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Issue Date: December 2008

The Silver Grille

Hused inside Higbee’s, the Silver Grille was a holiday-season dining destination that grew into a Cleveland icon.
Today, nearly two decades after closing its doors, former patrons still talk about the Welsh rarebit on its menu.

Lynne Thompson
Welsh Rarebit
originally served at The Silver Grille
[makes five cups of rarebit]
8 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 teaspoon paprika
8 tablespoons flour
4 cups hot milk
16 ounces grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
Thinly sliced white bread, toasted
Whole almonds to garnish

Melt butter or margarine until hot, and then add the flour, stirring constantly about five minutes or until the mixture bubbles.

Pour in the hot milk in small amounts, stirring constantly until the sauce is smooth.

Add the Worcestershire sauce and seasonings. Remove from the stove, and stir in the grated cheese, mixing until cheese is melted. Keep hot.

Serve the rarebit over triangles of thinly sliced, toasted white bread. Garnish each serving with whole almonds. (Note: In the 1933 version, beet fat was used in this recipe.)
* Adapted recipe, courtesy of Cleveland Landmarks Press
If you were a lady who lunched downtown during Cleveland’s shopping heyday, you most likely dined at Higbee’s Silver Grille.

Richard E. Karberg, author ofThe Silver Grille: Memories and Recipes, explains that while Higbee’s itself was considered a moderately priced store, patrons of its eatery were considered the social equals of those who frequented the more exclusive Halle Bros. And shoppers of every socioeconomic status queued up for a table at the Silver Grille during the busy holiday season.

“From Thanksgiving through the end of the year,” Karberg recalls, “it wasmobbed.”

One of the most-ordered menu items in the decades following The Silver Grille’s 1931 opening was the Welsh rarebit, a hearty cheese sauce served over toast that originated in 18th-century England. (“Rarebit,” according to the olumbia Guide to Standard American English, is a variation of the word “rabbit” — the name was presumably an insult to the Welsh, “who were said to eat it instead of the rabbit meat they lacked.”)

Like other favorites such as creamed chicken and chicken pie, part of the dish’s appeal was in what Karberg calls its sheer “WASP-ishness.”

“Cleveland during this period of time was an ethnic melting pot,” he explains. “These dishes would have not been found in the ordinary ethnic home.”

And then there was the presentation: The Welsh rarebit was garnished with exactly seven whole almonds, plated on china designed under the famed Guy Cowan’s supervision and served by efficient yet gracious waitresses in understated Art Deco elegance. Until the day the Silver Grille served its last meal in 1989, Karberg says, it was “a class act.”
Thursday, December 18, 2008 1:28:38 PM by Megan
I remember the Silver Grille! My mother used to take my sisters and I there when we were kids. I remember the beautiful fountains and who can forget the cardboard stoves that they served your food in! What great memories....I miss that place.
Tuesday, February 16, 2010 1:26:52 PM by Anonymous
Four generations of our family dined at the Silver Grille, and those of us still living remember above everything else, our meals being served in the ovens made of cardboard. As children, the little ovens were magical. Now, as adults, we are sad that the ovens are no more but are thinking that perhaps a wise restaurateur would recreate this magnificence?
Tuesday, April 19, 2011 6:34:48 AM by Anonymous
The memories that went with dinning from the good old days...are sure cherished and the Silver Grille is one of them. I remember dining in the Pronto Room several times with my grandmother. I had many meals served in the cardboard ovens. But as I grew older...the Welsh Rarebit became my favorite. Today everything is so fast paced that we rarely take the time to sit down and enjoy a meal at a place that creates memories. Can't wait to try the recipie...but I sure do miss the atmosphere.
Thursday, May 05, 2011 12:14:43 PM by Jo
In 1966 my best friend & I were allowed to go downtown & shop by ourselves. We wore our best dresses & nylons & planned to eat at the Silver Grill. We thought we were so classy to be eating in such a wonderful restaurant & just loved the food. Every time we went shopping downtown we ate at the Silver Grill. Even after I got married in the seventies & moved away we still went to the Silver Grill a couple of times a year. Even my daughter who is 33 still remembers the Silver Grill & how much joy I received from eating their food & enjoying the atmosphere. I have made the muffin recipe & will try the Welsh Rarebit.
Wednesday, August 08, 2012 9:11:53 PM by Cindy
I remember eating at The Silver Grille as a child. I would so love to know if anyone out there remembers any details about the food and the little kitchen cupboards that were served to children. I remember the cream chicken served in a small glass hen with a lid, and I wondered if there were small dishes and silverware as well. It is hard to remember. Again, any info. about the food, or serving pieces is appreciated. My email is : Thank you.
Thursday, September 27, 2012 10:43:17 PM by Anonymous
I remember the little glass hens. I told the story about eating out of them so many times that my sister bought me a little glass hen hoping to shut me up. My mom would take me downtown for Christmas. It's nice to have those special memories.
Friday, October 19, 2012 2:42:56 PM by Stephanie
I was visiting my grandmother from California in 1967 when I was 5 and can still remember her taking me to Higbee's and the Silver Grille for lunch. My food being delivered to the table in a little kitchen cupboard and the creamed chicken in the little glass hen. Very different than anything I'd ever experienced in California then or since. Wish someone had a picture.
Friday, December 28, 2012 7:17:48 PM by Marilyn
It's such a relief to hear someone else remembering the kitchen cupboards that the kid's meals came in! They pre-dated the cardboard stoves. They were made out of wood and had a couple of shelves that you slid your covered food cups out of. On the top was a tiny metal vase that was held on with a bit of blue/green clay. It looked like a miniature buffet. Sure wish I could find one of those! And, yes, I also treasured the little white glass hens that the creamed chicken came in. I have one on display in my kitchen next to my cardboard stove!
Saturday, April 06, 2013 8:16:38 PM by Cindy
I am so happy to see that others remember the little kitchen cupboards from The Silver Grille in Higbees. Thank you to the person who wrote about the details of it. Does anyone have a picture of the cupboard? It seems a shame that there are none left. With the internet today, I was hoping maybe somewhere someone had one, or at least a photo of one. Does anyone remember the dessert that was served? Was it an upside down ice cream cone with ice cream that looked like a clown? That dessert may have come with the little stoves......I would like to know if anyone remembers the dessert that was served with the kitchen cupboards. Thank you everyone! Cindy
Friday, July 19, 2013 4:20:24 PM by Anonymous
I would love the muffin recipe and would like to know what was in the house salad, including the recipe for the salad dressing. Worked there in 1968 as a hostess, still remember holding up fingers to alert main hostess about available seating. Best part was being able to eat there for lunch.
Tuesday, February 11, 2014 5:54:01 PM by Liz Smith
My beautiful mother Betty Ann Hill used to model at Higbee's and in the Silver Grille. She still lives in Broadview Heights,Ohio and is in her nineties. She worked for the Billy Tilton Modeling Agency in Cleveland and we have a lot of nostaglic photos.
Monday, May 04, 2015 10:47:05 AM by Maggie
I remember the Creamed Tuna and Hard Boiled Eggs served over Chinese Crispy Noodles. Had it for lunch frequently at the store in Cleveland, Heights and the Severance Mall.

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