Guest Review: Chef's Table on Oasis of the Seas
Please welcome back guest blogger Marc Schwartz as he shares with us his review of the Chef's Table on Oasis of the Seas.
My wife, Dianna, and I were on the Oasis of the Seas for the second time in March of 2014. This was our seventh cruise on RCI and our third on the Oasis class.
As I noted in a prior review, we have come to enjoy specialty dining on board the ships, especially the Oasis class, given the flexibility and the variety of options. We now rarely eat in the main dining room as a result and did so only once on this most recent cruise. We also recently started to eat more casual and relaxing dinners in the Windjammer and were surprised to see just how many people do so. If you have not eaten dinner in the Windjammer, bring along a bottle of wine and give it a try! Presumably, the dining pattern that we have evolved to over the past few cruises is becoming sufficiently popular that it is the underlying motivation for RCI to implement the new Dynamic Dining program coming on the Quantum class ships. It will be interesting to see how that program evolves in time.
The Chef’s Table
As with 150 Central Park, the Chef’s Table provides for an upscale dining experience, along with an included wine pairing. This was our third dinner at the Chef’s Table and as with our prior experiences, was excellent. We also had a pleasant surprise…
The service charge for dinner at the Chef’s Table, as of this writing, is $85 per person, including gratuities. That may sound expensive, but consider that you are getting a unique and excellent five-course meal accompanied by multiple full glass pours of specially selected wines with each course. Don’t hesitate to ask for a refill if you find that you really like some of the wines. There was never any hesitancy by the staff to do this. You also get a staff signed copy of RCI’s 176 page, full color, hard cover, coffee table book, “Carte Du Jour, The Restaurants of Royal Caribbean International”, which provides pictures, recipes and other great information on RCI dining. The retail price of the book is normally $34.95.
The dinner atmosphere, as noted, is upscale and dress is recommended to be “smart casual” or better. We have observed a variety of dress during our meals, from business casual, to suits, to formal wear. I would also strongly urge that you make pre-cruise reservations unless you are doing a specialty dining package, where you may have to wait until you are onboard the ship to make some of the reservations. Given the limited, single seating each evening (up to 14 people), better to plan ahead, if you can.
The Evening Begins
Dining at the Chef’s Table, at least on the Oasis class ships, is a two-part experience. You begin the evening with a pre-dinner reception in the Library on Deck 11 at around 7:15 pm. Here your small group gathers and can enjoy a pre-dinner champagne or perhaps a white wine, if you prefer. The drink is included in the price of dinner. This lasts for about 20 minutes or so, after which you move next door to the Concierge Club, which is normally reserved for Diamond Plus level Crown and Anchor members and suite guests (except JS). The dinner is served on the upper level of the Club at a long table, with a podium type of position at the head of the table for the chef and sommelier, as they speak and present during the evening.
Now for the surprise. If you read my prior review on 150 Central Park from our April 2011 Oasis cruise, you will note that our server that evening was Mladen, from Serbia, who did an excellent job for us that night. Shortly after we arrived at the Library for the Chef’s Table pre-dinner reception, Mladen came in and introduced himself as our sommelier for the evening! It was great to see him again and we had the opportunity throughout the evening and after dinner, to talk to him, recall our prior dinner at 150, get some updates on him and life in general. Even though it had been almost exactly three years, it was as if no time had passed at all. It was wonderful!
After we were seated at the table on the upper level of the Concierge Club, we proceeded to introduce ourselves to the additional table mates that we had not spoken with in the Library. It was a diverse group both in terms of age and demographics, including several people from outside the U.S.
Mladen introduced our Table Manager for the evening, Raul and then our Chef for the evening, Pastor. Pastor then provided an overview of the menu for the evening. In advance of each course, Mladen would introduce the wine that was paired with each dish and Pastor would present and describe the ingredients and the preparation processes, some of which are actually started the day before.
We then proceeded with each course, in order:
Confit of Atlantic Salmon with Lobster Tail - Paired with Voignier, Cline 2012
Duo of Soups (Celeriac Cream and Double Duck Consommé) - Paired with Pinot Noir, La Crema, 2012
Seared Diver’s Scallops - Paired with Scramsberg Cremant, Demi-Sec 2008
Slow Roasted Veal Tenderloin - Paired with Nimina Salentein Grande Carte 2011
And finally the dessert:
Caramelized Pear Over Nougat Montelimar Parfait - Paired with Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc, Errazuriz 2011
As if the dessert was not enough already, we also got a selection of chocolates and other treats. We were stuffed!
As at 150 previously, the wines were poured using the Il Decantino decanting flask.
We slowly moved through each course and the paired wine, enjoying the conversation with our table mates and the staff. The presentation of each course was very colorful and esthetically pleasing, getting your senses prepared for each. The tastes and textures of the dishes provided a great variety and the wines flowed freely, enhancing the spectrum of flavors experienced.
As is typically the case with today’s upscale dining, the serving sizes were modest, but as I noted above, we were very full by the end of the evening.
As the dinner concluded, we said goodbye to our table mates, hoping that we might see them again during the remainder of the cruise (and we did). We also sang our praises to the staff for the wonderful evening.
Be aware that the Chef’s Table fixed starting time is early enough that you should be able to make late evening activities, such as the 10:30 pm stage shows. Although, you are sufficiently stuffed that you might want to just relax, take a walk and get some fresh air on deck. Based upon our own prior experience, we did not see a show or other scheduled entertainment that evening.
This was a wonderful evening, with terrific food and wine, made even better by great service and attention from the staff and the company of our table mates. Our experience has been consistent over the three cruises where we have done the Chef’s Table and I would have no hesitancy in recommending this specialty dining option at all. Consider the Chef’s Table on your next cruise, if you will be on the Oasis class and RCI is introducing the Chef’s Table experience on other classes as well.
If you want to get a taste for the Chef’s Table on the Oasis class, RCI has a brief YouTube video and interestingly enough, Mladen (in the blue vest) is the sommelier in the video!