Le Bordelais Restaurant is the main dining venue onboard. Breakfast is served from 7 a.m. until 9 a.m., lunch from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. and dinner from 7 p.m. until 9 p.m. In this expansive room, done in country brasserie style, there are four tables for two, 13 tables for four, six tables for six and four tables for eight. The color scheme is in attractive shades of blue, including cornflower velour banquettes and slate upholstery on chairs with matching tie-back cushions and blue blinds. Mirrored walls at either end of the room give an enhanced sense of space.
The dining room features a central buffet with four hot chafing dishes, with chefs on hand at breakfast to cook any items that are requested. The buffet is also the focus at lunch, offering a good selection of salad items, fresh baguettes (brought onboard daily) and a wide variety of virgin olive oils and balsamic vinegars.
All meals reflect the great French gastronomic tradition. A typical lunch menu includes a range of delicious salads, as well as a salad bar, soups, sides, pasta and a sandwich of the day. Hot entrees could be a whole roasted prime rib of beef on the carving board or fish casserole with mussels. Indulgent desserts include the French baked fruit dessert clafoutis and dark chocolate mousse with berries. Not surprisingly, a selection of the finest French cheese is always available.
A typical dinner menu may include dishes like foie gras, vegetable consomme or lobster soup with Armagnac, a fish entree or a meat dish, such as longe de veau rotie, rolled veal served with rich sauce Bearnaise. This is followed by a selection of cheeses and assorted condiments, as well as desserts including Le St-Honore 2014 (made with profiteroles, caramel cream, chocolate ganache, crisp puff pastry and cappuccino ice cream). Tea, coffee and petits fours round off the meal. The dining team can easily cater to vegetarians.
Wine-lovers will appreciate the complimentary white and red Bordeaux wines served onboard, while true enophiles may wish to purchase vintages from the "connoisseur selection." River Royale is the only Uniworld ship with a sommelier. On our cruise, Sebastien (appropriately from the Cognac region in France) had an encyclopedic knowledge of French wines and chose all the Bordeaux wines served throughout the cruise.
To the starboard side of the entrance to Le Bordelais Restaurant is the Claret Room. This dramatic room has a rectangular table of blue marble, surrounded by 12 carved wooden chairs set on a white marble-tiled floor. Two elegant silver candelabra and a silver vase with orchids grace the center of the table. The walls on three sides are mirrored with quirky French cafe- style prints and artwork. A complimentary special menu is served there several times during a week's cruise, and diners have to sign up in advance for the popular event.
The Blue Fox Cafe, aft on the Sun Deck, is a glass-enclosed collapsible structure. It has an elegant decor of blue-tiled floor with leather banquettes on one side. This chic room has 14 tables, which seat two, four or six. All around the windows are planters containing a variety of herbs, which create a pleasant conservatory-style ambiance.
Lunchtime pizzas, burgers, salads and other American comfort foods are served there several times during each cruise. This room also comes into its own on two evenings, with a complimentary set menu that features classic French dishes. The Blue Fox is also open after dinner each evening, when a steward serves drinks from the main bar.
A coffee station with a Franke coffee machine is located in the lounge on La Gironde Deck. There's also an assortment of teas by Newby, glass pitchers of ice water and unsweetened iced tea, and cookies. This is where early-riser and late-riser breakfasts are served. Items include yogurt, juice, diced fresh fruit, pain-au-chocolats and croissants. The Blues Cafe on Bordeaux Deck also has a Franke coffee machine and cooled water dispenser where, prior to going on tour, passengers can fill up the water flasks that are supplied in all staterooms.