A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006. Now a Popeyes fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from August 07, 2004
Potatoes O’Brien
Who is O'Brien? Is this a New York City dish?

Wikipedia: Potatoes O'Brien
Potatoes O'Brien is a dish of pan-fried potatoes along with green and red bell peppers. The potatoes and the bell peppers are fried (varying according to taste) and are served hot. The origin of the dish is disputed. The dish has been claimed to originate in the early 1900s from a Boston restaurant known as Jerome's and from a Manhattan restaurant known as Jack's during the same time period.

A variation of potatoes O'Brien includes bacon in the dish.

Potatoes O'Brien can be seasoned many different ways. Typically with black pepper, paprika, salt and garlic powder.

11 November 1900, The Enquirer (Cincinnati, OH), "Second Dinner," pg. 22, col. 3:
Potatoes, O'Brien

19 March 1901, Dayton (OH) Evening Herald, "Honored St. Patrick," pg. 8, col. 3:
The menu:
Potatoes O'Brien.

Old Fulton NY Post Cards
25 October 1903, Brooklyn (NY) Daily Eagle, pg. 7, col. 1 ad:
Sweet Potatoes O'Brien
Pierrepont and Fulton Sts.

2 April 1905, New York (NY) Times, "Feasts for Fasting," pg. X7, col. 2:
Pommes O'Brien.
(From a Sherry's restaurant menu. -- ed.)

13 July 1905, Buffalo (NY) Commercial, pg. 6, col. 1:
The chef of a famous country clubhouse has been prevailed upon to give his recipe for "O'Brien" potatoes. This is a combination of Irish potatoes and pimentos or Jamaica peppers. The potatoes are cut into slices and parboiled. A layer of potatoes is put in the baking dish, then a layer of peppers is sliced, a sprinkling of flour and bits of butter, another layer of potatoes, then peppers, the same as in escalloped potatoes. Cream and the liquor from the can of pimentos are poured over the top and the whole is baked in the oven and is delicious. -- What to Eat.

14 October 1905, Crabtree's Saturday Press (Chattanooga, TN), "Aunt Chatty's Cozy Corner" by Mrs. Charity Brush, pg. 16, col. 5:
Potatoes O'Brien.
Boil Irish potatoes in their jackets until they can be pierced with a fork, but not sufficiently done to crack the skins. Pour off the water and dry them thoroughly. Peel, and chop into rather coarse bits. Chop fine a green sweet pepper, and mix with the potato. Make a dressing of cream, flour, melted butter and salt, and stir all together. Pour into a greased dish and bake half an hour in a moderate oven. Serve hot.

11 September 1907, Indianapolis (IN) Star, pg. 9, col. 4:
To one quart of chopped, cooked potatoes add one tablespoonful each of finely minced one and parsley, two tablespoonfuls of chopped pimentoes, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix well and put in a baking dish. Dot liberally with butter and brown in a hot oven.
1715 N. New Jersey street, Indianapolis.

10 October 1909, New York (NY) Times, pg. X5:
A favorite dish of one New York chef is potatoes O'Brien. It is nothing more than cold boiled potatoes fried with finely-shaped red or green pepper mixed through them.

4 October 1910, Chicago (IL) Daily Tribune, "Economical Housekeeping" by Jame Eddington, pg. 8,col. 2:
O'Brien Potatoes.
HOW and when the honor came to O'Brien of having his name in special attached to a potato dish is probably told in some of the many charming books on Celtic life and literature. We know something of the story of how a vegetable of American origin came to be called the Irish potato, but how it came to have added to it a tropical condiment and then to be named after one of the great Irishmen, is not so well known.
(Three recipes follow. -- ed.)

,a href="https://www.newspapers.com/clip/36531326/potatoes_obrian_or_potatoes_obrien/">Newspaper.com
26 November 1911, Tucson (AZ) Citizen, "In the Cookery World," pg. 3, col. 1:
Potatoes O'Brien. -- Three cupfuls of dried potatoes, two cupfuls of milk, one-half cupful of flour, one-half cupful of butter, one teaspoonful of salt, one-fourth teaspoonful of pepper, one chopped green pepper and one cupful of grated cheese. Make white sauce of milk, flour, butter, salt and pepper. Add grated cheese and chopped pepper. Stir until cheese is melted. Pour over potatoes, cover with two cupfuls of breadcrumbs moistened with two teaspoonfuls of butter and bake until the crumbs are brown.

10 January 1915, The Sun (New York, NY), "Charley White Finds Out That He Is Not the Wisest Man in the World." pg. 18, col. 1:
The other night Charley White, the Chicago lightweight, dropped into Jack's for dinner.
"How 'd you like your steak and O'Brien potatoes?" asked Tommy Toner as he watched Charley White walk to the door.

11 December 1921, Sunday News (New York, NY), "Wake of the News" by Uppercut, pg. 43, col. 5:
Our Own Daily Riddle.
After what man was "Potatoes O'Brien" named?
(This will be answered tomorrow.)

14 April 1929, Honolulu (HI) Advertiser, pg. 12, col. 4 ad:
JUST the other evening I ran across this interesting recipe for Potatoes O'Brien and the story of its origin:

O'Brien, so the story goes, was a chef at Jack's, a restaurant famous for its good food back in the days when New York was small enough that you sometimes met a friend on the street. And he originated Potatoes O'Brien -- a favorite dish in hotels everywhere today.
Dice cold boiled potatoes. Mix them with chopped raw bacon, onion and pimiento. Fry Crisco in a frying pan as you would hashed brown potatoes. Stir occasionally until partly brown over the bottom, double over like an omelet and serve on the platter in omelet shape.

(Crisco. -- ed.)
Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • Saturday, August 07, 2004 • Permalink