A visit to the Queen Mary always invokes a degree of nostalgia for this Writer probably because the ship's history is contemporary with much of his own life and times.
We observed a recent birthday at Sir Winston's, the dining room on the Queen which has long reigned as one of the premier restaurants in Southern California. In fact it regularly receives a Golden Sceptre Award from the Southern California Restaurant Writers, one of only 22 so honored.
We intentionally arrived early giving us yet another opportunity to wander around the Ship. We have enjoyed the one of a kind ambiance of Sir Winston's on several occasions but looked forward to this visit since a new culinary team was in place.
Executive Chef Thierry Ruaux we knew by reputation since he had previously enjoyed marked success at some of the best dining houses and hotels in Southern California. Kurt Rove, chef du cuisine at Sir Winston's also has enjoyed fame in his own right from his past affiliation with some of the best restaurants at Disneyland Resort.
Once seated with a stunning view of Long Beach outer harbor we looked over the new menu with some anticipation. We passed over the appetizer list which includes Escargot, Foie Gras and smoked salmon and then regretted it when we watched a neighboring table served the lobster crab cake which is the signature appetizer at Sir Winston's.
However we were rewarded with our choice of the cream of Portobello mushroom soup which arrived as a delightful creamy blend of chucky mushrooms infused with chardonnay.
Preceding our entree was a champagne sorbet. As usual at this restaurant selecting an entree was difficult from such tempting choices. We wavered between the braised rabbit, the roasted duck magret, venison chop and finally settled on the veal scallopini which arrived with sun dried tomato rice and topped with lemon herbed caper sauce.
Between courses we watched harbor activity and admired the work of the well trained serving staff. We noted the generous glasses of wine and the moderate prices on the well appointed wine list. And enjoyed the subdued taped popular music of the Queen Mary's earlier eras. Recognizing the voices of vocalists like Rudy Vallee and Louis Armstrong was easy, some of the others more difficult
Signature dessert on the menu is Sir Winston's Souffle which must be ordered 30 minutes in advance. And from a choice of Grand Marnier, chocolate, espresso, vanilla, mixed berries or Kahula we selected the vanilla and congratulated ourselves on our choice when it arrived.
We also had the opportunity to meet briefly with both Chef Thierry Ruaux who speaks four languages thanks to his European training and Chef du cuisine Kurt Rove. We told them, after our dining experience, that indeed the stars were still in their courses at Sir Winston's.
The Queen Mary is at 1126 Queens Highway in Long Beach and pretty hard to miss. Sir Winston's is open for dinner seven nights a week from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. For reservations call 562 435-3511. There is validated parking for dinner guests.
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