Dining and culinary experiences on cruise ships are quite diverse. They include typical ‘fast food’ options of burgers, hotdogs and pizza and the fare commonly found in the main dining room (MDR), along with a buffet and its plentiful selections. However, most cruise lines have specialty dining options to include themed restaurants and even a Chef’s Table. Having done the Chef’s Table on several cruise lines I was keen to see how the Royal Caribbean experience would compare. I was not disappointed!
On the Oasis of the Seas, the Chef’s Table is done in the Concierge dining room called the “Coastal Kitchen.” This dining room is at the top of the ship and offers great views of the sea. While the Coastal Kitchen is the dining room for full suite passengers, this is also where the Chef’s Table is held. On the Oasis, this event is done several times a week which allows for a high level of participation.
The Chef’s Table on is an extra cost event and on the Oasis it will set you back about $90 USD (October 2016 pricing). This is not something to which you’ll bring the kids so keep this in mind if you schedule one on your cruise.
When you book the Chef’s Table you will receive a formal invitation delivered to your stateroom, with the date and time. Be sure to show up hungry, and early, as you don’t want to miss anything.
When we arrived at the Coastal Kitchen we were provided a glass of champagne and were met by our Sommelier for the evening, Constantin. Once everyone was present we were seated at a beautifully set table with place cards where we saw our menu and wine pairings. Our chef for the evening would be Garett, and Constantin would guide us through our six course meal and wine selections.
Here is the bread platter. The bread on this ship was excellent.
Ten of us at the Chef’s Table were friends and we were joined by two other couples. While waiting for our first course we introduced ourselves and made some general conversation . The appetizer was Hearts of Palm with Avocado, Tomato and Champagne Vinaigrette accompanied by our first wine which was Michele Redde Sancerre, Loire Valley, France (2014). Constantin told us about the wine, and Garett discussed the food, thus setting the tone for the rest of the meal. The wine was delicious as was the salad—and I ate every bite. I really had no idea what Hearts of Palm were but they sure looked pretty and were delicious!
Once the salads were done and plates cleared we were presented a Sweet Pea Soup with Truffle Poached Egg and Nueske Bacon. Garett once again explained how it was made and Constantin talked about wine, which was Mer Soleil Santa Lucia Highlands Reserve Chardonnay, (California) 2013. I really liked this wine: in typical Chardonnay fashion it was fruity and buttery and I tasted peach and lemon. The soup was incredibly rich and made with cream. While it was tasty, we had 4 more courses on their way and I had to pace myself, so I only had a couple spoonfuls of it but I did drink all the wine!
My anticipation was building for our third course: Butter Poached Lobster with Avocado and Tomato and Champagne Vinaigrette. Sometimes lobster on cruise ships tends to be a bit chewy. I found this lobster to be delicious and this was probably my favorite item of the evening. Our wine was William Fevre, Bougros Chablis, (Burgundy, France), 2012 and the last of the whites. (The green on top was Frisee lettuce.)
Lobster gone (and I’m sorry that my friend ate all of hers and I couldn’t get any of it), it was time to move on to the pasta: Braised Short Rib Ravioli with Horseradish Cream and Veal Glaze. The “veal glaze” was actually a really great sauce and one of my friends mentioned that she thought it was so good she would drink it like soup. I’ve previously had something similar to this on another ship and yes, it really was fantastic. The accompanying wine had now changed to a red: Luca Della Vita Lucente Montalcino, Tuscany Italy (2013.) Normally I am not very fond of red wines however this one was a fruity blend and I had no problem drinking it. The ravioli was something I would order as a main course if I saw it on a menu.
The Main Course
It was now about 10:30pm and we were being presented our main course: Prime Beef Tenderloin with Morel Mushrooms and Smoked Garlic-Potato Puree (basically, fancy mashed potatoes!) Back to California for the wine, which was Honig Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley (2013.) For a Cab, this wine had strong berry notes and I thought it was really good. So good I would buy it to drink at home but I suspect it retails for a lot more than ten dollars a bottle! The beef was absolutely delicious and I could have eaten more of it. By now I was drinking half of my wine and declining additional pours. The Oasis is a huge ship and it was a long way back to my room. Having done several of these Chef’s Tables (read about one of them here), I had paced myself so I was not too terribly full as we had a whole lot of chocolate coming up next.
Entrée completed, it was time for dessert which of course did not disappoint. Instead of a wine we had a dessert martini: Lemon Ginger Cheesecake Martini. This was an amazing drink (and as a side note, there were many fantastic and creative adult beverages on this ship in the specialty bars.) Of course it helps to really like lemon and ginger too. They called our dessert “Chocolate Sabotage.” This was a duo of chocolate mousse (white and dark chocolate mousse in the shooter glass), a ganache, and a small chocolate lava cake. It was presented beautifully with homemade ice cream. Unfortunately I could not eat it all and managed about one bite of everything.
Here’s what I actually consumed of that dessert. Yes, I did eat the ice cream and that raspberry sauce on the plate was delicious.
Finally we were done with our meals after 11:30pm. We settled up our checks and were out around midnight. Here’s our table after we left.
Previously when I have done Chef Tables on other cruise lines we were not in the dining room so late. My ‘ideal time’ to begin one of these is about 6pm so I have time to walk around a bit before heading to sleep as they are about 3 hours long. I don’t think too many of us were hungry for breakfast the next morning.
The Chef’s Table is a small splurge which I find to be worth the expense when I cruise. Food is artistically and proudly presented by the chef and usually a senior waitperson. Having done these on 4 different cruise lines now, they’re all similar in the fact that the food is great. There are a lot of courses but when doing a meal like this the portions tend to be on the smaller side. This particular event had very generous portions and I was glad I didn’t have the soup. I would definitely do another Chef’s Table on Royal Caribbean as this was the best meal I had during the trip.