Mark Twain’s 70th Birthday at Delmonico’s Restaurant


On the night of my first visit to Delmonico’s, at a table affording me the grandest spot for people watching my husband asked me whom I loved more, him or God. The answer spoiled the night and the first marriage. Mark Twain had more reason to celebrate on his night at Delmonico’s and here’s a small sample of his speech:

“I have had a great many birthdays in my time. I remember the first one very well, and I always think of it with indignation; everything was so crude, unaesthetic, primeval. Nothing like this at all. No proper appreciative preparation made; nothing really ready. Now, for a person born with high and delicate instincts-why, even the cradle wasn’t whitewashed-nothing ready at all. I hadn’t any hair, I hadn’t any teeth, I hadn’t any clothes, I had to go to my first banquet just like that. Well, everybody came swarming in. It was the merest little bit of a village-hardly that, just a little hamlet, in the backwoods of Missouri, where nothing ever happened, and the people were all interested, and they all came; they looked me over to see if there was anything fresh in my line.” excerpted from birthday speech at Delmonico’s

My character Buck Crenshaw loves Delmonico’s. Dining there with his banker friends makes him feel as if he’s arrived, but Buck’s my creation and like his maker we often think we’re arriving when we’re actually not even close.



  • The first dining establishment in America to be called by its French name, “Restaurant”
  • The first dining establishment to have a printed menu
  • The first restaurant to offer a separate wine list
  • The first dining establishment to have tablecloths
  • The first restaurant to offer private dining rooms
  • The first restaurant to accommodate a ball or gala outside a private residence
  • The first restaurant to allow women to congregate as a group
  • The first restaurant to have a “star” chef
  • The first dining establishment where guests sat at their own tables
  • The first restaurant to have a female cashier
  • The first restaurant to offer Eggs Benedict
  • The home of Delmonico Steak and Delmonico Potatoes  (Delmonico Firsts)