The most notable aspect of Crystal Mozart's dining scene is the farm-to-table concept it embraces. Instead of relying on frozen foods, the ship sources fresh ingredients from purveyors within just a few hours of its ports of call. In all of its venues, menu items take inspiration from the local cuisine, whether you're dining on schnitzel in the Waterside Restaurant or Sacher Wurtzl in Blue.
The choice of venues is vast compared to your average riverboat. Mozart offers a main dining room, two casual options, an intimate extra-fee wine dinner room, a snack bar and room service. But we found the options in each venue to be limiting, such as three main courses (four if you count a pasta dish) in Waterside and seven items total on the room service menu. Vegetarians will feel particularly limited by the meat-heavy regional dishes, with fairly banal non-meat options, sometimes not even offered on the menu. We understand that small river ships generally don't have room service at all or extensive menus, but with all the other choices presented onboard a ship that feels more oceangoing, the menus don't seem to keep up.
That said, quality of both food and service is quite high. A mushroom soup had us nearly begging for more, and a caviar dish was so beautiful that probably half the dining room had Instagrammed it by evening's end. Nothing was bad; the worst dishes were ones that were just fine and we didn't need to order again, but did not actively dislike. Staffers aim to please, patiently explaining foreign words on the menu and even delivering an off-menu room service order of grilled cheese, fries and hot chocolate to the Cove Bar at midnight. Most of the dining staff are either previous Crystal crewmembers or former workers in Europe's hotels and restaurants.
While Crystal makes a point to accommodate dietary restrictions whenever possible, kosher food is not available at this time. Do make sure to let the line know about any allergies or avoidances, including gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan diets, in advance.
Waterside Restaurant (Deck 3): The main dining room serves buffet breakfasts and lunches and sit-down, open-seating dinners. You can't order off a menu at breakfast or lunch and options are limited to a cold buffet (with fruit, yogurt, cereal and muesli at breakfast and a salad bar with some prepared salads and meats at lunch), two hot stations serving the same items (omelet station, oatmeal, pancakes, breakfast meats at breakfast, and a carving station, fish, soup, warm vegetables and made-to-order pasta at lunch) and a breakfast pastry, dessert and fruit bar in the middle. There is not a ton of choice, and vegetarians better like pasta and salad for lunch because there aren't many other options.
At dinner the venue transforms into a sit-down restaurant that is truly open seating. You can arrive whenever you like during dining hours (roughly 6 to 9:30 p.m.), and tables are mainly for two and four with some six-tops (though tables can be combined for groups). Crystal Mozart won't really do a group table; if you want to meet people over dinner, you'll need to join up with the couple behind you in line or make friends earlier in the day and invite them to dine with you.
The menu is divided into a main menu and supplementary choices, though we're not sure what the differences were between the two; you can pick and choose from both sides. Choice is limited to five starters (encompassing soup, salad and appetizers), three mains and two desserts plus a cheese plate and petits fours. Our starters (a vegetarian mushroom soup and a tomato-mozzarella salad with pesto) were both outstanding, the sea bass was perfectly fine and a Black Forest cake was an odd interpretation that wasn't really worth the calories.
A complimentary red and white wine are poured at dinner, or you can order something else off the included or a la carte drink menu. Wine selections are local and very good. The included selections feature three sparkling wines, 11 whites, one rose and 10 reds. The majority are Austrian, with some German, Slovakian, Hungarian, Italian, French and Californian vintages, including three "C" Crystal Reserve wines.
The Pantry (Deck 2): Located just off the main lobby, this 24-hour self-service drinks station has a fridge with wine, beer, water and soft drinks, as well as a coffee machine (and tea and hot chocolate we're told, though they weren't yet available). A few snacks include fruit and pastries.
The Vintage Room (Deck 3): The Vintage Room is the ship's exclusive and intimate dining venue that serves special local-wine-themed dinners for a maximum of 12 people. (It can also double as a meeting room during the day for small groups.) If there is a ton of interest, Crystal will consider adding a lunch option. Price is 290 euros per person for a mixed group or you can rent out the room for a private dinner at 3200 euros. You can sign up onboard but not beforehand; sign up is via your butler, the in-cabin iPads or with reception.
Bistro Mozart (Deck 3): Just off the atrium, this casual eatery is the place for ice cream lovers; four flavors of ice cream are available in huge cones, with toppings like shaved white chocolate, chocolate chips, nuts and strawberries. A light buffet is offered from 9 a.m. through until 9 p.m., and includes cheese and crackers, deli meats, fruit, pretzels and little pastries. A bar serves tea, coffee and hot chocolate, as well as soda and alcohol.
In the evening, the Bistro becomes a casual, sit-down venue to try local specialties on a limited, non-changing menu. There will be a soup of the day, a choice of three mains (a Wiener Backhend'l salad with chicken strips, Viennese Beef Goulash with spatzle and Sacher Wurstl) and dessert (bread and butter pudding or ice cream from the bar). The menu is not vegetarian-friendly though the chef could offer the salad without chicken. Open for dinner from 6:30 to 9 p.m.
Blue Bar and Grill (Deck 3 aft): This casual venue is hidden on the back of the ship -- you need to go outside and down the promenade to get there. Its glass front opens onto some alfresco seating. Inside, order up burgers, tomato-mozzarella flatbread, a Vienna reuben or Sacher Wurstl, or grab a pretzel, salad or soup of the day. If you want to enjoy your meal on the sun deck, a willing waiter can carry your plate. Open for lunch, noon to 2:30 p.m., and also available via room service at those hours.
Room Service: In-suite dining is available 24 hours a day. Full breakfast, including Belgian waffles, omelets and other eggs, and bacon and sausage, is available from 7 to 9 a.m.; continental items -- pastries, fruit, yogurt, cereal, cold meats and cheeses -- can be delivered between 6 and 10 a.m. Fill out the door card, check off your preferred delivery time and hang the card outside your cabin door. Or order via your iPad.
Twenty-four-hour options include Caesar salad, soup of the day, burgers, chicken club, creme brulee and a brownie. You can order off the Blue menu during lunch.