Lafayette Dining

Editor Rating
Very Good
Maria Harding

All meals are taken in the restaurant on Upper Deck. Like all Lafayette's public rooms, the restaurant is decorated in white and looks clean, elegant and sophisticated, with crisp tablecloths and smart napery.

Food is varied and, as Lafayette cruises through Holland, Germany, France and Switzerland, it reflects European tastes.

Some of the more Germanic dishes might be something of an acquired taste (gizzard pate, anyone?), but passengers willing to do as the locals do and try specialties like sauerkraut with smoked meats or pate de foie gras served on warm brioche and washed down (as it should be) with chilled sweet wine, will go home feeling they've had a taste of authentic European cuisine.

Cream soups and desserts, which include an airy apricot sponge cake with whipped cream, are excellent, and the weekly Gala Dinner -- which, on our sailing, started with roast quail and ended in traditional cruise style with a baked Alaska parade -- went over very well.

There was little listed on daily menus in terms of vegetarian or gluten-/sodium-free options, but passengers receive details of all menus in advance and can give notice if they're following low-sodium, gluten-free, kosher, halal or other special diets, or if there is something on the menu they cannot eat, and alternatives will be provided.

Breakfast (which ends at 9:30 a.m., so prepare to rise early) is served buffet-style, with fruit salad, a fair selection of cereals, yogurt, hot bacon, sausage, scrambled eggs and a good range of freshly baked bread and croissants. You can also make your own toast and boil your own eggs in a clever contraption which allows you to boil it for as little or as long as you like.

Lunch and dinner times are rendered a lot more convivial by glasses of wine, now included in the fares. Three whites, three reds and two rose wines are available, including a lovely Alsacian white, a respectable French Chardonnay and decent Merlot and Cote du Rhone. Mineral water flows freely, too, so passengers needn't fear getting too tiddly. The coffee onboard is also excellent -- rich, thick, piping hot and aromatic.

Though quite a lot of wine is included, wine buffs shouldn't feel confined, though, as other wines are available at reasonable cost (from $24 for a bottle of 2012 Reisling or $27 for a 2012 Gewurztraminer to $41 for a bottle of Margaux and $48 for a bottle of Lanson Champagne).

Free drinks in the main lounge bar include aperitifs with gin, vodka, whiskey, beer, Martini and Campari (and mixers), a wide range of soft drinks, speciality tea and coffee, cognac, German brandy or pear eau de vie, but you'll pay extra for some branded drinks like Glenfiddich, Jack Daniels and Malibu ($7.50 a shot) and Armagnac, Baileys and VSOP cognac ($6).

Simple snacks like peanuts and pretzels are served in the bar before dinner. Lafayette has no room service.

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