When the R.M.S. Queen Mary first set sail in 1936 and it came time to dine, passengers chose from selections such as Plymouth turbot poche hollandaise, brochette of kidneys, mutton chops tourangelle, braised rack of lamb and prime sirloin with ribs of beef with horseradish cream and baked York ham succotash.
Hors d’oeuvres included such luxury items as honeydew melon, tomato surprise and anchovy eggs. Dessert offerings were a mix of soufflés, melbas, meringues and petit fours. Guests on special diets were invited to make their requirements known to the head waiter and all classes had different menus, including one just for kosher diners.
After the final cruise that brought the Queen Mary to Long Beach in 1967, the world-class windowless restaurants on board were relocated to the upper promenade deck, which would provide diners with a sprawling harbor view.
Things have changed a little since then, but the five bars and restaurants on board still pay homage to the classics with an updated twist for visitors and locals alike, with a romantic view of downtown Long Beach and a currently snow-covered Mount Baldy. And if you’re checking in, the staff captain is on hand to greet you warmly with a glass of the house Queen Mary champagne in the lobby bar during happy hour.
Under the supervision of executive chef Todd Henderson and food and beverage director Saurav Biswas, the menus of the ship’s three restaurants and main bar have updated old American favorites and added contemporary twists.
The Promenade Cafe is the casual breakfast and lunch spot, with classics such as chicken and waffle benedict, a brisket burger and an avocado toast with pea hummus, pickled onions, arugula and radish (sorry, I’m just not over avocado toast yet).
A breezy stroll down the promenade deck is the Chelsea Chowder House, with traditional favorites like lobster roll and Louisiana BBQ shrimp on toast. Wash it down with Jennifer Hanzal’s signature Drop of Lavender martini made with Ketel One Citroen, creme de violet, lavender syrup and fresh lemon juice, garnished with a sweetened hibiscus flower.
Sir Winston’s — a favorite haunt of Johnny Depp’s and an elegant restaurant famous for marriage proposals — serves updated standards including beef Wellington and jumbo lobster- and crab-stuffed shrimp.
Arguably the best spot on the Queen is the exquisitely preserved art deco Observation Bar at the top of the ship, a nostalgic place to sip a cocktail at sunset. Try one of Hanzal’s signature Clementine old-fashioneds, made with Woodford Reserve, orange marmalade, fresh lemon juice and basil. Or sample a Ship to Shore Mule, made with Tito's vodka, blackberries and blueberries, fresh lime juice and ginger beer.
And speaking of tradition, there’s always the world-famous local favorite, the Queen Mary Royal Sunday brunch in the Grand Salon, with at least six food stations and patisserie.
The Queen Mary, 1126 Queens Highway, Long Beach; (877) 342-0738, queenmary.com.
Click here for a tasting tour of the Queen Mary.