The Queen Mary was launched at the John Brown shipyard in Clydebank on a rainy day, and christened by Queen Mary at the time. During the war, the ship carried more than 800,000 servicemen traveling more than 600,000 miles and performed a great service for the nation. Following 1,001 transatlantic sailings, the Queen Mary was purchased by the City of Long Beach in 1967, and underwent a massive three year refit before opening to the public on May 8, 1971. Self- Guided Shipwalk Tours and Guided Behind-the-Scenes and World War 11 Tours are available, although doing any of these after your Sunday brunch might not be a very good idea.
The champagne brunch is held in the spectacular setting of the Grand Salon, and offers more than 50 entrees to choose from including, a Carving and En tre table, an Oriental section that was a little disappointing, Pasta areas and the extremely popular seafood station. I thought the breakfast section, and in particular the omelets made in front of you, were the best thing there. Another highlight was the smoked salmon, and the seafood selection featuring a good array of clams. Mexican food is always a winner in this part of the world making it one of the most popular stations in the room.
The harpist is a nice touch, but was drowned out most of the time by the chatter of the hungry hordes piling their plates high. There is only so much you can eat at these kinds of places, so a nice gap between courses seems the smart way to go. The champagne was plentiful, and although only a house brand, left no ill effects as many cheap types of champagne can do.
The service was particularly prompt, with the well-drilled staff clearing up the empty plates and glasses almost immediately. Leave yourself at least a couple of hours for this extravaganza, because besides the long lines at every counter, why rush such a blow out. Also save some room for dessert, as the selection is quite impressive, ranging from ice cream to creme brulee and all kinds of cakes and goodies including chocolate covered strawberries. There is also a special section just for children.
The ship boasts three other restaurants, including Sir Winston's, a high-end gourmet restaurant serving California and Continental cuisine. The Chelsea restaurant specializing in fresh seafood, and the Promenade Cafe which serves food all day with Art Deco accents.
For the price and the ambience, the brunch is excellent value, despite certain dishes that turned out to be rather ordinary and bland. However, in a town obsessed with huge portions catering to some very big eaters, the Queen Mary is just the ticket.
Dress: Extremely casual
Price: $35.00 - Children (5-11 years) $12.00
Parking: Validated. Easily available on dockside
Mike Hepworth, May 2003, updated Aug 2005