Part 3: Food Reviews
Hello again everyone! This post will be my 2nd last post of my cruise holiday series, where I will be doing a quick review on selected dishes onboard the Rhapsody of the Seas served at the Edelweiss Dining Room - and then I will post my last blog entry of this series and show you some of the sights in the four island destinations we've stopped at between Vanuatu and New Caledonia in the South Pacific.
As you all have already seen in my previous blog entries, the food at the Windjammer Cafe buffet styled looks delicious and fulfilling. Overall, I was very happy with the quality and variety of food served at the buffet - so I thought it would be rather boring to just say all the wonderful things about the Windjammer Cafe food, so I will just focus on the food served at the formal dining room.
The menu presented at the Edelweiss Dining Room is exquisite and rather fancy. There is a wonderful selection of Starters, Mains and later on Desserts to choose from every night. You are not restricted to ordering just one of each, but of course no one is shameless enough to look greedy at the fancy dining room!
If you are having difficulty in deciding, you may just choose to go with the Chef's Signature Menu option where the decision has been made for you. To be honest, I have gone with the Chef's Signature Menu twice and I wasn't very impressed with the selections. I find I made better choices when deciding myself and properly reading the menu and visualizing what was about to be plated up for me.
On our first night, I didn't have my camera with me at the dining room - but I distinctly remember how disappointed I was with the meal I had on our first night. How bad is that?! My first impression wasn't too good. The salad hubby ordered was a simple salad with lettuce, sliced tomatoes, sliced raw mushrooms and cucumber! No dressing! Not even fancy leaves, just simple lettuce! It was shocking really. I really don't know how they could serve up such a plain salad.
That night, I also ordered a pork dish of some sort. The pork was extremely overcooked and very dry. They should be happy I didn't have my camera with me - because that was one of the worst meals I have ever had and like I said, such BAD first impression!
Thankfully, the following nights just kept getting better and better... it was almost as if the chefs had a nervous start and just kept gaining more and more confidence, lol :)
Starting with the Escargots Bourguignonne - Tender snails, drenched in melted garlic herb butter and baked to perfection. It was indeed cooked to perfection and possibly one of the most exquisite dishes I have ever tasted. It was so delicious, I didn't think I had enough!
See? Only 6 little snails and it was all over... it was a sad moment. I didn't want it to end.
Another standout Starters was the Scallops Risotto. The scallops were perfectly cooked to its right texture and the risotto was rich and smooth and had a really delicious flavour like it was cooked in a traditional chicken stock.
The lamb shanks were not too bad, it was tender like it should be, but I thought the sauce could've been richer or could've had more distinct flavours in them. It was an alright lamb, but the mashed potatoes were absolutely perfect. It was light and fluffy without lumps - the way I like it!
The next entree I was very pleased to have picked was the Moroccan Spiced Chicken Salad - slices of grilled Moroccan spiced chicken breast with eggplant, rocket, shredded carrots, green beans and raisins. The papadum was a lovely touch, although it was a bit stale and not as crunchy as it should be. The chicken was full of flavour and the salad was fresh.
Hubby had the Potato Gnocchi tossed with ham and garden peas in a cream reduction. Hubby is a huge fan of pasta so all the pasta dishes you see in this review were ordered by hubby.
For the mains, I had the Prawn and Mahi Mahi Tempura lightly coated in tempura batter, fried golden and served with stir fried vegetables and chilli lime plum sauce. It was a surprisingly huge meal! The tempura batter was delicious but a little bit soggy. It was overall a satisfying meal in terms of quantity but it could've been crispier. Can't blame them though - imagine cooking THOUSANDS of these meals! It would be a challenge to maintain the crispyness of these types of meals.
Moving on to some desserts, I had this Chocolate Brownie Sandwich, a dark bittersweet chocolate mousse wedged between layers of rich chocolate brownie... it tasted exactly as it looked, RICH and CHOCOLATEY!
The very next day, I had a pretty successful meal again. The Duck Salad was a delightful dish with smokey slices of duck breast served over slightly bitter mesclun greens and dressed with orange-walnut vinaigrette. Duck was perfect and sliced extremely thin but so full of smokey flavour, and the dressing was magic! I actually think the dressing made this salad. The whole salad burst with savoury flavours of the duck combined with crunchiness of the salad and topped with the sweet nutty orange dressing with a slight tangy hit. Perfect!
To follow that incredible Duck Salad, the Osso Buco Gremolada - veal shanks braised with spring vegetables in rich wine-tomato sauce, served with creamy polenta and string beans. The veal was decadent, melts in my mouth. Sauce was rich and had the right flavours. However, the beans were slightly undercooked and was too crunchy, and the polenta was a bit chunky and also slightly undercooked. Never mind the not so good sides, as long as the meat was yummy I was happy!
I decided to be a little bit adventurous with my dessert and skipped the typical cheesecake, skipped the lime tarts, skipped the chocolate and opted for the Sugar-Free Lime Basil Iced Terrine - basil and lime-infused, creamy, frozen mousse served with a berry salad. Interesting choice. Wonderful presentation. Interesting flavours! I still don't know how to explain this, but the combination worked. That is all I could comment, lol.
The next day though, I was back to a safe choice of Choca-Chino Trilogy a delightful chocolate trio of Sweet Grand Marnier white chocolate mousse, creamy milk chocolate Kahlua cheesecake and a slice of dense, dark chocolate mud cake. YUM!
A couple more outstanding Main Dishes: Slow-Roasted Double Cut Pork Loin served atop a bed of braised lentils with crisp green beans, potato gratin and onion jus. Looks exquisite and tasted amazing. They got the pork right this time - it was no longer dry like that first night, it was delightfully juicy!
I had the amazing Roasted Rack of Lamb with Garlic and Herb with sauteed vegetables, mashed potatoes and a rich Cabernet wine sauce. The sauce was pretty average, but the lamb was cooked to perfection! Once again the meat saves the day, haha.
On Christmas Day, hubby and I both opted for the same main dish... of course we had to have the Golden-Roasted Christmas Turkey with chestnut and sage stuffing, pan gravy, sweet potatoes, brussels sprouts, glazed carrots and cranberry-orange zest sauce it was Christmas! It was indeed a fulfilling Christmas meal and the only thing missing was actually seeing a whole turkey in the middle of the table and actually seeing it being carved but oh well, maybe cruise ships should consider that next time, just serve up a whole turkey each table ay! Hehehehehe...
On our last night, we also both chose the Lemon Crusted Crocodile Skewers as starters. Well, how often do you get to eat crocodile meat right?! If you haven't had crocodile before, I would describe it as having the taste of chicken and the texture of fish. It is actually very soft and tender despite how dry it looks in this pic, and it tastes like chicken. Very unique and a true delicacy perfect for our last meal on the ship.
As for the mains, I ordered the Asian Duck, ginger-marinated duck glazed with orange hoisin sauce, roasted and served with stir fried Chinese cabbage and steamed rice. A very "homey" dish I would expect to have if I was at home in Malaysia. The duck was beautifully marinated and well the rice and veggies were pretty average.
Hubby had a generous portion of the Slow-Roasted Aged Prime Rib. Incredibly tender but I thought the presentation wasn't anything fancy. I mean, come on it was our last night - they could've done so much better with the presentation of this dish. This looks like something I would serve up on a normal weeknight at home, it wasn't bad, just wasn't incredible enough for fancy dining room standards. Sorry to be picky about the presentation, I just have higher expectations for fancier dining places that's all. The presentation is extremely important as it affects the whole dining experience.
Later on, the Chocolate Banana Strudel saved the day. This strudel was incredible! Maybe it was just me, but I loved the combination of chocolate and banana and the thin layers of pastry. What an incredible dessert to end the night and to end the cruise.
And of course, sometime during the cruise we managed to resist the temptation of going to a buffet breakfast in exchange for a fully serviced breakfast at the dining room - Eggs Benedict!! Need I say more??
People have often asked me ever since I got back from the cruise, "How was the food?" "Was it any good?". Well, the overall standard of the food is around 4 stars out of 5. It's not quite 5 stars and I honestly don't think it will ever get to 5 simply because of the restrictions in terms of the over capacity of the dining room each night (Imagine a normal restaurant trying to feed over 2,000 dinner guests every night!) and the intense demand for continuous food. The stocking of food and the planning and the preparation and the serving up is also quite a tricky process and requires a lot of attention to detail in order to make it work.
Overall, the Rhapsody of the Seas does a pretty good job at making sure most of their food is freshly cooked on the same day and somehow the food served up is still hot. So I will excuse the fact that I had a BAD first night, and then maybe once or twice after that I get slightly disappointed, and that not everyone onboard is a picky food critic wannabe like me, and just give them the credit of doing a truly wonderful job at making sure the food is of high standards. Like I said, a few dishes actually stood out and were some of the best dishes I have ever tasted. So it's all good! :)
To be continued...