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Davenport’s Palm Court Grill re-creates final Titanic first-class dinner

UPDATED: Tue., Feb. 6, 2018, 4:16 p.m.

Dinner on the night the ship went down was superb.

The Titanic didn’t strike the iceberg until 20 minutes to midnight, well after passengers were done dining. And, by survivors’ accounts, dinner aboard the start of the White Star Line was the epitome of grandeur, especially for first-class passengers who supped at the exclusive A la Carte Restaurant, referred to as the Ritz by passengers, on B Deck.

Travelers in second-class, such as Kate Buss, who was en route to meet her fiance in San Diego, also found their last meals aboard the ill-fated vessel satisfying.

“On the night of the wreck our dinner tables were a picture!” Buss is quoted as saying in the cookbook “Last Dinner on the Titanic.” “The huge bunches of grapes which topped the fruit baskets on every table were thrilling. The menus were wonderfully varied and tempting. I stayed at table from soup to nuts.”

Artifacts from ship – on display in Spokane since October – remain at the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture in Browne’s Addition through May 20. Now, diners can complement a trip to the exhibit with a Titanic meal in downtown Spokane.

The Palm Court Grill at the Historic Davenport Hotel began offering its themed five-course dinner in early January, a traditionally slow time of year in the restaurant business. The special menu will be available for the remainder of Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition.

The $50 prix fixe menu is inspired by the first-class offerings aboard the Titanic on the night the ship went down. Dinner doesn’t include wine pairings, but recommendations are listed on the menu for each course. There’s a minimum of two Titanic meal purchases required per seating. Reservations aren’t required.

Chef Adam Swedberg and his culinary team replicated five of the original 10 courses served in the ship’s First-Class Dining Saloon on April 14, 1912, and included in the “Last Dinner on the Titanic.” Published in 1997, it came out the same year as the epic James Cameron movie about the disaster.

Planning the special menu started last fall, said Swedberg, who adapted recipes from the cookbook for the restaurant.

All of the dishes are “very similar to what they would’ve had,” he said.

Dinner starts with wild shrimp on crostini with shallot-brandy butter and flying fish roe. A salad course follows, with chilled asparagus on a bed of Arcadian greens with a Champagne-saffron-Dijon vinaigrette. Poached salmon with a “light and fluffy” fresh dill mousseline sauce is next.

“It’s so soft and luxurious when it’s poached like that,” Swedberg said. “It just melts in your mouth.”

The main course is Filet Mignon Lili with truffle mushroom duxelles, potatoes Anna and a Cognac-Madeira demi-glace. Swedberg skipped the foie gras for this dish and opted for truffle oil instead of truffles to keep the cost down. “But,” he said, “you still get that flavor. It’s a really great dish.”

Potatoes Anna – thinly sliced and layered potatoes cooked in lots of butter – top the filet in a pretty rose-like pattern.

There will be room for dessert. Both the salmon and the filet come in 3-ounce portions.

Waldorf pudding caps the meal. The silky baked custard features tart Granny Smith apples, golden raisins, a sprinkling of candied walnuts and a sprig of fresh mint.

“It’s basically our creme brulee custard,” Swedberg said – with some added accoutrements.

In addition to dinner, overnight Titanic packages are available. They include a night’s stay in the Historic Davenport Hotel, two tickets to the Titanic exhibit at the MAC, a dining credit of $50 and valet parking. Town-car transportation to the museum is also provided.

The Titanic set sail two years before the Davenport was completed, famously sinking during its maiden voyage. The historic hotel’s lobby evokes the same era. But the closest to seawater – or sinking – this dining experience will bring guests is the painting of a ship over the fireplace.

There were 2,228 people on board the Titanic when it hit the iceberg: 337 in first class, 285 in second class and 721 in third class – along with 885 crew members.

Only 705 survived.

First-class passenger Mahala Douglas was among them. She and her husband, Walter Douglas, were returning from a three-month tour of Europe, following his retirement. She and their French maid made it into a lifeboat. But her husband, wanting to “be a gentleman,” reportedly refused, allowing women and children to go ahead.

“We dined the last night in the Ritz restaurant,” she later recalled. “It was the last word in luxury. The tables were gay with pink roses and white daisies, the women in their beautiful gowns of satin and silk, the men immaculate and well-groomed, the stringed orchestra playing music from Puccini and Tchaikovsky. The food was superb: caviar, lobster, quail from Egypt, plover’s eggs, and hothouse grapes and fresh peaches. The night was cold and clear, the sea like glass.”


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