This week, my friend Nancy and I had the opportunity to take a short cruise on Royal Caribbean’s Mariner of the Seas. It was a simulation cruise where the cruise line checked their safety protocols for COVID-19. In addition, we were fortunate enough to attend dinner at the Chef’s Table. The experience was fantastic, and I want to share it with you.
The Chef’s Table
The Chef’s Table dining experience consists of a chef, a sommelier, and a small group of passengers (typically 6-16) enjoying an exclusive full course dinner. If you are interested in participating in a Chef’s Table, sign up as soon as you board the ship. An active waiting list will build for any cancellations.
When we arrived, our sommelier, Charleston, greeted Nancy, me, and the other participants in the dinner. I am going to be very upfront with you; I don’t drink. Although I did not partake in the wine tastings paired with the five courses and dessert, I truly appreciated Charleston’s wine and wine pairings knowledge. It also did not mean that I did not enjoy myself. I am a foodie, and the art of the meal is completely worth the experience.
Our sous chef was William. Before each course, Charleston would present the wine, the wine’s pairings, and the wine’s history. Then Chef William would discuss the preparation of the course. The Chef’s Table experience lasted three and a half hours. So when you plan for the dinner, know that it will be a while if you are also interested in a show or other cruise activities that evening.
When the participants gathered for the Chef’s Table, we were offered a glass of champagne. If you are not interested, you can politely decline. Likewise, if you are not interested in the wine, do not make a big deal about it. Instead, you can leave your empty glasses in front of you or softly ask for them to be removed.
When we were first seated, we were offered still or sparkling water. Then the waiter brought deliciously warm bread in a pop-over form.
Course one consisted of a Scallop Carpaccio with a Yuzu vinaigrette and crispy quinoa. It was light and delicious. Don’t let course one fool you. By dessert, you will be stuffed beyond measure! The wine pairing was a Pinot Grigio by Bottega Vineyards, Italy.
The second course was a smoked tomato soup with garlic focaccia croutons and grated parmesan cheese. It was warm and refreshing. Charleston paired the soup with Conundrum, a blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Semillion from Napa Valley, California.
Course three was a Maine lobster salad with hearts of palm (one of my favorites), pineapple, cilantro, and a vanilla dressing. The lobster was paired with a Sauvignon Blanc by Peter Yealands, Marlborough, New Zealand.
Course four blew my mind. It may have been the best fish cuisine that I have ever eaten. The course consisted of a roasted branzino (a European bass) with grilled zucchini, peppers, lemon confit, and pesto. The branzino was paired with a Chablis Premier Cru (chardonnay) by Domaine William Fevre, Burgandy, France.
The main course, course five, was a grilled filet mignon with truffle potato puree, asparagus, and bordelaise sauce. A note when ordering steak from a premier steak house or chef’s table. If you prefer your steak with a medium, medium well, or well cook, ask for the steak to be butterflied. The chef will slice the meat almost in half, and it will not take as long to cook. You want the steak to be butterflied at these temperatures so that the steak cooks to the desired temperature without charring the outside. If you like a medium-rare or rare steak, you will not want your steak butterflied. For medium-rare and rare cooks, moisture will be retained and you will have a perfect steak with its original cut at your desired temperature.
This fillet was paired with the 50th Anniversary Robert Mondavi Maestro, a cabernet sauvignon blanc and merlot blend from Napa Valley, California.
The dessert was called “The World.” It consisted of a beautiful Valrhona chocolate mousse, salted caramel gelato, and a decadent peanut butter ganache. A salted caramel espresso martini accompanied the dessert.
You may be wondering about pricing for such an event. Typical Chef’s Tables are under $100 per person. In Atlanta, where I live, you cannot go to a premier steakhouse (which is comparable to this experience) and purchase a steak and side for the price of this complete dinner, wine included. If you are a true food connoisseur, you will understand that the event is worth every penny.
Charleston and William brought us their best at the Chef’s Table. They are both amazingly accomplished and shared their talent with us. I want both of these gentlemen to be recognized for the marvelous experience that they bring to the passengers of Royal Caribbean’s Mariner of the Seas.
Cheers! We will see you at sea!
Have you ever experienced a Chef’s Table? We would love to hear from you! Please, drop us a line in the comment section below.
Do you love to cruise? Check out Cruising on a Budget and 9 Safety Protocols for Cruise Lines During COVID-19.