Our Celebrity Reflection Thanksgiving cruise had a total of eleven dining venues. Well, ten plus Cafe Al Bacio, where there are complimentary pastries and the Gelateria, for delicious gelato for a charge. As for the others, four are available at no additional fee, but with a caveat. Blu is the main dining room for those in Aqua Class, while Luminae is the dining room for those in suites. The other two choices are Opus, the main dining room, and Oceanview Cafe, the buffet.
A word on the buffet before I move on to the specialty restaurants. It is outstanding. There is an entire fromagerie section, with a wide assortment of cheeses, a made to order stir fry station (and eggs/omelets in the morning), breads, pastries, pastas (also some made to order), meats, curries, desserts, ice creams, and in the evenings, sushi. We indulged in a little sushi snack many evenings.
Most of the items on the buffet were quite good, and I love the variety. Despite the full-to-capacity ship, we were always able to find a table, although we usually did not go during peak meal times. I love Oceanview Cafe, and find the food, and drink service, to be quite good.
LAWN CLUB GRILL
We had two complimentary specialty dining nights included, one as a suite perk, and one as a group amenity. The first one chosen was Lawn Club Grill. Situated on the top deck, surrounded by real grass, I thought it was a good choice for our sail away from San Juan evening.
Lawn Club Grill is open air, with a center grill and a giant salad bar. It was wonderful. My only complaint is this: way too much food, made worse by the waiters encouraging us to order more. It seemed a bit wasteful. As much as I love lamb chops, I certainly did not need two double cut chops, and an additional seafood skewer.
We started the meal with “flatbreads“. This is a misnomer. They are pizzas. Perfectly cooked, crispy crust, pizzas. And that was the problem. They were too good. Our party of 10 made quick work of the vegetable, margarita and pepperoni pizzas.
Next, it was on to the salad bar. I kind of like the salad bar idea, and this one was chock full of good stuff, but frankly, in a $45/person cover charge restaurant, I would rather they simply offer plated salads. Just my opinion.
Finally, the meats. You have the option to grill your own, but I am on vacation, and I cook at home on a daily basis, so we were all happy to let the expert grill masters prepare our food. The lamb chops were perfect. It seemed that everyone’s meat, fish and seafood was cooked nicely, and we all enjoyed. Except it was too much food. Now I know: order less next time. That is an easy solution to a non-problem. There will definitely be a next time.
One note on side dishes: although the lobster mac and cheese sounds like a good idea, skip it. You are welcome. (OK, fine, try it for yourself. I told you so.)
Tuscan was the choice for our second specialty dinner, largely because our experience the first time in Murano aboard the Solstice in May was not stellar. It turned out fine, but this time we wanted to try something else.
Tuscan Grille is a lovely, large room with windows overlooking the water. Dining late does not afford us sunset views, so when we were seated close to the door it was fine with me. The menu is Italian Steakhouse themed, and there are so many delicious sounding options, it is hard to decide. I had the mushroom ravioli, in an appetizer portion. YUM. Also at the table were other pastas, steak tartare and beef carpaccio, as well as a fried calamari. I have to say, I tried the tartare, and I am simply not a raw meat kind of gal. Everyone else seemed to enjoy it, though.
Salads were good, with the Caesar prepared tableside. The arugula goat cheese salad was another big hit. As for mains, the rib eye (my choice) was nicely prepared, and everyone else seemed please with their dishes as well. One of our friends had the appetizer ravioli with braised beef, which turned out to be another good call. I should add that the mac and cheese side dish here was delicious. No lobster, just a tangy Pecorino cheese.
By the time dessert rolled around, I was not remotely interested. That didn’t stop several others at our table for 12. Nor did it stop me from indulging in limoncello. Well, it was offered, who was I to decline? (By “offered” I mean my mom ordered a glass, and it seemed like a good idea to me, too.)
Bottom line: I found Luminae to be a better dining experience than either of the specialties, but they were both good, and a change of pace in another venue is never a bad thing.
BISTRO ON FIVE
We tried Bistro one port day when Luminae was closed for lunch. The crepes were good, salads were good, soups were good. All yummy food with excellent service in a peaceful environment. The upcharge of $10/person makes this another good change-of-pace option. It seems a reasonable cost for what you get. Plus, for desserts they have creamy milkshakes (salted caramel!) and gelato, with an entire trolley full of toppings. The trolley seemed lacking in hot fudge, but was otherwise fantastic.
We thoroughly enjoyed each meal, and snack, on the ship. Whether in the buffet, one of the specialties, or Luminae, we were pampered with a continuous flow of wine, good food and multiple special requests, all handled with grace.
Next up on the blog: the final installment covering suites, and the ever-popular trivia.