Paul Gauguin Dining

4.5 / 5.0
316 reviews
Escargot on Paul Gauguin (Photo: Chris Gray Faust)
Moonfish ready to be carved on Paul Gauguin (Photo: Chris Chin)
French butter on Paul Gauguin (Photo: Chris Gray Faust)
Cheeses at a lunch buffet on Paul Gauguin (Photo: Chris Gray Faust)
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Editor Rating
5.0
Excellent
Dining
Chris Gray Faust
Executive Editor, U.S.

The food on Paul Gauguin is outstanding and has been raised a notch since Ponant took over the line in 2019. Expect French touches to permeate the cuisine throughout the ship, reflecting both the ship’s owner and the islands that you’re visiting; French Polynesian food skillfully combines tropical flavors with Gallic-influenced sauces and preparations.

All three restaurants on Paul Gauguin are included in your fare, as well as room service. You will need to make reservations for two of the restaurants, La Veranda (the ship’s French restaurant) and Le Grill (the ship’s more casual Polynesian offering). It’s wise to make these on your first day, as the spots do book up.

Breakfast and lunch are buffets served in La Veranda and Le Grill with a wide array of offerings. You can also order omelets in the morning, and at lunch there are hot choices such as cheeseburgers if you don’t like what’s served (although the buffets are so extensive, you may go your entire cruise without ordering from the lunch menu).

Alcohol is included in your Paul Gauguin fare, and wines are poured liberally at lunch and dinner. If you don’t like what’s on offer – say you prefer Sauvignon Blanc to Chardonnay – the servers are happy to substitute. Most of the varietals are French, with a few Chilean or New Zealand choices thrown in. The ship has a premium wine list as well.

Restaurants on Paul Gauguin

L’Etoile (Deck 5): L’Etoile serves as the ship’s main dining room for dinner. The menu is wide-ranging, with a choice of four appetizers, three soups, two salads, two pastas, an intermezzo sorbet, and four entrée specialties. You obviously don’t have to order each course; you can eat as much or as little as you like (including multiple appetizers or desserts, if that’s your inclination).

There is also a light and healthy menu, where some of the daily items are given slightly different preparations (served with grilled vegetables, as opposed to sweet potato puree, for example). Vegetarians have at least one choice, and vegan selections are also marked. A menu of always available items, including steak, chicken breast and New Zealand salmon, are also on order.

Fish is a highlight onboard Paul Gauguin, and local catches are featured most days. Because of the ship’s French leanings, expect French butter, baguettes and other bread to be served liberally. Cheese plates are also available as a dessert substitute (or in addition to). The dessert menu is tempting, with two “sensations” served daily, as well as a “simplicity” dessert, a sugar-free choice and a frozen sundae (as well as premium and diet ice cream choices).

We had no dud meals in L’Etoile on an 11-day voyage, and very few disappointing menu items. The service is charming and efficient; we liked our waiter Manny so much that we kept coming back to the same table.

La Veranda (Deck 6): The ship’s French restaurant is a favorite at lunch, with elaborate theme buffets (such as Italian, Asian, Mediterranean, etc.) There is a wide range of dishes on offer, from hot entrees to cold salads, as well as a daily carving station. Desserts and cheeses are also well represented. During lunch, there is also outdoor seating.

Dinner is where La Veranda shines. The menu is broken into two sections, the degustation and the dinner, although you can mix and match courses from both. We ate here twice, and thoroughly enjoyed the chef’s unusual creations, such as an escargot mixed with mushrooms and a poached egg. The offered wines here are slightly elevated from L’Etoile, although here again the sommeliers are happy to bring you what you want (and are also happy to make course by course pairing suggestions).

Le Grill (Deck 8): The ship’s most casual restaurant is adjacent to the pool, but it’s more elegant than a typical waterside buffet. It’s a great place when you want that feeling of dining al fresco with sea breezes, while remaining under a cover. The buffet at breakfast is particularly enticing, with an emphasis on fresh fruit and pastries (although you can also get eggs, bacon, sausage, French toast, bagels with smoked salmon and really anything else you want). Le Grill also has an espresso machine, so it’s one place you know you can get an Americano (Paul Gauguin would benefit from having a self-service coffee machine where guests could get their own lattes and drinks during the day).

The lunch menu at Le Grill is the same as the buffet downstairs in La Veranda, although we felt the humidity was often too much at the heat of the day. Le Grill is also where the ship sets up its 4 p.m. daily tea service, which is heavy on the scones and desserts.

At night, Le Grill turns into a specialty Polynesian restaurant that is slightly more casual than the other venues (you can wear shorts and flip flops, for example). We found the food to be slightly less refined here – this was the one venue where our fish was overcooked, for example – and the wait staff seemed less polished. Still, you’ll want to try it at least once so you can experience French Polynesian flavors.

La Palette (Deck 8): This bar/activity space has a continental breakfast in the mornings that goes from 6 a.m. until 10 a.m. for both early and late risers.

Room Service: Room service is available 24-7, and there are a nice variety of casual choices, ranging from appetizers to soups to sandwiches and hot entrees that go beyond burgers to beef tenderloin, grilled chicken and salmon. When L’Etoile is open, you can order items from that menu and have them delivered to your room for no fee.

Cards for room service breakfast are put out every night. We found the delivery times a bit hit or miss.

Cruise Critic Restaurant Picks on Paul Gauguin

Honestly, we had so many great meals on Paul Gauguin, we don’t know where to start. The buffets in La Veranda were outstanding, especially if you worked up an appetite during a morning snorkel or bike ride. L’Etoile was consistently delicious. While Le Grill wasn’t as successful, we adored the mango mousse made with local fruit. At dinner in La Veranda, don’t be afraid of the chef’s more creative pairings such as the foie gras on tuna sashimi. And finally, don’t miss the crème brulee made with Tahitian vanilla beans.

Dietary Restrictions on Paul Gauguin

Passengers with dietary restrictions or allergies are encouraged to let the company know at least 60 days before the cruise by calling a special hotline. When you board, you are encouraged to set up a time with the Maitre d’Hotel to review your requirements.

Restaurants

  • Bar du Soleil - Top Deck Bar
  • L'Etoile Restaurant - International
  • La Veranda - Casual / Gourmet Evenings
  • Le Grill - Casual
  • Le Palette Lounge - Cocktails
  • Piano Bar - Piano Bar
  • Pool Bar - Pool Bar
  • * May require additional fees

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