By moving chefs between the classic and expedition fleets, Silver Explorer now offers a more sophisticated, elegant and varied dining experience than before. Modern European cuisine is primarily showcased, prepared with fresh regional ingredients and light sauces. The menu concept is continual, no matter where the ship travels. Executive chefs stock up in major ports to secure continuity of product and cuisine.
Lunch and dinnertime choices are plentiful and often star labor-intensive dishes and fancy garnishes. Vegetarian and gluten-free choices are available. (For other dietary concerns, let Silversea know in advance, and the line will cater to nearly any request.) All meals are open seating, with tables for two and up. Both The Restaurant and The Grill are complimentary.
The Restaurant (Deck 4): The Restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. You can dine as you wish -- with other passengers or at tables for two. Tables for four are often converted to two, per passenger request.
Breakfast is displayed on a permanent expansive buffet lining one side of The Restaurant. Choices consist of juices, fresh-blended health smoothies, cereals, nuts and seeds, smoked salmon, egg dishes, bacon, cheeses, pastries, fresh and dried fruit, and freshly baked breads. You can order pancakes, waffles and omelets cooked as requested.
Lunch is a substantial buffet featuring a soup and pasta of the day (both excellent), changing daily roasted meat like turkey or pork carved to order, a spicy Asian dish and chafing dishes filled with grilled or sauteed fish and chicken, vegetables, rice and potatoes. Occasionally, a gala table showcases a big cheese or local fish display, and, if you're lucky, caviar and blinis purchased during a Russian cruise. Desserts include tarts, cakes, cookies, pies and fresh fruit.
Dinner includes a chef-recommended menu, plus five courses of a la carte selections, with waiter service. (Most passengers go all-out, so don't hold back.) Selections include appetizers like fricassee of forest mushrooms; an intermezzo of soup or pasta such as risotto with aged Parmesan and asparagus; sorbet of the day; entrees such as whole free-range chicken roasted in rock salt, or beef Wellington; and desserts such as passion fruit cream with honey-roasted pear. Petits fours are presented nightly.
Complimentary wines are both New and Old World, and include modest-priced but decent bottles like California's Bogle Merlot, and the Italian Custodi Belloro Orvieto Classico. The Connoisseur's Wine List features high-end Champagnes like Dom Perignon and Bollinger, first-growth Burgundy, Italian Super Tuscans and Australia's stellar Leeuwin Estate Chardonnay Art Series. And for big spenders, what better way to complete dinner than with Chateau d'Yquem Sauternes?
Afternoon Tea (Deck 5): Afternoon tea is an elaborate affair served in The Panorama Lounge, usually around 4 p.m., for one hour. An extensive Ronnefeldt loose-tea menu includes some 10 varieties, such as Jasmine Pearls green tea, classic English black tea and Dung Ti Oolong. Passengers sit at cloth-covered tables on comfy leather couches and chairs, nibbling goodies served on a three-tier silver tray.
The assortment includes small sandwiches, such as smoked salmon or cucumber, pound cakes and cookies, and tiny fruit and chocolate tarts. Buttermilk, raisin or chocolate-chip scones with clotted cream, butter and assorted jams are served on request.
The Grill (Deck 6): The Grill is a small, open-air venue, with a fabulous ocean view and a handful of casual patio tables. It's open for lunch, cocktails and dinner, weather permitting. Reservations should be made for dinner. Even in chilly or downright frosty weather, The Grill will serve meals. (Of course, in inclement weather -- think high winds, rain -- The Grill closes.) Hearty passengers put on insulated jackets and hats, and servers provide thick wool blankets in Polar Regions.
At lunchtime, a small salad buffet includes charcuterie, smoked salmon and open-faced sandwiches. The menu includes hamburgers, hot dogs and grilled fish. Sometimes cooks add a specialty, like a panini pressed to order.
At dinner, the menu is "hot rocks," where passengers are supplied bibs and cook veal and pork chops, steaks and salmon over heated volcanic rock plates. Peruse the small menu for guacamole, salsa and tortilla chips, then begin with a salad like Caesar. Sides include baked potatoes with all the trimmings and vegetable skewers. Apple pie or mousse constitutes dessert.
Room Service: In-suite dining is available 24 hours a day and is complimentary. Breakfast can be ordered the night before (convenient for early-morning outings) and includes cappuccinos, omelets and three types of bacon. Lunch and dinner choices include salads, matzo ball soup, sandwiches, pasta and steak. Butlers deliver all meals and elegantly set the small table. During The Restaurant's dinner hours, you can order off the evening menu, and butlers can serve the meal course by course.