AmaWaterways has long been dedicated to the culinary arts and in fact it's the only river line to be part of the prestigious Confrerie de la Chaine des Rotisseurs, the world's oldest gastronomic society. As such, quality of cuisine, which is generally European Continental in style with a few relaxed concessions to its primarily North American passenger base, is very good.
The Main Dining Room: The Main Dining Room is AmaDolce's primary venue, and accommodates all 148 passengers during single-seating meals (even with most passengers descending to the restaurant at the same time, it never felt too crowded). A number of two-tops are available alongside tables for four, six and eight. While tables are first-come, first-served -- no reservations are allowed -- we never had trouble getting a table for two. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served here daily. Hours are noted though they can vary based on itinerary demands.
Breakfast is offered in the restaurant from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m. The European-style smorgasbord features cold cuts, cheeses, fruits (canned and fresh), a large bread and pastry table, a smoked salmon setup with obligatory accouterments (cream cheese, capers, onions, etc.), as well as hot offerings like scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon (U.S. strip variety), hash browns, beans and fried tomatoes. There are also made-to-order selections that include omelets, oatmeal, waffles and eggs cooked any way.
Lunch is served mostly buffet-style; you order your soup and entree off the menu and then select the rest of your meal from a buffet of salads, cold entrees, desserts and cheeses. Typically, three entree choices are offered: a fish, meat and vegetarian course. Every day, the "always available" menu includes a minute steak sandwich, chicken ciabatta with tomato and mozzarella and a fish burger (don't forget to order fries -- they're hot, salty and superb). You can also always order hamburgers, cheeseburgers and hot chicken sandwiches. Healthy choice options are designated as are locally inspired dishes.
The international cheese table -- a comforting presence never absent from the restaurant -- is also there for lunch. Beer and wine, including red, white and rose, were liberally poured.
Lavish dinners are part of AmaWaterways' heritage and on AmaDolce the multicourse extravaganzas were always something to look forward to. There are two menus each night; the Chef's Recommended featured appetizer, soup, main course and dessert. Even more options were offered via the regular menu, which started with an amuse-bouche (gift of a taste from the kitchen), appetizer, soup, sorbet, main course and dessert. In all cases passengers could mix and match between the two, trying as few or as many courses as desired. The "always available" dishes at dinner included grilled steak, salmon or chicken, Caesar salad and the redoubtable fries. Desserts were decadent and, as with lunch, the cheese cart was bountiful and of a high quality.
As with lunch, beer and wine were offered on a complimentary basis.
The Lounge: The lounge was a favorite noshing spot throughout the day, offering light fare for breakfast and lunch, and then a lovely afternoon tea. While schedules varied based on itinerary, a typical day started at 6:30 a.m. with an hour's light breakfast (pastries, toast, coffee) before the Main Dining Room opened. After it closed, the lounge repeated the early risers' breakfast for late risers, from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m.
It was a terrific spot to catch a quick lunch. From noon to 1:30 p.m., you can find trays of sandwiches, a kettle of soup, a small array of salads and a hot dish, typically pasta. Desserts were, as always, ever too tempting. Beer and wine were served here, as well, on a complimentary basis during lunch.
Afternoon tea, available between 4:30 and 5:30 p.m. each day, featured a buffet that included sandwiches, scones and pastries.
There are eight tables in the lounge that are of dining height, so you're not required to balance plates on laps.
The Chef's Table: A standout on AmaDolce, a multicourse tasting menu is the centerpiece of The Chef's Table experience -- but it's the chefs, laboring away in an open kitchen that's part of the room -- that are the stars. All passengers are entitled to a dinner at The Chef's Table -- there's no extra fee -- but we encourage you to choose your night and make reservations in advance to get your first choice.
Seating 24 passengers, the aft-facing room -- with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the ship's wake -- has an enchanting atmosphere. So is the menu, which is a bit more Michelin-inspired than even the very solid offerings in the Main Dining Room. On our trip we started with a Chef's Welcome taste of goat cheese and yellow tomatoes in a prune sauce. The appetizer was a trio of samplings, including scallop with marinated seaweed and caviar, foie gras and beetroot carpaccio. On to the soup course, which was a fennel cream with Pernod and sauteed escargot, then sorbet. Similar to the appetizers, the main course was a trio of small dishes that on this evening included cod fillet in saffron sauce, ox short ribs in a Medoc wine and a truffle mousseline with asparagus. For dessert, you can opt for fresh fruit, a cheese plate or a series of pastries, including a delectable chocolate fondant.
It should go without saying that you may want to have just a light lunch on the day leading to your Chef's Table experience but the portions were just right -- and the menu wasn't overpowering.
Complimentary wines were matched to individual courses.
Passengers with food allergies are urged to provide advanced notice so chefs can prepare appropriately.
Room Service: In-cabin meal delivery is not available unless a passenger is ill. However, coffee, tea and snacks are available in the lounge 24 hours.