QM2 is now on her maiden voyage, and if the dishes prepared by Todd English and his associates for some writers here in New York recently are even closely replicated in this new onboard restaurant, it will be difficult to get a table. I am neither a gourmet nor up on the cuisine du jour, but I do enjoy good food, and I had some of the best I have ever eaten at this dinner. We are all tempted to eat way too much on a cruise and, trust me, when you taste the dishes that will be served in this new restaurant, you will eat way too much too.
With the assistance of several of his sous-chefs from the New York branch of Olives, Mr. English prepared a selection of dishes that will be on the regular lunch and dinner menus aboard ship. "Wow" is the operative word. Each one was superb -- innovative without being outrageous. He uses textures and flavors that are intriguing and memorable. The restaurant's onboard chefs will be using only the freshest ingredients, as they would in a shore-side establishment; and when QM2 is cruising in Europe, the Caribbean or South America, the chefs will pick up items from local markets for their dishes. Since Mr. English supervises the training of all chefs who prepare his menus, the quality promises to be very high.
I fell in love with the hor d'oeuvres from the first taste. There was a fig and prosciutto mixture on a thin, crunchy rosemary flatbread, like a snippet of flat taco, but just delicious. The topping melted in your mouth and the bread crunched nicely. The flavors were wonderful. I could have made an entire meal of this appetizer alone, or in combination with the second offering of oven-fired asparagus and morel tart. There are other ingredients, but it would take half a page to list them all. Both of these items will be on the luncheon menu as full-sized dishes.
Wines were specially selected for each dish by Mr. English's sommelier from Olives, and they were excellent. The onboard menus will also recommend wines to enhance and complement each dish (although in the real world I doubt a couple would entertain purchasing a bottle for each stage of the menu). The ship will have the largest wine cellar at sea, so one can always indulge.
Sitting down to dinner, we began with a divine lobster chowder and golden beet carpaccio with a roasted baby beet salad. One mouth-watering dish followed another. The next was a scrumptious potato and truffle ravioli with shaved truffles, and hand-cut pappardelle with seared crepes, tomato, mint and shaved pecorino cheese, followed by a choice of entrees. I chose the braised prime beef short ribs over the sautéed turbot filet. It was excellent — just melting. I didn't even need a knife. Even the breads were out of the ordinary, and were served with an olive tapenade instead of butter.
The pièce de resistance was the dessert, Todd English's warm chocolate fallen cake with raspberry sauce and vanilla ice cream. It is the most popular item on his menus and I can understand why. Think of any "death by chocolate" dessert and you will approximate the richness of this delectable treat. It was almost too much to bear at the end of a wonderful, relaxed evening. It is the kind of dessert you could eat as a meal, it's so rich.
I think it's fair to say that the food will be so good that this restaurant will fill quickly for both lunch and dinner, so if you plan to sail on QM2 soon, be prepared. I know when I sail on her I will definitely dine there, probably for lunch and dinner until I've worked my way through the menu. Of course, QM2 has so many dining venues you will not want for good food...or fine cuisine.