The battle of the forks
AUSTRALIA is well-known for its high-quality cuisine and fresh produce, so it’s no surprise that when Aussies take to the sea, they expect the best. Eager for their slice of the foodie market, cruise lines have been upping their game in the dining department. Once known for the sheer quantity of food, many are refining their quality, partnering with celebrity chefs and enhancing the dining experience to cater for the everyday Aussie connoisseur. Jasmine O’Donoghue dished out the top specialty restaurant on each cruise line homeported in Australia in the 2017/18 season.
Norwegian Cruise Line
Price per person: US$24.95
Taste it in local waters on: Norwegian Jewel
Brazilian steakhouse Moderno Churrascaria was retrofitted aboard Norwegian Jewel and features a modern, sleek ambience. Guests can tuck in to skewers of slow-roasted meats including beef, pork, lamb and chicken, all carved tableside by Pasadores. Moderno’s salad bar offers a selection of freshly prepared salads, tuna, French beans, potato, shrimp and roasted garlic, hearts of palm, ceviche, European cured meats and artisan cheeses. The meal can be washed down with Brazil’s national cocktail, Caipirinha, made with Leblon Cachaca, lime slices and simple syrup.
SHARE by Curtis Stone
Serving: Seasonal signature dishes
Price per person: A la carte or fixed price menu $39 per person plus drinks
Taste it in local waters on: Sun Princess
Princess Cruises teamed up with Celebrity Chef Curtis Stone to create the SHARE by Curtis Stone concept. The comfortable, homely atmosphere is reflected in the design, drawing inspiration from Stone’s own home — right down to the books on the shelves. A communal table is at the centre of the restaurant, while words that encompass the experience, like family, travel and togetherness, have been etched into hand blown glass pendants. Stone’s favourite dish is the roasted king crab leg which is baked with lemongrass and paired with a chicharron powder (crispy pig skin crumble) along with a fermented soybean aioli, while the roast chicken with a bacon slab and onion slaw is popular among guests.
Serving: European fine dining with a contemporary twist
Price per person: US$45
Taste it in local waters on: Celebrity Solstice
Guests can find tableside lobster presentation, a selection of artisanal cheeses and an extensive American and French wine list at Murano. The Wild Forest Mushroom Cappuccino is a signature starter and the Muscovy Duck Breast is another popular option. The Six Senses menu is “designed to stimulate all your senses” and serves six courses in a tasting menu, paired with wine.
Royal Caribbean International
Price per person: US$30
Taste it in local waters on: Ovation of the Seas
This casual Italian bistro is the first seafaring outpost of British Celebrity Chef Jamie Oliver. Serving lunch and dinner, top picks include the cured meat plank, packed with fennel salami, pistachio mortadella, prosciutto and schiacciata picante. The prawn linguine is a popular option, along with Jamie’s Italian Signature Porchetta – slow-cooked British pork belly filled with herbs, garlic & spices, served with fennel crackling and a watercress salad.
Salt Grill by Luke Mangan
Serving: Contemporary Australian in a modern setting
Price per person: $39pp for lunch, $49pp for dinner plus drinks and $25pp for high tea.
Taste it locally on: P&O Cruises’ five-ship fleet
Capacity: 62 on Pacific Eden
Salt Grill by Luke Mangan is the first restaurant at sea by an Australian Celebrity Chef. Australian produce is used for signature dishes including Mangan’s trademark Sydney crab omelette with enoki mushroom herb salad and miso mustard broth, and for dessert, his Liquorice Parfait with lime syrup. The restaurants have a relaxed and sophisticated vibe.
Holland America Line
Price per person: US$33
Taste it in local waters on: ms Maasdam
Pinnacle Grill is Holland America Line’s American steakhouse and seafood specialty restaurant. Headed by executive chef Rudi Sodamin, popular dishes include Dungeness Crab Cakes, Double R Ranch steaks ranging from 7-36oz, and for dessert, the Not-So-Classic Baked Alaska.
Carnival Cruise Line
Price per person: A la carte from AU$2-$22 per item
Taste it locally on: Carnival Spirit or Carnival Legend
Bonsai Sushi serves Asian-inspired delicacies, including sushi and sashimi along with Asian beers, sake and cocktails. The “ship for two” comes out as a boat laden with sushi, offering guests a bellyful of Triple E roll, California roll, tuna and salmon sushi served with a side salad and miso soup to start. The Bonsai Triple E roll is fresh water eel with Japanese eggplant and tamagoyaki.