In all seriousness, the food on the NCL Pearl was consistently good and in some cases, truly outstanding.
We have experienced the Freestyle cruising in the past, so we went looking for some old favorites and new ones as well. It was a fun journey indeed.
- The old-school steakhouse on the ship, Cagney’s is where we had dinner the first night. The service is outstanding there (it’s good everywhere, but this is worth noting) and the food is a step up. My wife’s filet was perfectly prepared, seasoned and tasted wonderful. I opted for the surf and surf, salmon and crab legs. Both were great and the crab legs were cut in half so the meat came out with little effort. The highlight here was dessert which was a raspberry creme brulee. It had just a hint of the aforementioned fruit with a crispy sugar top. It wasn’t too heavy either, if you can imagine that.
- Another favorite is Lotus Garden, the asian fusion restaurant. My wife generally doesn’t love chinese food (that was until a visit to Han Dynasty in Philadelphia), but we ate here twice. I could eat sushi 4 nights a week and here it’s great as it’s a slight upcharge, but you can eat as much sushi as you want. This was as good as most of the sushi I eat at home – it tasted as good as it looks. For dessert, the pride of the ships, we had the banana pancake which was too large for my camera to capture. It was a light, fluffy pancake chock-full of fresh bananas and topped with a maple glaze. What else could you possibly want? Of course, we told the waitress we’d have 1 for both of us and she brought us individual ones.
- While I don’t have a picture to share, the Black Bean soup at Mambo’s, the pan-latin restaurant was unbelievable. It was smoky, flavorful, a tad spicy, and even a hint of sweet all at the same time. Maybe NCL will spare me the recipe, because going on a cruise just for that seems a bit expensive.
- Many people also enjoy the main dining rooms and we did that too. The Summer Palace is a grand room with a more formal atmosphere. We ate there for lunch and dinner. For lunch, it’s a little more relaxed (if you have time) than the Garden Cafe which is the buffet restaurant. One day, I had a strip steak for lunch that was as flavorful and tender as I’ve had anywhere and was a reward for not getting in line for dinner. On our last night, we had a remarkably wonderful meal in the Summer Palace. My wife had a vegetable risotto which had tender, fresh vegetables and outstandingly prepared risotto. I’m always impressed when restaurants can turn out well done risotto as it’s hard to keep at the right consistency, but for a ship to do it is truly amazing. This was better than some risotto I’ve had at some un-named celebrity chef restaurants in the lower 48. I ordered the braised lamb shank which was absolutely amazing. The knife was useless and unnecessary except to spread butter on the roll. It was served with a mashed butternut squash which could have come off my thanksgiving table and with the chill in Alaska, I appreciated it. The final course, dessert was an equal feat as they served a coconut souffle, potentially as challenging on a large scale as risotto prepared to perfection. It had just a hint of coconut, so as not to be mistaken for a pina colada, and was fluffy and dense at the same time. Kudos to the Chef on this meal – wonderful.