My friends and I have been onboard Silversea’s Silver Shadow for just over a week and were finally able to dine at their Relais & Chateau restaurant, Le Champagne. This is a very coveted reservation as there are only 7 tables. Relais & Chateau of course is the highly respected French association of small luxury hotels and fine restaurants.
As connected as I like to think I am in the cruise industry we had to wait until we were onboard to book, but that wasn’t a problem due the extremely efficient and delightful restaurant manager Valentina. She’s the best of the top staff we’ve met.
This week the overall cuisine on the ship has been good and consistent. Only the fish broth the first night warranted a couple of strange expressions from my table mates, but fortunately that experience hasn’t repeated*. The food in the main dining room isn’t particularly imaginative (based on my San Francisco standards) but certainly enjoyable, tasty and I’d still say gourmet. My bigger concern has been with the service levels which are I’d say basic 40% of the time, good 40%, and excellent 20%.
The cuisine at Le Champagne did not disappoint. Starting off with 4 excellent mini “amuse bouches” from a mushroom soup to seared scallop to lobster to pate de fois gras cone, the tone was set for a special dining experience. I won’t go into all the details of the menu here, but each course was artfully prepared and paired with a good decent wine. Should the diner wish to arrange a premium wine pairing, this needs to be arranged in advance with the restaurant manager and I understand costs $300. My venison was a large portion served with a raspberry coulis and dessert was a Grand Marnier souffle which was excellent. An Illy Cafe Americano followed which was perfect and which is fortunately available throughout the ship.
The small dining room is adjacent to the much larger La Terrazza, the evening “specialty” Italian restaurant which is reviewed here (following soon.)
Service in Le Champagne however was not in line with the quality of the food, and was no better than in the main restaurant, distracting from the full sensory appreciation of the evening.
Afterwards we retired to The Bar (Deck 5) for a fabulous Espresso Martini. Not sure who invented this but it’s killer.
* This is in comparison to my earlier Silversea experience on the Silver Cloud in the Caribbean a few years ago where I found the food quality to be inconsistent. (Silver Cloud review from 2011 here.) But service and food can vary a fair bit within the same cruise line and from cruise to cruise and ship to ship.
josh friedman luxury travel
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