From the whimsical decor to out-of-this-world, imaginative cuisine, Wonderland is Royal Caribbean's specialty restaurant that is meant for adventurous eaters.
I tried the restaurant for the first time while onboard Symphony of the Seas, and everything about the experience exceeded my expectations.
Unlike most specialty restaurants onboard Oasis Class ships, Wonderland is not located in Central Park; it is at the aft on deck 12. The exterior of the restaurant makes it hard to miss-- you are transported to a fantasy world before you even step inside.
The price to dine at Wonderland is currently $59.99 before gratuity. If you book in advance via the Cruise Planner, you could score a reservation for less!
The decor is loosely based on the magical word of Alice and Wonderland. It makes it so that the entire experience is immersive; it is not just about the food.
You will see references to clocks and time, rabbits, including chairs with rabbit ears, as well as red and blue goblets that symbolize the "drink me" and "eat me" potion and cake that cause Alice to shrink and grow.
As soon as I walked through the doors, I was greeted by the Mad Hatter, who escorted me down the stairs to my table. From there, I was introduced to my culinary guide -- aka a waiter -- for the evening. He was the one who walked me through the menu, as well as provided suggestions for each course.
He, however, never provided a physical menu. Instead, the menu acts as part of the restaurant's table setting. My culinary guide instructed me to dip the paintbrush into water and stroke it across the "easel." When I did so, the menu magically appeared!
To begin the dining experience, I had to take the first step, and I thought that was a unique touch!
The menu is broken down into and inspired by five different natural elements: sun, ice, fire, earth, and sea. The first three -- sun, ice, and fire -- are the appetizers, while the latter two make up the entree dishes. The only exceptions being the liquid lobster and liquid truffle mushroom risotto, as both of those are one-bite appetizers.
The sun element focuses on vegetable dishes that have been "playfully reinvented"; ice's are "chilled to exhilarate the palate"; and the final appetizer element, fire, radiates "wonderful warmth."
My culinary guide said that most guests usually surprised by five different appetizers; however, you could select them if you wanted to. I opted to order the Mad Hatter's purple potted shrimp and reconstructed caprese, as well as the one-bite liquid lobster. For my table, the culinary guide also chose the bird's nest and sashimi of red and white tuna.
The first appetizer we received was the bird's nest. Presentation wise, it was the most impressive of the evening! To reveal it, a lid was lifted off to release a thick cloud of smoke. When the dish was brought out, I could not even see what was inside due to the smoke.
The two buffalo chicken eggs were served on top of a bed of dry noodles. The yolks had been mixed with blue cheese and hot sauce; however, they were not as creamy as I had expected (but I am not sure what I was actually expecting)!
The eggs had a hot, smoky taste that I enjoyed-- it is almost like I was inhaling smoke as I ate! As for the noodles, I did not really care for them. Even though they are edible, I think they function best as presentation.
The next appetizer was the reconstructed caprese, which is honestly a great dish for pickier eaters!
Three "tomatoes" were served on top of goat and bocconcini cheeses with a blue cheese meringue and basil puree.
The middle "tomato," however, was actually a reconstructed tomato! To successfully accomplish this, a tomato is first hung to dry, drained, then blended with agar and Bloody Mary mix. While that may sound a bit complicated, it did not taste much different than a regular caprese salad.
It was fun, too, as I had to tap the reconstructed tomato to break it open.
Next was the liquid lobster. Despite the name of the dish, there was, in fact, a chunk of lobster that was topped with caviar. Reading liquid lobster on the menu, that was not what I expected, so I was pleasantly surprised. This was also my first time trying caviar and bone marrow! After the bird's nest, this was my second favorite appetizer!
I was most disappointed with the Mad Hatter's purple potted shrimp, as it was a single shrimp served in a holographic mini-mug that lacked the scotch bonnet flavor that was indicated on the menu.
The shrimp is marinated in lime before being breaded with a crispy coating, which, in my opinion, was too thick, as it takes away from the flavor and texture of the shrimp.
At the bottom of the mug was a mayonnaise based sauce that was infused with scotch bonnet; however, as someone who grew up eating scotch bonnet hot sauce, it did not have the level of kick I was expecting.
I'll admit that I got a little too eager to get the full Wonderland experience when our culinary guide was walking us through the appetizers. When he asked if he could order the sashimi of red and white tuna, I said yes. I've had raw fish a couple of times before, and the texture is not one that I enjoy-- oops!
Looking back, I should have at least tried the tuna; however, I ate the wafer crisp and citrus topping, both of which was good! As an ice element, everything on the plate was chilled. The sashimi was actually inside of ice balls that had to be broken open! I think if you are a fan of tuna, you might enjoy this dish!
The two entree elements are earth and sea. Earth dishes are "grounded in whimsy," while sea's are "oceanic inspirations from the tide of the imagination."
For my entree, I ordered the rib "I" luscious short rib that was finished with a white wine reduction sauce and served with mashed potatoes. The generous sized portion of meat was cooked for five hours and served with red and yellow relish, pumpkin sauce, and a beet purée.
Truthfully, it was probably the best short rib I have ever had. The meat was incredibly tender, and I cannot get over the reduction sauce! I even liked to eat it with the beet purée.
This would be another dish that I would recommend for picky eaters! If you do not like sauces, it is easy to avoid them, as they are all served on the side. Plus, the mashed potatoes are pretty simple.
There's not a dessert menu, so you will have to be prepared to be surprised by your culinary guide. The desserts, though, are where Wonderland shines! I would return to the restaurant just for them.
Not only are the presentations fun, but they are delicious! I would argue that they taste even better than they look.
The mystical mushroom garden was comprised of three different "mushrooms." The large center one was made of white chocolate pistachio mousse, while the two little ones were infused with cayenne pepper. They had an interesting kick that I am not used to with desserts, so the small side of mango sorbet was a nice touch! Actually, the cayenne mushroom went very well with the sorbet; the flavors really balanced each other out.
The second dessert was called a chocolate orb called "the world." While it was still good, I much preferred the mystical mushroom garden, as I am not the biggest fan of heavy chocolate desserts, so I really appreciated how my culinary guide brought two different kinds of desserts. I would have been disappointed if both were chocolate based!
A hot chocolate sauce was poured overtop, which broke down the chocolate exterior to reveal a vanilla ice cream and peanut butter interior. While I thought that presentation was neat, the two pieces of popcorn and stray raspberries seemed to be rushed onto the plate without much intention or purpose.
Throughout my dinner, I had the chance to try two of their signature cocktails: Down the Rabbit Hole and the Cheshire Cat Cosmo. While I thought the concept of the cosmo was better, I preferred the taste of Down the Rabbit Hole.
It was crafted with Belvedere pink grapefruit vodka, St. Germaine, fresh lemon juice, simply syrup, and a little bit of sparkling wine. You get to choose if you want a red or blue "pill" at the bottom, referencing the same "Eat Me" and "Drink Me" potions as the goblets.
With the Cheshire Cat Cosmo you get to watch the cotton candy dissolve when the cocktail portion is poured on top of it! However, I think it might be one of the sweetest cocktails I have ever.
Should you eat at Wonderland?
Wonderland caters to guests who want to take their taste buds on a culinary journey unlike any other. Most of the dishes are rather unconventional (have you ever seen liquid mushrooms on any other menu?), so to get the most out of your experience, you need to be open minded and willing to trying new things.
That being said, it is still possible to have a good time at Wonderland even if you are a pickier eater, as your culinary guide will help you choose appetizers and entrees based on your likes and dislikes. Due to the preparation methods, however, you will still need to be prepared for dishes unlike anything you've ever had.
From decor, to service, and food quality, it is easy to say that this was one of the best meals I had on the cruise!
If you don't think Wonderland is for you but still want to step inside this fantasy world, there's a bar that is located on the top level! You do not need to make reservations for it, and you can use your drink package there.