Restaurant Review

Restaurant Review: Chops Grille on Quantum of the Seas


Royal Caribbean has filled its Quantum-class cruise ships with a slew of specialty restaurant choices and among them is Royal Caribbean's flagship specialty restaurant, Chops Grille. 

Chops Grille has been a fan favorite choice for years and on Quantum of the Seas, we took the opportunity to see if this Royal Caribbean classic holds up on its newest class of ships.

On Quantum of the Seas, the restaurant features an updated menu that offers what you would likely find at any great American steakhouse on land.  There's a mix of choices that have been staples of the restaurant along with some new choices, most notably dry-aged steaks.  Dry-aged steaks are aged for nearly four weeks to enhance the flavor, tenderness and aroma.  Royal Caribbean is particularly proud to be offering dry-aged steaks first at sea and it's a tremendous addition.


Chops Grille is located in the aft section of deck 5, near the Schooner Bar.  Despite being onboard the ship for a few days at the time we dined here, I still found myself wondering where exactly it was located.  Odds are you will not be passing it by often as you walk around the ship (unlike Jamie's Italian or Wonderland) but once you look it up on a map, it's simple enough to find.

If you've been to any other Chops Grille on other Royal Caribbean ships, you will likely feel right at home at Chops Grille on Quantum of the Seas.  The restaurant's familiar use of browns, reds and yellows give the restaurant an "earth tone" decor.  I was pleasantly surprised to find the Chops Grille on Quantum of the Seas to be more well-lit than other restaurants I've been to.

Chops Grille has never had much of a real theme other than looking like a nice steakhouse.  You will find a large room with tables in the center and booths on the edges.  There's some good use of steel or aluminum lighting that seem like they were borrowed from American Icon Grill that give Chops Grille on Quantum of the Seas a little different touch.

For Royal Caribbean fans that been dining at Chops Grille for years, this restaurant will feel a lot like others you have been to.


Once you are seated, you will be served pretzel bread and butter, which is pretty darn tasty.  It's the kind of bread that you will eat more of it than you probably like because pretzel bread, when done well, is a tasty treat.

The menu at Chops Grille offers a wide selection of appetizers and for your entrees, there's plenty to choose from too.  

To start with, I opted for a Chops Grille classic: French onion soup. A microcosm of the difference between a specialty restaurant and the complimentary restaurant can be found in this soup.  At the Grande, there's a French onion soup served but the one at Chops Grille is far superior because of the ingredients used.  At Chops Grille, there's more cheese, thicker cut of onion and in general it just tastes better.

French onion soup at Chops Grille

French onion soup at The Grande

We also ordered a few appetizers to share at the table, such as the charred beef carpaccio and crab and shrimp cake.  Both were tasty and light choices that we enjoyed.

I mentioned earlier there are a lot of entrees to choose from but considering Chops Grille is a steakhouse, I feel obligated to choose a steak. Since updating Chops Grille's menu, Royal Caribbean offers a number of dry-aged steaks that have an extra cost in addition to other steaks that are included with the price of the restaurant.

I tried the dry-aged steak when I was on Navigator of the Seas and I'll be honest and say I really could not tell much of a difference between the dry-aged steaks and a less expensive steak.  Personally, my palette can appreciate a steak up to a certain level and after that, they all taste the same.  Clearly, I am not a connoisseur of steaks by any means.

We both decided to order from the regular steak menu.  I went with the "petite" New York Strip Steak (6oz) and my table mate opted for the "petite" filet mignon (6oz).

Both steaks tasted great and my only regret is I ordered too little steak.  I went with the petite cut because I always left the restaurant feeling stuffed but not the case this time!

I think we both agreed the steaks were great and by far it's the best cut of beef we had onboard the ship.  

The hidden gem of any Chops Grille visit are the sides. There side dishes are designed to be shared among the people at your table and they are generally really, really good.  So good that I leave some room for them because at my first few visits years ago, I would stuff myself before realizing the sides are so darn good.

We ordered gruyere cheese tater tots, roasted mushrooms, mashed potatoes and grilled jumbo asparagus.  All were quite good except for the tater tots.  The cheese gave it a very odd texture and next time I will go with the french fries instead.  

For dessert, I always order the same thing at Chops Grille and for good reason.  The red velvet cake is something I always pick and I've never been disappointed with it.   On this visit, the cake was as good as I remembered and I can continue to recommend it as a great choice.


The reason I go to Chops Grille on almost every Royal Caribbean cruise I go on is because of how consistently good it is.  Some restaurants are a bit of a gamble in the sense that they can be hit or miss but Chops Grille has been always a good experience and on Quantum of the Seas, it's more of the same.

If you have dined at Chops Grille many times as well, you will find Chops Grille to be a familiar choice and very similar to other Chops Grille restaurants across the fleet.  If you're new to Royal Caribbean, Chops Grille is a solid choice for anyone that wants a really good specialty restaurant experience.  Great food, good service and a moderate cost are what you will find at Chops Grille.

There's many online that will debate the merits of the dry-aged steaks on the menu and if they are worth it.  If you want to sample the very best steaks out there, there's no question dry-aged are in style and perfect for you.  But if you just want a good steak without the additional cost, the steaks included on the menu will do you just fine.

I think on my next trip to Chops Grille, I will sample some non-steak choices just to mix things up.  

Restaurant Review: Izumi on Quantum of the Seas


It's time for sushi at Izumi on Royal Caribbean's Quantum of the Seas!

Izumi is the Japanese specialty restaurant that first debuted on Oasis of the Seas and has been spreading across Royal Caribbean's fleet ever since. 

Izumi specializes in mainly sushi, although there are some non-sushi items on the menu.  I've been to Izumi on Oasis of the Seas and Navigator of the Seas and it's been a great option because, well, I love sushi.

Going on Quantum of the Seas, I had to give Izumi a try even if I had trouble getting a reservation.  On my cruise, Izumi did not take any reservations for lunch but did take reservations for dinner.  I was able to get a table for lunch just as they were opening up at noon!

I've always enjoyed eating at Izumi because of the great quality sushi available, especially compared to the sort of sushi you would find in the Windjammer on other cruises.  


Izumi is located on deck 5, in the heart of the Royal Esplanade.  It's nearly dead center in the ship, located between the Schooner Bar and Wonderland.

Izumi has a very open floor plan, with much of the restaurant exposed to the walk way that literally cuts through the restaurant.  There's bound to be a lot of other passengers walking by you, especially the tables closest to the entrance.  If you're looking for a quiet, intimate spot for a meal, this is not it.

The layout of Izumi is essentially a rectangle with a few extra tables opposite the entrance. There's also a sushi bar you can sit at for smaller groups or for those that want to see the chefs in action.

The furniture and look of Izumi is of a modern Japanese restaurant, with lots of reds and whites.  

It's interesting to see where Royal Caribbean placed Izumi, because of the complete lack of separation from the areas around it.  Unlike other Izumi restaurants on other ships that have dedicated rooms, on Quantum of the Seas, Izumi is much more open and feels like a "junior specialty restaurant".  


The menu on Quantum of the Seas is the same, whether you eat at Izumi for lunch or dinner.  

Nearly all of the items on the menu are sushi and we did not see the hot rock Japanese food that I first sampled on Oasis of the Seas (my wife would not have been pleased).  If you're okay with just sushi, the menu will be fantastic.

Like all Izumi's I have ever dined at, the miso soup and edamame soy beans are complimentary and you can have as much of either as you like.  

Both appetizers are very good and there is plenty of edamame to go around (as well as salt).  It's a great way to start off your meal.

The sushi offerings break down between nigri/sashimi, rolls and combinations.  Personally, I love to get a few different rolls to sample what appeals to me.

I found the prices of rolls at Izumi to be about average for what you would pay for similar rolls on land.  The chef's signature rolls tend to be more expensive but  most of the rolls will run you between $9 and $12, with most in the $10-11 range.  In the grand scheme of sushi roll prices, it's neither cheap nor expensive.

I opted for the box yellowtail in garlic ponzu roll as well as crispy spicy tuna roll.  I also ordered two yellowtail sashimi.  Tuna and yellowtail are my favorite types of fish for sushi, so I stuck with my guns.

Both rolls had excellent flavor and I thought the size of the rolls were about the same as what I might get on land.  I did not order any kind of crazy sushi rolls either, so what I received is right in line with my expectations.

I received six pieces for the box yellowtail roll and eight pieces for the crispy spicy tuna.  That's a great value for sushi.

My friends dining with me also had other kinds of sushi, including this DX sushi combination plate.  Both of them reported it was quite good.


Izumi is exactly what it advertises, a great spot for anyone that is in the mood for sushi.  

Royal Caribbean has set the bar for Izumi restaurants across its fleet and the Izumi on Quantum of the Seas easily meets that expectation.  Royal Caribbean did not reinvent what Izumi is with Quantum of the Seas, but instead offers another good choice for a specialty restaurant lunch or dinner meal.

I mentioned earlier I felt like Izumi was a "junior specialty restaurant", because I don't think it's on par with restaurants like Chops Grille, Wonderland or Jamie's Italian in terms of overall experience.  Please do not take this to mean Izumi is not worth your time or is in anyway substandard. Rather, it's a different kind of experience.  Izumi more closely matches up with specialty restaurants such as Michael's Genuine Pub or Johnny Rockets because they are smaller and have lower price points.

If it were up to me, I would eat sushi everyday and certainly Izumi is a great spot to do just that.  If you want really good sushi on your Quantum of the Seas cruise, then Izumi is the place for you.

What do you think of Izumi? Please let us know with a comment!

Restaurant Review: Silk on Quantum of the Seas


Dining aboard Royal Caribbean's Quantum of the Seas, you will likely have an evening at the ship's Pan-Asian complimentary restaurant Silk.

dined at Silk last year during the ship's inaugural events and was disappointed in the food overall but in the months since then, Royal Caribbean has updated the menu (and the service) and we decided to give it another try.


You will find Silk on deck 4 of Quantum of the Seas in the aft section.  Entering the restaurant, it has perhaps the most interesting decor of the complimentary restaurants available on Quantum of the Seas.

Instantly, you will get the sense this restaurant has Asian inspirations and it certainly feels the part.

Inside Silk, you will find elaborate arches, patterns and colors that all look like they could be out of Bangkok, Delhi or Shanghai.  In terms of the theming you will find in any of the complimentary restaurants, I really enjoy Silk's decor the most.

The layout of the restaurant is similar to the other complimentary restaurants, with a large room in the center with various alcoves of tables surrounding the main room.  There's also windows that look out to the ocean on one side of the restaurant.


Silk's new menu offers a lot more choices than the original menu and it's once again a mixture of dishes from Vietnam Thailand, India and China primarily. 

The menu also offers a few generic dishes that you will find at all the complimentary restaurants, such as grilled chicken breast, pasta primavera and salmon.  None of these are Asian, they are just the "fallback" menu choices that are always available every night, similar to the main dining room menu on other Royal Caribbean ships.

There's no breads to start off with so you can jump right into appetizers.  Most tables in Silk offer a lazy susan serving table that encourage guests to share dishes between your table mates.  Our table near the window did not have one of these but odds are your appetizers will be served on the lazy susan.

To start off, I went with the spring rolls.  Simple, yet the kind of food that is perfect for an Asian meal.  They were a lot like any other spring roll I've ever had, so neither bad nor great.

There are a lot of appetizers to choose from but I was looking for a light meal today so I saved my stretchy pants functionality for the entrees.

For dinner I doubled down on Indian food, which is my favorite cuisine.  I ordered the chicken tikka masala and the vegetable curry.  

The chicken tikka masala was the same dish I ordered last year and it's still the same dish now.  A few chunks of white chicken meat in an orange sauce, served with jasmine rice.  

The chicken was good but nothing special.  Moreover, it lacked any spice that is typical of Indian dishes.

The vegetable curry came next and once again, it lacked any spice or distinguishing flavor.  I'm guessing Royal Caribbean wants to avoid spicy dishes for fear no one will order them (most Americans seem not to enjoy spicy ethnic foods).  

My table mates opted to go with Chinese and Thai dishes and they reported their food had better reviews than what I ordered. 

For dessert, I went with plain old strawberry ice cream. No disappointment here!


Unfortunately, I had another disappointing meal at Silk but I would say it was only disappointing because I ordered poorly.  

The people I dined with and others on the ship that ordered other dishes seemed to enjoy their Silk experience more than I did, which is encouraging.  If I were to go back to Silk again, I would skip the Indian dishes and go with the Chinese or Thai choices.

I get the sense the menu update has made Silk a better restaurant but its menu still has some pitfalls.  Since you can order as much as you like at Silk, I would recommend ordered one of everything for the table and sampling to see what you like best. 

Next time, I will stick with the Indian food in the Windjammer (which is quite delicious) and go a little further east for my dining choices.

Restaurant Review: Jamie's Italian on Quantum of the Seas


One of the stand out restaurants that are available on Royal Caribbean's Quantum of the Seas has to be Jamie's Italian.  This simple yet tasty take on Italian food by British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver brings a whole different Italian restaurant experience to Royal Caribbean.  

We're excited to share with you what Jamie's Italian offers and if you should give it a try on your cruise as well.


Jamie's Italian is located in the Via section of the Royal Esplanade, close to Two70.  As you walk towards the restaurant, you will find an open air eatery that reminds you of a city sidewalk restaurant.

Once inside Jamie's Italian, you will find a restaurant that is simple in its look.  There's no traditional red and white checkerboard, Lady and the Tramp style tables either.  There's also not a hint of the formal look you may find in other Royal Caribbean specialty restaurants like Chops Grille or Portofino.

The tables and chairs are an assortment of different styles that almost look like the host called all of their friends to bring tables and chairs because the host did not have enough.  I'm not celebrity chef expert, but I do know that Jamie Oliver, the restaurant's namesake, purposefully makes his restaurants and food simple. 

After a few minutes looking around, Jamie's Italian feels like you're eating in someone's (very large) kitchen.  Tables are located all around the restaurant and the waiters are wearing simple white shirts with jeans.  There are also televisions on the walls showing Jamie Oliver cooking his food and there's an eclectic mix of popular music that we are told Jamie himself listens to.

Sitting down, you will find the restaurant feels very different than most other specialty restaurants.  If not for Wonderland, Jamie's Italian would certainly be the most unconventional specialty restaurant I've ever dined at on a Royal Caribbean ship.


The food at Jamie's Italian is quite obviously Italian but like the decor, it's not just spaghetti, pizza and other traditional fare.  

One of the neat things Jamie's Italian does is it makes all of its pasta by hand, each day.  When our waiter told us that, I immediately reconsidered what I was going to order because hand-made pasta makes a big difference compared to the boxed stuff.

When you walk into the restaurant, you will likely see many other tables enjoying food served off of a giant wooden plank and there's a good reason for it.  Citing the famous cliche, when in Rome, do as the Romans do, we also ordered the plank.  There are two to choose from: cured meats and seasonal vegetables.

Regardless of which plank you order, the waiter will ask you how many people will be enjoying the plank.  We told him two people and we wanted the cured meats plank.  Soon thereafter, he came out with a generous sampling of meats and cheeses.  There's fennel salami, pistachio mortadella, prosciutto & schiacciata picante.  If antipasti is your thing, this will be heaven for you.

I also sampled the arincini margherita, which are tomato & mozzarella risotto rice balls with arrabbiata sauce & Parmesan.  Of all the appetizers I sampled, this was my favorite.  I loved the texture and the sauce it was served on top of had a bit of kick to it.  

My table mates really liked the mushroom flatbread, which was definitely not pizza.  A mixture of fresh mushrooms and sprinkled cheese on top of a thin breading made for a great choice.  We realized about now that the appetizers alone were really, really good.

The crispy squid was exactly as the name implies.  My friend was the squid fan and reported it was quite good and definitely not chewy.

Perhaps the only disappointment of the meal was the Tuscan bean & single estate Italian olive oil bruschetta.  Ordinarilly, I love bruschetta but this was quite different than any bruschetta I've ever had.  It was cheesy (and not in a good way) and after one bite each, we all went back to our favorites.

A quick side note, I noticed on other tables in the restaurant there were View Finders and asked our waiter why we did not get one.  He informed me it was for children to see what the food they are going to order looks like.  I kindly requested I too get a chance to see our food in faux 3D, 1980's glory and I recommend asking for one too just for the fun of it!

Moving onto the entrees, once I figured out what aubergine meant (it's another name for eggplant), I ordered the aubergine parmigana. It's essentially a stack of baked eggplant slices in a warm pool of tomato sauce topped with cheese.  

Eggplant parmigana is an Italian food classic and I enjoyed it quite a bit. Was it better than the eggplant parm from Giovanni's Table? I'm not ready to go that far.

It is worth noting the freshly baked twisted garlic bread is really, really good and I recommend ordering an entire order of these just for your table to enjoy (or hoard them for yourself while giggling how good they are).

Earlier I had honed in on the fact their pasta was hand-made, so I ordered the penne pomodoro.  To most people, this is penne in a red sauce but again, the fresh pasta makes even a simple dish like this stand out.

The baked lasagna was a real treat as well, with the blend of fresh pasta (notice a trend yet?), mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses and beef and pork.


I'm no connoisseur of lamb but the lamb chops were also quite good.

By now, we had been through a food war but our waiter insisted we try the desert.  Who am I to argue with a man in jeans?

There's a number of intriguing selections on the dessert menu but the one that caught my eye was the epic homemade brownie.  I mean, who can resist that kind of a title?

I can report that there is no case of false advertising here.  The epic homemade brownie was terrific.  What makes it epic?  There's a freshly baked warm fudgy brownie with vanilla ice cream and caramelized amartetti popcorn on top.  Yup, epic.


We had eaten at Jamie's Italian towards the end of my cruise and all throughout the voyage, other passengers had always mentioned how good Jamie's Italian was whenever the topic of dinners came up and now I know why.

Jamie's Italian offers a great selection of Italian food that differentiates itself from most other food available on Quantum of the Seas. It's an interesting "reboot" of what we think about when it comes to Italian food.

Nearly everything we offered was very good.  In fact, I think of all the restaurants onboard Quantum of the Seas, Jamie's Italian had the best ratio of hits to misses, in terms of good food to bad food picks.  

I was lucky to have dined with a group of friends because the food here is perfect for sharing and it gives everyone a chance to sample a little of everything.  

Like most Royal Caribbean restaurants, I found the portion sizes to be on the small size, which makes ordering multiple entrees (and appetizers earlier) an easier decision.

Guest Review: Jamie's Italian on Quantum of the Seas


Check out this wonderful review by our good friends Don & Heidi from EatSleepCruise! They had the chance to check out Jamie's Italian on Quantum of the Seas and I can't wait to try it myself. Enjoy!

Quantum of the Seas has a variety of specialty restaurant options that cannot be found on other ships. On the last night of our 8 night sailing, we had pre-booked reservations to try one of these new establishments, Jamie’s Italian.

Created by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, this restaurant offers modern, Italian cuisine in a funky, casual atmosphere. The restaurant is a slight departure from other specialty Italian restaurants found on Royal Caribbean ships, including the family-style Giovanni’s Table and the slightly more upscale Portofino’s.

Still, Jamie’s Italian, which is open for lunch and dinner, served some amazingly fresh food that was worth the modest upcharge.


Located on Deck 5, Jamie’s Italian restaurant is a very welcoming space, nestled in the Via next to the beautiful Waves of Light Sculpture. Jamie’s Italian offers an up close view of this artwork with some “al fresco” style seats that are open to the area. While we did not dine in this area, many cruisers who choose to eat at Jamie’s Italian do opt for these tables that offer amazing views of the Via and plenty of people watching.

Inside Jamie’s, you feel as though you have entered a very modern kitchen. Similar to something you would expect from a restaurant in a major metropolitan area, the décor in Jamie’s Italian is a mix-match of colors and textures. Doses of bright, vibrant colors and different shaped furniture give the restaurant a casual, yet contemporary feel.

Plenty of Jamie Oliver’s cook books are on display and televisions throughout the venue regularly show segments form the chef’s television appearances. Neither of these decorative elements are distractions as they blend well into the overall restaurant layout and theming.

Dining Experience

Ambiance aside, the main star of this restaurant is the food.

With a menu that features a mix of warm and cold starters including the signature planks, pasta dishes, and meat based entrees, there is certainly something for everyone here. Given that we were here on the last night of our 8 night cruise, we had already sampled a vast array of great dishes at the four complimentary restaurants as well as a few of the other specialty restaurants. Still, we made it a point to sample as much of the cuisine as we could reasonably fit into our already expanding waistlines.

Our waiter was from Northern Italy and was very friendly and knowledgeable about the menu. Many of his recommendations were right on point, and we were glad we listened to him. Overall, the service was excellent, and the staff was very attentive.

We started dinner off with a few of the signature cocktails on the menu. I tried the Gennaro’s Sidecar, as I am a fan of sidecars to begin with, and the wife opted for the Rossini, a bubbly and fruity cocktail that was sweet enough for her tastes.

Before we even had a chance to examine the dinner menu, the waiter brought over a basket of bread which offered a nice selection, including crusty Italian bread, focaccia, and bread-sticks, served with an olive oil and balsamic vinegar dipping sauce.

We were debating whether we should order one of the planks, as many of the tables around us had them and they looked unbelievable, but instead we decided to try out some of the warm appetizers.

Growing up in Rhode Island, one of my favorite starters is fried calamari. Although, it is one dish I have never had on a cruise ship. I was pleasantly surprised when the waiter brought out a generous portion of light, crispy squid cooked to perfection, definitely fresh and made to order. Honestly, it was some of the best calamari I have ever had on land or sea.

The wife opted for a different starter as she is not much of a seafood fan. She tried the Arancini Margherita, which are deep fried risotto balls with mozzarella. They came covered in tomato sauce.

Even though the order only came with three, I was forced to eat one of them, with which I gladly complied. Similar to the calamari, this was a classic Italian-American starter that was made just right.

The appetizers were plenty filling, but there were still so many dishes left to try. On the recommendation from our waiter, we decided to order a pasta dish to split along with our entrees.

Our selection was the Penne Pomodoro, which came with a light sauce and was just the right amount for us to each have a taste of this homemade pasta as a side dish to our main course.

The wife, who is a picky eater, went with the only chicken dish on the menu, the Chicken Al Mattone, grilled chicken seasoned with garlic and rosemary.

It was not exactly what she was expecting as the cut of chicken was not all white meat, included a bone, and was topped with a glaze that was a bit greasy.

On the other hand, I ordered the Lamb Chops Scottadito, which was definitely the best lamb I had all cruise. It was a good serving size and had a nice grilled flavor. The dish was not necessarily what I think of when I think Italian food, but I am very glad I ordered it.

To add to the gluttony, our waiter also brought out some polenta chips. These were more like home fries, nicely textured and topped with rich Parmesan cheese. Not the healthiest side dish, but definitely a great addition to any dinner.

When I think about Italian food, besides pasta, dessert is the next thing that comes to mind. But, Jamie’s Italian actually does not have many traditional Italian desserts. 

So, we decided to order the tiramisu and the Epic Homemade Brownie. Of course, slightly melted vanilla ice cream paired perfectly with a warm brownie is always a good option.

On the other hand, we were warned by our waiter about the tiramisu, and he was right. It had a different texture than expected and an orange flavor. It was definitely a departure from the classic Italian treat.


Jamie’s Italian offers some great Italian classics with modern twists in a lively environment. The starters were authentic, and the homemade pasta was rich and delicious. The entrees were solid, and the side dish of polenta chips was an amazing accompaniment. While the dessert was a little disappointing, we should have listened to our waiter’s suggestion and tried something other than the tiramisu. The service at Jamie’s was among the best service we received all week on the ship. On our next sailing on Anthem of the Seas, we have reservations at Jamie’s Italian and will definitely make sure to sample more of the menu.

Jamie’s Italian can be found on the Quantum of the Seas and the Anthem of the Seas and offers Rustic, Italian food with a casual dress code. There is an upcharge of $15 for lunch and $25 for dinner. Reservations can be made prior to cruising on the Cruise Planner or while onboard.

Restaurant Review: Silk on Quantum of the Seas


On Royal Caribbean's brand new Quantum of the Seas, you will find the complimentary restaurant Silk that offers a variety of Asian dishes.

Silk offers Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese and Indian dishes in one restaurant.  Being a lover of Asian food, I had to try this on my recent Quantum of the Seas cruise.


Located on deck 4 on Quantum of the Seas, Silk is located in the aft of the ship across from American Icon Grill.  Walking into Silk is a lot like walking into the other three complimentary restaurants where there is a large foyer that leads into a larger dining room.  

Silk's look encompasses a lot of yellows, oranges and browns in color in a restaurant that has touches of India and the Far East.  When you walk in, you'll definitely know it's an Asian restaurant but without being able to pin point which kind, and that's definitely what Royal Caribbean was going for.

The main dining area is a large room with smaller alcoves on the sides that offer mostly tables and a few booths as well.  Once you dine in any of the complimentary dining rooms, you will start noticing the similar layouts but the decorations and color scheme help keep each from feeling like a copy of the other.


Once you're seated in Silk, you will get the menu to choose from. There's food from India, China, Thailand and Vietnam but it felt like it greatly skewed towards Thai and Chinese moreso than others.

I was seated at a table with other passengers and we all decided to order one of each of the appetizers to try, which is a great option for the group.  In the middle of the table is a lazy susan that you can put dishes on and share them easily with others.

Each of the appetizers were just large enough to probably be able to share with another person.  For our group, it was great to be able to share these dishes and many of them lent themselves for sharing.  

The big winners were the Vietnamese Tacos, Hot Ramen Noodle soup and chicken wings.  I especially liked the green papaya salad, which was a surprise hit.  I just found myself getting more and more of it.  

When it comes to Asian food, some people are concerned about the food being too spicey.  Most of the food was pretty tame in terms of spice and the dishes are more Americanized versions of these dishes rather than authentic recreations.  You can also tell the wait staff to keep it mild when you order.

For dinner, I had to go with the only Indian dish on the menu, the chicken tikka masala.  I'm a self-described Indian food nut and I always sample a lot of Indian food in the Windjammer when I get the chance.

Sadly, the chicken tikka masala was the only Indian dish on the meny on the evening I was there so it was an easy choice for me.

I really liked my choice because it was a good curried chicken dish that had soft pieces of chicken in a great curry.  The coconut jasmine rice was wonderful with the curry (you have to mix the rice with the curry to really appreciate it) and I ate every single morsel of food off that plate.

The other passengers I was dining with had mixed reactions to their main dishes.  I don't think anyone hated their food, but they weren't favorites.  


I was a little disappointed in my meal at Silk, perhaps because I had such high expectations for it.  If it were up to me, I'd eat nothing but Asian food at home so hearing about a dedicated Asian restaurant on Quantum of the Seas got me excited.

There were definitely a few dishes that were quite good but I left Silk with the knowledge this wouldn't be my favorite restaurant onboard.

My issues aside, I still think I'd be fine eating here on another night, it just wasn't the home run I was hoping for.  Silk offers a mix of good and average dishes.  Since it's complimentary, I'd suggest over ordering so you can sample a little of everything and figure out what you really enjoy.

Restaurant Review: The Grande on Quantum of the Seas


Today we are taking a closer look at the restaurant on Royal Caribbean's Quantum of the Seas where it's formal night, every night, The Grande.

The Grande is one of five complimentary sit down restaurants aboard Quantum of the Seas and it's a throwback to the classic days of cruising where everyone is dressed up and the food matches the elegance of the dress.

The Grande is open for dinner and I had a chance to check it out for myself to see what it's like to have formal night on a ship that did away with formal night.


Walking into The Grande, the look and feel of the restaurant is exactly what you might expect to find in a restaurant where getting dressed up is a must.

There's lots of whites with simple, yet elegant designs on the furniture, walls and tables.  The restaurant evokes a sense of classiness that I think most people expect when they hear about a restaurant that is formal.

Unlike the other complimentary restaurants for dinner, The Grande requires its guests to be dressed up. Royal Caribbean does note that Smart Casual dress code is acceptable on embarkation day but other days, it's formal.

For fans of getting dressed up for dinner, the Grande is your restaurant and you can get dressed up as many nights as you want when you dine here.


Like the upscale dress, the menu at The Grande is about traditionally fancy foods.  You will find escargot, bisques, and cuts of meat that are typically found at upscale restaurants.

When you are seated, you are served small baguettes along with butter.  Whereas in the American Icon Grill there were rolls, at the Grande we are moving up to higher end bread.

For appetizers, I started with two choices I had come to really enjoy on Royal Caribbean ships: beef carpaaccio and escargots.

I found both dishes to be just as good as I rememberd on other ships.  The carpaaccio was so thinly sliced that you could not even pick it up with a fork, but had to scrape it off the plate.  

Royal Caribbeans fans will know that escargot was hard to find on many ships due to a worldwide shortage (who knew!) but it was readily available on Quantum of the Seas and with the bread an absolute delight.

Moving onto my entree, I opted for the eggplant Napoleon, which is a combination of Ratatouille and eggplant parmesan.  

This was the kind of entree I could have had another serving to enjoy.  The eggplant was not breaded and together with the goat cheese fondue, tomatoes and spinach created a very vibrant taste.  


I think of all the complimentary restaurants I ate at on Quantum of the Seas, The Grande was my favorite.  

The dishes served at The Grande are traditional and going with what's known to work I believe is a good angle.

It should be noted The Grande does serve Lobster Tail every night.  I do not eat lobster but I know there are those that always looked forward to "lobster night" on Royal Caribbean cruises and so this is the place for you.  In fact, this is the strength of Dynamic Dining.  Rather than lobster tail just once per cruise, you can now have it every night.

The dress code was not a problem for me because I always enjoyed dressing up for dinner to begin with.  It's not to say you must wear a tuxedo or formal ball gown to eat here.  Rather, a collared shirt and nice pants with appropriate shoes will get you in for men.  Women can opt for a cocktail dress or something equivalent and satisfy the requirements.

I came away impressed with The Grande because of the particularly tasty food, much of which will be familiar to fans of the main dining room on other Royal Caribbean ships.

Restaurant Review: Wonderland


I can't think of any restaurant openings on a Royal Caribbean ship I was looking forward to more than Wonderland.  Ever since I saw a preview of it at the Quantum of the Seas dining reveal earlier in the year, the concept fascinated me.

When the opportunity to check out this new restaurant on Quantum of the Seas came to me, I jumped at the chance with great enthusiasm.

Part of the Dynamic Dining endeavor, Wonderland is open for dinner and here's my first hand look through the looking glass at this new dining concept.


Wonderland is a brand new specialty restaurant on Royal Caribbean's Quantum of the Seas that hass loosely based its decor and atmosphere after the Alice in Wonderland tales.

Located on deck 5 on the upper deck of the Royal Esplanade, Wonderland is hard to miss given its location and over-the-top decor.

Outside you will find odd props and statues that look like they are fresh off a movie set.   Inside, you will find an intimate space filled with chairs that don't match any other chair at the table, chandeliers, candelabras and glasses and cups that are so bizzare if you saw it in a store, you'd wonder who would actually buy that.

The restaurant feels like it's straight out of the scene from the 1951 Disney film, where the Mad Hatter invites Alice to tea.  Essentially, the restaurant is purposefully designed to evoke a "I don't know what to expect" reaction from its guests.

The servers in the restaurant all dress the part too, with velvet jackets and multi-colored outfits.  


The slogan for Wonderland is, "imaginative cuisine" and you will quickly discover why when you dine here.

As you are seated, each person is given an easel with a blank menu and a paintbrush.  

The waiter instructs you to dip the paintbrush in water and then paint the canvas with your brush to reveal your menu.  As you paint, the menu appears magically and you can see what's offered.

The menu isn't conventional either.  You will find the menu divided up by elements (sun, ice, fire, sea and earth) and pretty much everything on the menu is not something you would ever have seen on a menu at home.  

Most of the menu items are what I'd consider appropriate for adventurous eaters.  As you will see later, the food served isn't crazy by any means but it's not burgers and pasta either.

We dined in a group of nine and the waiter suggested ordering for us and we agreed.  Looking at the menu, it was tough to really know what we were ordering so why not just try a little of everything?

Appetizers came out first and each appetizer was served with a different pizzazz than the last.  Buffalo chicken eggs, slow cooked baby beets, liquid manzanilla olives are just a few of what we ate and I can't say any are my favorite new dishes but seeing them and then trying them was an adventure in of itself.

The two appetizers that surprised me were the beets and hard boiled eggs. If asked, I'd say I don't care for either but at Wonderland they were impressive and tasty.  

The entrees did not disappoint either.  Most of the servings are on the small side, so you should order multiple entrees and appetizers per person to be safe.  

My favorite was the terroir beef, which I believe was one of the best slow-cooked beef dishes I've ever had (sorry mom)!  The halibut was quite good too and everyone else at the table really liked the Cuban pork shank.

Wonderland's desserts were truly wonderful and we all sampled a little of everything.  The yogurt pops and baked Alaska were the kind of desserts I'd have if the Earth was about to explode and I didn't care about gaining weight.


Eating at Wonderland was a great experience because of how odd the place is from a decor and presentation standpoint.  The food was good, maybe not the best I've ever eaten on a Royal Caribbean cruise, but definitely met my expectations.

I think Wonderland is the kind of restaurant you have to experience for yourself at least once.  I'm not sure it will become the kind of restaurant like Chops Grill or Izumi, where I'd want to dine there multiple times per sailing.  

I love the concept of Wonderland and I think it will resonate with cruisers who want to try something different.  If you are cruising in a group, this is definitely the place to go and I'd advise sharing everything to sample it all.  I can definitely say it's a one-of-a-kind experience.

Wonderland is open for dinner and we reviewed Wonderland aboard Quantum of the Seas.

Restaurant Review: American Icon Grill on Quantum of the Seas


Today, we are taking in breakfast and dinner at Royal Caribbean's brand new Dynamic Dining restaurant, American Icon Grill aboard Quantum of the Seas.

American Icon Grill is one of five complimentary sit down restaurants aboard Quantum of the Seas and as the name implies, it serves up American comfort food that were handpicked from a variety of local favorites across the country.

American Icon Grill is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and we had a chance to try it out for breakfast and dinner.  Let's see how this new restaurant concept stacks up.


American Icon Grill is located on deck 4, in the rear of the ship.  In fact, four of the complimentary restaurants are stacked on top of each other between decks 3 and 4.

The entrance to American Icon Grill is a glitzy walkway that features a lot of lights, mirrors and glass.  It's bright and reminded me of a hip restaurant you might find in a large city.

Despite the fact the restaurant is just one of many onboard that replace the main dining room, it's rather large.  It can handle 430 guests and on my visit, it was perhaps half full.

With all the complimentary restaurants, you will be asked if being seated with other passengers is okay.  On my visit, I managed to get a table alone but I certainly would not have minded the company.


The menu at American Icon Grill is the same throughout your cruise and each meal has its own special menu.

We will start this review with breakfast and then move onto dinner.  

Eating breakfast in American Icon Grill reminded me very much of breakfast in the main dining room on every other Royal Caribbean ship.  In fact, the menu was nearly identical, with an assortment of eggs, pancakes, french toast and other basic breakfast foods.

I opted for the french toast, which was exactly like the french toast I was used to on other ships' main dining room.

I did enjoy the french toast and found it to be soft and tasty.  The truth about breakfast on Quantum of the Seas, and all Royal Caribbean ships, is the menu is pretty similar every morning.  You dine at American Icon Grill because you prefer to be seated and have your food brought to you, as opposed to dining in the Windjammer which has essentially the same offerings but you must serve yourself.

At dinner, the menu opens up considerably and there's more than just what you can find upstairs.

At dinner, you are served an assortment of bread rolls.  I asked about the sourdough rolls and savory bites you typically found in the old main dining room, but they do not seem to be available here.

I did not want to fill up on bread but I did try the cornbread muffins, which were really moist and tasty.

My waiter suggested the New England Clam Chowder, and I happily took him up on that suggestion.  I'm no soup expert but I think I can tell the difference between soup that is fresh made and soup that comes out of can and this soup was definitely not born in a metal container.

I also sampled another appetizer, the Reuben Turnovers.  I had tried these earlier this year at another Royal Caribbean media event when Dynamic Dining was announced and loved it so I had to have the real thing.  

I'm a big Reuben fan to begin with and these are pastries filled with pastrami and cheese on a bed of sauerkraut and Thousand Island dressing.  This is what I hope heaven serves as appetizers because they were stupendous.  I am a Reuben fanboy but I do believe these little bad boys are quite good.

I also decided to try one of the signature cocktails American Icon Grill offers in what they call The New Southern.  It tasted quite good, but I'm not sure it's my new favorite drink.  But then again, what I love about cruises is trying new food and drinks!

Back to the food, it was time for my entree and I went with what any self-respecting American would choose: a burger.  This was the dry aged steak burger, which sounded perfect to me.

This burger hit the spot, as it was juicy and had a lot of flavor with a nice toasted bun on top.  I also liked the pickles they served with it, which made the perfect topping.  

Not to be overlooked, the french fries have a parmesan garnish on top that reminded me of the fries one would get at Chops Grill.  I really enjoyed this choice.


I was surprised by American Icon Grill because of all the complimentary restaurants on Quantum of the Seas, I was looking forward to the others so much more that I overlooked this one. 

American Icon Grill had great tasting food across its menu, especially for dinner.  

After eating at American Icon Grill, I came to the conclusion it's like the last heir of the main dining room.  Breakfast (and lunch) are similar experiences to the main dining room and the food at dinner while more varied than what the main dining room offered, still felt like a similar experience. 

When I return to Quantum of the Seas in March, I will definitely be re-evaluating my dining strategy to include more stops here because I really enjoyed what I had.  We haven't reviewed the other complimentary restaurants yet on this blog but when we do, you will see that American Icon Grill stands out as a winner.

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!