Celebrity Silhouette Dining
Silhouette's banquet hall is the Grand Cuvee Dining Room, a cavernous space that features flying buttresses, a room-filling chandelier resembling an iridescent jellyfish, and a shimmering metallic wine tower occupied by 1,800 bottles. (Cuvee means vat or tank in French wine-speak.) Credit designer Adam Tihany, the man behind New York City's Per Se and Vegas' Seablue, with creating one of the most striking main dining rooms afloat.
For dinner, passengers can opt for early (6 p.m.) or late (8:30 p.m.) set seating or go with "Celebrity Select Dining," which offers open dining between 6 and 9:30 p.m. Passengers choosing the flex-dining option can pre-reserve space (online up to four days before sail date or while onboard) or walk in at any time during the allotted hours.
Menus consist of appetizers, soups and salads, entrees, and desserts. Expect a combination of standard favorites like herb-crusted fish, pork chops and prime rib, and traditional cruise "luxury items" like beef tournedos, pate and Cornish game hen.
For vegetarians, there are always meat-free options like eggplant napoleon or veggie paella. Lower-calorie dishes, like baked fish and sugar-free cakes, are designated with a little heart. If nothing on the rotating menu suffices, "always available" choices, from soups to desserts, include escargot, lobster bisque, steak, chicken and creme brulee.
Passengers can bring their own wine onboard, but there's a $25-per-bottle corkage fee to drink it in the dining room -- one of the highest in cruise travel.
The dining room is open-seating for breakfast and lunch. Classic dishes like eggs Benedict and made-to-order omelets are served for breakfast. The lunch menu offers the typical soups (including a chilled soup), salads and hot entrees. Passengers can also order items like burgers and dogs from the grill.
Those looking for food without fanfare should head to Silhouette's top-ship 24-hour buffet, the Oceanview Cafe. The ovular space features various "action stations" positioned along the loop -- pizza, pasta and stir-fry bars; Asian (sushi) and British comfort food (fish 'n' chips, shepherd's pie); sandwiches; and a build-a-salad bar. Readers and editors agree: Celebrity's buffet, featuring an excellent range of International cuisine and standards, is one of the best in big-ship cruising.
For dinner with a view, head up and sternward to the top-ship Lawn Club Grill, a Silhouette/Reflection exclusive where passengers wear the aprons and flip the filets. The 58-seat venue is a $40-per-person concept that marries a cooking lesson, all-you-can-eat churrascaria and pizzeria. (That type of marriage is illegal in several states.) Here's how it works: Under the tutelage of a Celebrity chef, one member per party transforms into the "grill master," an everyman superhero who selects the cuts, applies the rubs and sears the meats. Choose your grill master carefully -- our filet came out pleading for its life. (It was returned to the grill, still screaming, and then eaten.) Appetizers come in the form of made-to-order pizza -- kneaded and topped by a passenger pizza-maker -- and selections from the salad bar.
Nearby is the Porch, a casual, new-to-Silhouette venue serving paninis, fruits and salads for breakfast and lunch. The Porch, whose design is inspired by a rich guy's porch in the Hamptons, carries a $5-per-person cover.
Lawn Clubgoers can also order picnic baskets from the line. These start at $50 and might include sandwiches, sides and desserts. A bottle of wine also comes standard.
Back inside, the standard cluster of Solstice-class alternative restaurants is located on Deck 5 (Entertainment Deck). These include Murano, serving rich French-Continental cuisine ($45); Tuscan Grille, a northern Italian steakhouse with lovely wake views ($45, try the ribeye); Blu, the Mediterranean restaurant focusing on ever-so-slightly lighter fare (ahi tuna, grilled chicken); and Qsine, a quirky venue where passengers order off iPads, and no dish is served on a standard plate. (A Middle Eastern sampler comes in what looks like an Ikea shelving unit, while spring rolls are served in actual metal springs). It's $45 per person to dine at Qsine. Two caveats: First, Blu is designated for passengers staying in Silhouette's AquaSpa cabins (who eat free), but the venue is available nightly to everyone else on a first-come, first-served basis and for a $5 fee. Second, Celebrity offers alternative dining packages, bookable in advance, that offer savings of some 20 to 30 percent over retail.
If you're not full yet, there are more dining options in Silhouette's indoor public hub, encompassing Decks 4 and 5. The two-deck space is airy -- which means the scent of cooking waffles from the gelateria and crepes from its creperie are free to waft. It's almost as if Celebrity is pumping the drool-inducing smell through the ventilation system. It's the type of scent that seeps in the subconscious ... and makes you want to pay $10 for crepes at Bistro on 5 or a few dollars for chocolate gelato in a waffle cup. The venue also sells specialty coffee drinks.
Finally, the room service menu, which includes sandwiches, salads and snacks, is offered 24 hours a day. Between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m., there's a $3.95 charge for passengers in interior, oceanview and balcony staterooms.