Fred Harvey Coffee and Flank Steak

For this month’s Dining on the Rails, we thought we’d feature an often overlooked meal, at least according to Lucius Beebe—breakfast. We will share the Super Chief Cook Book’s Fred Harvey Coffee, the Harvey House Cookbook’s Flank Steak recipe, and a little more history on the one and only Lucius Beebe.

Figure 1 Lucius Beebe on the 1939 Life magazine cover.

Lucius Beebe, iconic railroad photographer and author, was a man of high style. If you’ve read our previous post on Beebe (linked here:, or visited the dual exhibits at the Colorado Railroad Museum, The Lens of Extravagance, you know just how lavishly he and his partner Charles Clegg, lived their lives. One of the things that Beebe had high expectations of was food. In his column Along the Boulevards, in which Beebe described anything from food to the high society he inhabited, he had a lot to say about breakfast:

Figure 2 Steward serving fish aboard the Super Chief.

“Probably there is no circumstance in which breakfast, that all too much neglected American meal, is more agreeable than aboard a train, and on any train, such as the Santa Fe’s flagships, which traverses a mountain terrain with spectacular views at every turn of the right of way, it can be as important as dinner, both aesthetically and practically. Breakfast in the West is better anyway, where the preposterous proposition that a man can live until luncheon on coffee and Melba toast has never made any headway at all, and most railroad menus feature, as God intended they should, steak, liver, chops, and a variety of fish in addition to the conventional arrangement of eggs and pig products. Late breakfast can be had aboard the westbound “Super Chief,” as the train makes the grade into the Raton Pass, and passing above Uncle Dick Wootan’s historic ranch a few miles southwest of Trinidad is as good a place in the world as this department knows to have a rare breakfast steak flanked by an ample stack of little thin hot cakes assisted by a Niagara of good, black Harvey coffee.”

Figure 3 AT&SF Fred Harvey House, Waynoka Oklahoma, with coffee urns in background.

It’s no surprise that Beebe’s high tastes aligned with Fred Harvey. Fred Harvey, founder of the Harvey Houses, was also known for his high standards. In addition to the first-rate food that was brought to the Harvey Houses via rail, Harvey also imported water to some of his restaurants to make sure the quality of the coffee was consistent. Even the Super Chief Cook Book (circa 1960) recipe for Fred Harvey coffee, which we will share below, included four ways to brew coffee at home for the best results.

Figure 4 Fred Harvey, founder of the Harvey Houses.

Though none of our menu searches yielded breakfast steak, we did find an a la carte menu from 1943 featuring items Beebe spoke about in his article (see figure 4). The Harvey House Cookbook features a flank steak recipe that calls for a piece of toast as garnish, which we figured we would share as a breakfast steak option. Whatever steak you choose for breakfast, and however you brew your coffee, we hope you enjoy!

Figure 5 Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe a la carte menu featuring steaks, 1943.

Make sure to let us know if you try any of these recipes in the comments below, or on our social media pages!

For more information on Fred Harvey, and the “little thin hot cakes” Beebe enjoyed with his breakfast steak, see our December, 2022 post on the Harvey Girls linked here:

Harvey House Cookbook Flank Steak

Flank steak
2 oz. beef marrow
4 or 5 green onions
1 cup consommé
Salt and pepper
Worcestershire sauce

Cut up four or five green onions with one or two ounces of beef marrow or a little fat surrounding the beef kidney. If the steak is too thick, split it in two with a sharp knife, and make a slight incision crosswise on each piece. Season with salt and pepper, rub with a bruised clove of garlic, cut the steak in four or five pieces, roll in flour, and fry in clarified butter. When done, remove the steak into another pan, cover with the green onions and marrow, and set in oven. Throw a pinch of flour into the plan where the steak was cooked, let it get slightly brown, add a cup of consommé, stir and let cook for a few minutes. Add to the gravy a little parsley, a piece of butter, and a tablespoonful of Worcestershire sauce, but do not boil. Pour onto a platter and put the steak in, with onions on top. Serve with toast as a garnish.

Fred Harvey Coffee.

1 Comment

  1. Nice post, thanks for the info Jasmine!


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Past Dining on the Rails Posts:
Dining on the Rails August 2023: Roast Leg of Mutton
Dining on the Rails July 2023: Mineral Water Lemonade
Dining on the Rails May 2023: Roast Spring Lamb
Dining on the Rails April 2023: Fruit Salad and Fruit Salad Dressing
Dining on the Rails March 2023: Union Pacific Cole Slaw with Peppers
Dining on the Rails February 2023: Bourbon Toddy
Dining on the Rails January 2023: Cinnamon Toast and Children’s Menus
Dining on the Rails December 2022: Harvey Girl Special Little Thin Orange Pancakes
Dining on the Rails November 2022: Old Fashioned Navy Bean Soup
Dining on the Rails October 2022: Apple Cider
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Dining on the Rails August 2022: Barbeque
Dining on the Rails July 2022: Mountain Trout
Dining on the Rails June 2022: Eat like a Hobo!
Dining on the Rails: May 2022 – Mother’s Day Shirred Eggs
Dining on the Rails: April 2022 – How about a nice Old Fashioned?
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