Eurodam has more dining options than any ship in Holland America's fleet besides its sister Nieuw Amsterdam. The seven different and quite distinct dining areas offer a solid blend of casual and formal options.
The Rembrandt Dining Room is the ship's two-deck main restaurant, and it's open daily for breakfast (7:30 to 9 a.m.) and occasionally for lunch (noon to 1 p.m.). Both meals are open-seating, though you may be asked to dine with other passengers at bigger tables.
At breakfast, there are plenty of choices, from granola, yogurt and fruit to corned beef hash, eggs prepared many ways and pancakes. When lunch is served there, the choice of options is excellent and includes soups, salads, starters, entrees and desserts. (On one day entrees included Reuben sandwiches, burgers, fish and chips, and grilled pork chops.) It's a civilized and relaxing alternative to the Lido buffet.
Rembrandt is always open for dinner, and the evening meal is the main event onboard. As part of Holland America's As You Wish flexible-dining program, passengers have two options. Set seating, which involves assigned seating and tablemates at either 5:45 or 8 p.m, operates on the restaurant's lower level. For those who want to dine at different times each day and choose their own tablemates, open seating is available on Rembrandt's upper deck from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. You can make reservations in advance or just show up. I chose the flexible option and never had a problem getting a table -- though my habit of dining at 8 p.m. or later meant the "rush hour" window of 7 to 7:30 p.m. was avoided.
The menus are fantastic for dinner. Rudi Sodamin, the cruise line's master chef, has added just enough -- but not too much -- pizzazz to the culinary offerings. Each night, there are four choices of appetizers (always featuring a vegetarian option), as well as soup and salad. Eight different entrees include a pasta choice, a big salad, fish, beef, chicken and a fancier dish, such as lamb or lobster. Each section on the menu features an option for vegetarians and, as well, a Greenhouse Spa choice for those wanting more healthy fare.
I kept an eye out for "Master Chef Rudi Sodamin's Recommendations" on each night's menu; particularly memorable was a roast duck with sour cherry chutney and braised lamb shank. And, especially for diners who prefer their dishes plain, an "available daily" menu includes French onion soup, Caesar salad, grilled chicken, broiled New York strip, rice, baked potatoes and steamed vegetables.
Rembrandt also boasts a 22-dish, vegetarian-only menu for lunch and dinner; it consists of appetizers, salads, soups and entrees. Options include dishes like portobello mushroom and chipotle quesadillas, Vietnamese vegetable spring rolls or spicy lentil and garbanzo salad.
The wine list in the Rembrandt is pedestrian but fairly priced.
The Lido Restaurant, Eurodam's top-ship buffet venue, is, like others in Holland America's fleet, just gorgeous. It's arranged in a modified station setup, with different types of dishes (salads, hot entrees, desserts) grouped in specific areas to cut down a cafeteria line scrum.
The Lido opens for Continental breakfast at 6:30 a.m. and expands to a full buffet from 7:30 to 10:30 a.m. Stations include made-to-order omelets, fruits, cereals, European-style meats and cheeses, and American favorites like waffles and pancakes.
At lunch, the Lido Restaurant is open from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sections offer a series of soups, salads, hot dishes, sandwiches and desserts. Tea-style sandwiches are out for noshers between 2 and 5 p.m. Dinner in the Lido -- a casual, no-tablecloth, get-it-yourself repast -- is offered from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. and was quite popular on our Europe cruise; night owls can snack there from 11 p.m. to midnight.
For casual fare, the ship has the Terrace Grill (open from 11:30 to 5 p.m. -- particularly good for lunch if you're returning late from a shore excursion), where you can order middling burgers, chicken and fries. Slice Pizza (open 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.) is tucked to one side of the Sea View pool's bar. If you like doughy, American pizza, you'll like the pies at Slice.
For us, the standout dining experiences involved the ship's three alternative restaurants. The Pinnacle Grill is a Holland America tradition; once a Northwest-themed restaurant, it now feels more like a continental steakhouse. Hours are 5:30 to 9:30 p.m., and advance reservations are highly recommended. I'll admit that I find the new style of decor (first introduced on Holland America's Noordam) way too flashy and brassy -- it reminds me of design seen more commonly on Carnival Cruise Lines' ships. I much prefer the classic, clean ambience in Pinnacle Grills on older ships. But, the food's just fine. Do pace yourself, though, because everything looks good!
The menu starts off with appetizers like spicy chicken coconut soup, lobster bisque, Dungeness crab cakes and Caesar salad. Entrees include seafood -- lobster tail, black cod, salmon -- but the real star is the grill, with everything from porterhouse and filet mignon to from veal chops and lamb. Lobster macaroni and cheese is listed as an entree, but it's a bit rich; the appetizer-sized portion is just right.
You probably won't have room for dessert, but make the effort if you can; the baked Alaska, served with Ben & Jerry's Cherry Garcia ice cream, isn't too heavy. The best-known sweet is the Grand Marnier chocolate volcano; it was, on this occasion, drier than the name would suggest.
The fee to dine at Pinnacle Grill is $20.
New to Holland America -- and the best Asian-themed eatery among big-ship cruise lines -- is Tamarind. It's open from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m., and passengers should definitely make reservations in advance. Its menu focuses on cuisines of Southeast Asia, China and Japan, and there's something there for any possible preference. My favorite soup in the world is Tamarind's "Jewels of the Sea," a lemongrass broth with shrimp wontons; others are scallop consomme and chicken pho with rice noodles. You could have a whole meal just of appetizers; these include satay, shrimp tempura, pot stickers, spring rolls, green papaya salad and ribs.
Then the menu is divided into four styles of entrees. Under "water" is seafood; the steamed snapper in rice paper sounded better than it tasted (needed more, er, water), but the hot pot with shrimp, clams, squid and more is delicious, as is the lime-glazed sea bass. In the "wood" category are meats like beef tenderloin and Cantonese duck. "Fire," as befits the name, specializes in spicy dishes like curry coconut chicken and Szechuan shrimp. And "earth" is dedicated to vegetarian entrees like sesame udon noodles and five-spice seitan and tempeh.
You can also choose from a sushi and sashimi menu in lieu of the starters or as an entree.
Desserts at Tamarind are also quite good; mango cloud, a souffle accented with mango sorbet, is the most unique.
Another new-to-Holland America concept is Canaletto, which is open from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m., and, again, reservations are recommended. This Italian-American-influenced restaurant, tucked away in a corner of Lido, is the most family-friendly of the three, but it still has ambience (cheerful Asian waters who've assumed Italian nicknames for the evening, white linen-covered tables, and a sort of open kitchen aura, as pastas are made out in the Lido). The menu offers fewer choices than others onboard, but it wasn't hard to find something I was in the mood for.
You start with "antipasti e Zuppe" (appetizers and soup), where choices include a rather plain green salad, minestrone and seafood soup. Though most Italian restaurants feature a pasta course before the mains, on Eurodam, Canaletto jumps right in. Entrees include penne alla vodka, meat lasagna, chicken marsala scaloppini or spaghetti with meatballs. More exotic and worth the caloric splurge are desserts -- the trio of tiramisu serves up bite-sized samples of espresso, lemon and Amaretto.
The wine list primarily focuses on bottles, red and white, of the affordable Canaletto (produced by an Italian winery that just happens to have the same name). There is no service charge for dining at Canaletto.
Full-service lunching, while seemingly losing favor among today's more contemporary cruise travelers, is alive and well on Eurodam. Beyond the buffet, other Holland America ships traditionally open their main restaurants for lunch every day (and on sea days, perhaps, the Pinnacle Grill). On Eurodam, it's a little different. The three full-service restaurants -- the Rembrandt, Pinnacle Grill and Tamarind -- rotate serving lunch. One day, for instance, I lunched at Tamarind, which offers a set menu of sweet-and-sour soup, salad, and a range of dim sum. (The crab Rangoon was stellar.) There is no additional charge.
On another day, it was Pinnacle Grill's turn. The lunch menu included a robust tenderloin with blue cheese crust, salads, French onion soup and fish dishes; I tried an interesting bruschetta with meaty, sweet shrimp and then a cheeseburger with cooked onions and English bacon that was the best I've ever had anywhere. Add on the chocolate brownie that's served only at lunch (like a molten chocolate cake), and, yes, you'll waddle away genuinely satisfied. The charge to have lunch there is $10.
And on still another day, Rembrandt was open, serving a more typical HAL menu with soups, entree salads, sandwiches and desserts. There's no additional charge to dine there.
In-cabin food service is available 24 hours a day, and Holland America does a particularly good job with breakfast options, which include continental and hot dishes. Choices include eggs, cereals and pastries. Beyond breakfast, there are three other options for in-cabin dining. The menu offered from noon to 10 p.m. features heartier fare, offering entrees, in addition to soups, salads, and sandwiches. You can also order room service from the Rembrandt main dining room menu during dinner hours. Finally, the 24-hour menu is a bit more limited with a handful of items, such as a salad or two, burgers, club sandwiches and a trio of desserts.