For first class diners on board the Titanic, it was a last supper to remember.
From foie gras paté to champagne-infused salad and spiced peaches in vanilla, passengers enjoyed a banquet of luxury foods.
Last served on the doomed Belfast-built ship on April 14, 1912, the meal would have lasted four or five hours, serving up 13 courses of gourmet ingredients to tables of wealthy diners.
Now, nearly 100 years after the Titanic’s tragic maiden voyage, one local chef is taking customers back in time by recreating the ship’s first class feast.
Conor McClelland (right), chef at Rayanne House in Holywood, Co Down, came up with the Titanic menu when he found a book of old recipes on a shelf in his guesthouse.
“It had the original dinner menus from the liner — everything the first class passengers would have eaten before the ship went down,” he said.
“They had 13 courses, but a few of them wouldn’t have suited diners today, so I’ve gone with nine.
“For example, they had a lamb dish immediately followed by a fillet steak, which I thought was a bit too much.
“They would also have had patés and terrines just before dessert, which I didn’t think people would like today.”
Only two first class menus were recovered from the wreck of the Titanic, which sank after hitting an iceberg in the early morning of April 15, 1912.
Conor has used local delicacies to recreate the meal served in the exclusive dining saloon the night before 1,517 people lost their lives at sea. His wife Bernie also sourced the ship’s original wine list, which matches glasses of red and white wine to each course.
Poached salmon, rosewater sorbet and a Bushmills whiskey soup are just some of the dishes inspired by the historic recipes from the Belfast-built liner.
“Food on board the Titanic was something unique,” said Conor. “It wasn’t your average sit-down dinner.
“The ship was known as the ‘floating rich’, and for something that’s nearly 100 years old, the food is still fabulous.
“My favourite part of the meal is the roast squab, and the main course is pure luxury — steak with fresh truffles and a rich sauce.”
With menus designed to look like boarding cards and table decorations straight from the 1910s, the Titanic experience has proved a hit with customers.
Pink roses and white daisies have been used to decorate the Co Down restaurant, mocked up to look like the fine dining saloon aboard the ship.
Conor, who launched the menu last April, said it has drawn curious diners from across the world.
“One couple from Australia flew here during a trip to London just to try the Titanic experience — the interest in it has been amazing,” he said.
“I have bookings right up until September 2013, mostly from foreign guests who want to learn about the ill-fated ship.
“With the centenary of its sinking coming up, I’m expecting the restaurant to get even more popular.”
For more information on the Titanic dining menu at Rayanne House, ring Conor or Bernie McClelland on 02890 425859
Before meals, ship’s bugler Peter Fletcher would sound the White Star Line dinner call, The Roast Beef Of Old England. For first class diners, food was served in a private room or restaurant; second class passengers ate a three-course meal in a special dining hall. Third class meals were served in steerage, with simple dishes including stew, cold meats and plum pudding.