~posted by Jade
Starting in the 1970s, the library began amassing a menu collection featuring Seattle restaurants from Big Boy Burgers to The Wok Hut Restaurant & Deli. The Seattle Historic Menu Collection, as it came to be known, is now home to hundreds of menus, 400 of which have been digitized and made available online.
In this collection, we have two menus from Maison Blanc, one of Seattle’s most famous restaurants in the era before names like Canlis took the stage. Owned by Charles Joseph Ernest Blanc, the restaurant was located in the Stacy Mansion which was itself a prominent piece of Seattle history. The mansion was built in 1883 by Martin and Elizabeth Stacy and served as both a meeting place for the Seattle Chamber of Commerce and a boarding house before Maison Blanc opened in the mid-1920’s.
Maison Blanc was famous for serving delicacies with an international flair such as “Broiled half Chinese Pheasant on Toast,” “Escargots Parisienne,” and “Paprika schnitzel” (along with a guarantee that customers would be brought something new at no extra charge if they ended up regretting their adventurous eating choice). To add to the fine dining aspect, Blanc decorated the mansion with ornate European paintings, sculptures and antiques—including a sofa which was allegedly once used by Napoleon.
Over the years, the restaurant had many slogans, such as “Where Epicureans Meet” and “Aristocratic Dinner at a Democratic Price.” My favorite slogan “The A-B-C at Maison Blanc: Atmosphere! Beefsteak! Calories!” can be seen in this 1933 advertisement from the Seattle Times featuring Mr. Blanc himself.
Although Charles Blanc died in 1955, the restaurant continued to operate in the Stacy Mansion until 1960 when a burglar attempting to rob the mansion of its valuables dropped a match in a broom closet while lighting his cigarette, setting off a magnificent blaze. Many of the unique furnishings and artwork were lost in the blaze. The total cost of the damage was estimated at $149,000 (approximately $1,190,033 in today’s dollars) and the mansion was torn down two months later.