There is no smoking on the Queen Mary. Signs are posted everywhere stating just that. So, when we arrived at the topmost deck to dine at the luxurious Sir Winston's Restaurant and Lounge, I noted the rather large glassfront humidor.
“Are those for sale?” I asked.
The tall waiter raised an eyebrow at me, wondering if I had asked because I, myself, indulge. I smiled and shrugged, not feeling the need to explain my inquiry.
“Uh, yes, they are,” he answered, still considering the type of gal I might be.
“But, there’s no smoking allowed on board,” I offered. He smiled hugely at this comment.
“True, there isn’t. Except for this portion of the deck right here.” The young man gestured to me where I might smoke a cigar if I so chose. “And on the bow.”
Recently named one of America’s Top 100 Most Romantic Restaurants, the five-star Sir Winston’s is absolutely one of the best date-night destinations. First, it’s got an unbeatable location. Moored in the Long Beach harbor, the wall of glass provides diners with an exceptional view of the wildlife and the city’s nighttime skyline.
Second, the food is beyond delicious. Starting with their succulent raisin nut bread (which miraculously reappears on your table once you’ve eaten it – be forewarned), chilled crab timbale and arancini with parmigiano-reggiano custard, truffled endive and tepary bean purée, and moving to the aromatic truffle-scented lobster (big chunks) bisque and delectable entrees, including almond encrusted sea trout and crab-stuffed jumbo shrimp with lobster sauce, Sir Winston’s satiates discerning diners. Toss in extras like a palate-cleansing champagne sorbet, impeccable service, and chocolate-covered strawberries delivered with the check, and it's quite a memorable evening.
Sir Winston's Restaurant & Lounge
Because the waiter had learned that it was my mother’s birthday, he brought us a complimentary slice of decadent chocolate cake topped with ganache and strawberries and cream. He also comp'ed our parking fee, which at $20 was a tad steep.
Where to stay
The R.M.S. Queen Mary, if you don’t know, is a retired ocean liner that sailed from 1936 to 1967. It's now a historic hotel with rooms starting as low as $80/night, believe it or not. Military discounts are offered as well.
Where (else) to eat
Yes, Sir Winston’s is a must. But there are other restaurants onboard – five, to be exact. The Observation Bar and Art Deco Lounge, Queen Mary Tea Room, Chelsea Chowder House & Bar, Promenade Café, and the Midship Market Place (a coffee and pastry shop).
The ship’s famous Sunday Champagne Brunch is hosted in the Grand Salon.
What to do
There’s lots to do and see in the Long Beach vicinity. Before you jump ship, however, take one of the Queen Mary tours. The Queen Mary also offers loads of promotions, packages, and events.
Dining with the Spirits at Sir Winston’s is the ship's signature Halloween event that combines a dinner with a night tour of the ship’s paranormal hotspots. Their Barrel Series consists of four five-course meals paired with select liquors. Cigars are included in the all-inclusive $130 ticket price. (Gift certificates are available, too.)
The folks at the Queen Mary transform the adjacent dome – former home to Howard Hughes’s "Spruce Goose" – into a winter wonderland for the holidays. CHILL 2015 runs from Nov. 20th through Jan. 10th. Tickets start at just $24.99/child and $34.99/adult unless you opt for the E.L.F. (Express Lane Fast) Pass.
Note: Due to the historic nature of the ship, handicap accessibility is limited. There's an elevator to the main level and hotel lobby, but you've got to trudge up two sets of stairs and walk the entire length of the ship to get to Sir Winston's.