Seabourn Legend Dining
A major plus on Seabourn Legend was the unbelievable variety of eating options onboard for such a small vessel.
My favorite spot for dining was, three meals a day, in the Veranda Cafe. Ostensibly the ship's buffet venue, it also allows for made-to-order menu items. Breakfasts offered the usual array of cold items, from yogurts to cheeses and meats to cereal. You could place orders for egg dishes -- from poached to omelets. As well, a menu offered options like blueberry pancakes, cinnamon raison French toast and oatmeal.
Lunch worked the same way; an enticing array of salads and cold appetizers was spread across the buffet and to-order options each day included a hot and cold soup, a meat and fish selection as well as a pasta. Desserts were decadent, and there was always an ice cream of the day (including a sugar free option).
Always available was standard lunch fare, such as burgers and grilled chicken.
The quality of the cuisine at the Verandah Cafe was consistently excellent as was the service (never did you have to wait to place an order, ask for a drink refill, or request a glass of wine; house red and white was served at lunch). Wait staff also stood sentry by the buffet to carry your laden plate, and once you placed an order at the grill there was no waiting around; you found your table and it was brought to you.
Especially pleasing was the atmosphere -- tables covered with white linen were set both outdoors (my favorite spot, even on the windiest days) and indoors.
At night, the Veranda Cafe transforms itself. No buffet here, Restaurant 2 offers theme menus; one night it was bistro (outstanding -- the foie gras with quince compote, escargots classically cooked, a rich lobster bisque and grilled lamb chops ...). On another, Restaurant 2 was a trattoria and offered another fantastic menu, with starters like seared carpaccio, ricotta and potato ravioli, while mains featured a choice of osso bucco or swordfish steak. One night -- I didn't make it, alas -- Restaurant 2 was a steak house. One of its most interesting menus spotlights was tapas -- there are about a dozen small courses, highlights of which were the lobster corn dog with truffle sauce, the roasted salmon in sake ginger brine, and an amazingly decadent gingered almond and pumpkin nougatine. And you don't roll out of there groaning. The portions, quality and quantity, were perfect.
Editor's Note: There's one caveat: There's no "made to order" option during the theme evenings.
It's a testament to the chefs and wait staff at Restaurant 2 that one passenger I met, an Italian-born restaurateur who prior to his recent retirement operated a critically acclaimed eatery in Atlanta, spent most evenings here instead of the main dining room.
Speaking of which, The Restaurant, the ship's primary dining venue, was the least impressive eatery onboard. Let me qualify that by saying that the room itself was big and wide, boringly decorated, and institutional in ambience. While occasionally the cuisine would shine, just as often it would leave me cold. Literally; appetizers and entrees, while prepared to order, would arrive cool to the touch more often than they should.
And while I checked out the expansive breakfast and lunch menus, The Restaurant, whose exposure to the elements is relegated to a series of portholes, was rather depressing.
Still, dinners, regardless of the inconsistency of cuisine (and honestly, sometimes it was excellent, but at this level the food should be consistently outstanding), were a highlight of the cruise. Seabourn's "hosted tables" philosophy is a brilliant one; everyone from the captain, who on our voyage clearly enjoyed entertaining passengers at his table night after night, to members of the entertainment team, and from other senior officers to the spa director all issue invitations. It's a great way to meet your fellow passengers and also forge relationships with officers and staff. And it's not an exclusive thing, based on how much you spend or whether your conversation scintillates. Everybody gets invited -- there are plenty of hosted tables to go around.
Another alternative for dinner was the occasional grill event held out by the Sky Bar, above the pool deck. Surf and turf was the theme there one night, lamb another.
Back to breakfast, beyond the aforementioned, there's a lavish early riser's buffet laid out each morning in the Midnight Sun Lounge that goes way past the standard array of pastries you find on most ships. Afternoon tea, in which waiters serve crust-free sandwiches, scones with real clotted cream, and an assortment of beverages is also held here.
The grill by the Sky Bar was usually fired up at lunchtime and offered everything from the best gourmet hot dog ever to beef and vegetarian skewers.
And huge kudos to room service. For breakfast you can order just about anything you want, whether you use the usual card on the door or simply call down. My regular breakfast order of poached eggs on toast was always perfectly cooked and delivered in a timely fashion. You can order from The Restaurant menu during lunch and dinner; the latter is served course by course upon request (and was beautifully timed on the one night I tried it). And while not on the menu, don't hesitate to order up a serving of caviar and fixings (though it's an astonishingly meager portion) or freshly popped popcorn if you're staying in to watch a movie. The round-the-clock menu offers the usual suspects -- Caesar salad, sirloin steak, salmon, pizza, brownies and cheesecake.
The habit of placing both The Restaurant and Restaurant 2 dinner menus in each day's "Onboard Daily News" was a tremendous help in making choices.