Sir Winston's at
The Queen Mary
1126 Queens Highway
Long Beach, California
Long Beach, California--Queen
Mary's Executive Chef Larry Banares began his career on board the
famous Queen Mary ship nearly 20 years ago to embark on new culinary journeys in the
food & hospitality. He returned to
this famous haunt and has many divine tricks up his
sleeves. The winner of three gold medals in the world's most prestigious cooking
competition is accustomed to challenges and his task is to re-introduce diners
to the ship's exceptional culinary adventures. Rekindling the glory the
75+-year old vessel once knew as the Queen of the Sea, the word has spread and
it is amazing to see how busy the ship's dining rooms have become once again.
Something old, something new--Menu classics include items guests may have dined on when the luxury liner first launched in 1934. Beef Wellington (a Winston Churchill favorite he ate during his cross-Atlantic Queen Mary trips,) Chateaubriand, Rack of Lamb, New York Strip and Porterhouse Steak are classics. Just to keep things interesting, there's also Loch Duart Salmon with melted leeks and roasted corn coulis, or when Chef Banares likes to shake up a little Maittake Dust he puts it on Sea Scallops with soy wasabi beurre blanc, braised baby bok choy.
Old--Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this U.K. born & bred retired ocean liner has a lot going for it when it comes to fine dining. Sir Winston's, Observation Bar, and Promenade Cafe all face the Long Beach Harbor where five star views set the mood for dining experiences ranging from casual to elegant.
New--Queen Mary restaurants have had complete make-overs with new carpets, paint and decor, as have the guest rooms in the hotel.
Classic--For a very special treat, book a night on the town, complete with cocktails in the elegant Observation Bar, and a feast served under the stars at Sir Winston's. This is the finest restaurant on board the ship where you'll discover Banares amazing talents, the result of years of experimenting and discovering ingredients such as quality VuQo vodka that hints of coconut in a Cured Loch Duart Salmon.
Banares isn't just an award-winning chef--he is a food personality and icon in San Diego where he's known for his cooking segments and shows on San Diego TV and radio stations. He has cooked and prepared menus for the King of Pop - Michael Jackson (who insisted Banares sit down with him to eat,) The Sultan of Brunei and Philippine President Joseph Estrada, to name a few.
When you ask him about his experiences with the world's elite entertainers and leaders, Banares is beaming but doesn't slow down to reminisce. The high-energy chef is lively, personable, and food-focused. I noticed he has an incredible passion as I saw him come out from the kitchen to watch the smiles as dinner was served. You can tell that he likes to make people happy when he nods in recognition.
Who wouldn't smile (or drool) over my meal-- "Chateaubriand for One" with a light Red Onion Marmalade, Bernaise, Red Wine Sauce? It wasn't just picture perfect (see photo above,) it was out of this world! The finest tenderloin cuts in three generous portions artfully staged on a large plate with a side accompaniment of potatoes and vegetables were as memorable as the signature prime at Five Crowns in Corona del Mar. Generous beef slices prepared medium rare melted in my mouth after coming alive with the subtle release of fresh cracked pepper to enhance the flavor. Did I say "Wow"? I couldn't help it as I salted my dinner conversation with odd and inappropriate moments of "this is so good!" Rather than go straight for the center of the cut, I like to work my way from the saltier outer portion of the steak inward where the meat takes on softer, smoother textures. Every bite was perfect, but I couldn't finish it.
Desserts? Loosen your belt and try the chocolate molten cake-- a volcano exploding with rich chocolate flavor. With the right amount of Chantilly Cream and Frangelico Sauce to balance all that chocolate, I still can't believe I ate the whole thing! But so did everyone at my table. Shameful!
It's no wonder the restaurant received a Zagat Rated "10". I'm willing to bet that the level of excellence I experienced (including service) tops all previous records in this ship's 75 years of culinary hospitality.
Advice: Dress is California upscale-casual, and you're wise to bring a light jacket for cool nights. On your way to the restaurant, stop by the Observation Bar to enjoy the dazzling Long Beach skyline and a refreshing cocktail such as Ginger Snap, a sweet cocktail with Ketel One Citron Vodka, Canton Ginger liquor, fresh lemon juice, ginger ale and a rosemary sprig or try the Green Apple made with organic Napa apple puree and Absolute citron vodka. A full selection of cocktails and fine wines are also served in Sir Winston's.
GO--Reservations are a must at Sir Winston's, (562) 499-1657. You can view the menu and make reservations online: queenmary.com. Hours: Open Daily for Dinner from 5:30 p.m. - 10:00 p.m. Cost: $$$-$$$$. Entrees begin around $30. Parking is $5 with validation. Location: 1126 Queen's Highway, Long Beach, CA 90802.