Beef Trio entree on Crystal Symphony, Crystal Cruises, Photo by Jason Leppert
When mega cruise ships offer dozens of dining choices, you may wonder what is offered aboard a smaller luxury ship like Crystal Cruises’ Crystal Symphony that could possibly compare. Well, as it turns out a whole lot is actually available in the way of superior quality even if not necessarily quantity.
To start, the Crystal Dining Room serves as the main restaurant onboard where the award-winning cuisine is first presented in modern and classic forms. Dinner menus are split with a full offering of traditional favorites on one side and a more contemporary set of courses on the other, effectively crafting two restaurants from one. Diners have the option to order from either exclusively or mix and match between the two.
On our current sailing, the tasty formal night modern menu featured two entrees that were both too tempting to pass up. The Broiled Fresh Maine Lobster and Beef Trio together made for a wonderful impromptu surf-and-turf pairing with the melt-in-your-mouth Black Angus beef tenderloin alone knocking it out of the park before enjoying a wonderful Souffle Grand Marnier to finish.
Of course, dining also extends to two excellent specialty restaurants as well. Two visits to either total are included, and each cost $30 per person thereafter. Prego dishes up Italian, while Silk Road (and the attached Sushi Bar) prepares Asian.
The former astounds with traditional dishes such as the most delicious carpaccio finished table-side, artfully dressed with olive oil and vinegar, as well as fresh parmesan shavings. The restaurant’s signature Affogato dessert is presented with equal drama, as espresso is spot-brewed over lady fingers layered with light mascarpone cheese and ice cream.
Next door, Silk Road treats patrons to the creations of celebrity chef Nobu Matsuhisa, from his Nobu Style Tacos to Grilled Australian Wagyu Beef Rib Eye from Greg Norman Signature Ranch, Queensland. An introduction of freshly prepared sashimi or sushi rolls is a fine start to enjoying clever dishes like the tacos with refreshing seafood tomatillo salsa or rib eye with three different sauces: anticuccho, teriyaki and Nobu-style wasabi pepper. Classics like lobster spring rolls also delight as does a Trio of Creme Brulees: sweet ginger, pink guava and passion fruit.
Foodies rejoice as The Vintage Room affords a select few a chance to pair fine dining with fine wine or, in my case aboard the Crystal Serenity, craft beer. Elsewhere, the classic Lido Cafe takes care of buffet fare, and the Trident Bar & Grill and Ice Cream Bar fill in the rest. Dining here is always served with the friendliest smile while burgers and sandwiches aren’t quite as good as the rest, but at least complimentary Ben & Jerry’s scoops more than make up for it.
In between meal times, The Bistro picks up the slack with tasty light treats such as cheeses, cold cuts and pastries to enjoy with a cup of fine coffees and teas, and, of course, there is always room service to enjoy also, although the delivered pizzas need a little improvement in taste. Nonetheless, Crystal cuisine is still some of the best at sea.