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When a luxury cruise line decides to team up with the best American chef, something special is bound to happen, and Seabourn's partnership with Thomas Keller has proved a treat for the senses.
The Seabourn Quest does not have a plethora of dining options like some larger mainstream cruise ships, but what it does have in the form of a main dining room, singular specialty restaurant, buffet, pool grill and room service is exceptional. While I cannot speak to what the cuisine was like before Thomas Keller, the offerings onboard are now certainly some of the best at sea if not anywhere in the world thanks to the multiple Michelin-starred chef's contributions.
My cousin is a culinary instructor and swears by Keller's creations, and now I know why. I first became acquainted with his stylings, thanks to Blu-Ray special features, from his serving as a consultant on the hit Pixar film "Ratatouille," where his modern rendition of the vegetable stew was animated to perfection.
[READMORE]READ MORE: Luxurious First Impressions Aboard the Seabourn Quest[/READMORE]
In the real world, it was his hand-rolled English Pea "Agnolotti" pasta dish, featured in The Restaurant, that was my very first taste of his food, and it was everything I had hoped for. The fresh earthy flavors popped from the ravioli-like bites as the savory black truffle sauce coated my happy palate. In short, the hype surrounding the chef, and consequently Seabourn, is well deserved.
Every other night in the main dining room, the expert chef's dishes are highlighted as a menu insert, augmenting other great Seabourn favorites like caviar, which is seemingly served at every turn. His courses are also showcased at The Colonnade buffet twice a week, or three times on our longer 10-night cruise, for family-style dinner table service, The Patio pool grill with a gourmet burger and hot dog option and The Grill by Thomas Keller specialty restaurant. All, of course, are complimentary onboard with only the latter requiring reservations be made.
[READMORE]READ MORE: The Pampered People of Seabourn[/READMORE]
The Colonnade ribeye steak menu from Keller was also mouthwatering with an opening course of a crisp Waldorf Salad followed by the pan-seared ribeye itself, evenly sliced and accompanied by exquisite whipped potatoes, a cheese course of famed Humboldt Fog and a chocolate silk pie. Only the Napa Burger at the pool grill is not quite as stunning as the rest. By all means, it's still great, just not quite as exceptional.
The most extraordinary cuisine is served at The Grill by Thomas Keller though, the location of the single best meal I have ever enjoyed at sea or ashore. The Seabourn Quest was first to receive this gem, and it will be repeated across the fleet, including as a larger venue on the upcoming Seabourn Encore. Here, the food is heaven-sent.
The opening bread selection of a buttery brioche loaf alone is enough to make you discover what has been missing in your culinary life, but then come the appetizers and main courses, when time seems to altogether stand still. The best crab cake I've ever ingested and a daily salmon tartare special were a fantastic prelude to a ribeye prepared with such care it tasted like a fillet drizzled with its fine shallot sauce, and the lobster thermidor (pictured above) was particularly scrumptious with the most succulent meat and savory sauce ever.
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Jason Leppert - Senior Writer, Cruises and Cruise Travel - is a San Diego-based cruising expert with more than 100 sailings...
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