The idea of heading to Bloomingdale’s conjures up images of high-end clothing, housewares, and well-heeled shoppers. But those who wander up to the sixth floor of the flagship Bloomingdale’s store in Manhattan will stumble upon an unexpected gem: a restaurant designed to look as if it were the dining car of the luxurious French Le Train Bleu, or Blue Train.
Providing views of Manhattan buildings instead of the French Riviera, Le Train Bleu transports diners to turn-of-the-century France. Victorian lamps, green trim, and mahogany panels adorn the space along with two rows of tables along the windowed walls. Diners can place their bags in the brass racks that would usually be reserved for luggage. The eatery serves traditional French fare—croque monsieur, steak frites—along with a few American mainstays, including Maryland crab cake and chopped salads.
Marvin S. Traub, then-president of Bloomingdale’s, created the restaurant in 1979, furnishing it with the ornate designs of the luxury rail line that ran from the late 19th century until 2007. Traub is largely credited with transforming the store and positioning it in the vanguard of luxury retailers. A replica of the luxury dining car in the middle of Housewares served that end.
The Train Bleu rail line shuttled well-heeled passengers from Britain across the French Riviera. Originally called the Calais-Mediterranean Express, the train’s nickname came from its iconic blue sleeping cars. The nickname became official in 1947.
Update January 2017: Unfortunately, the restaurant has permanently closed.