I'd never been to Le Train Bleu, the quasi-hidden restaurant atop Bloomingdale's, so when the Times reported it was closing at the end of 2016, after 37 years, I went.
Le Train Bleu, as James Barron explained, was "the nickname for a famous French train that carried passengers coming from London and Paris to the Riviera. The engines were blue. The restaurant, in Bloomingdale’s flagship store, mimicked the train’s dark-green interiors, with velvet on the walls, along with mahogany paneling and a Victorian-style ceiling."
Bloomingdale’s will be renovating the sixth floor, and that means no more Le Train Bleu.
You got there by elevator or escalator, winding your way through the housewares department, and climbing a set of carpeted stairs to an odd little corridor. The dining room looked like a dining car, long and narrow, framed with tables.
I sat by the window, with a view of some plastic shrubbery and a bunch of brutal luxury apartment buildings. The view inside was better.
Almost everyone around me was white-haired and definitely local. It is a rare pleasure these days to be surrounded by real New Yorkers in New York. Turns out, they'd been hiding at Le Train Bleu, dressed in tweeds, stylish coats, and--in one case--a pair of purple sequined earmuffs, kept on throughout the entire meal.
Women reapplied their lipstick in snappy compact mirrors. Snippets of conversation came in and out of range.
"She's a little coo-coo," said one woman to her dining partner. "She was always strange. I always, from the very beginning, thought she was strange."
"I read it in The National Review," said a dapper gentleman to his wife. "He is absolutely the new Hitler."
Many of the diners seemed to be Bloomingdale's employees. They all knew each other. They knew the waitresses and gave their condolences and advice, especially to the two seniors, a pair of women who looked strikingly alike in their weary faces and dyed-red hair. Women who, after what has probably been decades, will now be out of work.
"Have you gone to HR? You must. Go to HR and I'm sure they'll have another position for you. I'm sure of it!"
I sat and waited for the dining room to rumble and jolt, for the whole thing to take off down some invisible train track, up and out over the city. Gone.