Crystal Cruises is serving a revamped menu. // (c) 2014 Crystal Cruises
In order to appeal to the tastes of baby boomers as well as older passengers, Crystal Cruises has introduced two strikingly different dining experiences onboard the recently renovated Serenity. Executive vice president Thomas Mazloum said that the brand was pursuing a policy of “evolutionary innovation” with its new dining room menus.
Serenity’s revamped menu literally has two sides: on the right is the traditional menu with plenty of classic dishes to choose from, while the left side offers more adventurous and innovative options. On my recent cruise, the innovative dishes ignited conversation between passengers as they tasted each other’s choices and ordered more.
“You will never see both of these approaches in the same restaurant anywhere — on land or sea — because they require different training, different equipment and different ingredients,” Mazloum said. “But we have done it.”
The Crystal Classics menu includes staples such as prime rib and lobster and regional specialties like paella. The Modern Cruising menu utilizes contemporary culinary equipment and techniques — Pacojets that create mousses, smoking guns, high-emulsion blenders and immersion circulators — and the results are spectacular. Each dish is presented creatively as well. And the presentation is as creative as the dishes. For example, barely seared beef is smoked and sealed in a rubber-ringed jar and served on top of mashed potatoes and horseradish cream and smoke drifts out when a diner opens the jar.
Guests order freely from both sides of the menu and the dessert list is a mixture of both techniques.
Though some people were dubious when they first looked at the menu, the verdict was unanimously enthusiastic once dishes were sampled and the adventurous pressed their tablemates to try the creations.
The evening menu at Tastes, the outdoor (when the dome is retracted) restaurant on the Lido deck, has also been overhauled. If I were sailing a long cruise on Serenity, you would probably find me there at least half the time. The restaurant is a pleasure by day, but at night when the candles are lit, the twinkling lights glow and you can smell the scents of the herb garden, suddenly life under the big umbrellas is better than good.
The inventive tapas menu with artistically presented dishes is a showstopper. The new globally inspired list of small dishes was created in association with Sapphire Restaurants in Laguna Beach, Calif. Our table sounded like a swarm of bees instead of a group of journalists, with everyone exclaiming “Mmmmm” as we savored the luscious tidbits of butternut squash ravioli, Alsatian tart, Tunisian crab warka, California street tacos, North African lamb dumplings and more. Finally, the scent of the dark chocolate creme brulee was enough to tempt even those with the strongest willpower.
A generous range of complimentary wines comes with the meal and the atmosphere is convivial.
Crystal president and COO Edie Rodriguez says it’s her new favorite restaurant, and it really is hard to beat, even on a ship where dining approaches a religion,