Icon of the Seas introduced many exciting new restaurants and bars to the Royal Caribbean fleet, including the highly-anticipated Empire Supper Club.
The Empire Supper Club is an eight-course meal described as “an evening of glitz and glamour, where cuisine is an occasion, cocktails are celebrations, and sultry live jazz is your host.” When you step foot in the venue, you will be transported to New York City in the 1930s.
During the inaugural sailing, I had the chance to try all the unique food and cocktail pairings to see whether it was worth the $200 price tag.
Of course, this review is highly subjective and based on my personal preferences. Another thing to note before I start the review: I told the restaurant ahead of time that I do not eat seafood. Because of this, I indulged in a few meals that were not listed on the menu.
If you have any food allergies or dietary restrictions, it's extremely important to inform them beforehand so they can prepare different meals for you. Gluten-free, lactose-free, and vegetarian options are available.
The restaurant was very accommodating and the substitutions, in my opinion, were equally as enticing as the original menu.
What to know before dining at the Empire Supper Club
There are a few important things to know before you book a dinner at the Empire Supper Club.
First, guests with the Unlimited Dining Package can dine here for an additional $130. All other guests will have to pay the $200 cover price. There are no discounts for guests with the Deluxe Beverage Package or Crown and Anchor status.
The experience includes a specialty cocktail with each course. The price is the same if you opt to have non-alcoholic drinks during the dinner.
Second, tables are for parties of two to four people. If you are eating with more than four people, you will have to sit at separate tables. There are no age restrictions, as guests under 12 years old are welcome to dine at the Empire Supper Club. A maximum of 38 people can dine here, so it's a small venue.
Third, the dress code is formal. Many of us who dined at the Empire Supper Club wore black attire, whether it was a dress or jumpsuit. For men, it's required to wear a suit jacket. If you do not have one, Royal Caribbean will apparently lend you one.
Lastly, the dinner will take three hours. For us, it was from 6 to 9 p.m. Punctuality is required, and doors open 10 minutes before your dining time.
Empire Supper Club review
The Empire Supper Club is located right outside Central Park on deck eight. It makes sense that the venue was placed near the New York-inspired Central Park!
The menu consisted of American cuisine inspired by the 1930s era of New York City.
As mentioned above, each dish was paired with a special cocktail that you can't find anywhere else on Icon. You can select your main course and dessert, but the appetizers have a set menu.
Throughout the evening, the American Standards Trio, which consisted of a singer, piano player, and double bass player, performed “sophisticated jazz selections specially curated for the night.”
The music was lovely to hear when we were eating. The music didn’t distract from our table conversation for the most part, but rather, it created a classy atmosphere. My personal favorite music selections included Rhapsody in Blue, Beyond the Sea, and New York, New York.
Here’s everything I ate and drank during my evening, along with my thoughts on everything I tasted. Royal Caribbean Blog founder himself, Matt Hochberg, accompanied me during this culinary journey.
Starter #1: Amuse-bouche
This hors d'œuvre resembled a small bagel with cream cheese - it was the perfect way to start the meal. It's meant to be a palate cleanser, and I found it to be very tasty. I requested to not have caviar on top, so mine had onions that looked like caviar. I wish I could’ve had another one!
Starter #2: Spicy pecan bread with honey
I was very excited to have some bread, but I was slightly worried when I heard it was spicy. I do not like super spicy foods, but I wanted to try it anyway. I am so glad I did because it was warm, pillow-soft, and not too spicy at all - there was just a little zing. The butter was also divine.
Drink #1: Moet & Chandon Imperial Brut
To celebrate the beginning of a wonderful meal, we all toasted with a glass of champagne. I am not much of a champagne drinker, but I liked this particular champagne!
Appetizer #1: Oysters
The oysters are described as: "Crispy oysters Rockefeller, chorizo Bearnaise, sundried Romas, micro basil."
Substitute: Quinoa salad
The quinoa salad included avocado and beets, as well as edible flowers. This is something I never would've ordered for myself, but I am glad I tried it. I had no complaints about it, but it wasn’t my favorite thing to eat.
Drink #2: Staten Island Spritz
This drink had Tito’s vodka, Campari liqueur, limoncello, orange juice, and champagne. It was a pretty-looking drink, but it wasn’t as sweet as I would’ve liked it. Matt agreed with me that it needed more flavor.
Appetizer #2: Raviolo
I liked the raviolo (which had a soft yolk, spinach, crisp guanciale, shaved bottarga, and Parmigiano) much better than the quinoa salad. I wasn’t a fan of the egg yolk when it oozed out from the middle, but I ate around it and it was still tasty.
Drink #3: Blood & Sand
This drink had Dewar’s scotch, cherry Heering, sweet vermouth, and orange juice. I enjoyed this drink, and it was my favorite up until this point. Matt commented how he really liked this drink too!
Appetizer #3: Langoustine
The lobster is described as: "Butter poached, Champagne, Osetra caviar, basil emulsion."
Substitute: Saffron risotto
The risotto was my favorite appetizer of all of the ones I tried. It was creamy with tomatoes on top. I would’ve liked more of this because I ate it all in less than 10 bites!
Drink #4: East of Houston
This drink had Botanist gin, lemon juice, honey syrup, orange bitters, and champagne. I liked how refreshing it was. It didn’t have a strong alcohol taste, which I appreciated.
Appetizer #4: Empire Caesar salad
The Caesar salad is described as, "Parmesan tuile, purple orchid, pink peppercorn."
While I didn’t eat the Caesar salad, I do have to say it looked very pretty. Look at that crouton arch!
Substitute: Mushroom soup
The soup was great! The bowl was so tiny that I ate it pretty quickly. I thought the soup tasted like the one at Chops Grille, so I asked the waitress and she confirmed it was from Chops Grille.
Palate cleanser: Sorbet
I found this sorbet to be quite yummy. Although I didn’t know the flavor of it, I guessed it was either strawberry or raspberry. The sorbet also had some boba in it, which I didn’t eat because I am not a boba fan.
Drink #5: New York Sour
This drink had Bulleit Bourbon, lemon juice, simple syrup, egg whites, and claret wine. I thought the “E” ice cube was a cute touch. The drink itself was pretty good, but not my favorite compared to drinks #3 and #4.
Main course: Steak
The Wagyu ribeye was excellent! I got the peppercorn sauce on the side and I think that made the steak even better. The pieces were small, but I savored every bite. I only wish I could’ve had more!
It was served with fondant potatoes and sauteed morels.
Matt ordered the rabbit (leg and loin duo, mustard cream, baby carrots, pistachio dust), and I was curious to try it. I thought it tasted similar to chicken but much more chewy. Let's just say I am glad I got the steak!
Matt was also able to try the seabass (mousseline of parsnip, red beets, candy citrus), which he liked way more than the rabbit.
Drink #6: Toasted Almond
This drink had Tito’s vodka, Kahlua, amaretto, heavy cream, and grated nutmeg. I loved having this drink during dessert. After trying all the drinks, this one was my favorite! I am a big fan of cocktails with Kalua and heavy cream so it makes sense that this was my top pick. This drink paired well with the chocolate desserts.
Dessert #1: Cheesecake
Our waitress said since there were two of us, she typically likes to bring out the cheesecake and beehive so we can try both of them.
I liked the crust of the cheesecake, which was made of white chocolate. Matt commented that he loved the dulce de leche gelato it came with. I agreed, and I would say this cheesecake is even better than the cheesecake at Chops Grille.
Dessert #2: Chocolate Beehive
This dessert was my absolute favorite. All the ganache layers blended together to create a delicious chocolate delicacy! The mango sauce, salted caramel toffee, and honey tuile made this dessert out of this world. If only I could order just this beehive whenever I wanted!
Dessert #3: Chocolate Tree
This last dessert was not listed on the menu and was a complete surprise. All the chefs came out carrying these tall plates of cotton candy. When it was set on the table, I noticed it was a chocolate tree with cotton candy as the leaves! I was already so full by this point that I didn’t try all of the chocolates, but what I did have was very good.
More thoughts on the experience
The meal itself was very enjoyable and I loved the jazz music in the background. Sometimes the music was loud and other times it was quiet - I found that it corresponded with when we were eating versus the downtime between each course/drink. The band did take a break before the main course.
The way I would describe the lighting is moody. Each table had a little light that could be adjusted to a different brightness. We had ours on the lowest setting so it gave just a little bit of light when we wanted to look at the menu.
The lights would turn on during some of the courses and I thought this was on purpose. We asked and it appeared that this wasn’t on purpose - I think they were experimenting with the lighting to see how we would react.
If you try to go to the bathroom anytime during the meal, someone will escort you to the bathroom. When Matt left for the bathroom, a waiter came over and replaced the towel that was in his lap with a new one. How fancy!
Another small thing I liked was how I could hang up my bag with the hook they placed on the table instead of putting my bag on the floor or on my chair.
Is the Empire Supper Club worth the extra cost?
After leaving the Empire Supper Club, I concluded right away that it was worth $200 per person.
When you account for each drink (assuming they’re $14 each, which is what Royal Caribbean charges for cocktails), that totals $84. The other $116 accounts for all the appetizers, desserts, main course, and entertainment. I would say that is a fair price!
I heard a lot of people compare this experience to Chef’s Table, a specialty dining option offered on most Royal Caribbean sailings. At Chef’s Table, you sit at a large table with other people and enjoy a five-course meal with wine pairings. There is no entertainment included. I have personally never done Chef’s Table, but I would assume Empire Supper Club is similar in some ways.
With Empire Supper Club, you sit at your own table and listen to jazz music while you eat. It was an intimate experience and it didn't feel like we were on a cruise ship! I've never had an experience like this on land or at sea.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my Empire Supper Club dinner and would recommend it to others. It's the perfect option for those who want to splurge on a special night out with family and friends.