|Eggplant and Olive Tapenade in Taste|
Who doesn’t love pictures of food? This guilty pleasure can help you savor some of the items onboard the Norwegian Epic from Norwegian Cruise Line without any of the calories. With 21 dining options onboard, you can easily eat at a different dining venue for each meal and never duplicate any of them. Some of them do charge a per person fee, but for the quality of the food and the variety, it definitely is worth the extra expense.
The restaurants that are included in your cruise fare include the two main dining rooms, Taste and the Manhattan Room. Our very first meal aboard the Norwegian Epic was in Taste and if you didn’t read my post about our lunch, go here to read it. This photo is of the appetizer my husband had, the eggplant and olive tapenade with pita bread and a Boddington’s beer. The menu was identical to that which we had on the Norwegian Dawn in August, so clearly the menus are fleet wide and aren’t updated that regularly.
|Moroccan Sweet Potato Rice Cake|
We visited Taste once again for a dinner service and our dinner got off to a rough start when we were seated right next to the service door in back despite the restaurant only being about a third full. Our waiter had two tables including ours and he was MIA most of the dinner service. Combine that with the food, which was less than stellar and our dinner was definitely not one I want to remember. This was one of our entrees, the Moroccan Sweet Potato Rice Cake with chickpea salad and cilantro yogurt. It was light on the chickpea salad, heavy on the cilantro yogurt, mushy on the inside, and the sweet potato was completely undetectable.
Trying to salvage the last of our dinner, we opted for dessert when our waiter made one of his few appearances and ordered the warm bread and butter pudding with caramel sauce along with coffee. What arrived was an omelet square. Yes, an all egg dessert called bread pudding will not go unnoticed by guests NCL. This meal service was one of the few where we ate very little and left with little positive to say. We understand that making meals for thousands of people during a cruise week may mean that we aren’t eating in a fine dining restaurant, but we do have some basic food quality expectations. Overall, we found the meals in the main dining rooms to be less than desirable, which resulted in us avoiding them altogether and spending money on almost every meal in a specialty restaurant.
If we didn’t want to do that, we would go to the Garden Cafe, the ship’s buffet restaurant on deck 15. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, you could definitely find something to eat here if you didn’t want to either spend money in a specialty restaurant or go to one of the main dining rooms. As long as you aren’t expecting gourmet fare, you won’t be disappointed. My son loved the made to order omelets in the morning and would order two at a time (I hate him and his insanely efficient metabolism). He also liked that they had the basics like salad, french fries, pizza, and hamburgers. However, a few days into it he was already getting bored with the food options. My husband and I liked the vegetarian Indian options, which were limited to two entrees and rice, but at least it was there. Strangely enough, almost no one but us ate the Indian food and we heard many people making derogatory comments because they clearly had never eaten Indian food and weren’t about to try something new on their cruise. The rice was disappointing as it was most certainly of the Minute Rice variety and not regular cooked rice and believe me, you can taste the difference. Occasionally, they would have a vegetarian wrap in the sandwich area, but meat was at the center of almost every item available. The salad bar was sparse with just your basics and a few specials mixed in daily. I wish they had more fresh vegetables in this area so we could have indulged in fresh salads. It just seemed like a lot of olives and canned vegetables and that I couldn’t get past. Their breads, of course, are really good including the pretzel rolls and sticks. Unfortunately, you can’t just live on bread. They always offer and abundance of fresh fruit like pineapple and melon in the morning and I was most appreciative of that. I can’t say I would want to eat there every day for every meal, but it was a good option when we needed something quick.
|Ribeye Steak Fiorentina in La Cucina|
The specialty restaurants were much appreciated as we knew we would enjoy our meals there. Teppanyaki was good, but I do have to say that they could improve the non-meat meal more by simple pressing the tofu and using a firm tofu instead of silken tofu. It’s simply not the right tofu to use for this kind of presentation. My son loved La Cucina because he was able to indulge his carnivorous self easily there. He started with the beef carpaccio appetizer and moved right into the ribeye steak fiorentina as shown in this picture. The meat was cooked perfectly and he was more than filled up on the meaty goodness. My husband opted for the cheese tortellini with pesto and loved it. The service was great, ambiance was inviting and appropriate, and it was probably our most memorable meal of the cruise.
When considering a cruise on a mass market or contemporary cruise line like Norwegian Cruise Line, you certainly don’t expect fine dining, but you do go in expecting a certain quality of food and dining atmosphere. I would say they delivered on my expectations, but I also think that my expectations are changing and I wish that the cruise line’s would as well. I think people are worried less about quantity and simply want better quality. Yes, there will always be people who gorge on the food from the buffet as if it is the last supper, but most people aren’t like that. Their cruise vacation might be one in a lifetime and they want it to be more than memorable. People just don’t want to go on cruises to eat, but when they do, they do want a meal to remember. The food shouldn’t be the same as what you can get at Old Country Buffet or Golden Corral and by just providing healthier and fresher options, you can’t go wrong. It’s a shame that in order to get healthier food options, you have to look at a more expensive cruise line. The cruise lines spend lots of money to sign on celebrity chefs to work menus, but if they worked with what they had and provided more variety, fresh products, and lighter overall taste and calories, I do believe cruise guests would love it. Am I wrong?