Food, Wine, Dining on the Celebrity Silhouette – Our Best Food and Wine Cruise Yet!

Food, Wine, Dining on the Celebrity Silhouette – Our Best Food and Wine Cruise Yet!

We have always felt that Celebrity cruises offers exception food making their cruises some of the best values at sea. We look for a cruise line that offers high quality gourmet meals in the Main Dining Room, delicious casual dining options, and maybe an exceptional specialty dining venue that would offer a nice treat one or two nights of a cruise. We don’t want to feel like we have to dine in one of the extra charge restaurants in order to receive a quality meal. The Celebrity Silhouette delivered on every front. I’ll start with the most casual to to the most extravagant options we sampled.

The Mast Grill

IMG_1347bThis was the go to spot for my son, a 16 year old football lineman, and my husband, a hamburger aficionando. I think that they had a burger and fries from the mast grill almost every day. This worked well for my daughter and I, since it was convenient for them to get their burgers and then join us in the Ocean View Cafe for us to all have lunch together. The mast grill opened at 11:30 every day, so even if the line was a little longer for the grill, the burger diners could get in line and then join us as we got our Ocean View Cafe selections. My husband and son both said that they were the best burgers they had ever had, juice by not greasy, perfectly cooked, always hot, and served with all the usual topping plus options like grilled onion, chipotle mayo, and mushrooms. The burgers, served with a side of seasoned fries, were crispy, hot and delicious. With its location out by the pool, cruiser can grab quick bite here with-out giving up their lounge chair or having to put on shoes and a cover-up.

The Ocean View Cafe

This cafe is the main casual dining area of the ship, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner in a stations/buffet style. The first day of your cruise I would recommend taking a brief walk around the area and take a note of the offerings at each station. The selections tend rotate every three days or so, so you always have an opportunity to try something new.

Breakfast

Casual dining option in evenings.

Casual dining option in evenings.

Breakfast features several different stations that offered a slightly different selections with some items staying the same and some rotating. They have an English breakfast station that features, at some point or another throughout the cruise, English bacon, hash-browns, soft boiled eggs, bangers, and black/blood sausage. This is also where they had the carving station that sometimes featured ham or Canadian bacon. Next to that station, was one with the cold selections like yogurt, fresh fruit, cereal and milk. In the next section they had waffles with different fruit and syrup toppings, cooked to order eggs, and every American’s favorite Bacon! The Celebrity waffles are the lightest airiest waffles you’ll ever try, almost doughnut like. There was also smoked salmon, and pickled herring, bagels, breads and muffins, and then a few other stations that repeated some of these offerings. A few of my favorites were the waffles, locks and bagels with cream cheese and dill, and hash-brown patties. They offer the full breakfast from 7am to 10am, with a pared down early risers from 6:30 to 7:00 and late breakfast from 10:00 to 11:30, but truth be told the served the late risers till around 12:00 so there was no end service.

 Lunch

Cooked to order proteins in the Ocean View Cafe.

Cooked to order proteins in the Ocean View Cafe.

The lunch buffet service officially starts at 12:00 and features many varied selections which included soup, salad, and sandwiches served at various stations. They also offer cooked to order pastas and pizza, ice cream, desserts, stir fry, curries, and Mexican food. They also usually offered fish, chicken and vegetarian dishes served in a variety of styles. Some of my favorites includ jerk chicken, Tai spiced chicken, and fish provincial. The salads include a prepared to order Caesar, mix greens, frise, marinated salads. I also very much enjoyed the curries that usually include a curried chick-peas or lentils with spinach in a coconut milk sauce. The salads are very fresh and they rotate the dressings for variety.

 Dinner

Years ago Celebrity offered very little in the way of casual dining in the evenings. The dinner buffet just wasn’t the emphasis on their line. With the bigger ships and the desire to appeal to a broader spectrum of potential cruisers, they have tremendously expanded their evening offerings to include most of what I mentioned above as well as cooked to order meats and fish and a sushi bar. While we did not dine in the buffet area for dinner, I did take a few minute to photograph what they now offer in the evenings. So if you are tired from a day in the sun or a long excursion there is certainly more then enough variety and selections to make a wonderful meal if you don’t feel like the full sit down meal in the main dining room.

Sushi offerings

Sushi offerings


The Grand Cuvee Restaurant

Quite frankly, when CelebIMG_8065rity introduced the large variety of specialty dining restaurants with the Solstice class of ships, we were worried that they might neglect the quality and service in the main dining room that is included in the cruise fare. I am glad to report, that the food in the Grand Cuvee is up to par with even the best land based restaurants, and considering that they have such a large amount of diners to feed, it is quite a feat.

The pictures I took of the food really do not do justice to the presentation or the flavors, but they give you at least an idea of the quality of the food and the attention to details. Since we were on back to back cruises the menu was the same from week to week, which actually gave us the opportunity to either repeat favorites or try something we had missed the week before. Celebrity has two sides to their menu. The menu on the left side of their folder includes their “Available Every Night” selections that include classic items like Shrimp Cocktail, French Onion Soup, Caesar salad, New York Strip, Chicken, and Salmon. The other side of the menu changes daily and features 3 appetizer selections, two salads, two soups and about 6 entree selections that usually included seafood, fowl (duck, quail, or chicken), beef, lamb, veal, or pork. There was also usually a pasta dish with meat and a vegetarian dish with rice or pasta. Even with two weeks of cruising and 5 diners, we didn’t try everything, but I’ll mention some of my favorites.

The gnocci, an entre, ordered in an appetizer size serving.

The gnocci, an entre, ordered in an appetizer size serving.

For appetizers I enjoyed a variety of offerings from frog legs to prosciutto di Parma to spring rolls to a risotto. The interesting thing about the risotto was that it was not prepared classically, a little runny, but rather was a bit firmer like a rice casserole. We all noted that this was probably because of the large amount of people to be served that it was probably prepared ahead of time and it was just not possible to keep it in that runny state. However, my son, who usually does not like risotto, really enjoyed the seafood risotto appetizer and even ordered it the second week.

The French onion soup has a perfect balance of savory and sweet and a perfectly floated crouton with a generous amount of cheese. Two of our other favorite soups were the creamed corn and the tomato bisque. The corn soup was so good that we had it both weeks. The salads were always crisp and fresh and varied every night so that it was a great variety. For entree’s one on my favorites is the beef tournedos, which is a small portion of filet Mignon served with potatoes and green beans. The light mushroom sauce was the perfect accompaniment. For the last formal night I had the lobster tail both weeks, sweet and delicious. The braised lamb shank was a fall off the bone melt in your mouth treat. My daughter and I both enjoyed the jerk chicken as it was flavorful but not too spicy. I also enjoyed a saffron and seafood rice dish similar in flavor to paella. I also really enjoyed the sesame crusted Ahi Tuna which we ordered medium, but could have also been ordered rare.

This dish is a saffron seafood rice dish much in the style of paella.

This dish is a saffron seafood rice dish much in the style of paella.

Finally, my son who is a 16 year old football lineman, enjoyed dinner in the Grand Cuvee more than any of us. He was working out and lifting weights in the gym throughout the cruise, so on the nights when he had worked up quite and appetite he was thrilled to be able to order two entrees when he couldn’t decide between the two. There were even a couple of nights when he ordered, and ate, three entrees. At home he’s on a double portion of meat, so it was nice for him to be able to order two items on the cruise and not have to worry about the extra cost.

Service in the Grand Cuvee

Huzaini is one of the best waiters, no the best waiter on the ship.

Huzaini is one of the best waiters, no the best waiter on the ship.

The service in the Grand Cuvee was top notch. The waiters were friendly and knowledgeable about the offerings. We chose to do Celebrity Select dining for these two cruises because 6:00 is just too early, and 8:30 is just too late. We requested a table for 4 the first week with the same waiter every night. We had excellent service, with our orders always taken promptly and each course served at an appropriate time interval. This can sometimes be a little tricky with each person ordering a different combination of course but our waiter and assistant waiter got it exactly right. During that first week, we noticed a waiter, Huzaini, in the next section over that we remembered from our Solstice Trans Atlantic 4 years ago. He had been the waiter in the next table over during that cruise, but knew our name by the second day of the cruise. He recognized the kids even though they were older and taller. We saw that he had the larger 6 and 8 top tables, so we talked to the restaurant management and told them that since our current waiter, who was doing a great job had just 2 and 4 top tables, that we would like to be seated with the other waiter for the second week since we would have one more in our party. This was a nice way to finish out our first week our first waiter and then get to enjoy our second week with Huzaini. Huzaini is like a genius energizer bunny. I think he must have a photographic memory or eidetic memory because he was so precise with names and special requests. He also worked so hard all day and all night and always with a smile on his face and a spring in his step. I joked that with the Maitre’d that even though we had mostly cloudy weather, we had all the sunshine we needed with Huzaini as our waiter. One night we even played musical chairs after we placed our orders to see if it would throw him off his game, but he only showed how great he was with the orders. That same night my football playing son even made a challenging request for dessert, a plate of those delicious seasoned French fries. Huzaini delivered them with flair.

The Lawn Club Grill

Learning how to grill perfect meat.

Learning how to grill perfect meat.

The Lawn Club Grill created another opportunity for Celebrity to defeat my skepticism. When we first sailed the Solstice, we fell in love with the Hot Glass Show which is on the first 3 of the Solstice class ships. With a limited number of gaffers that they could contract to work the show, Celebrity had to come up with some thing else to put in that area. Honestly, my first thoughts about the Lawn Club Grill were “They are replacing the free, wonderful hot glass show, with a place where you have to pay $40 to cook your own food.” I guess I was being a little overly cynical about the loss of the glass show, so we decided to give Celebrity the opportunity to prove me wrong, and dine at the Lawn Club Grill. I have to say that the whole experience was one of the high lights of the cruise. We made reservations to dine at 7:30 on the night of the late departure from San Juan. This gave us some very beautiful views of the bay area lit up at night as well as putting us in proximity for the start of the deck party called “Celebrity Roxx”. Perhaps we had the best idea when we decided to let the teens do the cooking lesson and

Salmon and Filet Mignon

Salmon and Filet Mignon

we could just sit back and enjoy watching them learn and interact with the Celebrity staff. Celebrity has designed the lawn club grill to be an interactive experience with lots of fun and joking between the staff and their apprentice cooks. After we ordered our food, which with four of us meant basically splitting one of everything, the kids washed up with soap and water

and donned aprons to begin making their flat bread. They had a pizza dough tossing lesson and then they got to select their own toppings for the flat bread/pizza. After we enjoyed the snack flat bread it was the kids turn to cook the fish, kabobs and meats. The grill master taught them to be able to tell the wellness of the the steak by comparing it to the the firmness of the fleshy part of the hand when thumb it touched to different fingers. However that technique works, it works well. Our steaks were cut with a fork, melt in our mouths delicious. We loved the chimchurri sauce on on steaks, and the different spice rubs on the variety of meats that included chicken kabobs, veal chop, and two kinds of fish. The side dishes which included creamy corn and a lobster macaroni and cheese were delicious. It was so much food, but all so good. Truly a wonderful family experience.

Other Celebrity Silhouette Venues

With so many wonderful dining options mentioned above, you can see why we never made to several of the venues on board. Celebrity still offers seated dining every morning for breakfast and for lunch on sea days in the Grand Cuvee. We used to dine there almost every day for breakfast and lunch, but I guess we have gotten where one table service meal a day is enough for us. There are also several other specialty dining options including the Tuscan Grill Italian steak house, Muranos French Cuisine, Q-zine which features innovative presentation and twists on classic dishes, and Blu’ which features a spa oriented menu for the Aqua class accommodations. Celebrity also has a spectacular brunch during the last sea day of a cruise, with artistic food presentations. To really enjoy this even one needs to arrive early for the photography session, and then get back in the line to enjoy some of the wonderful dishes. I like to avoid crows, so being the contrarian, I slept in and enjoyed the the sparsely attended Ocean View Cafe.

Wine Service and Offerings

My husband and I are wine lovers, which is one of the reasons we like Celebrity. We drink for the most part wines that retail between $7 to $30 wines, with an occasional splurge for something in the $60 to $100 retail range. We we are wine lovers, but certainly not wine “high rollers”. With over 3500 trained sommeliers fleet wide, Celebrity has some of the best wine service and expert advice of any cruise line. Celebrity has a nice variety of wine in the $30 to $60 price range that suits us just fine. In the Grand Cuvee, our Sommeliers (we had two over the two weeks) did a great job of recommending wines every night. The Cellar Master for the cruise was Sinisa, whith whom we have sailed about 5 times now. He served as a great host for the special wine tasting events hosted in the Cellar Master bar. This is the bar that has the enigmatic wine tasting machines for which one purchase a pre-paid card that can be inserted in the machines and dispenses a small, medium or full glass taste of wine. The dollar amount is then deducted off the card. They can be purchased for as little a $25 to as much a over $100. The Cellar Master bar offers much more than the wine tasting machines. Here, Bonny, the attending Sommelier offered expert advice and both wines by the glass and wine flights that are not available anywhere else on the ship. The wine flights which offer guests a half glass of 4 different wines, present a great value as the price is actually much lower than if you purchase two glasses by themselves.

The Cellar Master's bar offers interesting wine flights.

The Cellar Master’s bar offers interesting wine flights.

This is also a great place to try wines from around the world or different regions. They hosted several wine tasting events through out the cruise that featured different wine styles and regions and the Reidel Crystal comparative wine tasting workshop. If guests can’t fit the tastings into their schedules, Bonny or Sinisa were always there to help with questions about the different wines or to make recommendations about which wines to try in the enigmatic tasting machines.

In talking with Sinisa, we found out that while Celebrity no longer stocks ultra high end wines on a regular basis, they can make special arrangements for those types of wines to be available if the customer so desires. He said he had a fairly frequent cruiser who like $500 to $1000 bottles of wines, so she contacts the line ahead to time to make sure they will have her special wines available for her.

Summary

We thought Celebrity offered some “pretty gosh darn tasty”  food for this cruise.   We liked the new menu in MDR which kept some old favorites but featured some new shining stars.  The buffet offered a great variety of fresh and flavorful food.   They had a great choice of wines and the service was spot on in every aspect.    A job well done for Celebrity Cruises.

 

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