Seabourn Quest Dining
Seabourn Quest has a main dining room, The Restaurant, and a lovely, less-formal space, The Colonnade, on Deck 8. There are also various smaller options. These include Restaurant 2, which offers tasting menus; the Patio Grill on the pool deck, which has excellent salads, swordfish skewers and burgers for lunch; and Seabourn Square, where you can get specialty coffees, pastries and cakes all day. There is no extra charge for any dining option.
The main dining room is the same as the one on Seabourn Sojourn -- elegant, light, bright and mainly cream and white, with gauzy drapes and backlit, opaque panels. Dining is open-seating, and all 450 passengers can be accommodated at once. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served there every day, and there's an always-available menu, as well as the daily offering, which changes every 24 hours. Breakfast includes full cooked options, including dishes like Eggs Benedict, as well as fruit, pastries, cereals and smoked salmon. Lunch is full waiter service, with salads, starters, mains and desserts, usually slightly lighter than the dinner menu and with some dishes that reflect the region in which the ship is sailing.
For dinner, the emphasis is on international cuisine with a touch of French influence. Portions are small and elegantly presented, and multiple courses always include fish and a vegetarian option. Typical dishes might be seafood tempura, grilled filet mignon, crispy-skin sauteed salmon and roast poussin, with an always-available menu of plainer dishes and comfort food -- shrimp cocktail, penne with tomato sauce, and sirloin steak.
Specific menu items change, but we enjoyed an exquisite smoked salmon tartar, a superb celeriac "cappuccino" and a herb-crusted halibut, followed by chocolate cake with a liquid center, none of which we could fault.
One comment, though; the service is too quick for European diners, who like to linger over their meals. Plates are whipped away as soon as you've finished, and the next course brought without any break. The waitstaff needs to learn to distinguish between European and American diners and tailor the service accordingly.
The Colonnade is a lovely place to dine, especially on the stern deck on a sunny evening, when there are themed menus and waiter service. This restaurant is used for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Breakfast is part buffet, part menu, with specials of the day like crabmeat omelettes or eggs Benedict. Lunch is themed; on our cruise, there was a Greek day (although the food didn't seem especially Greek) and a British theme, with roast beef or fish and chips. But whether or not you want the themed dishes, the salads and cold appetizers are delicious, and there's always a choice of more regular items like pasta or steaks.
The Colonnade doesn't feel like a buffet restaurant; there are no lines, the food is displayed on delicately-sized plates, and waiters will always help you find somewhere to sit and carry your plate. One criticism: Opening times seemed rather brief there; lunch is from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., but on one occasion at least, everything was cleared by 1:30 p.m.
Restaurant 2 is a special-occasion venue in a long, narrow space, with tables for two or six. (The twos go fast, and there are no fours, so book early.) It features a colourful, somewhat eccentric tasting menu of seven courses of exquisite little dishes that come in threes (so, for example, three bite-sized portions of different fish dishes as one of the courses), all beautifully presented. The food, a twist on French nouvelle cuisine with some Asian influences -- fois gras creme brulee, for example, or shellfish cappuccino, or pan-seared quail breast, or lobster with lemongrass, is prepared by two chefs who do nothing else but serve this restaurant. The idea is that everybody gets to eat there once during a weeklong cruise and, as such, the menu may not change for a week, although there are four different variations. Because the food is so special, there are no deviations from the menu, so it's not great for vegetarians.
Seabourn Square's coffee bar does a busy trade all day. The initial aim of the Square was to take away the feeling of waiting in line at a reception area and replace it with a kind of cyber-cafe/library/coffee shop. It's really worked well, with a constant and pleasant buzz of activity, particularly at morning coffee and afternoon tea time, when pastries and cakes appear.
For those who want a more private dining experience, the dinner menu from The Restaurant can be served course-by-course in the suite, either inside or on the balcony. A room service menu of comfort food -- burgers, steaks and club sandwiches, for example, is always available. And for sheer indulgence, if you're sitting at the bar on deck and suddenly feel the need for (gratis) caviar, a platter of caviar and blinis will be presented. Watch one table order this, and then watch the rest follow.