The restaurant was the preferred alternative to the main dining saloon and gave passengers the option of enjoying lavish French haute cuisine at an additional cost. A passenger could choose to eat exclusively in the restaurant for the duration of the voyage and receive a £3-£5 rebate on his/her ticket at the time of booking. Unlike the main dining saloon, the restaurant gave passengers the freedom to eat whenever they liked (between 8 am and 11 pm). The restaurant was not managed by the White Star Line; Luigi Gatti ran it as a concession and his staff were not part of the regular crew.
The restaurant was one of the most luxurious rooms on the ship, decorated in the Louis XVI style, with exquisitely carved French walnut paneling trimmed in gilt-brass accents. Fluted columns interspersed throughout the room were carved with gilded ribbons and the plaster ceilings were delicately molded with flower and ribbon motifs. Mirrors were installed within the paneling imitating windows and the room was divided into bays along either side with oval mirrors inset. Along the forward wall was a large buffet with a peach-colored marble top and along the aft wall was a raised bandstand for the orchestra, with buffets on either side containing the silver service and cutlery. The Restaurant featured its own custom Spode china service in gilt and cobalt blue. Axminster carpeting in Rose du Barry covered the floors and the plush chairs of French walnut were upholstered in pink rose-patterned Aubusson tapestry. The À la Carte Restaurant provided the most intimate atmosphere on board. In fact, half of the tables in the restaurant catered for two people, whereas very few of such tables were offered in the main dining saloon.
The restaurant had its own reception room located next to the aft grand staircase on B Deck. That room was decorated in the Georgian style: featuring armchairs and settees draped in carmine-coloured silk; and a space was reserved for the orchestra. It allowed passengers to gather together before and after their meals.
RMS Olympic Edit
The restaurant was originally placed between the 2nd class promenade. Later on, the restaurant was expanded to the port side.
HMHS/RMS BritannicOn Britannic, the restaurant took up the width of the entire ship
Artifacts from the Restaurant Edit
The 2001 Ghosts of the Abyss expedition attempted to gain entry to the À la Carte Restaurant, only to find that the aft end of A and B Decks in the seriously damaged stern section had collapsed upon one another. Relatively few artefacts have been recovered from the debris field that are identified with the À la Carte Restaurant. The most noteworthy is the door from a safe once contained in the Restaurant office which is displayed in various travelling exhibitions. Other pieces are a twisted gilt-brass light chandelier, a gilded wall sconce, and many intact pieces from the Spode china dinner service believed to have been made for the Restaurant. In 2012 a paper menu pad from the restaurant was displayed with the travelling Titanic exhibition in Las Vegas.
Much of the exquisite gilded woodwork from the Olympic's À la Carte Restaurant was purchased before her scrapping and survived for years in private homes in the North of England. In 2000 Celebrity Cruises purchased the panelling, with mirrors and sconces, from the owners of a private home in Sheffield and installed them in a new RMS Olympic-themed restaurant aboard the Celebrity Millennium. Another home was found to contain about 24 panels from the restaurant in 2012.
Loss during the sinkingEdit
This room was destroyed when the stern began it’s descent to the bottom. The aft end A & B Decks collapsed on top of each other.
The large rectangular windows on B-deck lit the 1st class a la carte restaurant. While the starboard side is collapsed, a portion of the port side of the restaurant may have been visible in 1986 though these windows. Those areas are now collapsed flat.