By Oceania Cruises Guest Carol B.
Whenever I enter the Grand Dining Room, a sense of serenity overcomes me. My husband and I love the specialty restaurants, but there’s something timeless and classic about the Grand Dining Room that we always look forward to. We feel at home there. The staff welcomes us, knows us by name and so the night begins, under the sparkling chandelier.
While it’s only a short walk to the table, that is time enough to absorb the tranquility of the scene, clearing my mind of everything in anticipation of the culinary experience that awaits. As my husband and I settle into the plush, oversized armchairs, we look forward to much more than a meal – it will be a special evening to savor and remember.
Behind the Scenes
In stark contrast to the serene setting in which we’re dining, I know that a bevy of chefs backstage engage in a flurry of preparations for dinner service. Since we’ve been sailing with Oceania Cruises for years, we know that each dish begins with inspiration, research, creativity, and testing – a considerable feat since the menus change daily. We’ve also discovered by talking to the chefs on board that they scour local markets and the top international sources to find premium artisanal ingredients from around the world.
Every time we dine at the Grand Dining Room, I’m reminded of one of the most remarkable aspects of the process – the role of the service staff. They transcend these two worlds, rushing through the din of the galley to place orders and retrieve dishes at their moment of perfection, and then floating on air to provide impeccable service to each guest without the slightest disruption to the refined elegance of the dining room.
While attention to detail, obsessive commitment to quality, stringent organization, and a hectic pace are all essential to delivering exquisite cuisine on this scale, I give kudos to the chameleon-like servers who ensure that these efforts remain behind the scenes. It’s certainly not an easy job, though they make it look like a pleasure.
As I peruse the dinner menu, it’s challenging, as always, to narrow the choices. The fresh mussels and the spinach salad would both make delicious starters, as would the potato and leek soup, and each would complement either the duck à l’orange or beef tenderloin entrée, whichever I finally choose. Thankfully, my husband is a good sport and lets me order for both us – so I got to try them all! With the high-quality ingredients and healthy, flavorful choices, we enjoy several courses without feeling like we’ve overindulged.
The Perfect Ending
Besides, we can always skip dessert – or so we say, until we see the knowing smile on our server’s face as he presents the dessert menu. It wouldn’t seem right to forgo the perfect ending to the perfect meal, so we decide – why not? I go for the Papuan chocolate volcano and my husband orders the crème brûlée; both are exquisite. We linger a little longer, enjoy more conversation, and relish the complete Grand Dining Room experience.