By Colleen McDaniel
Cruise Critic Senior Executive Editor
4.5 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating: Dining

Silver Muse has a unique dining concept, with eight designated restaurants but no main dining room, and other spots serve nibbles throughout the day. Passengers can eat at any restaurant they wish as often as they'd like, though reservations are encouraged at all venues except Atlantide and Indochine (because several of the restaurants are quite small). That said, the ship reserves a number of tables in each venue to be available for drop-in diners.

All restaurants follow the same approach, though the food from venue to venue is wildly different: Menus follow the slow food mentality, meaning food is produced in local culinary tradition, and ingredients are of high quality and are sourced locally. Food is also sustainable whenever possible, and chefs try to reduce the amount of frozen food (a necessity on any cruise) used in dishes. Passengers will notice the high-quality beef used, or special cheeses, like pico -- an Italian delicacy that has a five-day shelf life.

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Waiters employ a remote ordering system, which means everything a passenger eats or drinks is recorded, helping staff better track preferences, special dietary needs and allergies. Passengers can flag restrictions ahead of the sailing but should follow up with the maitre d' once onboard. Chefs on Silver Muse can accommodate virtually any restriction, so ask; some menus aren't clearly marked to indicate vegetarian or low-sugar items, for example, so you'll need to chat with your waiters.

Menus in Atlantide and Indochine are fairly extensive and they change weekly; there's also a daily special offered in both that usually reflects the local port. The menus at the specialty restaurants are fixed. In general, we found the food in the de facto main dining rooms -- Atlantide and Indochine --- to be superior to the smaller and extra-fee restaurants. That's the opposite of what you see on most cruise ships and as a result, the ship has added more seats to Atlantide to keep up with demand.

Silver Muse has a great selection of complimentary house wines, with almost every varietal offered as an included option. Passengers who want something a little more upscale can order premium brands, for a fee that's comparable to what you'd pay on land, by the glass or bottle. The same wine menu is available in multiple restaurants, so if you don't like what the waiter is offering as the daily wine, you can request a glass of something you drank earlier or elsewhere.

Kaiseki (Deck 4); free for lunch, $60 for dinner: This Japanese restaurant is one of the smaller venues onboard. The focal point is the large sushi bar that takes up the middle of the restaurant. A number of small tables for two and four wrap the edges. During the day, sushi and sashimi are available. You'll find a variety of rolls, including standards like California and spicy tuna rolls, as well as more unusual options, like a surf and turf that combines filet mignon and lobster. Sashimi options include a mixed fish with scallop, tuna and salmon, as well as a sea urchin dish.

For dinner, the venue picks up a slightly theatrical vibe as it transforms into a teppanyaki restaurant. Start with a bowl of kikoyu monyou fish, then receive small plates of teppan grill items such as rock lobster, miso black cod and wagyu beef teriyaki. Finish with the signature tempura ice cream, served sizzling with spiced chocolate sauce. While the use of butter instead of oil may bother purists, we found the food to be delicious, and the sushi bar seats to be a convivial place to meet other cruisers.

Indochine (Deck 4): Perhaps the prettiest restaurant onboard, Indochine features black marble tables, white leather banquettes and seafoam green leather chairs. It's one of the bigger restaurants onboard, and it features a huge table that can accommodate more than a dozen passengers. Open only for dinner, Indochine is an Asian-fusion restaurant inspired by the 1,500 spices and flavors Marco Polo brought from Asia to Europe. Food is a modern take on dishes from places such as Mumbai, Thailand and Vietnam, and it's almost all fabulous. Starter selections include dim sum and satay platters, along with a variety of sauces. The restaurant offers soup and noodle bowls, like pho tom (prawns and glass noodles) and tom yum goong (seafood coconut broth). Main courses include a mustard seed-crusted chicken breast, rock lobster and aloo palak, an Indian dish served with potatoes and chili peppers. A chili pepper symbol on the menu designates which dishes are spicy (though we found everything pretty mild -- if you want more heat, you can ask the waiter). Portions are perfectly sized so you can try a little from each course. If you're going with a group, share a variety of appetizers.

Indochine also has a small bar, called Enoteca, which serves pre-dinner drinks and is open well into the evening.

Atlantide (Deck 4): Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Atlantide is a large venue that is decorated in black marble and maroon velvet and leather chairs. Tables for two, four and six are available. All meals are ordered from menus. For breakfast, the restaurant offers cold items, like cereal, yogurt, fruit, smoked salmon, cheese and muesli. There's also a solid selection of freshly baked goods, like delicious, crisp croissants and Danishes. Hot options include omelets, souffles, French toast, pancakes, waffles, oatmeal, kippers and eggs Benedict. We liked the wide variety of juices and teas as well. The breakfast menu is the same each morning.

Lunch at Atlantide takes place within a 90 minute window. It offers a menu that changes each day, but you'll always have a choice of starters, soups, salads and pastas (made fresh onboard). Starter options include items like crab cakes or pan-fried cheese while soups might be prawn bisque or egg drop. Try a baby spinach salad or penne alla boscaiola. For the main course, passengers can choose from fish, like grilled baby squid, or meat, such as slow-braised ribs. Vegetarian options are highlighted as well and include options such as kale and mushroom quiche or butternut squash risotto. Dessert might be Greek yogurt and honey or gelato.

For dinner, Atlantide becomes a European-style seafood grill that also serves juicy steaks. The selection is large -- we had a hard time choosing and almost everything we had was very good. Appetizer options include a wonderful beef and caviar tartare, served with a poached quail egg; king scallops with foie gras and strawberry salsa; and belly cuts of salmon. Vegetarians can choose from "My Little Vegetable Plot," a fun dish that includes buffalo mozzarella, cucumbers, carrots, beets, celeriac, asparagus and broccoli sprouts and vegetable vol au vent, served in a puff pastry with cream and peas, lettuce and asparagus tips. Soup and salad options include seafood chowder, lobster salad and cherry tomato and lemon salad. Mains include Chilean sea bass, Argentinian beef, Italian veal, American prime Angus and a vegetarian potato and zucchini dish. If you still have room for dessert, choose from lemon meringue pie, strawberry pavlova or the Ferrero Rocher chocolate cheesecake.

Because it's the busiest restaurant onboard most evenings, Atlantide is the only place where we received less-than-perfect service. But our issues -- failure by the wait staff to acknowledge us for 15 minutes one night, an ignored request for an extra side dish another -- were extremely small; it's that the service is so great elsewhere on the ship that these slips were even noticeable.

Atlantide also has a small bar, which opens just before dinner and stays open late into the evening.

La Dame by Relais & Chateaux (Deck 4); $60: Continuing Silversea's long-held partnership with the luxury collection of hotels and restaurants, La Dame is Silver Muse's exclusive Relais & Chateaux venue. It's an upscale classic French restaurant, with all ingredients sourced from France. Open only for dinner, it features unique food presentations. The venue is small, with an enormous glass-encased wine rack serving as the centerpiece.

Appetizers include classics such as foie gras served with a wine-poached pear, escargots de Bourgogne served with a crusty baguette, crispy fried frogs legs and bouillabaisse. Main course options include glazed duck breast, Burgundy-braised beef, lobster tail, and beef filet served with truffle jus. For dessert, pick from items such as an assortment of fruit, chocolate mousse with fruit coulis or Grand Marnier souffle.

While we enjoyed the presentation and menu in La Dame, we found that it wasn't that much different in quality from the fee-free venues onboard. A sommelier will pair wines with your meal, but since they are the same ones that you can get elsewhere on the ship, it's not a signature experience.

Silver Note (Deck 7): Silver Note is a jazz club that serves up tapas-style dishes during the evening hours. Musicians play jazz and blues while you eat. While the music could be obtrusive, it perfectly serves as a backdrop for conversation and a nice dinner. (We enjoyed a singer, who partnered with a pianist during our meal.) The venue is intimate, with banquettes that accommodate six as well as smaller tables for two or four. The menu features Peruvian fusion cuisine, and there's no order to ordering -- simply pick a variety of dishes that tickle your fancy. Pick from raw items, such as sea bass served ceviche style, or tuna and green quinoa. Or try the buttered lobster tail or roasted duck breast with plums and blueberry gastrique. Dessert options include a sugar volcano, with chocolate caramel fudge cheesecake, and a berry dish, served with blackberry sorbet. Portions are a bit larger than traditional tapas, so don't over-order.

Silver Note also has a good-sized bar that opens later in the evening and hosts passengers who want to listen to the music rather than eat dinner.

La Terrazza (Deck 7): This indoor/outdoor venue is a buffet for breakfast and lunch, then turns into an Italian restaurant at night. It's a fairly large restaurant, decorated in whites and creams, with tables for two, four or six. As a buffet, it features small stations, rather than long counters, and passengers on our sailing never had to wait in lines. The restaurant closes between meals and dishes are cleared promptly at 2 -- which can leave passengers coming back from morning shore excursions out of luck.

For breakfast, there's an egg station, where you can get made-to-order eggs, along with sausage, bacon and ham. There's also a smoothie station, where you can order fresh, blended drinks with add-ins like protein powder. Passengers can choose from other breakfast items, such as cereal, yogurt, fresh fruit, pancakes, waffles, smoked and pickled fish, bread, bagels and pastries.

At lunch we loved the charcuterie station, where we grabbed imported cheeses and meats such as prosciutto and Parma ham. La Terrazza also has a made-to-order pasta station, where chefs whip up fresh pasta dishes. Lunch also includes a salad bar with a second station just for toppings, a carving station, entrees such as shepherd's pie, fried chicken or broiled fish, a sushi and cold fish station, and an enormous dessert and bread bar. Options change on the buffet each day.

In the evening, La Terrazza is transformed into a by-reservation sit-down restaurant that features a mostly traditional Italian menu. Appetizers are available to share family style or order in single portions -- try the dalla salumeria, which includes duck salami, wild boar salami and Parma, or the veggie fried tris di bruschetta, with classic tomato, olive and caper, and zucchini and cheese bruschetta. Pasta courses come next: portions are large, so it's OK to split them, or ask for an appetizer size. Choose from gnocchi, pappardelle or penne, all made in-house. Entrees include fish, meat and vegetarian options. We liked the Mediterranean branzino. For dessert, you can order cheese, ice cream or Italian classics like tiramisu or panna cotta. The menu is the same for dinner each night.

Arts Cafe (Deck 8): Part cafe, part gathering spot for passengers looking to chat and read, the Arts Cafe features a small-but-cool collection of books cultivated by London bookshop Heywood Hill. It's the most colorful venue onboard, with a glass deli counter, small bar, comfortable leather couches, small tables and bright, cheerful art. The cafe serves food from early in the morning to late at night. In the morning, it offers items such as jars of fruit and oatmeal smoothies, croissants, muffins, yogurt and sandwiches, along with fruit- or veggie-infused water. Late morning, it offers up consomme. Then, at lunch, you can pick from sandwiches and soup. Afternoon tea is served here each day at 4 p.m., and it's done in a free-form style -- you can order your tea from the deli counter and bar, or you can be served by waiters. Snacks include scones with clotted cream, finger sandwiches and pastries. Those looking for a pre-dinner snack can visit in the evening for canapes. Then, after dinner, the Arts Cafe serves petite fours and chocolates. The venue has an outdoor space off the back, which allows smoking.

The Grill/Hot Rocks (Deck 10): Located on the pool deck, this two-for-one dining area is The Grill at lunch, then becomes Hot Rocks at night. The outdoor space includes seating at tables near the pool, and waiters serve passengers at their tables. At lunch, passengers can pick from sandwiches, wraps, salads and burgers, as well as a daily fresh grilled fish, steak and rotisserie selection. It's open until later in the afternoon.

At night, the restaurant transforms into Hot Rocks, which gives passengers the chance to grill up their own food over a volcanic rock right at their tables. Meats include steaks, pork chops, veal, chicken, fish and prawns, and vegetarian options, such as stuffed portobello mushrooms, are available. Order sides such as salad, sweet potato fries, battered mushrooms or baked potatoes. Desserts include a lime and chili cheesecake or apple crumble. Heat lamps keep the area warm and if it's windy, a waiter will bring a blanket.

All in all, we found Hot Rocks rather gimmicky, with large margins for error; the rocks are really hot and while the waiter ties on bibs to protect you from hot oil, you need to make sure you don't accidentally put your hand or arm on the rock. You also need to know how long it takes to cook something -- fish and prawns take much less time than veal or steak. (We had our waiter help us so we could avoid undercooking.)

Spaccanapoli (Deck 11): Spaccanapoli serves fresh-made pizza in an open-air environment from lunchtime until late. The restaurant overlooks the pool space below. Grab a seat and get table service from waiters who will deliver pizza or calzones. Pick from pies such as diavola (with spicy salami) or bufalina (with buffalo mozzarella and basil). Pizza here is good -- flaky yet chewy crusts and fresh ingredients -- and the menu is large, although it lacks salad. (If you want one, they'll bring you one from The Grill downstairs.) Finish off with a pistachio gelato.

Room Service: Room service is available 24 hours a day and comes with a white tablecloth flourish either in your room or set up on the balcony. For breakfast, passengers can leave a card with their choices outside of their room at night, then wake up to enjoy en suite dining. Options for breakfast include eggs prepared any way you'd like, cereal, breads, pastries, yogurt, juice, tea and coffee. We also found we could write in options. (For example, we wrote in "avocado" when we were craving avocado toast, and it showed up, just as we asked.)

Beyond breakfast, the room service menu is extensive and includes a huge variety of appetizers, first courses, soups, pastas, salads and meats. You can also opt for wraps, sandwiches, burgers, pizza and desserts. There's even a cheese menu. Caviar is available at a per-tin cost starting at $40 for a 20-gram serving.

One dining "wow" factor: Silver Muse offers All Around Dining, a service that allows passengers to order food from the room service menu from any spot on the ship when restaurants aren't open. So, if you want that grilled New York sirloin at 1 a.m. in the Panorama Lounge, you can go for it (although we never saw anyone doing this).

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