Although one of the best things about cruise holidays is that all your food is included in the price, the foodie in you won’t be able to resist occasionally branching out on board and indulging in all that the alternative restaurants have to offer. With cruise lines partnering up with some of the world’s most respected chefs to offer a variety of tempting cuisine served in intimate venues, you’ll find yourself spoiled for choice. Here are our favourite onboard alternative restaurants and a taste of what they have to offer the discerning foodie:
Holland America: Pinnacle Grill
Holland America’s Pinnacle Grill is luxurious, intimate and romantic. Its menu, created by Master Chef Rudi Sodamin, boasts hand-selected Sterling Silver premium beef prepared with restaurant’s own seasoned rubs and cooked on a 1,600-degree grill for the ultimate in flavour. The restaurant is open for both lunch and dinner, and you’ll pay a surcharge for both – although at $10 and $29 respectively, the costs are more than reasonable considering the exceptional menu. Starters include a delicious lobster bisque served with crème fraîche and aged cognac, and for mains, you’ll be tempted by Pinnacle’s signature skewers with your choice of meats or fish marinated in enticing flavours.
At least one evening on every voyage, Pinnacle is given a ‘Le Cirque’ makeover with table decorations, authentic Le Cirque china, a special menu and exclusive accompanying wine selections. The experience is based on the legendary award-winning French restaurant located in Midtown Manhattan that was originally founded by Sirio Maccioni. Starters on the Le Cirque menu include poached lobster served with green beans and citrus, and mains include a stunning châteaubriand which is served with a horseradish flan and sweet and sour baby beets. Of course, you’ll need to save some room for the restaurant’s famous crème brûlée, the highlight of the Pinnacle Le Cirque sumptuous dessert menu. The cost of the Le Cirque dinner is a slightly pricy $49 per person but the experience makes it worth every cent.
On board Azamara’s Quest and Journey ships, you’ll find Aqualina, an attractive venue featuring an inventive menu that rotates every few days. The two menus give you the opportunity to visit twice and have two different and unique dining experiences, with each featuring the best that Italian cuisine has to offer. With Executive Chef Robert van Rijsbergen at the helm, this is not your typical Italian. Highlights include Aqualina’s delectable home-made gnocchetti served with swordfish and fennel seeds in a light tomato sauce; and from the mains, the sautéed veal scallop is bursting with flavours, served with a creamy mushroom sauce, gorgonzola and arancini Veneziani (little cheesy rice fritters). If you’ve room for dessert, the chocolate torte served with ginger-marinated strawberries and balsamic mascarpone cream is a taste sensation. You’ll pay a supplemental charge for this venue of $25 per person unless you’re booked into a suite cabin, but it is well worth the extra fee.
Celebrity: Tuscan Grille
Aboard a number of Celebrity’s ships, you’ll find the Tuscan Grille with its scrumptious fayre, stunning views and friendly staff. This Italian steakhouse aims to deliver Italian cooking with a contemporary edge, and you’ll love the relaxed stylish décor that perfectly matches the bold rustic cuisine. The Tuscan Grille serves up a selection of corn-fed USDA steaks, seafood and pasta dishes with some specials that are unique to the venue. The creamy parmesan polenta and bone-in veal chops are two specialties you’ll want to try. There’s an extra fee of $35 per person to pay for the grill and reservations are a must.
Crystal: Silk Road restaurant and sushi bar
Crystal’s Silk Road restaurant and sushi bar on board the Symphony and Serenity features the eclectic cuisine of world-famous master chef Nobuyuki “Nobu” Matsuhisa. The menu features classically styled Japanese foods that incorporate European and Peruvian influences, with each dish lovingly prepared by chefs that have been trained by Nobu himself. Silk Road’s menu is artistic and diverse, with choices such as mouth-watering lobster served in a truffle-yuzu sauce sitting alongside juicy grilled Australian rib eye steak to tantalise the senses. The sushi bar features a delectable selection of sushi and sashimi with Nobu specials including yellowtail or salmon tartar with caviar, yellowtail sashimi with jalapeño and tuna tataki with Ponzu Sauce. All guests can make a reservation via the Guest Check-in and Planning Centre included in the cost of your cruise – additional reservations on board attract a fee of $30 per person.
Cunard’s 100-seat Verandah restaurant opened in 2013 and features a sophisticated menu designed by Michelin starred chef Jean Marie Zimmermann who is also Cunard’s global culinary ambassador. The luxurious mouth-watering menus, which vary from ship to ship, include carpaccio of smoked beef served with marinated aubergine, quail’s egg and truffle mayonnaise, beautifully presented under a glass cloche which is filled with scented smoke. Verandah serves both lunch and dinner, and you’ll pay $29 extra for the experience, with additional supplemental charges for certain menu items. A reservation is a must.
Images sourced via Flickr Creative Commons, Pinterest, Wikicommons and Cunard Cruises Media Center. Credit: Jacques Lamloise, Cunard Cruises, examiner.com, Mangus Manske, Ivan T