1912, North Atlantic Ocean
1952, Trianon Palace Hotel, Versailles
2012, Lake Las Vegas
What do these three locations have in common? A sunken unsinkable ship. Duh. We’ll all heard of the ill-fated R.M.S. Titanic. We all know she was built for the super-rich, having the most elegant designs, the newest technologies, the oldest wines, and Europe’s finest chefs. We’ve all seen the movie—unless you’re a heartless communist. (Just kidding). Many of us know the immortal names associated with Titanic, such as Captain E.J. Smith or passengers John Jacob Astor and—everybody’s favorite—Unsinkable Molly Brown. But few of us know that we can still enjoy a taste of Titanic. Yes, even us mere mortals.
The Titanic was an Olympic-Class ocean liner featuring only the finest luxuries and opulence. The rich wood-paneled B-Deck Café Parisian and D-Deck Dining Saloon were focal points, offering the finest cuisine for the first-class passengers prepared by famed European chefs of the day. Of the 3,547 passengers on the maiden voyage, 416 ‘First Class’ passengers paid the equivalent of US$124,000 to experience the finest, most elegant, most luxurious, most whatever—choose your own superlative—dining experience the world had to offer. Though the diners unfortunately went down with the ship, the recipes did not.
In 1952 the father and son chefs of the Trianon Palace Hotel in Versailles recreated items from the doomed liner’s famed menu. Their grandson listened on as they discussed the planning, preparation, and service to the guests at the Trianon. "I have never forgotten," recalls the now third-generation Chef E. Bernard. "I have always remembered tales of the Titanic Dinner prepared by my father and grandfather in Versailles ... and I have dreamed of following in their footsteps by offering such a unique dining experience here, too."
Chef E. Bernard's vision has now become reality. "Diner du Titanic" (to dine on the Titanic) is a weekly offering at his lakeside Bernard's Bistro Restaurant Lake Las Vegas. The desert wastes mere miles from where 119 nuclear bombs were set off may seem an odd—if not impossible—location to rekindle oceanic glory. But this is Vegas, baby.
Starting at seven bells shipboard time (7 p.m. for others), those booking passage at Lake Las Vegas will be given a White Star Line "Boarding Pass" and offered an unhurried evening of sumptuous epicurean dining. Music of the day will be played on piano, violin and guitar – recreating the same make-up of musicians that played aboard the Titanic. Various special decorative touches will help complete this bygone shipboard ambience and elegant dining experience.
The first menu of the Titanic dining series offered dishes drawn from the actual First Class menu on the ship's maiden voyage. While the menu varies from week to week, each meal is based on actual dishes either served aboard the Titanic or those prepared by world-class chefs for the White Star Line sister-ships, the R.M.S. Olympic and R.M.S. Britannic.
For the full experience, I recommend first taking the Titanic tour at the Luxor, where you can see actual artifacts plucked from the ocean’s depths. You’ll be immersed in the moment far more than you thought possible. Why, they even give you a boarding pass from an actual passenger of the ill-fated cruise. Only at the end, after being awed and astonished by the luxury, then crushed by the tragedy, will you discover whether or not ‘you’ survived.
For those intimidated by a lavish five-course meal, Chef Bernard offers an elegant three-course alternative. Each seating begins with a glass of Champagne, followed by the European-style gourmet dinner courses, and finally ends hours later with fabulous pastries prepared from the actual pastry recipes of the Titanic's First Class dining room. The full meal costs only $65 per person, or $45 for the lighter fare. Better yet, there is no chance whatsoever in Hell of encountering an iceberg—not even in Las Vegas. Nor is anybody firing off nuclear weapons anymore, either. You simply can’t go wrong. (Unless you are sidetracked by the roulette wheel, of course).
By the way, a first-class menu from the Titanic’s last lunch was recently auctioned for $117,320. Kept by a prominent San Francisco banker named Washington Dodge—after being found in the purse of his wife, who survived the tragedy—it was dated April 14th, 1912 and featured several courses, such as eggs Argenteuil, consomme fermier and chicken a la Maryland.
By Brian David Bruns, author of national best-seller Cruise Confidential.
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