Celebrity Summit Dining
Celebrity is known for its excellent and innovative menus fleetwide, but the line did not quite live up to its reputation on our cruise -- admittedly the second sailing post-dry dock. While many of our meals were average at best, highlights were Qsine, the sea day brunch buffet, the house-made ice cream and gelato, and the burgers and hot dogs at the Mast Grill.
Celebrity Summit certainly offers plenty of dining choices. The two-level Cosmopolitan Restaurant features sophisticated decor accented by La Normandie, a beautiful, seven-foot-high bronze statue of a woman draped like the goddess Athena, created by Art Deco sculptor Leon-Georges Baudry. This statue originally graced the first-class smoking room in the legendary liner SS Normandie. The dining room also has a sweeping staircase for grand entrances on formal nights and a two-level glass wall with panoramic views aft.
There are two options for dinner in the Cosmopolitan Restaurant. Passengers can go with traditional set-seating at either 6 p.m. or 8:30 p.m., or opt for the more flexible Celebrity Select dining option. With Celebrity Select, passengers have the option to eat any time between 6 and 9:30 p.m. and to decide whether they want to eat with their own party or at a mixed table with other passengers. They can also make specific dinner reservations for each day of their cruise online in advance, make reservations onboard or simply show up when ready to eat. The restaurant is open-seating for breakfast, but it is not open for lunch.
The restaurant offers a set nightly menu featuring typical steak, seafood, chicken and veggie options, in addition to a full menu of specials (with chef recommendations) each night. On our cruise, most dishes were good, but not great, and consistency was an issue.
On the first sea day of each cruise, there is typically an elaborate brunch buffet served in Cosmopolitan, which includes everything from eggs benedict and Belgian waffles to steak and shrimp cocktail, from late morning to early afternoon. This is a favorite among Summit devotees, and it's a not-to-be-missed affair.
The Normandie, a 134-seat specialty restaurant, serves upscale dishes prepared using traditional French methods; think goat cheese souffle, pan-seared foie gras and Dover Sole Veronique. It features memorabilia from the legendary transatlantic liner, including gold-lacquered paneling depicting hunt scenes that originally adorned the smoking room on the SS Normandie. The restaurant also touts a dine-in wine cellar, open kitchen and "butterfly service" with waiters serving, presenting and removing dishes at the same table in unison. Many dishes are prepared or finished tableside. The fee is $40 per person and well worth it -- you'd expect to pay upwards of $100 on terra firma.
Qsine, a specialty restaurant that debuted on Celebrity Eclipse in 2010, is a super-sleek and inventive dining venue that offers a whimsical, interactive dining experience. The menu is presented on an iPad and features items inspired by different cuisines from around the world, including disco shrimp, filet mignon with five different sauces, tacos with guacamole you prepare yourself and Kobe beef sliders. All are served in creative vessels -- you'll rarely see a serving plate. Passengers are encouraged to order several dishes for the entire table to share, tapas style. Portions are generous, so you'll need to pace yourself if you're not used to supersized meals. Our meal at Qsine was the best food we ate during our weeklong cruise aboard Summit, and we found it to be well worth the $40-per-person fee. Both the meal and the experience as a whole exceeded our expectations.
Blu, which is exclusive to passengers sailing in AquaClass cabins, features luxuriously modern decor, soft lighting and a menu inspired by spa cuisine. Though the food does not seem overly healthful, the restaurant does feature smaller portions and dishes that are lighter than what you will typically find in the main dining room or buffet. Options include seafood ceviche, tortilla soup, pumpkin gnocchi and Hawaiian salmon. Blu also offers an excellent breakfast menu -- featuring yogurt parfaits, fruit smoothies and pancakes -- to AquaClass passengers. Suite passengers do have the option of dining at Blu if there is availability.
On the casual dining front, the Oceanview Cafe serves buffet-style breakfasts, lunches and dinners. There you'll find various carving stations, made-to-order omelets and pasta dishes, pizza and antipasti, and a slew of internationally inspired dishes, including everything from British bangers and mash to Indian curries and fee-free sushi. An ice cream bar sits at each entrance to the buffet. Complimentary treats include a selection of hand-scooped hard ice cream, freshly baked cookies and toppings like Reese's Pieces and Sour Patch Kids.
One surprising highlight of dining in Celebrity Summit's buffet is the view. The venue is spacious and features floor-to-ceiling windows all around. There are even "portholes" built into the floor so passengers can peer down into the ocean as they dine.
During the ship's refurbishment, Celebrity's Solstice-class creperie, Bistro on Five, was added to Celebrity Summit. The eatery, which has a $5-per-person fee, is open from 6 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily, making it a convenient option for passengers looking for something to nosh between meals and late at night. The menu features both sweet and savory crepes, along with wine by the glass, beer and cocktails. We were underwhelmed by the bacon, egg and cheese crepe, but the banana-nutella crepe (a popular choice) was tasty.
The Mast Grill is a poolside barbeque venue that serves up burgers, fries and hot dogs with traditional and gourmet toppings, including caramelized onions, sauteed mushrooms and assorted veggies. This option is open from lunchtime through the early evening hours.
Previously Cova Cafe, Cafe Al Bacio offers specialty Lavazza coffee beverages and house-made gelato (be sure to have yours in a freshly made waffle cone) for a fee, as well as complimentary pastries.
Free room service is available 24 hours a day and features standard breakfast pastries, sandwiches, burgers, salads and pizzas, though an expanded menu is available to Concierge-class and suite passengers. We tried breakfast in our cabin twice, but for the most part options were lacking, and the quality of what was available was inconsistent. We decided it was worth the extra effort to head down to the buffet for better-tasting, fresher food. We also tried a late-night pizza order, which again was disappointing -- it was reminiscent of frozen pizza that's been reheated a few too many times.