Bloomingdale's on 59th has been a New York institution since 1886, but did you know there's a "secret" restaurant inside the department store that most New Yorkers have never stepped foot in? Tucked away behind the unassuming sixth floor housewares section, Le Train Bleu is a magical little eatery housed inside a life-size replica of a 19th-century French luxury train called the Calais-Mediterranée Express. The one-of-a-kind train car restaurant has been transporting diners to another world complete with Victorian lamps and plush velvet walls for over 30 years now - without ever even leaving the station.
Not to be confused with the posh Parisian restaurant by the same name, Le Train Bleu was launched in 1979 by former Bloomingdale’s president Marvin S. Traub, who many credit as the mastermind who turned the at-the-time staid department store into a dazzling shopping destination.
The “hidden” restaurant can be accessed via a staircase located behind the Bloomingdale’s sixth floor housewares department.
Okay, so the eatery isn’t the biggest secret if there’s a giant sign advertising the entrance, but it’s still not that easy to find. We actually got lost a few times and had to ask for directions.
Even the exterior of the restaurant has been stylized to look like the outside of a train.
Stepping inside Le Train Bleu is like taking a trip without going anywhere. If it weren’t for the fact that the outside scenery never changes, you’d swear you were aboard a real train. From the verdant velvet walls to the dark wood paneling, Bloomingdale’s really got that old-world feeling down to a T. But then again the restaurant has been here for 30 years so all of this stuff really is from a bygone era.
There are even brass luggage racks where you can stash your Big Brown Shopping Bags.
The food isn’t bad either as long as you realize you’re paying more for the ambiance than the actual meal.
The Salade Nicoise with baby field greens, italian tuna in olive oil, nicoise olives, yellow and red pear tomatoes, haricots verts, roasted fingerling potatoes, sliced egg, red onion, capers in a tarragon-shallot vinaigrette.
Le Train Bleu is open Monday-Saturday from 10:30am – 5:00pm, Thursday from 10:30am – 7:00pm and Sunday from 11:30am – 4:30pm.
Photos: Yuka Yoneda for Inhabitat