The Baroque Restaurant is the main dining venue onboard. Unless times are altered to accommodate shore excursions, breakfast is served from 7 a.m. until 9 a.m., lunch from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. and dinner from 7 p.m. until 9 p.m. The restaurant is open seating, with tables for two to eight. Uniworld does not operate the strict mealtime schedule found on some other vessels, which creates a relaxed atmosphere and helps avoid everyone clamoring into the restaurant at the same time for lunch and dinner.
In keeping with its name, the Baroque Restaurant on the Schonbrunn Deck is another flamboyant room, with a rich gray-blue and gold color scheme, comfortable herringbone-striped dining chairs with padded arms, barley-twist hand-gilded pillars and large mirrors. At breakfast and lunch, tables are set with Chilewich placemats; at dinnertime, they are topped with crisp white tablecloths. Tables can be a bit close together and that, coupled with a low ceiling, can make for a loud environment at peak dinnertime.
The central buffet is the focus at breakfast and lunch, offering two identical lines with an extraordinarily wide selection of hot and cold self-serve dishes, plus additional buffet areas with salads and desserts.
At breakfast, you can get the day off to a sparkling start with a glass of Champagne or a mimosa before moving on through the expansive choice of fresh and dried fruit, yogurt, smoothies and Swiss-style homemade muesli to tempting freshly baked items, including assorted breads and baguettes, muffins, bagels, donuts and croissants that rival the best in France. Cold choices include smoked salmon and mackerel, daily marinated fish, sliced ham and prosciutto, cheeses and salad items.
The hot line features a variety of sausages, with some from the local region represented, bacon (in a choice of crispy or soft), grilled tomatoes, sauteed mushrooms, paprika potatoes, baked beans, sauteed bell peppers and a choice of plain scrambled eggs or a scramble with additional ingredients that vary from day to day. There's also a chef-manned station for omelets and fried eggs. You also have the option to order from a menu, which covers all types of cooked eggs and egg dishes made to order, including eggs Benedict, as well as pancakes, Belgian waffles, French toast and hot cereals. If you like espresso drinks, those are also available from the attentive waiters, including cappuccinos and lattes. Loose-leaf teas are served by the pot.
At lunch, the hot buffet features regional specialties inspired by the voyage, like Hungarian goulash, roasted Prague ham or Bavarian sausages, a pasta of the day, at least two healthy vegetable dishes, rice and potatoes. International dishes make an appearance, too, so you might find fish and chips, grilled free-range chicken breast or a stir-fry. There is always a carving station with a freshly roasted meat that changes daily. Soups range from light vegetable choices to interesting local offerings, like a delicious Slovakian sauerkraut soup with bacon and smoked sausage.
Still hungry? Head for the wide selection of salad items, including lettuces, spinach, carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes and five prepared salads. You can choose prepared dressings (including one that's a recipe from Beatrice Tollman) or olive oils and balsamic vinegars. There's also a crudites bar, with celery sticks, cauliflower, cherry tomatoes and carrots sticks, along with assorted dips. If you just want to grab a sandwich, there are also several creative selections daily, like an open-faced version with arugula, red beets and Bavarian blue cheese or chicken with Brie. Desserts are laid out, primarily in individual portions (small enough to invite you to try several different items), and often include local specialties, too. So in addition to cheesecakes, mousses and fresh fruit, you might discover Franconia apple cobbler, Black Forest cake, Sacher torte, chocolate Danube cake or Austrian buchteln (pull-apart rolls) served warm with poppy sauce. There is always an ice cream bar with three choices and an excellent selection of cheese.
At dinner, dishes are a delight to the eye, as well as the palate. The menu always includes a suggested four-course meal, which often features local specialties (Hungarian chicken paprikash or a perfectly crisp and greaseless Wiener schnitzel); a vegetarian offering (usually three savory courses, like salad with local goat cheese, light cream soup of "roasted root vegetables with rice and fresh herbs" and Hungarian tomato-pepper stew); and a "Traveling Lite" option (three courses, often with fish, and including a light dessert, like mango sorbet with a fresh fruit skewer).
The right side of the menu presents items a la carte, usually offering three starters, two soups and three main courses, plus an "alternative choice" section with comfort items like Caesar salad, strip sirloin, salmon, chicken breast and baked potatoes.
A typical menu might include vegetable or chicken and noodle soup (again made to Mrs. Tollman's recipe), seared scallops served with sesame spinach and glazed cherry tomatoes, slow-roasted Angus beef and a dessert of warm hazelnut-chocolate pudding with whipped cream and vanilla-orange compote. If you still have room, there's a selection of international cheeses.
We spoke with a vegetarian passenger who said the restaurant staff took particular care to make sure she was happy. When she commented that she wished there were more lentils on the menu, the chef presented a lentil soup the following day. This is just one example of how we noticed staff catering to individual tastes and needs to create a very personal dining experience.
Wine-lovers will appreciate the fine complimentary red and white wines served with each meal. These are usually matched to the sailing region and introduced by the sommelier at the end of the pre-dinner cruise briefing. We found the wines to be uniformly excellent -- far better than the included wines we've be served on other cruise lines.
An atmospheric area for coffee, cakes and more is the cozy Viennese Cafe, on the lower Bavarian Deck. An early-bird breakfast is available in the Viennese Cafe and lounge from 6 a.m. to 7 a.m., as well as a late breakfast that begins at the end of the normal breakfast time and runs for one hour, usually ending at 10 a.m., depending on the daily schedule. With its small tables, chairs and banquette seating, it really does feel as if you're sitting in an onshore cafe. Coffee, tea, lemonade and espresso drinks are available on a self-serve basis at any time, and sweet treats can be plucked from a rotating display cabinet.
Those in search of lighter bites can head to the Leopard Bar, situated aft on the Hofburg Deck, where a snack menu is available from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Items include goulash soup, a club sandwich, sliders, hot dogs and chicken wings, as well as brownies, ice cream, cheeses and fresh fruit. In good weather, food and drink can also be enjoyed on the alfresco terrace area at the aft of the ship, directly outside the bar.
Several times during the voyage, special dinners are also held in the intimate Leopard Bar, for just 20 diners. The first of these events is for suite passengers only, but later ones are available on a sign-up basis, with notice provided in the daily program. The tasting-style menu begins with a glass of Champagne or kir royale, then moves on to a five-course meal. On our cruise, it featured a starter sampler with bites that included a tiger shrimp, Black Forest ham, vegetable quenelle and German onion pie; then moved onto zucchini soup, spinach ricotta tortellini with forest mushroom foam and roasted beef sirloin in a pinot noir reduction. Dessert was another sampler of little treats, followed by coffee and digestifs.
Finger sandwiches, fruit and pastries can be found in the Habsburg Salon on the upper Hofburg Deck during afternoon tea, served from 4 p.m. until 5 p.m. Throughout the day, passengers can also help themselves to sweet treats from large jars in the lounge.