One of our top priorities when choosing for a cruise line is the gastronomical level onboard. Celebrity Cruises has always been on our preferred list for big ship cruising since we first sailed with the line in 2011. And even though we have seen some major cutbacks in this field over the last five years (no more sunday brunch, smaller portions in the main dining room, no more midnight fruit buffets on deck, no more Baked Alaska parade, etc), the Modern Luxury approach to ingredients, composition and quality of the onboard catering still remains on a very high level.
Particularly the speciality restaurants of the line are always a delightful treat while sailing the seven seas, so when we boarded Celebrity Equinox for our 12 nights adventure through the Greek islands in May 2016, it was self-explaining that we purchased the 3-dinners package right the first day on board.
Ranking at 99 USD per person, the package covers the surcharges for the three most admirable dining locations on the ship: Tuscan Grille, the Italian inspired Steak House, Silk Harvest, an Asian inspired fusion kitchen concentrating mainly on Chinese and Japanese cuisine, and our most favourite spot, Murano, celebrating the contemporary achievements of the French cuisine on a highly distinguished level.
Even though there is no such thing as an Italian steakhouse in real life (Italians would stare at you with astonishment if you´d ask for such a thing in Milan, Rome or Naples), I have always been a big fan of this dining venue from the first time on. At least until last december, when I got to experience the new restaurant concept (including a complete new menu missing most of my favourites) on the at that time newly refurbished Celebrity Infinity.
The “new” Tuscan Grille will be rolled out fleet wide with Celebrity Equinox being refitted somewhere in July 2016.
The overhauled menu will feature new appetizers, the introduction of pizza and homemade pasta dishes as well as a private dining room that can be booked for special occasions, private events or a larger group. On the other side, some of the most popular dishes (like the signature Steak tartar or the Papadelle pasta with Lobster) will no longer be available, as well as the beautiful Antipasti service that was once an included delight before the actual meal began.
On the new menu, you may find this now being listed under appetizers at an additional charge on top of the cover charge for the restaurant! And the latter, having been under 20 USD in 2011, Tuscan Grille´s extra charge now ranks with 45 USD per person second place behind luxurious Murano. Yet absolutely failing to reach the quality that Murano propounds.
Frankly, I am not a big fan of what the future Tuscan Grille will be like. But I have to admit, that it was absolutely time to revamp the dishes. And while I am not saying that the ideas of the future meals are of poor quality, the whole concept simply fails to surprise and surpass expectations that a cover charge of 45 USD per person succeeds to arouse. Especially, when I can get pizza and pasta up in the Oceanview Café. I am very excited how you guys will judge on it in the future!
It was our first time to Silk Harvest, Celebrity Cruises´ Asian inspired speciality restaurant, which can only be found aboard Celebrity Solstice and Celebrity Equinox. The restaurant is situated in the space that has been afterwards evolved into the line´s highly popular Qsine, right opposite of Aqua Class´dedicated restaurant BLU.
Layout, decor and furnishing are quite similar to that of the subsequent Qsine, yet the menu focuses on Chinese, Japanese, Thai and Vietnamese specialities. Bringing along the tradition of the Far East to share each dish amongst each other.
And the food is most delicious! We enjoyed the Spicy Rock Shrimp Tempura and the Pork & Shrimp Pot Stickers as appetizers, along with some Sushi (consisting of a combination of the Celebrity Maki Roll, the Signature “Equinox” Maki Roll and the Forbidden Maki Roll, each half a roll). Flying to Japan frequently, the quality of the Makis can only be described as impeccable! The Shrimp Tempura was crisp outside and the shrimp juicy and tasty in the inside. Perfectly done. The same applied to the Pot Stickers. Hmmmmmm.
My main dish was the Red Curry Duck. It was not too spicy and the ginger complemented well with the Lemon grass scallions. It was so delicious, that I had a hard time-sharing it with my partner at all, LOL. He opted for the Chinese Pepper Steak. The wok-fried beef was most tender with a great roasted flavor to it! Really perfect!
We would have loved to try the dessert menu as well, but we had already spotted earlier that Al Bacio Café was offering our favourite cake that night, the soft and tender Peanutbutter Sponge Cake. So there was no discussion than to finish the evening with a piece of this delicacy and a double espresso while watching the lively scenery around the Grand Atrium before the privacy of our stateroom was calling again.
While carrying an Italian name, Murano is concentrating on the classic French inspired cuisine. The menu reads like one served in any Michelin star rated restaurants ashore and the decor, service and wine list are without exaggeration the top-level you could indulge in on any Celebrity cruise.
It is without comparison the best speciality restaurant aboard (the Millennium class vessels used to feature a similar product, which, shame on Celebrity Cruises, has been replaced by the new TUSCAN GRILLE).
Murano is a great place if you would like to treat yourself to fine dining in a cosy, elegant yet relaxed atmosphere. The interior is decorated with wide wooden chairs, softly padded, contemporary artwork on the walls and an elegantly designed round centerpiece with seating. Murano glass inspired chandeliers radiate a warm and dimmed light, the tables are set with fine linens and the silver tableware shines in the light of real candles.
Orders can be placed either as a 6 courses set meal & wine pairing menu called Five Senses (additional costs apply) or à la carte.
When the price is right, we always love to hang onto Champagne throughout our dinners. Murano served Laurent Perrier, one of my favourite brands. With around 120 US Dollars including tip not the best deal, but at least a very tasty one.
I started out with the Warm Goat Cheese Soufflé followed by the Diver Scallop Wellington Style, both as starters. The soufflé was perfectly fluffy and had a delicate but not obtrusive goat flavour. The scallop was magnificent.
As the entrée I opted for the Five Spiced Crusted Cervena Venison Loin on celery root fondant with wilted spinach, red cabbage marmalade and accompanied by lingonberry sauce. The meat perfectly tender and rich in taste while the vegetables were cooked right to the point.
While not being the biggest dessert fan, this time we decided to share the Flambéed Crêpe with Vanilla icecream and Balsamic Strawberries. Murano is licensed to flambé right at the table, which is always a pleasure to watch!
We concluded with a selection of cheese followed by the complimentary chocolates selection and double espressi. Perfection!
Please wear expendable trousers on this evening and do not plan for dancing afterwards. 🙂