The 10 “dining experiences” include seven restaurants as well as room service, a chef’s table (by exclusive invite only) and Epicure, a cooking school.
I’ll be honest. I didn’t expect to be gobsmacked by the food on the Scenic Eclipse cruise ship despite its luxury status.
But the Scenic Eclipse is a small ship with a 228-guest capacity and, incredibly, 10 “dining experiences,” including seven restaurants as well as room service, a chef’s table (by exclusive invite only) and Epicure, a cooking school. Most restaurants had relatively ambitious menus that change frequently.
I managed to sample all the à la carte restaurants, and I was surprised and impressed. The rooms were modern and intimate and kitchens used quality ingredients. The servers were amazingly attentive and brimming with good cheer. While I didn’t attend the chef’s table, I heard that the meal was exquisite, prepared with modernist techniques. All meals and tips are included in the cruise fare.
We popped into Sushi at Koko’s right before a tasting menu meal at Teppanyaki at Koko’s. (In the name of thorough research, folks.) Well, quelle surprise! The nigiri and sashimi featured pristine, quality seafood. We begged chef not to give us too much but he did, and we devoured.
At Teppanyaki at Koko’s, 10 counter seats encircle the chef, who showboats knife skills as he cooks. He’d worked at a Nobu restaurant on the Crystal Cruise line and picked up some interesting moves.
The menu included clarified miso soup with wakame and enoki mushrooms — so refined. Chawan mushi got the royal treatment, too, with a topping of caviar. Two courses involve expensive wagyu beef (a surf and turf and mixed in fried rice). The wagyu beef was from Jack’s Creek in Australia, which took World’s Best Steak award this year. Not surprisingly, we were too full for dessert but we did make a beeline to the whisky bar for a scotch and cocktail.
A dinner at Lumière, a French restaurant, began with a six appetizers: blini with caviar, salade Parisienne, French Onion Soup with oxtail and wagu beef broth; another caviar dish with creme fraîche and smoked candy floss, and grilled foie gras with toasted brioche and berries.
For mains, duck breast was tender and flavourful and served with pomme de terre macaire and grilled leek. Loup fish (branzino) came with truffled cauliflower creme and charred bitter greens — flavourful but the plate, crammed with food, looked somewhat dowdy.
The French apple tart with cinnamon gelato redeemed the meal; paper-thin layers of baked apple slices crowned with the gelato had nothing but great flavours.
I had a lunch and a dinner at Koko’s Asian Fusion, a room with arresting wall-sized multimedia art featuring images of Asian women. Lunch, which changes daily, was in a lacquered bento box with a Japanese salad, udon soup, a choice of tempura and dessert. I loved this.
Dinner was tasty but not outstanding. We had Thai chicken soup, Vietnamese shrimp roll, soft shell crab with Singaporean sauce, lamb biryani and matcha crème brûlée. Most unforgettable was our server’s high-beam smile — always appreciated at any restaurant.
I had healthy breakfasts and lunches at the Yacht Club’s buffet and the Azure Bar and Cafe offered excellent coffee, pastries and casual foods for in-between meals.
On our final night, dinner at Elements took an Italian turn — a seafood cocktail and calamari to start; risotto loaded with mushrooms and a lovely osso buco with root vegetables and a hint of orange. For dessert, a cannoli that my fussy cannoli palate liked — not too sweet and with a delicately shattery pastry shell, accompanied by chocolate ice cream.
Chatting with the couple next to us, I asked how they were enjoying food on the cruise.
“We’re going to be gutted to have to leave,” they said.
And me, I’ll never make assumptions about cruise ship food again.