Silver Dawn has eight restaurants onboard, plus full room service menus that you can access any time you want a nosh. High-end ingredients and dishes are the norm, not the exception -- although you can still get a hot dog or hamburger at the Grill or by room service (where there's a foie gras option, to give you a benchmark).
Dining is an event on this ship, particularly at dinner. People still dress up on Silversea -- perhaps even more so after the COVID-19 pandemic --and what's described as "informal" is still the upper end of resort wear.
No jeans are allowed in any restaurant after 6 p.m. and there is no buffet where you can retreat if you don't want to gussy up. The casual option for dinner on board is Hot Rocks, where you grill your own food. The Arts Cafe and the Spaccanapoli outdoor pizzeria are also open for lighter options until 11 p.m. New on Silver Dawn is the Otium comfort food room service menu, which is anything but down market. You can also order anything from Atlantide in your suite, which will be served course-by-course.
Drinks are included in your Silversea fare, and a selection of wines is presented every evening at dinner. If you don't like the varietal that's featured that night, just tell the sommelier and they'll bring you a different one. A menu of premium wines is also available for sale.
Atlantide (Deck 4): Open for all three meals, this elegant restaurant serves as Silver Dawn's main dining room. The menu is extensive and upscale, with an array of options for starters, salads and soups, entrees and desserts. Multiple vegetarian entrees are available; for all other diets, allergies and gluten issues are noted in your profile, and the waiter will reconfirm with you before you order.
Caviar is a particular favorite with Silversea regulars, and the Oscietra appetizer comes with blinis and all the traditional condiments (you can also order caviar on demand in your room 24/7, a Silversea hallmark). The menu has very few clunkers, and the presentations are inventive and sometimes unexpected.
Tip: Even if you're a chocoholic, step out of your comfort zone and try one of the changing fruit-based desserts. They are among the best we've had at sea; the lemon merengue tart was both delicious and Instagrammable.
La Terrazza (Deck 7): This expansive space does double duty for dining. For breakfast and lunch, it serves as the ship's buffet, with loads of stations and choices. Favorites for us include the daily sushi and sashimi, the pasta/noodle station and the array of desserts that are so nicely portioned controlled, you don't feel bad indulging. You can sit indoors or outdoors for al fresco dining.
At night, La Terrazza turns into an incredible high-end Italian restaurant. You could just get a burrata salad and pasta if you want, and you'd be fine. But we recommend coming hungry, as you're going to want to eat as many courses as you can. All pastas can be ordered as full or half portions. It's worth noting that the service in this restaurant was the best we had on the ship, with a waiter who worked overtime to make sure a person in our party with a nut allergy could avoid having issues and brought special treats to the table throughout.
S.A.L.T. Kitchen (Deck 4): Perhaps one of the most ambitious restaurants at sea, S.A.L.T. Kitchen offers an experience that would be classified as a specialty restaurant on almost any other cruise line. The S.A.L.T. Kitchen concept is to be as local as possible, and to that end, the menu at the restaurant changes almost daily, depending on the port.
During our Portugal cruise, the menu highlighted the country as well as other dishes from the larger Iberian Peninsula. The specific Terrain menu went deep into Porto, where we had stopped that day, while the larger Voyages menu was broader, with other Portuguese ports, as well as Spain represented. The wines served were from Portugal.
We loved having such a specific culinary lens into the destination onboard. For adventurous eaters, S.A.L.T. is unlike anything you'd find on any other cruise line. I'm still dreaming of the serradura, a Portuguese caramel creme that, the menu taught me, is also popular in the former colonies of Macau and Goa.
Tip: You can scope out the menus at S.A.L.T. Kitchen from your TV to figure out what port you'd enjoy the most.
Silver Note (Deck 7): Romantic and quirky at the same time, Silver Note serves as both a restaurant and a jazz club. Small plates are the focus here, although they are not meant for sharing; each of you orders several of your own. Expect both raw and cooked options and interesting presentations.
The Grill/Hot Rocks (Deck 10): Silver Dawn's pool grill has sandwiches, burgers and fries, appetizers such as hummus platters and salads. The sweet potato fries are to die for.
At night, the Grill turns into Hot Rocks, a Silversea favorite where patrons grill their own food over lava stones. It's not our cup of tea -- we like professional chefs for a reason, plus we're wary of hot oil -- but people do love its more casual nature and al fresco vibe.
Spaccanapoli (Deck 11): If you're looking for authentic Neopolitan-style pizza, this outdoor eatery is your spot. The crust is perfectly crackly and there are a variety of options -- or you can build your own.
Tip: If it's chilly or windy, ask the waiters to bring you an outdoor shawl. There are also heat lamps. Another tip: Save room for the housemade gelato.
Arts Cafe (Deck 8): This sunny coffee shop is the perfect place to start your morning with a latte, a mini fruit smoothie and -- in our case -- the perfect cronut. You can also get wraps and light bites here all day long, as well as pastries and cookies (including a selection of gluten-free).
Room Service: Room service is not an afterthought on Silver Dawn, as Silversea recognizes that not everyone wants to go out to dinner every night on a longer cruise. You can put out the hanger in the evening for a complete breakfast in your cabin; have a pizza delivered to you any time of day or set up your own romantic course-by-course dinner for two.
New for Silversea is the Otium comfort food menu. These bites are particular decadent and range from truffled popcorn to a lobster and crab roll. Our only sadness is that the Otium items are only available during the dinner hour, as we really wanted that foie gras burger for lunch one day.
Kaiseki (Deck 4) $$$: Silversea's Japanese restaurant is another that does double duty. At lunch, it's a complimentary sushi bar. And at dinner, it turns into a high-end restaurant, with an omakase menu that has more cooked than raw items -- think kushiyaki and yakitori skewers and tempura and cooked main courses such as Maine lobster and Wagyu beef surf and turf and miso-glazed black cod.
La Dame by Relais & Chateux (Deck 8) $$$$: If you're looking for a special occasion meal on a special occasion ship, La Dame is your venue. High-end French is the order of the day, and you'll definitely want to make your reservation as soon as you board, as seats go fast. (On Silver Dawn, La Dame is slightly larger than on other ships, just to keep up with demand.) Come hungry and know your tolerance for rich food, as La Dame has them all -- foie gras, escargot, caviar, beef, lobster, Chilean sea bass and a work-of-art souffle and cheese plate at the end.
It's not a Silversea cruise without ordering caviar at least once, be it in Atlantide or in your room. Likewise, a course-by-course room service dinner is an experience unique to luxury cruising. The pizzas at Spaccinapoli make a perfect lunch, and we're in love with the pastries at the Arts Cafe. For dinner, Kaiseki is a nice flavor break from otherwise indulgent and heavier meals. Finally, try S.A.L.T. Kitchen at least once.
While the Silversea menus do not contain a bevy of icons to handle food restrictions, the line takes a typically personal approach to helping people navigate dining options. Passengers fill out allergies, preferences and other dietary health needs ahead of the sailing, then meet with the chef on the first day to go over their requirements.
At that point, requirements are entered into your profile, which servers see in every restaurant when they call up your suite number. They confirm the requirements with you at the table and help point you in the right direction on what to eat and avoid.
This all seemed to work, in practice -- until it didn't. A friend with a nut allergy had received the necessary clearance for her dishes in S.A.L.T. Kitchen. Some cross-contamination must have occurred, as she experienced medical distress after eating a sauce that had been deemed safe. The ship did have an epi-pen and the medical staff to handle its administration without outside help. But even though the ship has separate gallies and the wherewithal to ask, mistakes can happen. This particular venue is possibly the most difficult for accommodating allergies and other restrictions, given how often the menu changes.