Le Lyrial has two restaurants where breakfast, lunch and dinner are always served, and there is a daily afternoon tea served in the main lounge. Between meals (or instead of) you can order from room service for no extra fee; tea and coffee are always available in the Main Lounge.
Unlike on Tauck's river cruises where meals (particularly at dinner) will sometimes reflect the area of Europe you're sailing, on Le Lyrial dining is always French. We came to expect lots of fish, and often had to ask waiters to describe the dishes because there were lots of words we didn't recognize and menu listings that didn't always say what was actually in the dish. (A chicken dish that listed only vegetable accompaniments arrived with a large piece of bacon on top of it, for instance.)
Food is beautifully presented in the main dining room and food was usually excellent, though based on numerous comments, we'd suggest avoiding the ribeye steak. Service was always gracious; the best waiters were quick to get to know diners and their preferences, despite there being no set seating.
We must caution people with special dietary needs. Waiters and the chef do try to accommodate special needs, but mostly in the form of explaining what is on the menu and whether it is not safe to eat. On our cruise, they did not seem inclined to make special meals or versions of meals to cater to people with dietary restrictions, though we did ask one afternoon to have a gluten-free pasta dish made for dinner that night. They certainly never volunteered to make an alternative. Gluten-free bread is readily available and there is always a vegetarian dish or two on the menu.
Hours for meals vary depending on the day's itinerary but, generally speaking, breakfast begins between 7 and 7:30 a.m., lunch starts between noon and 12:30 p.m. and dinner begins at either 7 or 7:30 p.m.
Le Celeste (Deck 2): Like everything else on Le Lyrial, the main dining room is simple, yet elegant, with white tablecloths and place settings of clear glass with gold and brown accents. (On Gala Nights, the glass dishes are replaced with silver tableware so shiny you can see your reflection in it.)
Breakfast is served buffet-style with a variety of cold cuts, eggs, cereal, yogurt, fruit and baked goods. There are also several juices on offer, a daily detox or vitamin shake, and Champagne if you're in the mood for a mimosa.
Lunch comprises a soup of the day, along with three starters, a single main course option and sides. Starters could include fresh fish, marinated pork or grilled beef flank, while the main entree could be a sole medallion with pepper and tomato condiment or duck confit. Portions are European-sized. Always-available sides included French fries, mashed potatoes and seasonal vegetables, plus there was usually one rotating vegetable dish, such as zucchini and artichoke stew or green beans.
The dinner menu is larger with two soup choices, three starters and three main courses. Starters might include a green asparagus mimosa, hot goat cheese with figs and honey, quinoa-stuffed tomatoes with eggplant, or an octopus carpaccio. Main course choices included beef filets with spinach and potato cake, pasta with sweet red pepper pesto, codfish rubbed with smoked paprika and served with green vegetables, or lamb tenderloin.
There's also always a grilled fish of the day, which always got good reviews, as well as four permanent menu items: the Tauck burger (a giant, juicy hamburger, which got multiple thumbs-up), grilled chicken breast, a beef ribeye steak and a Caesar salad).
For dessert, there's always a selection of ice creams and sorbets, as well as a cheese plate. At least two other options were also always available, including such indulgences as apple tart a la mode, raspberry and chocolate cake, Earl Grey panna cotta, and red berry cheesecake.
House wines are poured generously at lunch and dinner. They're always French and might include a Jardin des Charmes rose, Le Pas de la Beaume red or Le Roujal white.
La Comete (Deck 6): For a more casual option, especially in the evening after a full day in port, the ship's buffet offers a full range of dishes at all three meals. Seating is available indoors and out; arrive early if you want to dine outside. Breakfast options are identical to what you'll find in the main dining room, but there's also an omelet station here.
At lunch and dinner, the buffet features dishes from Le Celeste's menu, but does not offer all the choices available downstairs. However, there's an excellent salad bar and a carving station, both of which are only available here. As in the main dining room, you can always order one of the everyday menu items (burger, Caesar salad, etc.); just tell the maitre d' on duty, and they'll deliver it right to your table.
Reservations are recommended for dinner in La Comete, but on our full charter of Le Lyrial we never once saw the place full. We found we could simply walk in and request a table without any issues.
Room Service: Free room service is available, 24/7. Breakfast is ordered via a door hanger on which you make your selection of fruit, cereal, eggs (soft boiled, fried, poached and omelet), yogurt, baked goods and sides (ham, bacon, sausage, tomatoes, mushrooms). Tea, coffee, hot chocolate and juices can also be requested.
For the remainder of the day, options include a first course of the soup of the day, seasonal green salad, Caesar salad or smoked salmon platter; main course of hamburger/cheeseburger, fish of the day, grilled ribeye and chicken club sandwich; sides of French fries, white rice or steamed vegetables; and a small selection of desserts.