In proper cocktail culture fashion, meals here start with modern takes on traditional favorites like the Old Fashioned, updated with Amarena black cherries, and an amuse-bouche of house-made pretzel sticks and crudités with that legendary throwback, the green goddess dip, designed to nibble on while you make your menu selections.
Appetizers include stalwarts like shrimp cocktail and Caesar salad (tossed table side) as well as a steamed artichoke with house-made aioli, Dungeness crab cakes and a rich dark consommé that's spiked with black truffles. Entrees have several stars, including the "made for two" dishes, such as a glorious roast chicken (presented before it is taken back and carved) that's as tender inside as it is savory outside, and a herb-crusted rack of lamb for two as well. The go-it-alone dishes include a buttery soft ribeye steak and a New York strip steak, Dover sole, lobster thermidor, and a veal t-bone.
Surprisingly, it was the sides that sounded so demure on the menu yet threatened to steal the show. Could a macaroni and cheese compete with a glorious rack of lamb? It can when it's served in a copper pan and topped with crisp breadcrumbs and a rich, gooey middle that somehow manages to feel both indulgent and grown up. The smooth whipped mashed potatoes were as much about butter and cream as they were potato, and the creamed spinach was equally rich and decadent. (You could order "wilted" spinach, sauteed mushrooms, or glazed carrots instead, but at this point with the accumulated caloric damage why bother?)
Dessert was equally sinful, with a dark chocolate layer cake that was easily the best dessert we had on board that week. (How good was it? We had it several times and found ourselves wondering if they would send it to our cabin from room service and share the recipe so we could make it at home.) There was also a perfectly lovely, if less memorable, coconut layer cake and a miniature lemon meringue tart, too. Many tables opted for the ice cream sundaes, which were also made table side.
One night, we ordered a glass of cold milk with our chocolate cake — a move we highly recommend — and the waiter also brought out a few scoops of the custardy house-made vanilla ice cream and a warm chocolate chip cookie, which seemed reminiscent of the Tollhouse variety we grew up on in the suburbs in the 70s. (You know the ones ... they're made from the recipe on the back of the yellow bag of chocolate chips.)