One Cruise Line Says It's OK to Play With Your Food

February 24, 2010
Sushi lollipops, spring rolls set in actual springs, filet mignon on a painter's palette with different sauces as the "paints," and decorate-your-own cupcakes served in a bento box -- these are some of the menu items to be found in a new restaurant debuting onboard Celebrity Eclipse when it launches this April. The eatery will be called Qsine (pronounced "cue-zeen").

In a teleconference this morning, Celebrity Cruises' executive chef Jacques Van Staden introduced the playful concept behind this new onboard alternative eatery. However, we got an early tip-off that something was in the works when we dined with Jacques van Staden onboard Celebrity Constellation last fall. At the time, he told us he was excited about doing something creative, different and fun -- a "180-degree approach to food."

The takeaway from today's announcement? Qsine will take a modern and whimsical approach to familiar dishes and childhood favorites from around the world.

Here are some of the unexpected elements you can expect to find:

Unique menus. Printed menus are so passe! Qsine has created three unusual menus. The dinner menu (a separate vegetarian menu is also available) is backlit -- press a button and it lights up so you can read it. The wine menu is presented on an iTouch with interactive features, allowing you to read descriptions and see labels of the wines. The dessert menu comes in the form of a magic cube that you unfold to reveal your dessert options. But don't worry -- there are regular paper copies for the technologically challenged.

No courses. There are no courses here (except for a separate dessert menu) and food is served family-style and meant to be shared. Figure on two to three courses per person, depending on how hungry you are. Enomatic wine dispensers called eno-kiosks will be available so passengers can pair each dish with a different glass of wine, though wine will also be available by the bottle.

No plates. All dishes will be served in custom-made dishes including martini glasses, jam jars and stands of various shapes and sizes.

Interactive elements. You have to work for your dinner at Qsine! That might mean assembling your own Kobe beef sliders or mixing your own guacamole tableside with a mortar and pestle. We've noticed this hands-on culinary trend on other ships as well, with the popularity of cooking demonstrations, such as Holland America's Culinary Arts Center.

Funky decor. Qsine's color scheme is orange, brown and cream, which extends from the menus to the custom-designed asymmetrical waiter's uniforms to the physical space. The unusual furnishings will feature four different types of dinner chairs, with mismatched shapes and colors.

Qsine will be located on Celebrity Eclipse -- and all future Solstice-class ships -- in the space Silk Harvest occupies on Celebrity Solstice and Celebrity Equinox. (The new restaurant won't be making an appearance on these older ships; Silk Harvest remains.)

Qsine will be open nightly from 6 until 11 p.m. with no age restrictions and a smart casual-or-nicer dress code. The surcharge to dine here will be $30 a person.

--by Erica Silverstein, Senior Editor