The cover of this attractive but spare menu has the same look, but with a Portland theme, as the 1942 Los Angeles Limited menu. Inside is a very different story. Dated June, 1942, the LA Limited has an extensive a la carte section plus five meals headed by a sirloin steak for $2.25 (about $32 today).
But the Portland Rose menu is dated March, 1943, well into the thick of World War II. Instead an a la carte page, one whole page of the menu is devoted to an apology for not having all the food items people prefer due to war rationing. The other page has four dinners, but a steak is not among them. Instead, they are salmon (remember when salmon was common?), omelet, turkey, and pork, the most expensive being the turkey for $1.50 (about $20 today).
Instead of being printed directly on the menu stock, the menu is typed on a piece of paper that is glued over a nearly blank area. Underneath the paper, standard statements about writing orders rather than giving them to the waiter and an offer of red or white wine can dimly be read. (Wine isn’t on the typed menu.)
No doubt rationing is a legitimate excuse for a limited menu. But one has to wonder if patrons of the all-Pullman Los Angeles Limited ever had to suffer from such rationing. We’ll have to find a March, 1943 menu from that train to find out.