While Scenic Jade brochures state it has "up to six dining venues," that's stretching it. That being said, there are enough options that you can feel like you're getting some variety; all restaurants are included in your fare.
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There is a single main restaurant, the Crystal Dining Room, which seats 166. All three meals are available there, with breakfast and lunch served primarily as a buffet, offering a few menu items. There's no assigned seating for the tables, which seat two, four, six and eight. Lines at the buffet are common.
Breakfast begins generally at 7 a.m., sometimes earlier depending on the day's port activities. There's an omelet station and menu items that include French toast (it was excellent, the taste of the eggs coming through), pancakes, waffles, a full English breakfast, minute steak and lamb chops.
The buffet includes the usual range of breakfast items: hot and cold cereals, muesli, three flavors of yogurt, eggs, fresh and canned fruits, hot and cold meats, pastries, cheeses, smoked salmon and mackerel, breads, rolls and muffins.
Lunch always offers meat sliced to order, various cooked potatoes, hot and cold pastas, salads, hot and cold vegetables and greens, luncheon meats, sliced cheeses, pastries and usually two flavors of ice cream, with bowls of serve-yourself syrups and toppings.
A Bavarian lunch one day featured a couple of waiters in lederhosen, serving steins of German lager, along with a variety of appreciably spicy sausages, roasted pork and other regional dishes.
Early, late and light breakfasts, as well as light lunches, are served in the River Cafe, which is a small section of the Panorama Lounge and Bar on the deck above the Crystal Dining Room.
The breakfast menu there includes cereal, special-order eggs and pancakes, pastries and fruit. Lunch items include green and pasta salads, soups, open-faced mini-sandwiches, burgers, two types of pizza and several pastries and sweets.
Weather permitting, there's also one barbecue lunch served on the open top deck. Just in front of the Panorama Lounge, in an open but covered section, the Panorama Deck seats about 20 for lunch. The menu of the River Cafe is available, though passengers may need to fetch one of the bar/cafe waiters to take an order.
The River Cafe does have its chilled items available after lunch, though there is no dinner service. Scenic Jade has a coffee machine with six varieties of coffee and two of hot chocolate. It also includes a hot water machine for those preferring tea, with a large variety of flavors. At the side of these two machines, in the Panorama Lounge, three or four kinds of fresh cookies are available.
Dinner generally begins at 7 p.m., with minor variations again depending on activities onshore. A typical menu includes appetizers of Black forest ham, mushroom-filled pasta squares and potato soup. Entrees might be filet of sole in dill with pasta and vegetables; pork tenderloin with an herb sauce, potatoes and glazed vanilla carrots; and celery medallions in hazelnut crust with lentils and a pumpkin sauce. Every dinner also includes a vegetarian option. Dessert on our sailing included Bavarian cream and elderflower jelly with forest berries, strawberry ice cream with caramelized walnuts, and German apple pie. Each night, dessert options include a fresh fruit platter and a rotating selection of three cheeses with crackers.
With your dinner, you have a choice of red or white wine, usually regional. But passengers may request other wines and Champagne. Again, alcoholic beverages are included in the fares, and Champagne is even placed in ice buckets by the breakfast and lunch buffet line.
Another dinner option is Portobello's, located forward of the River Cafe and separated from it by glass walls. It seats about 30 and has one service per night of its limited Italian menu. This dinner begins at the same time as that in the Crystal Dining Room (7 p.m.). There's no added fee to dine there, but reservations are necessary due to the limited seating.
Finally, Scenic Jade serves an elegant six-course wine-pairing dinner with a fixed menu in what it calls Table La Rive. This actually is a table for 10, located at the far-forward end of the Crystal Dining Room. Silvery sheer curtains are drawn around them, although these did not block out the sounds or the view of the rest of the dining room.
The Table La Rive dinner -- again, no added cost, but reservations are a must -- was far and away the best food served on our voyage. Everything that was supposed to be served hot was hot, not warm, and the presentation, by multiple simultaneous servers, was smooth. The menu included lemongrass creme brulee, salmon carpaccio with radicchio and warm pine nuts, tiger prawns with mango and chili, porcini cappuccino with blue potato chips, beef a la "Scenic" with foie gras, vegetables, and potato gratin. Chocolate cake with balsamic cherries and bourbon vanilla ice cream was served for dessert.
While the cruise's foods overall usually tasted good, too many times cooked items had either cooled or had dried out in the chafing dishes. That was true for the wiener schnitzel served at one lunch. The veal had been pounded thin, but the batter and meat were too dry. The food on our cruise was hardly the same high quality found in the ship's appointments, enrichment programs and personal-choice tours.
Scenic Jade also offers 24-hour room service, though entrees are limited to smoked salmon on toast or pastrami on rye toast. The only room service appetizer is dried Pancetta ham with cheese, olives and breadsticks.
The room service breakfast is broader, boasting both hot and cold items, breads and pastries, juices and cereals.
Scenic Jade Ship Stats
- Crew: 50
- Launched: 2014
- Decks: 4
- Passengers: 167
- Registry: Malta