The Clubby Canteen

Yup! It’s the menu prices that astound us still, some 43 years later. A single dollar for cold cucumber soup, and 85 cents for snow peas? Where, you ask, was this hash house? Why, at Mortimer’s, of course, the nondescript saloon on the corner of 75th Street and Lexington that many described as the modern-day Rick’s Café (of Casablanca fame). And who starred in the role of Bogart? Why, Glenn Bernbaum did, the snobby, cantankerous, yet taste-perfect proprietor pictured above in his paisley dressing robe, smiling back at Harry Benson’s lens like the Cheshire Cat from Alice’s Wonderland. As the late Dominick Dunne sagely wrote in Quest’s pages more than 20 years ago: “Mortimer’s always seemed more of a club than a swanky restaurant. It was a hangout for a hand-picked crowd.”

Social arbiter that he soon became, Glenn knew his food as well as his crowd. To the end, he maintained his commercial credo that “rich people liked comfortable food at affordable prices.

Rest in peace, dear Glenn… with your Chicken Hash Mortimer for just $3.95. —The Ghost of Diego

The Mortimer’s menu on its opening day (March 16, 1976).