Wednesday, August 5, 2009

a la carte Savoir Faire

While on the subject of restaurants/dining rooms one such room that deserves a mention on Savoir Faire is the Verandah Grill on the original Queen Mary. Before Cunard became a travelling sideshow, with the current company trying to evoke the era of transatlantic cruising with cheap modern renditions of previous times, we had the Queen Mary. While not ever reaching the cachet and glamour of the French Line, the Queen Mary was for the travelling public who were assured of their status in life.
Overlooking the stern of the ship with a sweeping view of the wake caused by the quadruple propellers, the Verandah Grill was an exclusive a la carte restaurant that seated 80 people for lunch and dinner for the ship’s elite at an extra tariff. The fact that first class passengers had to pay additional charges to eat here did nothing to diminish its popularity. Reservations were required sometimes months in advance of a sailing.

“The verandah grill is intended for the service of special "a la carte" meals for those who do not wish to take their meals in the restaurant, as well as for dancing. A cocktail bar and supper service are provided for nightclub devotees.”

This was a stunning room of subdued elegance that was different and full of exotic woods and decorative treatments

In the centre there was a small dance floor laid in sycamore parquetry, inlaid with symbolic motifs in cross-grain sycamore and bordered with mahogany, pear tree and sycamore lines, finishing at the margins with a wide band of ebonised hornbeam.
The raised platforms at the sides were covered with black carpet, which highlighted the wonderful white painted chairs with white leather upholstery. (note, I want these chairs)

Wood paneling was not a major feature of this room, the walls being decorated with paintings by Doris Zinkeisen showing pantomime and theatre scenes. These were framed in column features of silver and gold, echoing a similar ceiling treatment.

The room was given a nightclub atmosphere by color-change lighting which could be controlled from the microphone of the performing artiste. The raised floor part of the room was separated from the dance floor area by a silver bronze and glass balustrade. Color change lighting was again installed in the bottom of the glass, and fixed lights were installed in the balustrade supports.

With the ship's postwar refit, the Verandah Grill was restored to its original décor and use as the first class a la carte restaurant with a few minor changes. The chairs were stripped down to natural wood and upholstered in blue leather(I prefer the originals) The central painting, destroyed by careless handling (dart games?) during the war was completely repainted by Doris Zinkeisen. Even after the war the room held its own, with movie stars, heads of state, and royalty all clamouring for reservations.

Nowadays today’s extra tariff restaurants pale to insignificance when compared to the Verandah Grill.


  1. Jill, I think you can still see it at the Queen Mary in Long beach. I will have to confirm


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