Specialty restaurants

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#1
Florida East Coast
1,206 Posts
Joined Apr 2008
I thought of asking this as a poll, but wasn't sure how to do it.

So the question is :
Do you dine in the specialty restaurants? Frequently, occasionally or never? And why/ why not? Service, food, atmosphere, special occasion, or other reason?

Thanks for your input!
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#2
Michigan
6,328 Posts
Joined Jul 2005
We dine in specialty restaurants (chops and Portofino) 3-4 nights on a 7 night cruise. The reason? We aren't interested in the pork-chicken-pasta stuff in the main dining room. Even the prime rib last cruise in MDR was bad. The other nights we do windjammer. there will be MDR lovers here and more power to them. We burned out on MDR same old same old (waiter, bread, salad, etc etc). The specialty dining venue's are a cooked to order fine restaurant, compared to the mass buffet in the main dining room. No real comparison.
k
#3
Central Illinois
96,757 Posts
Joined Apr 2008
Very occasionally. We enjoy the MDR food and conversation.
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Bob

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#4
San Antonio, TX
267 Posts
Joined Dec 2012
We have tried Chops and Chef's Table. Our reason for going to specialty restaurants is curiosity about what they have to offer and it's a change from the MDR. It's like an intimate formal night for us. Generally, we will go to the MDR for dinner. Between one and three nights, we'll go to the WJ for dinner. One night, we may try a specialty restaurant.
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#5
Ocean County New Jersey USA
267 Posts
Joined Feb 2006
We typically do at least a night at Portofino's, but we found the MDR food to be so good on this last cruise with the new MDR menu that we will stick with the MDR next month.
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#6
Silicon Valley, California
679 Posts
Joined Jan 2006
We tend to do MDR & on many cruises stick with it for the full week.
We have tried Chops and Portofino once each; found Chops steaks to be quite nice but not exceptional, Portofino was amazing.

On Oasis we did do specialties 3 nights: 150 Central Park, and it was as exceptional as advertised; dinner in the Solarium, which was different and lovely; and on the 2nd formal night did wine flights and ordered dinner from the tapas menu in Vintages. Enjoyed the 3 nights "out" and enjoyed the 4 nights in the MDR.

Reasons for doing specialties? sometimes a better menu, or just for something a little different and more intimate.
Reasons for MDR? We like the conversation, the food, and the interactions with the wait staff.

Mary
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#7
Central, MA
263 Posts
Joined Feb 2001
I haven't eaten in the MDR in probably my last five cruises. I prefer the specialty restaurants or the Windjammer. I mostly cruise alone, and while I never have trouble meeting interesting new people, I don't necessarily want to spend an entire meal with them. Also, I prefer the food and service in the specialty restaurants. I also hate the noise level in the MDR, so if I'm not eating dinner in a specialty, I tend to head to the Windjammer, which is much quieter in the evenings.
#8
South Carolina
25,749 Posts
Joined Dec 2001
We love going to Specialty restaurants on RCCL cruises.

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#9
Atlanta, GA
1,814 Posts
Joined Jun 2009
We always book a night at Chops for our anniversary and usually will book a night at Portofino. We never eat dinner in the Windjammer. We did all specialty restaurants except one night on Allure (Feb 2012). We had originally booked specialty for 4 of the 7 but had such a poor experience in MDR the first night, we decided to try out all of the specialty restaurants. In order of preference (favorite to least) we liked: 150 Central Park, Chops (went twice), Giovanni's Table, Rita's Cantina, Samba Grill. The only one we would not try again was Samba Grill....meat overload!
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#10
Amherst, Ma, USA
1,915 Posts
Joined Aug 2000
We've started eating more and more in the specialty restaurants. What started out as maybe one time per cruise has changed to every night on one cruise, and four nights on our last cruise. There are several reasons, for us anyway. We had a really bad experience in the MDR one trip. We used to request a large table so we could meet different people at dinner, but more and more found ourselves sitting by ourselves at a table for eight, or six. The quality of the food in the MDR has declined, and while the service is still good, it usually feels rushed.
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#11
Southwest Florida
6,917 Posts
Joined Sep 2007
We try to do one night in Portofino (Giovanni's Table on the upcoming Indy cruise) but we really enjoy the MDR too. We like the special service we get at the specialty restaurants.
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#12
NYC
2,001 Posts
Joined Apr 2009
We love the specialty restaurants and dine in them as much as possible. The food and service is really great. I'm not a big fan of the MDR for a few reasons. It always seems to have uncontrolled kids running around screaming and yelling. Plus I am not a big fan of singing and dancing waiters.......lol. If I want entertainment, I'll go see a show after dinner.
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#13
Long Island, NY
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Joined Mar 2006
Originally posted by clarea
<snip>We enjoy the MDR food and conversation.
Same here, Bob!


We never dine in the specialty restaurants. No need to spend more money when we like the food and experience that's included.
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#14
Chicago by way of Boston and NOLA
16,675 Posts
Joined Feb 2006
Last few cruises we have only done the MDR once a cruise. Too much like a banquet hall; we much prefer the ambiance, service and upgraded cuisine at the specialities - more like dining at an actual restaurant. Well worth the nominal charge.
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#15
North Ga
8,374 Posts
Joined Apr 2008
Originally posted by DonnaK
Same here, Bob!


We never dine in the specialty restaurants. No need to spend more money when we like the food and experience that's included.
I agree! I tried Chops once and it was fine. Not exceptional but good. Now that they removed my favorite steak AND dessert from the menu, no reason for me to go back.

If it were a Prime cut of beef it would be more "worth it" but I can get just as good a steak and service for 30.00 pp on land at our local steakhouse.

I'm a huge fan of the MDR though and haven't had a bad experience. Plus they serve things there that I don't normally get on land. Love the lamb shank, duck and escargot.

I was gonna try Portofino on Freedom on the last cruise but didn't like the extremely early or extremely late dining times that were left. We didn't prebook.
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#16
Central Illinois
96,757 Posts
Joined Apr 2008
Originally posted by ryano
I agree! I tried Chops once and it was fine. Not exceptional but good. Now that they removed my favorite steak AND dessert from the menu, no reason for me to go back.

If it were a Prime cut of beef it would be more "worth it" but I can get just as good a steak and service for 30.00 pp on land at our local steakhouse.

I'm a huge fan of the MDR though and haven't had a bad experience. Plus they serve things there that I don't normally get on land. Love the lamb shank, duck and escargot.

I was gonna try Portofino on Freedom on the last cruise but didn't like the extremely early or extremely late dining times that were left. We didn't prebook.
I agree, these items are rare at land restaurants, at least where we live.
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Bob

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#18
Missouri
734 Posts
Joined Jul 2013
This will be our first cruise with RCI but based on the menus (YUMMY), I am going to dine at Chops and Giovanni's on the nights I don't like the MDR menu. (Based on the menu, I know of 2 nights I don't care for but I'm still trying to figure out which nights they serve which menu)

I probably wouldn't have, but one of our perks is a free specialty dining dinner so that had me drooling, err...I mean looking at all of the menus. Chops and Giovanni's menus really caught my stomach, err...I mean eye.
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#19
Florida East Coast
1,206 Posts
Joined Apr 2008
OP here. Figured I would answer my own question.
I have never been to a specialty restaurant. My reasoning for this - why should I pay extra for food when I have already paid for meals included. But I have to admit, that almost every time I order a steak in the MDR, it is really pretty bad. I often wondered is this their way of "persuading" you to order a chops steak for an extra fee. Anyway, I just quit ordering steaks anymore.
But as I read more and more about people dining in specailty restaurants, makes me think maybe I should check it out.
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#20
Clark, NJ, USA
7,319 Posts
Joined May 2004
Originally posted by superduper123
OP here. Figured I would answer my own question.
I have never been to a specialty restaurant. My reasoning for this - why should I pay extra for food when I have already paid for meals included. But I have to admit, that almost every time I order a steak in the MDR, it is really pretty bad. I often wondered is this their way of "persuading" you to order a chops steak for an extra fee. Anyway, I just quit ordering steaks anymore.
But as I read more and more about people dining in specailty restaurants, makes me think maybe I should check it out.
I know the mentality of having already paid for the food in the MDR, but consider what just an entree would cost at a semi-decent steakhouse at home. Maybe you could get a piece of chicken for $30 but not a nice steak. And that wouldn't include appetizers, sides and dessert either.
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