By Karen Loftus
Cruise Critic Contributor
4.0 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating: Dining

Star Pride has several dining options, including room service, all of which are included in the cruise fare. Each of the a la carte menus offers extensive options and the breakfast, lunch and BBQ buffets were robust.

The cuisine is international. The food is fresh and often locally sourced, as the chef tries to gather ingredients in port. Regardless of what is on the menu, special requests are cheerfully honored. Star Pride has 50 vegan recipes on offer and is more than adept at catering to gluten-free needs and allergies, all the while serving up exciting cuisine.

AmphorA (Deck 3): AmphorA, the main dining room on Star Pride, is open for dinner only. Dinner starts at 7 p.m., with open seating. The tables are a mix of two-tops, four-tops and larger group or communal tables. Upon arrival in the restaurant you are asked if you would like to be seated with others or have others join you, or if you prefer a table for just your party. We enjoyed having a romantic dinner one night, dining with a couple we'd never met another and arranging a group table of newfound friends by the cruise's end.  

AmphorA received an updated look in 2016, making it a sophisticated and vibrant space to dine in each evening. The space feels like something you would see in a chic boutique hotel.

The dinner menu changes daily, although a few side dishes and a few mains (salmon, steak, chicken and pasta) remain the same and are available each night. The nightly special reflects what the chef gathers that day in port. The cuisine is international, at times reflecting neighboring ports, as well as including local favorites by staff from Malaysia and Indonesia.

Meals begin with homemade breads, made daily onboard. The menu is divided into appetizers (e.g., caprese salad, escargot bourguignon, crab Louis and bell pepper terrine), soups (seafood chowder, cream of baked potato), salads (market greens, signature Caesar, Italian artichoke), entrees (sea bass, lamb shank, steak churrasco, roasted whole turkey and wild mushroom ravioli) and desserts (tiramisu, chocolate souffle, berries sabayon, sugar-free mango upside-down cake, ice cream and a cheese plate). Expect a slow and decadent dining experience.

House wines are served by the glass at a reasonable price; higher-end bottles come at a premium price. A wine steward is in the room to advise with wines. In true European form, service was all but rushed. At times, our wine went dry longer than we would have liked and olive oil for our bread seemed to be more elusive than available. It was the one time and place where service waned on occasion. Regardless, it was a leisurely experience with an extensive and impressive menu throughout.

Veranda (Deck 7, aft): Buffet breakfast and lunch are served in the Veranda. There is open-air seating aft and in front of the restaurant (the latter with a courtyard and garden wall) and indoor seating next to the buffet. Early risers catch the sunrise and the best tables on the outside deck, as the outside seats tend to get scooped up first, unless the weather is wild. Indoor diners don't lack for light or views with sliding-glass doors dividing the venue from the back deck. In general, seating can get crowded inside or out during prime times, as it is a relatively small space. Plan accordingly.

The breakfast buffet is open from 7 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. You can expect fruit, yogurt, pastries and bread, hot and cold cereal (oatmeal and porridge), scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, cold cuts, cheese, salmon, potatoes, tomatoes, mushrooms and eggs to order. In addition, eggs Benedict, breakfast burritos, French toast and pancakes can also be ordered through your server. Coffee, still and sparkling water, orange juice and two smoothies (often one fruit and one green) are plentiful each day.

The lunch buffet is open from noon until 2 p.m. You will find several prepared cold salads, an impressive salad bar with nearly a dozen options and add-ons, antipasto, sandwiches (Buffalo chicken crepe, grilled Cuban sandwich, fontina and mushroom burger) and an array of burgers (including beef, veggie and turkey) and dogs plus sausage with sauerkraut).

Typically, you'll find three hot dishes (Italian sausage with marinara, turkey breast with sage jus, BBQ pork ribs or salmon escalope) and several hot veggies, potatoes and soup. Dessert includes homemade cookies, ice cream and options like cheesecake and bread pudding.

Candles (Deck 7): At night, the Veranda restaurant, both inside and out converts into Candles, a romantic steak and seafood restaurant where the focus is on the grill. Reservations are a must, as seating is limited and passengers are only given one Candles reservation per cruise. When the weather is pleasant, outside seating is evocative with a setting sun and a romantic ambiance.

The menu is the same each night, a mix of surf and turf (filet mignon, sirloin steak, veal chop, sea bass filet, skewered tiger shrimp, chicken souvlaki and marinated tofu) with sauces, sides and desserts (raspberry creme brulee, chocolate strawberry truffle cake, fresh fruit and assorted cheeses). Service is attentive, and the atmosphere is sexy.

Deck Barbecue (Decks 7 and 8): The epic, once-per-cruise barbecue takes place outside on decks 7 and 8.  Come hungry, as crew serve enough food to feed several ships. Before you even get to the BBQ portion of the program, you'll encounter a massive buffet of antipasto, cold cuts, cheeses, grilled vegetables, mixed greens, Caesar salad, penne pasta salad, chipotle corn salad, German potato salad, mixed Mediterranean breads, shrimp and crab legs.

On the grill, you'll find basted lobster tails with drawn butter, jerk-marinated chicken drumsticks, catch of the day with soy-sherry glaze, beef short ribs and thyme-marinated lamb loin. There's also a signature paella, a carving station, a gyro station and a dessert station filled with carrot cake, sacher torte, cheesecake, strawberry and rhubarb cobbler and ice cream, a chocolate fountain with pound cake and banana bread, and fresh fruit skewers and grilled BBQ bananas with chocolate and marshmallow

The Yacht Club (Deck 8): Offering dark wood, luxe sofas and expansive views on Deck 8, the Yacht Club is the perfect place for early risers to grab coffee and a quick Continental breakfast. In the afternoon, there were cookies, fresh fruit and an array of sandwiches (turkey and Brie, roast beef and cheddar, etc.) -- useful if you miss lunch or need an afternoon pick-me-up.

Room Service: In-suite dining is complimentary and available 24/7. Room service tags are left in your room each evening, making it easy to order the next day's breakfast before going to bed. We found orders were ready in 20 to 40 minutes, depending on whether it's a busy time of day.

A typical breakfast menu includes everything from eggs and bacon to sausage, salmon, bagels, fruit and granola. Similar to Veranda, you can also order waffles, pancakes, French toast and eggs Benedict. Throughout the day, soups, salads, sandwiches, wraps and burgers are served.

Once AmphorA is open in the evening (7 p.m.), you are able to order off the restaurant's menu. Between the hours of 10 p.m. and 4 a.m., the menu is very limited. Only quesadillas, tuna sandwiches, Cobb salad, turkey club and a hot beef sandwich are available. When you actually call in, the galley might not have every item on the list available. They will, however, have potato chips, tortilla chips and popcorn. If looking for something more substantial, get your order in while the restaurant is still open.

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