(2:55 p.m. EDT) -- During an exquisite dinner last night at New York City's three-Michelin-starred Le Bernardin, Disney Cruise Line revealed the next big surprise for its under-construction Disney Dream: A new specialty French restaurant, called Remy, will debut onboard. The concept -- which the line is terming its "first-ever premier dining option" -- is sophisticated and exclusively for adults, but not without Disney flair. After all, its namesake is the animated rat-turned-chef from the Disney Pixar movie "Ratatouille."
An intimate group of about three dozen food and travel journalists -- including Cruise Critic -- were invited for a taste of what to expect from Remy, namely culinary talent. But even though Le Bernardin is headed up by famous French chef Eric Ripert, Ripert wasn't doing the cooking. Disney has selected two award-winning chefs to collaborate on cuisine at Remy -- Chef Arnaud Lallement from l'Assiette Champenoise near Reims, France (who has two Michelin stars of his own and is friendly with Ripert), and Chef Scott Hunnel from award-winning Victoria & Albert's at Walt Disney World's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa.
Indeed, Lallement and Hunnel -- along with Chef Patrick Albert, executive chef for Remy, and a team of pastry chefs -- prepared the sumptuous meal last night. While only some of what we tried -- including asparagus framed by rare black truffles and seared Japanese Wagyu beef -- will actually make the final menu, Ozer Balli, vice president of hotel operations for Disney Cruise Line, tells us all are indicative of what Disney Dream diners can expect.
What else did we eat? Check out the photos!
Meanwhile, here's more on Remy:
The dishes at Remy will take a modern, contemporary approach to French cuisine; the focus is on quality in-season ingredients sourced from around the world, prepared simply to allow the true flavors of the food to shine. Diners can choose a menu of seven to nine small courses, sticking with one chef or combining dishes from both.
The restaurant will not replace Disney's existing alternative restaurant, the adults-only Palo. It will be an additional option, situated on the top deck near Palo, with views over the ocean. Decor-wise, Disney is pulling out all the stops: Frette table linens, Riedel glassware, Christofle silverware and china made exclusively for the space. Expect also "Ratatouille"-inspired red accents (in carpets, chairs and drapes) with gold touches, plus photos of Paris gracing the walls and lavish chandeliers dangling overhead.
Balli tells us there will be an up-charge to dine at Remy, but it won't be set until after all of the menus are finalized. Balli says the experience will be priced "appropriately" to maintain the Michelin-star-style experience and that his team is analyzing industry standards now -- which range from as low as $10 for some of Norwegian Cruise Line's "freestyle" eateries to $75 for Carnival Cruise Lines' newly launched chef's table experience.
One thing's for sure: Balli says Remy's cover will be more than what's currently charged for Palo ($15). There will be a set charge for a multi-course meal as well as a la carte items. Also separate (and, we expect, more costly) will be a private chef's table with a direct line of sight into the kitchen; it will seat up to 16 guests per evening for a specially selected menu including wine parings.
Reservations will be available in advance. According to Balli, platinum members of Disney's past-passenger program, as well as those in concierge accommodations, can start booking 120 days in advance. Gold-level members can book 105 days in advance. The next level gets the option 90 days ahead, and those sailing with the line for the first time have the option 75 days ahead.
The 128,000-ton, 2,500-passenger Disney Dream -- which will debut on January 26, 2011 -- will also feature three rotational restaurants, a free-flow food court and poolside cafe. Visit our Countdown to Launch page for more information on the new-build, Disney's first in over a decade.
--by Melissa Paloti, Managing Editor