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  #1  
Old June 20th, 2013, 07:08 PM
UntrainedBrain UntrainedBrain is offline
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Thumbs up Ocean Blue is the Sapphire Gem in the Breakaway's Crown

Let me begin my review of “Ocean Blue” onboard the Norwegian Breakaway by introducing myself. I am a gourmand in the good sense of the word in that I very much like good food. My skills in cooking are in the areas of baking, soups and meats. As an amateur I have done okay at making Salade de Parisian, Pot-au-Feu, Pho, Smoked Pork, along with spending months trying to make decent baguettes at home. (if you are not familiar with these dishes don’t worry. If you want to cook them you are looking at a 2-3 day cooking time.)

This is the first in a set of reviews for this meal giving an overall review of the meal and service given to us onboard the Breakaway.

I arrived, with my wife, on time at Ocean Blue to find the rest of my party of five already seated and enjoying their cocktails. Our waitress, Miss Cherry, seated us, took our cocktail order and chilled the wine we had brought along for dinner. I ordered a “Champagne ’75” which is a good light fizzy drink to clear the palette before dinner.

The table was set perfectly for dining. A crisp and clean table service. The restaurant was nearly full but the staff moved so quietly that they seemed to appear as if by magic with the dishes and drinks. Either we were so busy enjoying the meal or they have hired Ninjas as the waitstaff as I never heard an unnecessary sound from the staff. Cherry attended the table attentively and instantly with a decorum that would have made Royalty blush.

Once cocktails were served all around our waitress, Miss Cherry, arrived with two loafs of Mascarpone bread each about the size of two large Cinnabon rolls. Topped with white and black sesame seeds held on by a lightly salted butter or oil (with perhaps a touch of garlic?) We immediately asked for a second helping of the bread. Little did Miss Cherry know that the bread was to be only the first of many calls for seconds from our table.

My first course choice was the Crispy Calamari with Hot Peppers and Fresno Chili Aioli. Others at our table of five we ordered the Mussels, the Beef Tartare, the Beet Salad and more Calamari. As their were only five of us we did not order the Grilled Prawn Panzanella. To my amazement the courses were served by 4 or 5 waitress and waiters with each handling an individual dish. A very, very pretty presentation executed very well in a small space.

We enjoyed the Beet Salad so much that we asked for an “encore” of the salda. Chef Erica sent on the Beet Salad with the addition of a plate of the Grilled Prawn Panzanella to our delight.

My main course was the Lightly Roasted Sea Scallops with Caramelized Pork Belly. Other’s ordered the Dover Sole (2), the Monkfish Lion, and the Roast Peking Duck. As a preview I will say that the pork belly made me go weak in the knees with the flavor.

I now know what it is to be a judge on the Iron Chef panel. The food I was served was meant to be eaten as an ensemble where each bite contains all of the ingredients rather than breaking up the dish as individual bites of protein, starch and vegetable. Each mouthful was a symphony of taste as each piece played its own notes in a growing harmony.

Even with five overwhelmed diners tossing food crumbs about our Miss Cherry kept the table dressed perfectly throughout dinner. Glassware, flatware, dishes, butter, napkins all came and went without interruption to the melody of our meal.

We accepted the suggestion of coffee with the dessert course. As there are eight desserts and only five diners we were forced to choose carefully. I chose the Chocolate Soufflé. Others chose the Bergamont Tea Panna Cotta, the Creme Brûlée, the Lemon Meringue Tart and the Cheese Plate. It soon became evident that each of use wanted to try all of the dessert menu and we did. Not one of the eight desserts failed to bring anything but joyful satisfaction to the palette.

A quick word about the Cheese Plate served at Ocean Blue. It is of small portions of very fine cheeses. The cheese is unbelievable when tasted in small bites. It was not a selection to be eaten as one would eat swiss cheese or Cheez Wiz on Ritz crackers where volume would be important factor. Each of the five of us sampled the cheese plate and each was fully satisfied by the experience of the bites we took. Any more cheese would have been overwhelming for a single person as it was more than enough to sample for five. I do not know how the flavors of the cheese plate could be wholly consumed by two at dinner let alone a single diner.

I will review each individual dish separately in other postings as they deserved as much.

In conclusion of my overall report I will say that when Chef Erika Suarez graced our between the main and dessert course we nearly rose in applause for her Kitchen. My own expressions of delight were filled with adjectives such as “refreshing, light, effervescent and delicate” as the meal was a delight all around leaving us with a feeling of ready to attend a night of dancing on the NCL Breakaway.

I now count my dinner on the Breakaway at the Ocean Blue with Miss Cherry and Chef Erika as one of my top 10 meals of my lifetime as it is more than comparable to other meals I have been served at Chez Louie, Wally’s Desert Turtle, dinner at Mr. Aaron Spelling’s house, the Peasant Restaurants in their day, Meadow Wood, Made in China, Quanjude, The Lobster Pot Rediington Shores, the Red Stag Asheville, and the bread pudding at Mrs. G’s locally.

As to value we felt the cost was for such a dinner was a bargain. The ability to enjoy such a fine meal without having to make reservations months in advance or traveling miles is perfect on the NCL Breakaway. It is a not to be missed onboard excursion on your trip to Bermuda. The restaurant just works.

My suggestion to anyone wishing to dine here is to bring friends but not children under 21 as they might not appreciate the full meal correctly. Not that any child who can sit still for the entire meal would not love every dish. This is a restaurant to be enjoyed as a meal between diners. While the ship’s reservations system looks for parties of four I would very much like to recommend you bring your friends, old and new, in parties of four or larger so that you can share the flavors of the food together. Please talk to the restaurant directly if you are bringing more than four, the concierge helps in many ways.

If you do dine at Ocean Blue might I recommend that you ask for Miss Cherry when you place your reservation so as to be sure she is available for your meal. ( If you encounter any problems with reservations you might want to say that "Mr. Race said I would enjoy dinner at Ocean Blue", as I became a minor celebrity during my cruise.)

I am sure that any of the fine wait staff at Ocean Blue would serve you a great meal though I shall forever hold Miss Cherry in my heart of dining hearts for her exacting performance during our meal (Thank you my dear.)

Last edited by UntrainedBrain; June 20th, 2013 at 07:13 PM. Reason: spelling mistake
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  #2  
Old June 20th, 2013, 07:27 PM
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kba1988 kba1988 is offline
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Awesome review!! You should be a Food Critic Writer. Your descriptive words made me feel like I was enjoying every bit of the meal with you and your comrades!! Again - thanks for such an awesome review. We will definitely be dining at Ocean in September!!
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  #3  
Old June 20th, 2013, 07:30 PM
UntrainedBrain UntrainedBrain is offline
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Thank you. While some may not been pleased with their meals I found no fault worth remembering.
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  #4  
Old June 20th, 2013, 07:42 PM
1witchydiva 1witchydiva is offline
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Thank you so much. Wonderful and detailed. I pre-booked Ocean Blue for July.
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  #5  
Old June 20th, 2013, 10:58 PM
emcelh emcelh is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UntrainedBrain View Post
Thank you. While some may not been pleased with their meals I found no fault worth remembering.
Loved your description of Ocean Blue. We're thinking about cruises for 2015 and it might be Breakaway. Ocean Blue will be on our "must do" list.

Thanks also for the mention of the Red Stag Grill. We live in the area and have been wanting to try it. Maybe now we will.

BTW, you mentioned Mrs. G's bread pudding. Are you by any chance referring to Mrs. G's in Hendersonville?
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  #6  
Old June 21st, 2013, 04:55 AM
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calmac calmac is offline
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As there have been previous comments about only being "allowed" one starter, one entree and one dessert within the cover charge, was your party charged extra for the extra dishes you sampled?

I will disagree about your "over 21" comment. My DS fully appreciates fine dining / Michelin starred restaurants and has done for a number of years. He is 17.
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  #7  
Old June 21st, 2013, 05:18 AM
L3GWG L3GWG is offline
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I think you will find it was a suggestion not a comment and without trying to antagonise you further I would prefer over 21 also. Your son may well be different from the normal but surely most would want to chill with there friends with a slice of pizza , hot dogs and flirting rather than dressing up and having dinner with Mum


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  #8  
Old June 21st, 2013, 06:36 AM
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TracyE TracyE is offline
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Fantastic review, thank you!

I am someone who also loved the food at Ocean Blue and cannot wait to return. My only "criticism" was about the very rushed service. Now maybe things have changed since the May 12 inaugural, but when we were first seated I ordered a bottle of wine which was long in coming.

We were next approached by our server several times to order. We told her we would let her know when we were ready as we wanted to enjoy a glass of wine first.

We finally ordered. I no sooner had put down my fork from the exquisite mussels appetizer when my Dover sole was placed in front of me. No time to relax at all in between courses! Ditto when dinner was complete. Dessert arrived seemingly in seconds after we placed our order.

While delicious from beginning to end, we were in and out within an hour and I might add, that the restaurant was not overly crowded.

I thought that when I go there again, I would only order one course at a time.

Just curious if you felt the service was rushed?

Tracy
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  #9  
Old June 21st, 2013, 07:36 AM
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Love my butler Love my butler is offline
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No thanks. Not even at half the price.
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  #10  
Old June 21st, 2013, 09:06 AM
UntrainedBrain UntrainedBrain is offline
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Yes on Mrs. G & Me in Hendersonville. She is a wonderful local cook. Cannot resist her Bread Pudding; better than two trips to Kilwins.

The Red Stag in Asheville is very good. The Chef recently won Fire on the Rock with a Duck with Hominy and Mole sauce dish. Engage your waiter/waitress and let the know just how you like the food served. I know they validate parking with dinner, not sure about lunch parking, but there is normally a few spaces open on the street.

Last edited by UntrainedBrain; June 21st, 2013 at 09:21 AM.
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  #11  
Old June 21st, 2013, 09:09 AM
UntrainedBrain UntrainedBrain is offline
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As to rushed service comment. I would say the service is brisk. Knowing how a 2-3 star kitchen works all prep and service is timed in the kitchen. Once they start cooking it is very difficult to stop the service engine.

But Brisk worked for us at Ocean Blue. So many non-rated restaurants have you gnawing on your napkin between courses from bordem.
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  #12  
Old June 21st, 2013, 09:19 AM
UntrainedBrain UntrainedBrain is offline
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As to additional starters "Ask and you shall receive."

The additional cost for more food is minor at Ocean Blue. We all ordered one starter each and finished them. We then politely asked for an additional starter so we could share it around again pointing out that we did not want to know the cost as the food was more than worth it.

This approach differs from asking for two starters before finishing the first in that I believe that it interrupts the flow of the meal which the Chef is conducting. My thoughts are that serving two starters simultaneously to one diner does not allow the food to perform at its best.

Perhaps one should order the first starter and begin eating. About half way through a request should be sent to the kitchen for the second starter at that point. This allows the kitchen time and space to meet your request. Remember you are dining with, not against, the kitchen.

As with all fine dining approach the the kitchen with a "What's Cooking?" attitude of "Hey we are here to see just how good you can do and are ready to enjoy a fine meal cooked and served by your staff." Let the know from the start that you are there to dine and not just consume food. Most fine dining places will be more than happy to accommodate requests for more if they know their work is going to be appreciated.

Last edited by UntrainedBrain; June 21st, 2013 at 09:25 AM.
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  #13  
Old June 21st, 2013, 10:00 AM
emcelh emcelh is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UntrainedBrain View Post
Yes on Mrs. G & Me in Hendersonville. She is a wonderful local cook. Cannot resist her Bread Pudding; better than two trips to Kilwins.

The Red Stag in Asheville is very good. The Chef recently won Fire on the Rock with a Duck with Hominy and Mole sauce dish. Engage your waiter/waitress and let the know just how you like the food served. I know they validate parking with dinner, not sure about lunch parking, but there is normally a few spaces open on the street.
Thanks. We live in Hendersonville but have never been to Mrs. G and Me. Guess it's time to try it.
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  #14  
Old June 21st, 2013, 10:06 AM
emcelh emcelh is offline
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No thanks. Not even at half the price.
What didn't you like about it. Food? Service?
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  #15  
Old June 21st, 2013, 10:18 AM
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lyndamr lyndamr is offline
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I just got off the Breakaway this past sunday we are a family of 7 (50,50,74,51,52, 24,21). We pre paid it cost us $35 and I realize the price now is $49.

Everybody rated this restaurant as excellent as their favorite ( we tried all with the exception of Teppanyani) but I do not. I believe why they rated this restaurant as their favorite and excellent is because all of us ordered additional items from the raw bar menu which included little neck clams, oysters and shrimp. I feel if they did not have these, they would not rate Ocean Blu as excellent but very good. My steak tartar was not the best I had but it was very tasty and excellent. Others ordered mussles and calamari and were quite pleased. Those who ordered the dover sole all said it was excellent, another member ordered the pork and said it was very good...I ordered the delminico that was suppose to come with watercress, needless to say my steak had this marinade/basting sauce that tasted so sweet...although the steak looked very good 12 ounces and it was cooked to perfection medium rare..that sweet taste was horrible needless to say I figured out that was the same sauce that was with the duck! The kitchen staff made a mistake obviously, as a result, I ate it and didn't care for it. There were no sides but after eating the items from the raw bar, the appetizer and my potato soup was just ok (surprised it was not even very good for an iron chef recipe) it was plenty for us. I truely feel that if my family didn't have the raw bar they definitely miss a startch and vegetable along with their main course. The crème brulee was not one of the best I had it was just good. Geoffrey has his own special drinks the white Russian is the best I ever had and was included in the ultimate beverage program. Service was flawless.

I would not go back again, but to have the raw bar (separate seating next to the restaurant) its worth that, just have that and not the dinner.
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