So here we are, you and I, finally at Chef’s Table. One of my favorite dining experiences at sea. I have attended the Chef’s Table on Royal Caribbean, Carnival, and MSC Cruises. Each time it has been a fantastic dining event. The basic premise is a multi course tasting menu with some discussion from both the chef and sommelier (if there is one) regarding each course and the wine paired with it.
Royal Caribbean generally does 6 courses, sometimes 7 if they add an amuse bouche at the initial reception. For this dinner, there were six courses paired with five wines and a dessert cocktail.
First up, the location. Chef’s Table on the Navigator of the Seas is held at a large round table in the Main Dining Room…but not actually “in” the Main Dining Room…
See that one table up on the balcony all by itself? That’s the Chef’s Table. Being in the Main Dining Room can make it a bit loud, but it still feels like a fairly intimate dining experience.
The table is set beautifully.
And each menu is personalized.
The main waiter is usually also the sommelier and he immediatly begins a brief introduction of the evening an pours the wine paired with the first course. In this case, the wine was Bottega Pinot Grigio, and the first course was a Scallop Carpaccio with a yuzu vinaigrette and crispy quinoa.
It’s good. I couldn’t find any “crispy quinoa” but missed it, or blocked it out like I do with Kale. For this particular Chef’s Table, we had people with allergies to shellfish and soy, so there are several courses where they were given a different item. I do have pictures of those items as well (that’s not weird that I took pics of her food is it?), but for this course it was just a salad so no picture needed.
Course Two was a Smoked Tomato Soup with garlic focaccia croutons and parmesan; served with Conundrum White Blend. The soup is originally place in front of you sans liquid. The chef then comes around to everyone and pours from an individual pitcher.
I like this course very much. The soup is yummy and the presentation ensures that the croutons don’t get soggy in transit. This dish contained no shellfish or soy, so no alternative dish was needed.
Next up, our third course: Maine Lobster Salad with hearts of palm, pineapple, cilantro, vanilla dressing. The wine served was a Peter Yealands Sauvignon Blanc.
I thought this dish was super fun. I love how the red pepper looks so whimsical! The vanilla is not overbearing, neither is the cilantro. In fact, you can see all of the cilantro right on the dish, there is none hidden elsewhere so if you are one of the soapy cilantro clan, you can just pick it off and still enjoy this dish.
Of course lobster means shellfish which means a substitute dish for our allergic friends. They were served Beef Carpaccio with shaved parmesan and micro greens.
Whew. Can you believe we are only halfway through? Course Four was a roasted Branzino with grilled zucchini, peppers, lemon confit, and pesto. The wine was a William Fevre Chablis.
This was my least favorite course. First of all, I am not a huge fish fan to begin with. I like some, but it is not something I go out of my way to have. Next, the skin is still on…yuck! I realize it is better for cooking and all that chef jazz that Michael talks about, but I don’t like it. Also, the roasted veggies underneath were really nothing special, it was like a veggie hash. So overall, unremarkable. But guess what the allergy people got!!!
Grilled Lamb Chops! Yum!!! Although they were still served over the same vegetable hash so no upgrade there, but still…lamb chops! Sigh.
Okay, so now we are at the main course. Of course it is beef, what else could it be? In fact, it is a Grilled Filet Mignon with truffle potato puree, asparagus, and bordelaise sauce. The wine? A 2017 Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon. Young, yes but still yummy!
The waiter did not come around the table and ask everyone how they wanted their steaks cooked. No, he made the announcement that the chef would be cooking the steaks to a perfect medium rare. If you wanted your steak cooked beyond that…AFTER YOU HAD TRIED THE CHEFS WAY, they would be happy to cook it to whatever temperature made you happy. Medium Rare is of course the perfect temperature for filet so needless to say, I did not need the chef to twice cook my steak. In fact I don’t think anyone at the table asked for more cook on their beef. Guess the chef knows something about cooking, huh.
So now we are finally all the way to dessert…wow. Is anyone even still hungry? Well, no. But I powered on for you, dear reader, so that you could get the full Chef’s Table experience. I know, I’m a giver!
Instead of wine, we were served a salted caramel chocolate martini…no bad words there! And, since the regular dessert is pretty spectacular but apparently has soy lecithin in it, I am going to start with the allergy friendly option presented. It is a beautiful berry Pavlova.
A nice, light, refreshing end to a very large meal. What did the rest of us get? Well, its a dark chocolate sphere with a hidden treasure inside, a Valrhona chocolate brownie topped with vanilla ice cream. How do we get to that treasure? Nothing so barbaric as breaking into it, no. We will pour hot salted caramel over it until we melt a hole in the sphere.
It certainly is a neat presentation. I was able to take approximately one bite before I could not eat any more. I did manage to finish the Caymus and the martini though!
Overall, I enjoyed this Chef’s Table very much. I wondered as I booked it if I would feel awkward going to this event as a single diner, but that turned out to not really be an issue. It probably helps that I will pretty much talk to anyone when I am travelling.
So that concludes my Dinners at Sea for my Navigator of the Seas cruise in December, but never fear! I took a Carnival cruise to the Mexican Riviera in January and we ate at FIVE new specialty restaurants, including their Chef’s Table! Stay Tuned and Stay Hungry!