A big improvement since the refit is the introduction of Freedom Dining in the Medina Restaurant, which allows you to eat where you want and when you want. There are however still the usual two sittings for dinner in the Alexandria Restaurant, and food and drink available around the clock in various parts of the ship. Food is generally good, with a wide choice of traditional and sophisticated dishes.
Medina Restaurant (Deck 6): Freedom Dining means you can turn up without booking at any time the restaurant is open and can usually be seated right away -- if you don't mind sharing a table. If you prefer to wait for a table for two, you get a pager and are called back, usually within a few minutes. Menus appeal to British tastes, with favourites such as roasts and hearty puddings (although lighter choices are available). Following passenger feedback, classic dishes have been returned to the a la carte menu in the Medina and Alexandria, such as prawn cocktail or egg mayonnaise to start, followed by fillet of salmon or sirloin steak and bread and butter pudding or fruit salad. The classic menu is the same each day. The five-course a la carte menu, which changes daily, might include starters of wild mushroom risotto and creamed blue cheese, minestrone or cream of potato and goat's cheese soup, main courses of roast leg of pork, braised beef in Guinness or tempura of vegetables and then sticky toffee pudding, fruit Pavlova or ice cream, followed by cheese, to finish. The Marco Pierre White menu, available on gala evenings, might include a trio of smoked and cured fish to start, chicken consomme with julienne vegetables and shaved black truffle, Champagne sorbet, Beef Wellington and, to finish, the cruise ship favourite of Baked Alaska. Open for dinner 6 p.m. to 9.30 p.m. The Medina also serves breakfast from 8 a.m.-9:30 a.m., lunch from noon to 1:30 p.m., and afternoon tea from 4 p.m. to 4:45 p.m.
Alexandria Restaurant (Deck 6): There is the familiar dining system with the two sittings, one at 6:30 p.m. and second sitting at 8:30 p.m. Again, Marco Pierre White dishes are served on gala evenings, and the menu is the same as the Medina. Open for dinner 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
The Lido Grill (Deck 12): replaces the Sidewalk Cafe and offers Costa coffee and the new "Grab and Go" counter. Open for breakfast 8 a.m. to noon and lunch noon to 4 p.m.
The Horizon (Deck 12): The self-service buffet has been completely refurbished in the recent refit with a cheerful new decor. Food and drink is available more or less round the clock, but it can be very crowded at peak times. Breakfast includes a continental option, with fruit, yoghurt, pastries and cereals. Needless to say, there is a full English breakfast that can include any combination of bacon, sausage (or a choice of vegetarian bacon or Quorn sausage), tomato, fried bread, saute potatoes, grilled mushrooms, black pudding, plum tomatoes and baked beans. Omelettes are available to order and daily chef's specialities include eggs benedict, grilled gammon and eggs, kedgeree, corned beef hash and scrambled egg with smoked salmon. There are also themed dinners. Healthy options include smoothies, porridge, fruit salad and poached eggs on wholemeal toast. Open for Continental breakfast from 6:30 a.m. to 7 a.m. and 11 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., full breakfast 7 a.m. to 11 a.m., lunch noon to 2:30 pm, afternoon tea 3 p.m. to 4.45 p.m., children's tea 5 p.m. to 5:45 p.m., a themed dinner 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m., and late-night snacks 10:30 p.m. to 2 a.m. The self-service drinks selection includes fruit juice and special teas -- including decaffeinated and camomile.
Room Service: Room service is available 24 hours, with breakfast from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. and sandwiches, snacks, pasta, burgers and other items the rest of the time. Some carry a small charge (e.g. £1.50 for chicken and bacon sandwich, £2 for smoked salmon and £3.95 for a burger).
The refit has brought big changes to fee dining on the Aurora with unusual new menus and well designed venues, including Sindhu replacing the Library and the Glass House replacing Cafe Bordeaux.
Sindhu (Deck 8): One of the line's signature restaurants from designed by Michelin-star celebrity chef Atul Kochhar, in exotic surroundings serves an eclectic Indian fusion menu. Menu choices might include a squid salad with passion fruit chutney or spiced white crab meat with vermicelli to start, a main course of pan-fried sea bass with coconut sauce, a trio of duck or baked parcel of vegetables with tomato and fenugreek sauce with warm spiced chocolate or lavender scented yoghurt cake for dessert. There is a cover charge of £15 per person for cruises of eight days and longer, £20 for three to seven day sailings and £25 for shorter cruises. and booking is recommended. Open for dinner 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
The Glass House (Deck 8): The a la carte restaurant and wine bar features house wine displays and wines selected by expert and TV presenter "Jolly" Olly Smith. Self-service Enomatic wine systems allow passengers to buy premium wines by the glass. The menu includes a selection of small plates, which are ideal for sharing, and cost £5.25 for three different dishes, such as tempura king prawns, smoked aubergine dip and garlic mushrooms. Large plates include three types of British steak, ranging in price from £5.50 to £7.50, a lobster sandwich for £5.95, trio of different sausages and mash for £4.95 and a vegetarian salad for £3.50. Desserts include a peanut butter sundae or cheese board to share for £4. The Glass House also has a private room for wine tastings and dinners. Open for brunch, lunch and dinner 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
The Beach House (Deck 12): Situated within the Horizon Restaurant on Deck 12 this casual eaterie replaces the Pennant Grill. There is a £5 supplement for dinner. The menu includes favourites such as buffalo wings, crispy bacon and cheese potato skins and tiger prawns to start, fillet of beef on lava rock, macaroni cheese, burgers and Cajun chicken Caesar salad for mains and desserts including cheesecake and chocolate fudge cake A few items carry an additional charge, such as £2.95 for the lava rock beef and £5.95 for lobster. Booking recommended. Open for dinner 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.