All the Presidents’ Tables: Grover Cleveland’s Inaugural Ball Suppers

President Grover Cleveland
President Grover Cleveland

For a man who liked a chop and some herring, Grover Cleveland and his stomach met their culinary match during America’s lavish Gilded Age.

Grover Cleveland served two non-consecutive  terms as president, beginning his initial term in 1885 and his second in 1893. In between, Benjamin Harrison sat in the Oval Office.

Frances Flsom Cleveland
Frances Flsom Cleveland

While president the first time around, Cleveland started out a bachelor and then — with nary a hint of scandal — married his ward, Frances Folsom, in 1886, the daughter of his deceased law partner, Oscar Folsom. For his first inauguration his sister Rose served as hostess.

The Cleveland White House benefited from the skillful ministrations of steward William Sinclair, Jr. The same cannot be said of Cleveland’s French chef, Alfred Cupplinger, who served the plain-eating Cleveland French food. Since Cleveland preferred “pickled herring, Swiss cheese, and a chop,” Cupplinger didn’t last long.  Cleveland’s cook Eliza, from his days in Albany as governor, soon entered the rarified world of White House entertaining. (No last name given for Eliza, as a matter of fact … )

Cleveland White House China Pattern
Cleveland White House China Pattern (Photo credit: Jim Steinhart)

Cleveland later melted down the thirty-six silver place settings that had hitherto served the White House and molded a new set emblazoned with “President’s House.”

A New York Times article, dated March 4, 1893, discussing Cleveland’s second inaugural dinner, states that it took over 200 men to handle the serving of 60,000 oysters; 10,000 chicken croquettes; 7,000 sandwiches; 150 gallons of lobster salad; 150 boned turkeys; 300 gallons of chicken salad; 1,300 quarts of ice cream; and “hundreds of pounds of pâté de foie gras.”

Refreshments at 1885 Inaugural Ball Supper

(The nine rooms in the north and east sides are set aside as Supper and Wine Rooms.)

This Supper is furnished by Messrs. HUNTING & HAMMOND of the Murray Hill Hotel, Park Avenue, New York.

[A January 3, 1893 article in the New York Times — “The Tourney of the Chefs” — makes it clear that the menu of the Plaza Hotel influenced Messrs. Hunting and Hammond in their inaugural menu choices for March 4 of the same year.

The spelling and punctuation in the following menu is exactly

as they appear in the menu printed inside the inaugural program.]

PRICE OF SUPPER TICKETS,           ..         ..          ONE DOLLAR

MENU

HOT DISHES

Clam Broth.                             Consomme.

COLD DISHES

Turkey.                        Ham.                Beef.

Boned Turkey.             Tongue.

Pickled Oysters.                      Pate de Fois Gras.

SALADS

Chicken.                      Lobster.

ORNAMENTAL DISHES

Salmon a la Neptune.              Striped bass au beurre de Montpellier.

Boned capon a la Murray Hill.                        Bastion a la democrat.

Pate of game a la Rossini.                   Pain a la foie-gras a la Regence.

Beef tenderloin en Belle vue.              Boned Pheasant with Truffles.

Russian salad (four seasons).              Fountain de Liberte.

ICES AND CREAMS

Orange.                        Lemon.            Pineapple.

Vanilla.                       Chocolate.                   Neapolitan.

CAKES, FRUITS, &tc.

Assorted Cakes.          Fruit.               Cheese.            Nuts.    Raisins.

Coffee.

WINE LIST

The four following Brands, approved by the Committee, to be sold at $4.00 for quart

and $2.00 for pint Bottles:

Cordon Rouge             ..          ..          ..          ..          G. H. Mumm & Co.

Grand Sec                   ..          ..          ..          ..             Jules Mumm & Co.

Extra Dry                     ..          ..          ..          ..            G. H. Mumm & Co.

Veuve Cliquot, Yellow Label  ..         ..          ..         ..      Schmidt & Peters.

© 2008 C. Bertelsen

State Dining Room at the time of President Cleveland
State Dining Room at the Time of President Cleveland.
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