River Anuket Dining
The warmly decorated, wood-paneled dining room is both inviting and attractive with the feeling of an earlier time and place, perhaps a small steamer or liner in the Mediterranean. Attractive paintings and fixtures hang from the end walls and the sides are window-lined with views of the Nile just feet below. It is designed and set for a single open seating, with a mix of tables for four, six or eight; passengers are encouraged to join others and the majority seem to enjoy the chance to engage different people as the days go by. The room's center features both a presentation/serving island and a U-shaped area allowing for either buffet service or final plating. The maitre d', Magdy, is present at every meal, greeting each guest as a returning friend. He insists on quick and attentive service from his staff for his guests and takes his job seriously while enjoying it.
Breakfast is buffet-style and excellently done. A full-range of cereals is presented just inside the room's entrance. After that, the center island is laid with bread, rolls, pastries and croissants, along with a variety of assorted fresh fruits, yogurts, jams and jellies. Following this is a manned station for omelets, pancakes, waffles or egg requests and a dual buffet with scrambled eggs, bacon, sausages, potatoes, oatmeal and a daily specialty. Service consoles hold pitchers of assorted juices and glassware. Tables are set with carafes of coffee and tea, as well as large bottles of chilled spring water (at all meals).
Lunch is also served as a buffet, with freshly baked breads and rolls followed by a serving island filled with a changing selection of prepared salads, as well as mixed greens and various toppings (the local tomatoes and cucumbers are incredible!) and a choice of vinaigrettes and dressings. Three different soups are offered (one is always fruit-based, called a flip though no one can explain why) and three to four entrees and sides, along with a featured Egyptian specialty, such as Beef-and-Rice Stuffed Peppers. Desserts are laid out on the service consoles; many diners check them out before starting the meal to make sure they leave enough room to enjoy the various cakes and tarts. Pitchers of excellent iced tea are always present along with the other beverages; the ice on the ship is made from filtered water.
Dinner is served in courses, and may or may not offer a choice of entrees, usually beef or fish though veal or turkey was the choice on Thanksgiving. There is also a separate vegetarian menu, and one night the entree selection, an onion tart, was better than the regular menu choices. Appetizers and salads were very good and all the soups excellent. Presentation is continental-style with lots of white space on the plates; seconds weren't offered. One night's dinner was an Egyptian buffet, with excellent lamb and vegetable dishes like a layered eggplant casserole, though most of us could have used more descriptive explanations of what was being served. Desserts were generally delicious, with one highlight being a frozen nougatine drizzled with dark chocolate; I must admit, though, that the onboard version of pumpkin pie was a total mystery to all.
There is no room service onboard. Beverage service is available in the bar forward of the lounge and also somewhat sporadically on the Sun Deck. A very limited wine list (yes, including Egyptian wines, which were passable) was made up of mostly unknown names (except for a pricey 2001 Medoc).