902, with Mrs. J. L. Mitchell noted as the manager or the owner and manager; dinner was served from 11:00 AM to 8:00 PM. On November 28, 1901, the Elk touted a 25-cent dinner, “the best 25c meal ever set in Portland.” “Eat Thanksgiving turkey, roast goose, duck, chicken and all delicacies of the season.” That same day, the Imperial Hotel boasted it would serve a seven-course turkey dinner for 50 cents, and The Vegetarian restaurant offered “A Thanksgiving dinner with no taint of cruelty. Mock turtle with cranberries, mock mince pie, etc.”
|Hotel Flavel, about 1915|