The Dome of the Sea Was an Elegant Nymph of a Restaurant

A menu page from the Dome of the Sea

Today, Las Vegas is a world capital of fine dining. Decadent ingredients, extravagant presentations, obsequious service, luxurious atmosphere—all can be found in dozens of establishments on the Strip. The Dome of the Sea was one restaurant that helped take it to the next level.

Built in 1964, the restaurant looked like a flying saucer temporarily perched alongside the Dunes’ ultra-mod new tower. The room itself was round and deep blue, with iridescent walls that shaded from indigo to cerulean to azure and a faux stained glass ceiling. The centerpiece of the Dome of the Sea’s decor was the “mermaid harpist.” A bit of an exaggeration: She wasn’t actually a mythical creature with a fish’s tail, but a blonde playing a golden harp while floating on a small figure-eight-shaped pond in the middle of the restaurant.

The menu urged guests to “sample the boundless delicacies that man has wrested from the great seas since time began,” such as Lemon Sole Filet Parisienne Princess and Curry of the South Sea Lobster Indoustan. Green-jacketed waiters ferried gilt-edged plates embossed with the restaurant’s mermaid logo, bearing Crepes Madras or Grand Peach Melba to diners in sport coats and cocktail dresses.
The Dome of the Sea was a swank enough spot for James Bond to take Plenty O’Toole to dinner in Diamonds Are Forever. And many a visitor to vintage Vegas still has fond memories of their time spent at the bottom of the ocean … in the middle of the desert.