With an on-trend decor, the restaurants feel more like buzzy eateries ashore than traditional cruise ship dining rooms. Tables for two abound -- you never need dine with other passengers unless you choose. Many passengers take advantage of the two-tops, yet convivially converse with other duos dining nearby.
Passengers are happy with the multiple dining choices, many require no reservation and there's ease of obtaining reservations when necessary, providing you book online or join waitlists aboard. Waitlists for the smaller venues, like Silver Note and La Dame, often open up during a cruise.
A full-out afternoon tea is no longer offered, but you can find elements in the Arts Cafe, or your butler can bring tea, finger sandwiches and sweets to your suite. We never heard anyone grumble about the lack of a proper afternoon tea on our two-week sail.
Wines and Champagne poured match the quality of those served on other luxury lines. Usually one red and one white are offered each evening; pours are generous and refills abound. If you don't like the nightly selection, ask the sommelier to open another bottle. We've dined with passengers who have requested just that (sometimes up to three or four times for that perfect red), and sommeliers just smile and bring new wines until they're happy.
Atlantide (Deck 4): Atlantide (pronounced Atlanteed) is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner daily, no reservations required. It's wildly popular. The upscale beef- and fish-heavy menu is consistently excellent, service is attentive and the elegantly designed room is stunning. Think gorgeous marble columns and floors and velvety burnt orange chairs. There's lots of Art Deco curvature in the decor, from chair handles and teak rails to chandeliers.
One side of the room offers lovely window views framed by thick drapery. The opposing wall is decorated with intricate mirrors and crystal sconces. You'll find a small eight-seat bar tucked inside Atlantide with a cool vibe and welcoming bartender. You may even find new dinner companions over drinks.
Tables are stylishly set with Villeroy & Boch china, Mepra flatware from Italy and Zassenhaus stainless steel salt and pepper grinders from Germany. In the morning, you'll find five kinds of delicious alain milliat preserves from France (don't miss the wild blueberry); by midday, they're replaced by extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar cruets.
The breakfast menu, similar to room service, stays constant. (The buckwheat pancakes and omelets are excellent.) However, the menu changes daily for lunch and weekly for dinner (although we're sure they go into rotation; they're not brand-new each day or week).
Midday menu choices are lighter and more interesting than in Silver Spirit's former main dining room, including more salads (perhaps a spicy Asian beef) and seafood (such as shrimp in tamarind sauce).
At night, expect many fancy dishes such as foie gras (excellent), generous portions of primo lobster and meats. Steaks are definitely a thing here -- from Argentinean grass-fed beef and American prime Black Angus corn-fed to the world-heralded French Limousin. (We tried every one and couldn't pick a favorite, but be sure to order the veal jus as a sauce side.) The veal chop is enormous and fork-tender.
Entrees come with potatoes, such as a delicate gratin, and fresh al dente vegetables, like Brussels sprouts and carrots. Each seafood entree lists the fish's origin, such as turbot from Galicia, Spain, and are beautifully prepared. Vegetarians can choose between three starters and three entrees.
Wines poured can include a Chilean 2017 Morande Pionero sauvignon blanc and a 2017 Gouguenheim malbec from Mendoza, Argentina. Desserts seem a lot better than in years past -- far more choice beyond gelato -- and are sophisticated and tastier.
Indochine (Deck 4): Indochine is open for dinner only, no reservations required. Its decor evokes an Asian slant. Woven fish sculptures are mounted on shimmery brown walls and contemporary takes on Japanese screens (think artsy metal “screens” with squares of light boxes) serve as both design elements and room dividers. The color scheme is a calming brown and robin-egg blue.
One wall is lined with windows, trimmed with fancy brown shades. Pearly black granite tables are set with beige woven placemats and teensy bonsai plants. The sleek bar offers both counter and table seating. The menu hopscotches Asia -- think Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese, Korean and Indian dishes, mostly -- with a modern twist. Onboard for two weeks, we noted two menus in rotation.
Servers bring out crispy papadum, mango chutney and pickled mango to nibble while you peruse the menu. A server also presents a mini cocktail of the day, perhaps passion fruit and rum. Asian-spiced short ribs are usually noteworthy, though on one evening, they lacked tenderness.
Soups, like pho, come in big bowls. Chinese egg drop soup is excellent, as is a fiery hot-and-sour soup. Lobster pad Thai is light on noodles (a good thing) but big on shellfish and flavor.
Indian plates -- such as a spicy lamb curry, and a potato and cauliflower medley -- are uniformly outstanding. A Goan chef delivers the most authentically flavored Indian dishes we've tried at sea. (We asked if he could prepare us a special Indian menu of his choice and he did, with 48-hour notice.) Desserts include a must-order coconut rice pudding and lovely caramelized bananas.
Passengers are more tentative about trying Indochine than Atlantide with its more universally appealing menu; but once they do, most are hooked.
Seishin (Deck 4); $40 per person for dinner: Seishin is a small, softly lit sushi restaurant, open for lunch and dinner. Daytime dining is open seating and complimentary, but at night, there's a $40 charge per passenger and reservations are required. You'll marvel over the knife skills of the Asian chef. He stands at a sushi counter in the room's center, deftly slicing fish before your eyes.
The lunchtime menu is less inspired than the dinner version, limited to a variety of sushi and sashimi similar to options on the La Terrazza midday buffet, such as avocado or shrimp rolls.
In the evening, the menu is more elaborate and tastier. You can order the Chef's Omakase, a six-course feast including tuna tartare with Calvisius caviar, and Maine lobster tail with wagyu beef for a posh surf and turf. If ordering a la carte, temptations include king crab tempura, Asian seafood consomme with lobster, miso-glazed black cod and passion fruit brulee.
Passengers like trying Seishin, but unless they're hooked on Japanese cuisine, dining at Indochine is more convenient; plus, there are no reservations needed and no extra fee.
La Dame (Deck 4); $60 per person: La Dame, open only for dinner by reservation, stays busy despite the $60 per passenger charge. Book as far in advance as possible. With but 11 tables, this restaurant is romantic and intimate in a way no other venue onboard can be. Service is extremely attentive and personalized.
The wines presented are a notch above the complimentary wines poured in other dining rooms. Meals begin with Heidsieck Monopole Blue Top Champagne Brut and may include 2016 Domaine du Petit Clocher Anjou and 2016 Joseph Drouhin Macon-Bussieres Les Clos, all from France.
Dinner unfolds in five courses that you choose from a menu. The stellar lobster bisque, with its intense shellfish stock, is swoon-worthy. A generous portion of caviar with blinis -- not offered in any complimentary restaurant -- proves most popular. (Good choice; caviar begins at $40 on the room service menu.)
Also, you can indulge in generous portions of foie gras more intricately prepared than where it's offered complimentarily. Savor it chilled as pate, or warm and seared. La Dame's lamb chops are thicker and meatier than those served in Atlantide. The chef comes out around dessert time (Grand Marnier souffle is a must) for a meet-and-greet at each table.
If you consider yourself a foodie, don't miss this dining experience.
La Terrazza (Deck 7): La Terrazza is open for a buffet breakfast and lunch, and sit-down dinner by reservation only. The lovely decor includes beautiful racks of serious wine bottles from the premium list, from Super Tuscans like Sassicaia to boutique Napa vintners such as Far Niente and 1st Cru French Sauternes from Chateau Climens. Complimentary wines may include 2017 Vigneti del Vulture Greco-Fiano Basilicata Pipoli from Italy. Etched glass, brown and beige columns and marble tables and banquettes complete the sleek look. Dining is inside and out, with gorgeous ocean views.
Other than at dinner, La Terrazza features three stations, although servers stand ready to retrieve anything from the buffet. They also insist on carrying your plate to your table -- even if you're only holding a tiny dessert plate. Awkward and pampering, at once.
One station offers omelets in the morning and switches to pasta and stir-fries midday. (For this station, all orders are placed through a server, so there's no line.) Another counter offers smoothies and fruit and vegetable juices blended to order in the a.m.; choose from all the fresh ingredients on display. (Tell the cook to blend the juices a little longer for a smoother beverage.) At lunchtime, this station becomes a dessert mecca, with cakes, tarts and fruit salad behind a glass counter. Gluten-free and sugar-free desserts are clearly labeled. Servers hand you what you want; it's tidy and sanitary.
The largest buffet area beautifully presents international cheeses, breads, smoked fish and gravlax, fruit and fruit salads, Danishes and much more at breakfast. At lunchtime, gorgeous meats, such as strip sirloin of beef or a whole suckling pig, are carved to order. Expect an outstanding assortment of quality salads, sushi, breads (including four gluten-free) and some hot items such as curries (always excellent), sauteed vegetables, grilled fish and potato gratins.
At dinnertime, La Terrazza ups the dining ante. Different, fancier table settings appear, and the lighting is dimmed. Service becomes more personalized and attentive. Many passengers order four courses -- at least, early on in the cruise -- such as a salad, pasta, entree and dessert.
Each table receives an antipasto platter, with several items such as olive tapenade, mozzarella and eggplant. Pastas include a cutting-edge potato gnocchi with lardo, which tastes oily. But then again, if you're ordering a dish made with what's essentially pork fat (cured fatback), we suppose you should expect that. The pappardelle with braised duck ragout remains a signature dish; good thing, as it's a standout.
All pastas are perfectly cooked al dente and sauce use is restrained, as in Italy. The osso buco can vary in tenderness. The chocolate torte, a holdover signature dessert, still tastes divine.
Silver Note (Deck 8): This restaurant, tweaked from the previous Stars Supper Club, switched locales with the casino and was renamed Silver Note. Although dining here is complimentary, you do need reservations, which can be hard to score as the venue is small and popular. Silver Note is only open for dinner.
Expect a softly lit room with low ceilings and pin lighting. The color scheme comprises soft shades of brown, beige, cream, blue and gold. Gorgeous china bowls, set in lit glass cabinets, decorate walls. Chairs and banquettes combine leather and fabric, such as leather seats with tweed fabric backs. Three burnt orange round chandeliers are stunners, more like art than lighting.
The menu is quirky. For starters, tables are set with “test tubes” filled with three types of hot sauces, ranging from jalapeno to habanero. Servers inform passengers that many dishes are quite spicy. If so, why do we need more heat from three pepper sauces? But some dishes aren't spicy at all, nor call for hot sauce -- a head-scratcher. We didn't see anyone reach for the hot sauce during our dinner at Silver Note.
First courses are divided into Raw and Cooked categories. Among Raw dishes, find tuna and green quinoa (delicious) or thinly sliced sea bass with red onion and ginger. Cooked includes tender grilled octopus, served warm with caramelized pumpkin puree and olives. Cereal is the unappealing name of one starter; it's actually a fine medley of ancient grains -- such as farro and quinoa -- with habaneros and forest mushrooms.
Entrees are split between Oceans and Earth. The night we dined here, we saw lobster tail with mashed potatoes, rich and creamy with butter and sour cream, fly from the kitchen. Same for Salt from the Fields, the unusual name for seared lamb loin with a delicious risotto, caramelized onions and chanterelles. Both are very good and not spicy -- which may be why they are ordered so frequently.
The two desserts are excellent; artsy takes on fudgy chocolate cake and strawberry soup with blackberry sorbet, meringue and blueberry jelly. The soup sounds weird, we know, but its flavors come together beautifully. Wines poured include 2016 Cono Sur Bicicleta Carmenere from Chile.
Plating is most contemporary, including wavy bowls and dinner plates with wildly bumpy edges, making it hard to rest your silverware without a knife tumbling off onto the tablecloth. We also quibble over the strange dish names, which are followed on the menu by a laundry list of ingredients. We get that Silver Note seeks to stand out from other restaurants; however, we're not sure the concept is cohesive.
The evening highlight is perhaps not the food and certainly not the confusing menu, but the jazz singer accompanied by a gifted pianist. The singer is a captivating performer, with a sultry voice and style that makes you want to linger for all three sets. Her repertoire is vast -- including Nat King Cole, Doris Day and show tunes from "Evita" -- and she even throws in some scat. She happily takes requests, too. During breaks, she visits with tables, exhibiting an easy warmth.
If this restaurant is booked for dinner, just come later in the evening and enjoy a set or two and a drink. A server is only too happy to bring you a cocktail or cognac. Some passengers even get up and whirl around the little dance floor. The last set, luring nightly fans, begins at 11 p.m.
Arts Cafe (Deck 8): Think of the Arts Cafe as a cool cafe -- less whimsically designed than on Silver Muse -- but still filled with colorful nooks for sitting, sipping and schmoozing. The outdoor seating area is large and comfy, with canopy-topped thick-cushioned rattan-like chairs. Shelves filled with art books separate the seating areas.
Arts Cafe is easily one of the busiest -- and buzziest -- spots onboard. The barista makes an excellent cappuccino, and you can also choose from a variety of fine Ronnefeldt teas. This cafe also doubles as a bar, with shelves showcasing brand name liquor such as Bombay Sapphire.
All sorts of gastronomic goodies are on display, depending upon the time of day. You can order freshly flavored waters, such as a glass filled with fresh strawberries and mint, or cucumber, as well as freshly made smoothies. Glass mason-like jars hold yogurt and fruit -- an ideal light breakfast, lunch or snack. Or, drop in for a sandwich, like fresh mozzarella on panini bread.
Late afternoon is teatime; expect scones, pastries and finger sandwiches. Later In the evening, passengers select mini glass jars filled with housemade white, dark and milk chocolate truffles. And yes, they're yummy.
The Grill (Deck 9): For this alfresco poolside eatery, the 2018 remodel added more tables, better protective covering for cool or rainy nights and new heat lamps. The daytime menu, usually served from noon until 3:30 p.m., mixes lighter fare such as a fine mezze (Middle Eastern tapas) plate and a less exciting grilled portobello sandwich on nine-grain bread, to popular choices like a classic Reuben. Hamburgers and hotdogs are on the menu, of course, as is grilled fish of the day and desserts like a sundae and New York cheesecake.
At night, The Grill morphs into Hot Rocks, a cook-your-own dinner over lava rocks that requires reservations. Passengers love Hot Rocks; there's no need to dress up, the food's a break from fancy fare and passengers enjoy showing off their prowess with grilling prime steaks, Berkshire pork chop, tiger prawns or fresh fish of the day to new friends. (A chef will cook your entree if you prefer.)
Entrees come with a choice of sides, including baked potatoes and toppings and marinated vegetable skewers. Dinner unfolds with a choice of four salads, including the ever-popular Caesar, and four desserts such as lime and vanilla cheesecake. Wines poured may include a 2017 Gouguenheim malbec from Argentina, and a 2015 Principe Pallavicini Amarasco Cesanese from Italy.
Spaccanapoli (Deck 10): Spaccanapoli, an alfresco no-reservation pizza eatery, is open from late morning until 11 p.m. for casual meals or spur-of-the-moment indulgences. Tables are topped with a canopy, making dining easy no matter the weather. The three pizza ovens turn out pies in three to four minutes; it's fun to watch the chef at work, rolling and stretching dough.
The pizzas, which come with a variety of awesome toppings, including a purist's Margherita, and prosciutto with cow's milk mozzarella. The thin-crust, crispy-edged pizzas come in two sizes (personal and for two) and are cut into eight slices. We also like how the pies are presented -- on plates resembling pizza paddles. Pre-pizza, nibble on Parmesan chunks, olives and excellent marinated tomatoes -- so Italian.
The menu is all pizza -- no salads. We think it's more of a meal alternative if some greens were an option. In fact, we've seen passengers go down one deck to The Grill for a salad once they discovered that none are offered upstairs. However, the problem is easily solved: Ask your server and he will go down to The Grill and get you a salad to enjoy with your pizza. (And, if you are lunching at The Grill, you can ask your server to get you a pizza from upstairs.)
For dessert, you can order gelato from your server or at the glass counter adjacent to the pizza ovens. All gelatos are housemade except for that ubiquitous zero-zero ice cream. Gelato textures are silky, and flavors, like coffee or chestnut, are delightfully intense and not sugary. A fig frozen yogurt is spot-on. Sophisticated toppings, like homemade caramel sauce, candied fruit and freshly toasted almonds, impress.
Room Service: Complimentary room service via the All-Around Dining menu is available 24 hours. This menu is extensive, and you can request its dishes be served anywhere. You want a well-done burger delivered to the Panorama Lounge where you're engrossed in a book? It's on the way.
Speaking of burgers, the room service burger disappoints; it's thin and rather flavorless. This is the only item for which we noticed a decrease in quality; in the past, the beef was labeled Piedmontese, and the hamburger was delicious, plump and juicy. We're told it's the same beef but it's not listed as such on the menu.
Other lunchtime offerings include three types of pizza, a veggie burger with tofu and shiitakes, an excellent fresh tomato bisque and fine pastas such as a spicy penne with 26-month aged Parmigiano. In the mood for canapes? Order guacamole or a shrimp “martini.” For an evening in, order sirloin steak, filet mignon, grilled chicken or salmon, with an assortment of sauces. Your butler can serve you course by course, a must-try experience.
The breakfast menu is comprehensive -- all-American, plus British specialties such as English bacon and baked beans -- and includes most everything served at Atlantide. Omelets are fluffy, cooked as requested. The brand of preserves, alain milliat from France, is superb. To preorder breakfast, fill out a room service menu left at evening turndown and place it in the suite mailbox by 2 a.m. (You can also handwrite in special requests.)
Alas, the bigger suites (Silver and up) no longer receive a special Gourmet Bites menu, which included baby blinis with caviar, pate de foie gras and other such extravagances. However, if you ask your butler, you may receive such canapes rather than the usual hors d'oeuvres served in bars. Every suite receives a Calvisius caviar menu. Four varieties from this excellent brand are offered, at a range of fees per 20 grams.