For my birthday cruise this year, mom and I decided to try something a little different and sail from the west coast. But since I typically only sail on Royal Caribbean and Carnival…and Royal Caribbean doesn’t have a ship on the west coast (at the moment but stay tuned!) we decided to sail on the brand spankin’ new Carnival Panorama. This series of posts will just be about our dining experiences, but a full cruise will be posted on my travel site, http://soccermomtravels.com

For our first night on board, we had made reservations at 555 Steakhouse. This is a tradition on all my Carnival cruises as they offer either a free bottle of wine with dinner, or 50% off any bottle on the wine list, but the offer is only good for the first two nights (usually) so we have kind of settled on this night one tradition.

The steakhouse on the Panorama is on Deck 5, the Promenade Deck. This steakhouse has some tables set up on the outside deck as well, presumably for al fresco dining but this was completely unused on our January cruise.

We arrived on time for our reservation, and were seated right away. First order of business is wine. The “free” bottle of wine is a choice between Merlot and Chardonnay. I don’t even remember the brand. The real value here is the 50% offer on ANY bottle of wine on the wine list. This is an opportunity to get a really decent bottle of wine at a relatively reasonable cost. We chose:

This wine retails for $55-$60 at my local wine store, with standard restaurant markups, it would be close to $100 in a restaurant. I paid $48 for this bottle with the discount. I have previously gotten Duckhorn, Caymus, Lafite, Chateaunauf-de-Pape, among others. With the markup in restaurants, this is really the only way to go here.

After wine service, the chef delivers bread service and an amuse bouche. The bread service is served with a couple of different butters.

The amuse bouche varies by ship. It is one of the only things that is truly up to the chef’s discretion. Ours was a slider. It seems simple, but its super yummy!

Next up are the menus. This menu has recently changed (within the last 12-18 months, depending on the ship) and like all things that change, some are good and some I wish had not been changed. Appetizers first. The fee for the steakhouse includes an appetizer, an entree, and a dessert. However, you can usually get an additional appetizer if you order a soup.

From this menu I ordered the Stuffed Mushrooms. I had gotten this before and really enjoyed it so I thought I would get it again! Why mess with something good!!

Again, it was super yummy…although I am still not sure how I feel about this mushroom “tea” thing.

Then, it was time for my soup. Last time I ate at the steakhouse, I tried the Baked Onion Soup, so this time it was time for something different.

Main Lobster Bisque. Mom had the Young Lettuce Salad. Her verdict was that it was hardly any arugula, mostly romaine. The Bisque is served in stages. First the bowl with a seasoned butter disk.

Then the waiter adds the liquid. Its a cool presentation, but the true test is how the soup tastes.

Its good. Its real good! Now it was time for the entree. There is only one thing I order at any steakhouse at sea that I go to…Filet, Medium Rare. In this case with Mac & Cheese on the side and Bearnaise sauce for dipping.

The steak came out perfectly cooked and the mac & cheese was super good! My one TINY complaint is the Bearnaise sauce. Its served cold….plus if you have ever had Michael’s Bearnaise there really is not much that can compare. I should probably start ordering Chimichuri or something.

The Mac & Cheese was awesome! Actually the best on the ship, even better than the BBQ joint.

Finally its dessert. Except here’s the thing: I don’t like dessert. I would rather have two appetizers. But mom likes her after dinner treat, even if she tries to be healthy about it!

In the past, I have ordered the Chocolate Sphere, and I have seen the Art at Your Table. Mom decided on the Fresh Fruits.

The lime granita in the middle is really refreshing and the fruit is always beautiful.

All in all, the Steakhouse 555 on Carnival Panorama was a great first night on board dinner, as always. The service was unremarkable, which I am fine with really. I love me a great, interactive waiter, but as long as the food is good and I don’t have any negative memories about the service, that works for me too.

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