On our recent journey through the Mediterranean, we sampled all but three of the dining options on board which is to say a lot as there are 12 separate restaurant choices. The NCL Jade and their fleet for that matter offers Freestyle Cruising which means that you can eat when you want and with who you want – just make a reservation at the eatery of your choice and you’re set. You don’t have to eat with a bunch of strangers unless that’s your thing…
Overall, everything was well prepared, which is impressive in itself considering the volume of people served on a daily basis. The only critique overall is that some of the food was under-seasoned. Here are my favorites and opinions on each:
- Grand Pacific Main Dining Room: The Jerk Chicken was moist, flavorful and well prepared. The Vanilla Souffle was perfect AND you didn’t have to wait for 40 minutes to enjoy it.
- Alizar Main Dining Room: The Monkfish (poor man’s lobster) was cooked to perfection and had the meaty texture you want without the fishy taste. A definite winner.
- Cagney’s Steakhouse: The Wedge Salad – could have been at (insert steak chain name) steakhouse anywhere in the states: lots of blue cheese and bacon. Filet was well prepared, but the creamed spinach and gratin potatoes stole the show for me. Also, spend the additional 10 beans and get the full plate of king crab legs – that’s surf and turf!
- Le Bistro: This is really fine dining on the NCL Jade. The service is better here than anywhere else on the ship and food timing is right on the money. The cream of four mushroom soup is right there with some of the best I’ve had. The scallop appetizer was fresh and well prepared, but could have been a little larger (tasted great though). Both entrees were outstanding: the duo of duck (confit and duck breast) and Rosemary roasted pork tenderloin, but dessert as always in French restaurants stole the show: the vanilla creme brulee was HUGE and also rich in vanilla flavor with the warm, crispy, crusted sugar top.
- Paniolo Tapas & Salsa Restaurant: Ok, so no on Tapas here, but yes on Mexican/Tex-Mex. They really served bold flavors from the punchy black bean soup to well executed Fajitas. Their signature dish, Lobster Tacos are good, but a little too creamy for my taste. Overall worthwhile indeed.
- Garden Cafe: This is the main breakfast and lunch place. For breakfast, we didn’t stray much and enjoyed well prepared eggs and oatmeal. Lunch was either a juicy hamburger at the pool or roasted tandoori chicken in the cafe. The garden cafe really came to life for the chocolate buffet on the 2nd to last night of the cruise. Cupcakes to dipped champagne glasses (with champagne of course) fit the bill here.