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Chef's Table on Sapphire 2/03 (Long)


Aqua's Mom

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I have feared posting on our recent cruise experiences, especially the Chef’s Table. I have gained so much from other people’s experiences I felt compelled to share mine. Please be kind. (Get out the popcorn).

 

We participated in the Chef’s Table on the Sapphire on February 3, 2010. We booked the Chef’s Table on the advice of CCers as a special celebration for our 40th anniversary. I had read many fabulous reviews and seen wonderful pictures posted here as well. I’m also a big fan of all the chef shows on TV, so I was very excited to get an insider’s view of the galley, see awe inspiring presentations, and taste great food.

 

We hurried to book quickly to assure getting a space. We were #2 on “the list” but were told there would be two nights of Chef’s Tables so there usually wasn’t a problem. (I was the only woman not wearing strappy evening shoes).

 

The Patter describes hors d’oeuvres “served at a hot spot in the galley during ‘rush’ hour.” There was nothing rushed about the galley while we were there. We walked in only a very short way past the mandatory hand washing and only saw empty serving counters and workers standing around – we were obviously there between dinner services. Not what I would call a “tour” or an “insider” look at the galley.

 

The appetizers were wonderful, however. We had Beef Tenderloin Tartar, Tuna Ceviche, Roasted New Potatoes with Sour Cream and Caviar, and Pizzette with Goat’s Cheese and Ricotta. The Executive Chef Marcello Berardi explained each appetizer. Other than disappointment with not seeing the galley in action, the food was phenomenal. I am no wine expert – I don’t even drink very much. I thought the champagne was wonderful and everyone seemed to agree. In fact, the white and red wines with dinner were good to me, and those in the group who seemed to know about wines indicated they were very good.

 

In the dining room, we were arranged behind the table for a photo and then seated. We were served Asparagus Risotto with Lobster Tail and Claws. It was wonderful. The palate cleanser was Strawberry and Cracked Pepper Sorbet. You’ve got to try cracked pepper on strawberry sorbet – it does interesting things to your taste buds. There was a caramelized nut praline “stick” as garnish.

 

At this point in the meal, quality took a dip. The waiter made a point of removing the centerpiece (a lovely one) from the table telling us we’d see why soon. The Chef returned to carve the Veal Tenderloin and Veal Shank at a side table. It was supposed to be served with mushrooms and jus, market vegetables, and creamy potatoes. I think you can see from my photo that the veal shank had quite a bit of fat and yucky stuff in it without mushrooms or much jus. The vegetables were plain. It looked like the meat and steamed vegetable my doctor would recommend – not what I expected at Chef’s Table.

 

:(The chef disappeared without describing the dish and didn’t appear for dessert either. The waiter joked lamely about a fight in the kitchen complete with knives and blood. Not funny. The waiter replaced the centerpiece and said the chef surprised him with the menu (interesting, since the menu was printed). From some other CCers photos I think there was supposed to be more to the main course. Something of a fancier presentation with some choices (perhaps the sauces or potatoes?) on our table.

 

The cheese course was Warm Gorgonzola over Walnut Bread with a Balsamic Vinegar and Black Pepper Zabaglione. The presentation was a little messier than the other courses. This one was a matter of taste – it was a little strong. I liked it but couldn’t eat very much – some other folks didn’t like this one.

 

These are links to the photos I saw on CC BEFORE our Chef’s Table:

 

http://www.cruisenotebook.com/The_Cruise_Guys/Photos/Pages/Sapphire_Princess.html#103

 

http://thegeomonkeys.com/2010/02/thursday-february-4-2010-chef’s-table/#comments

 

I was really looking forward to the dessert. The photos others have posted have been wonderful – real fantasy presentations over spun sugar creations. Ours was very plain. It was Iced Amaretto Parfait, Vanilla Plums, and Brandy Snap Tuile. I’m not sure where the plums were. The garnish was a repeat of the one used with the sorbet. I was crushed. Not a bad dessert, just very similar to those served in the MDR - not the send off I was waiting for.

The Chef did come out to sign cookbooks, although not personalized as promised (which we received with a rose for the ladies). He didn’t talk to us, and didn’t “rejoin(s) the group at their private table to participate in a discussion about the evening's meal, answer questions, and share culinary secrets perfected during many years of experience at sea and on land” as the website stated.

 

It was unfortunate that the meal didn’t end the same wonderful way it started. Was it worth the $150 surcharge for us? That is very subjective. Will we do it again? No.

 

We did do Sabatini’s several nights later. The appetizers were good but not much to look at but the entrées were much better. (Saw the same nut garnish at dessert). Definitely worth the $40 for us. Would do it again.

 

I’m not much of a photographer, but here are my photos: http://picasaweb.google.com/clwgoode/ChefSTableSapphire2032010#

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I've never done the Chef's Table but did note a difference in the table set-up between the Star Princess and the Sapphire Princess. One night on the Star we happened to be seated near where the Chef's Table participants would be dining (black table cloth...) The attention to detail of the staff to make sure every fork, bread stick, candle was exactly right was quite impressive.

 

Last month on the Sapphire we were seated near the Chef's Table. We did not see as much attention to detail as we had seen on the other ship. And the table did not look as superb.

 

After seeing Duck Duck Cruise's pictures from the Golden, it made me want to spend the money on the experience, but your pictures from the Sapphire seem to portray a totally different, and much lesser, of an experience. You paid the same money but did not get the same quality. If you haven't already done so, you should write a letter to Princess.

 

Jackie

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That was a sad little dessert wasn't it. I understand your disappointment. I am one week off the Ruby and we had a wonderful meal including a fabulous chocolate mousse dome served in free-form sugar bowls. We also were offered a shot of Grey Goose vodka on the strawberry sorbet. That was such an amazing combination of flavors, I want to try it at home. We had Generoso as our Maitre d'. Everything I had read about him is true. He is marvelous; so personable and gracious. The day after the chef's table my aunt and I looked up and it was Generoso who was clearing our pizza plates up on the sun deck. I was impressed.

 

We also had a great table. Everyone was a Cruise Critic member and six of us were on the roll call. I only wished that I had blown off the closed-toe shoe thing. I wore my Crocs (everyone gasp) which meant that I wore a long skirt and blouse outfit, that while nice, were not as dressy as I would have liked in hindsight.

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Wow, thats sounds,, and frankly looked dissappointing. The meal did look blah. looked like plain boiled veggies, and sorry , carving the zuchinni like that does not fool me,, not what I would consider special. And a cheese course of warm cheese melted on toast,, so odd, I am french and that frankly is NOT a proper cheese course.

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Wow, thats sounds,, and frankly looked dissappointing. The meal did look blah. looked like plain boiled veggies, and sorry , carving the zuchinni like that does not fool me,, not what I would consider special. And a cheese course of warm cheese melted on toast,, so odd, I am french and that frankly is NOT a proper cheese course.

 

I agree and while I am NOT French that is not a proper cheese course. We had considered doing the chef's Table a month ago but right now I am happy we did not.

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My only chef's table experience was wonderful, nothing like what I saw in your pix. I hope that you did not leave without expressing your disappointment. The only explanation I can think of is that something(not good) was happening in the galley such as equipment breakdown or chefs breakdown or ..............:eek:

 

I am still looking forward to my next chef's table experience and hopefully it will be like my first.

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I sure hope that you brought it somebody's attention about the inferior dinner. We've done 2 (both on the Star) and they were fantastic.

 

If I had a bad experience I wouldn't hesitate to mention it to the "higher" ups. $150 is a lot to spend for a bad meal

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it made me want to spend the money on the experience, but your pictures from the Sapphire seem to portray a totally different, and much lesser, of an experience. You paid the same money but did not get the same quality. If you haven't already done so, you should write a letter to Princess.

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I'm sorry to see and read of your experience. I am also concerned and eager to hear from other recent Sapphire Cruisers who have had the chance to experience the Chefs Table. My Wife and I were really looking forward to doing this on our upcoming cruise. No way though am I signing up based on your experience.

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Wow, that's nothing like the chef's table on the Golden. The sorbet was the same, but the similarity ends there. I'm sorry you were disappointed but personally glad to be forwearned so that I won't shell out the extra bucks on the Sapphire in May.

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It would have been downhill for us from the moment they brought out the Tartar. Yuck! I don't understand why they'd be serving raw meat. Guess we're not as much into fancy fare as some. My husband just muttered something about being too busy to cook the meat. For me, any red and I lose the appetite. I probably sound like a real hick from Texas, but I mentioning this to determine if this is the norm at the Chef's table.

 

Sorry, to hear about the disappointment. I suspect the Chef had something unfortunate happen in the Galley, but that doesn't excuse them. Sounds like you can get four dinners in cover charge heaven for the price of one in the Chef's table.

 

Interesting picture of the plate racks in the Galley. Looks to me like there's no room to put the covers on the plates. They must do that right before they're hauled off to the MDR.

 

Your Chef Table Experience is definitely worth a letter to headquarters.

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Wow - we were hoping to do this for our next cruise as we are celebrating Big B-days and our 30th Anniversary...no way am I paying $75 p/p for the food you showed in your pictures. We'll be on the Grand, and while you were on the Sapphire, and I hope it was just a mess up on your ship, we will keep an eye on this.

 

I'm sorry for your bad experience.

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I still think you should send them a letter about this and the photos. Those pictures do not depict a $75 meal, they really should have given you a refund around $40 each. I'd be curious to see what they do about this. At this point, they really need to give you a complimentary Chef's table on the next cruise. Because you don't plan to try another.

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I still think you should send them a letter about this and the photos. Those pictures do not depict a $75 meal, they really should have given you a refund around $40 each. I'd be curious to see what they do about this. At this point, they really need to give you a complimentary Chef's table on the next cruise. Because you don't plan to try another.

 

I agree, someone higher up should know about your experience. We have done the Chef's Table twice, once on CB and once on Island Princess and it was similar to what you were expecting. The veal and dessert look so blah, nothing you couldn't order in the MDR.

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Wow, the photo galleries you posted look elegant, and delectable, and downright AMAZING! And yours look like something completely ordinary...I am stunned by the drastic difference...:confused:

 

Sorry you had such a disappointing experience. I will certainly think twice about booking the Chef's Table on our upcoming Emerald cruise.:(

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We've done the CT twice, once on the Emerald and again on the Pacific. The meals were within 40 days of each other. In both cases the food was excellent, but the tour and info provided was much better on the Emerald. And for that reason I recommend doing the CT on a large ship; it's much more comfortable being in the bigger galley. I doubt we'll be doing it again on any ship, as the menu seems to be static with the exception of appetizers and desserts. Nice idea but I see there is some luck involved in it.

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You have every right to be terribly disappointed. This was nothing like the Chef's Table we had on the Ruby TA last spring. It sounds like something major occurred in the kitchen, but that should not have impacted your experience. If that was the case an explanation /aplogy was in order, and they should have made it up to you later. I agree that you should let Princess know about this especially since you have the pictures. Your pictures didn't look much different than a regular dinner in the dining room.

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