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ABoatNerd

QM2 Alternative Dining - Outstanding

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Completed a Hamburg to New York westbound QM2 voyage in late June.

 

The alternative dining option was outstanding, the best food of any cruise I have been on; exceeded Oceania and Crystal. 

 

The 3 segments; Coriandor, The SmokeHouse and Aztec  (Indian, BBQ, Mexican) - had the best ingredients, taste was pronounced, wonderful colour, presentation perfect.  A large volume of appetizers, mains and dessert.

 

The service was prompt and individualized with engaged wait staff.

 

What a hidden gem that Cunard has organized.

 

This venue was not heavily patronized.

 

It is $20 pp.

 

Everyone who ate there were enthusiastic about the experience - in fact a number of individuals were in the Grills - they all said the food was far better and more enjoyable than anything in the Grills. One gentlemen said they would start to book non Grill staterooms and eat in the alternative dining venue.  That says something.

 

I wrote the Hotel Director and the Food and Beverage manager, with a cc to the group, and advised them of their outstanding product. I received a thank you letter back from the F&B manager. The staff of the alternative venue showed me where my letter was posted in their serving area.

 

In contrast, the MDR was of average to poor quality - very disappointing. The food and garnishing (if there was any) was depressing. Onion soup was a dark water with a few bits of onion and a small round thin bread piece with a very small amount of cheese; it also tasted awful. I was shocked at the cheapness of the MDR offerings; particularly the dinner service.

 

So we ate the rest of the evenings in the alternative dining venue.

 

Do give it a try and enjoy.

 

 

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6 minutes ago, ABoatNerd said:

Completed a Hamburg to New York westbound QM2 voyage in late June.

 

The alternative dining option was outstanding, the best food of any cruise I have been on; exceeded Oceania and Crystal. 

 

The 3 segments; Coriandor, The SmokeHouse and Aztec  (Indian, BBQ, Mexican) - had the best ingredients, taste was pronounced, wonderful colour, presentation perfect.  A large volume of appetizers, mains and dessert.

 

The service was prompt and individualized with engaged wait staff.

 

What a hidden gem that Cunard has organized.

 

This venue was not heavily patronized.

 

It is $20 pp.

 

Everyone who ate there were enthusiastic about the experience - in fact a number of individuals were in the Grills - they all said the food was far better and more enjoyable than anything in the Grills. One gentlemen said they would start to book non Grill staterooms and eat in the alternative dining venue.  That says something.

 

I wrote the Hotel Director and the Food and Beverage manager, with a cc to the group, and advised them of their outstanding product. I received a thank you letter back from the F&B manager. The staff of the alternative venue showed me where my letter was posted in their serving area.

 

In contrast, the MDR was of average to poor quality - very disappointing. The food and garnishing (if there was any) was depressing. Onion soup was a dark water with a few bits of onion and a small round thin bread piece with a very small amount of cheese; it also tasted awful. I was shocked at the cheapness of the MDR offerings; particularly the dinner service.

 

So we ate the rest of the evenings in the alternative dining venue.

 

Do give it a try and enjoy.

 

 

Thank you so much for this information. When were you able to make reservations for these venues? (I do realize that you mentioned they were not heavily patronized.)

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27 minutes ago, LovesToRead said:

Thank you so much for this information. When were you able to make reservations for these venues? (I do realize that you mentioned they were not heavily patronized.)

You can book onboard, there is no facility to book in advance

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That's a really helpful review, thanks.  I did a westbound TA in June, and discovered the pasta restaurant set up in the Chef's Galley (one end of King's Court), where they have half a dozen different paste types and half a dozen sauces, everything made to order. You can also get a caesar salad, some desert, and the usual drinks service. I was on the late seating in the MDR, so always dropped by for a dish of past around 6 or 6:30, to tide me over. Highly recommended, and it even works for a light, 3 course dinner.  Wait service is superb, as its rarely crowded. 

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Thank you for the review of the alternative restaurants however with your high recommendations from now on they will be heavily patronised!!! LOL! 

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4 hours ago, ABoatNerd said:

Onion soup was a dark water with a few bits of onion and a small round thin bread piece with a very small amount of cheese; it also tasted awful.

We've learned that onion soup can be disappointing on a cruise. We've had the same experience as you describe on HAL and friends who cruise on Royal Caribbean have volunteered the same observation (in the MDR, at least).

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23 minutes ago, Underwatr said:

We've learned that onion soup can be disappointing on a cruise. We've had the same experience as you describe on HAL and friends who cruise on Royal Caribbean have volunteered the same observation (in the MDR, at least).

 

Which is surprising. French Onion Soup is one of the easiest, most economical soups to make. (And with the steam kettles they use, there's little risk in burning the onions)

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Thanks for the tip.  Did you have a chance to sample the Steakhouse at the Verandah by any chance?  Would be interested to know your thoughts on that venue. 

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I agree. On the QE we tried Bamboo (excellent), Coriander (excellent) and La Piazza (pretty good). Food was fresh, service was excellent and the venue was very quiet.  Twice we made reservations and once we arrived at dinner time and were seated right away. The portions are larger than in the MDR. In fact, two nights we were so full that they offered to box up our desserts and have room service deliver them to us. In our opinion, the dinner was worth the extra price.

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5 hours ago, ClipperinSFO said:

Thanks for the tip.  Did you have a chance to sample the Steakhouse at the Verandah by any chance?  Would be interested to know your thoughts on that venue. 

We dined at Verandah three times on a recent QE cruise. The food and the service is excellent. The best meal was a lunch and learn with a wine tasting paired with several courses.  A bit spendy but well worth it.  If I had to choose between the standard lunch or dinner, I would probably choose dinner because the lunch menu is a bit limited.   The lobster cocktail appetizer was amazing and the clam chowder was delicious.  

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Thanks for highlighting this great feature on Cunard.  We especially like Coriander and Bamboo, although we have to ask the chef to ramp up the spice content,  and are not always successful in obtaining cooperation.  These alternative restos always present a feast and the $20 cover charge is a bargain, especially compared to the charge for the Verandah ($50?) which IMHO is not worth it.  We think the alternatives are usually better than the cuisine in the Grills, where we usually travel.  Downside:  Cunard has a hard time dressing up the dining area in the Lido/Kings Court, which in spite of the table cloths, still looks like a high school cafeteria...Try to not sit next to the milk machine.  We are back on the QM2 in September and will look for Coriander or Bamboo for a treat.

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Posted (edited)

Does anyone have a link to the menu at Aztec?

 

We've avoided it because DW doesn't like "Mexican" but I really haven't looked at what they serve.

 

Edit: I found it, at what may be a travel agent/booking site...

Edited by Underwatr

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Posted (edited)

Here are links to menus for the Lido and Kings Court alternative dining restaurant themes as found in the Cunard UK FAQ for the question "Can I see an example of a menu?" (also posted in this forum's "Welcome to the Cunard Board" sticky). For some odd reason, the Cunard US FAQ for that same question does not provide links to the menus, so you can't actually see examples of any menus from the US FAQ.

 

Aztec - Interpretations of Mexican classics

Bamboo - Asian flavours

Coriander - Indian Bistro

La Piazza - Italian cuisine

Smokehouse - American cuisine

Edited by bluemarble

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I have used Coriander several times and have enjoyed it immensely-food and service are superb , and the transformation of that section of the KC is very well done. Kudos to Cunard!😄

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Am I correct that on the QM2 these alternate dining venues, with the exception of the Verandah Steak House, are casual (slacks and a dress shirt) even on formal nights?

 

Thanks,

Jack

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2 minutes ago, Jack E Dawson said:

Am I correct that on the QM2 these alternate dining venues, with the exception of the Verandah Steak House, are casual (slacks and a dress shirt) even on formal nights?

 

Thanks,

Jack

No, the evening dress code applies.

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1 hour ago, Jack E Dawson said:

Am I correct that on the QM2 these alternate dining venues, with the exception of the Verandah Steak House, are casual (slacks and a dress shirt) even on formal nights?

 

Thanks,

Jack

 

I think there may have been some confusion in the past about the dress code in the QM2 Kings Court alternative dining venue. Can't say for sure what it has been in the past. But this year Cunard has started making it clear that the regular daily dress code does apply to the alternative dining venue. Here is a scan from a recent QM2 daily programme where "Dress Code Applies." is listed in bold.

 

image.png.118f9e0c012ce21b595e0ec1184f0df9.png

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i think the alternative dining is made to look more fancy/formal than the rest of the King's Court which is why the dress code applies.  I can see how it would be easy to think it wouldn't though as its technically still part of the King's Court.

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Posted (edited)
9 hours ago, Se1lad said:

i think the alternative dining is made to look more fancy/formal than the rest of the King's Court which is why the dress code applies.  I can see how it would be easy to think it wouldn't though as its technically still part of the King's Court.

I believe part of the confusion may be because the special section  on the opposite side of the alternative dining section on King's Court on the QM2 (The Chef's Galley?) is casual dress code. (I must admot I'm unclear on the details for that option)

Edited by MarkBearSF

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The alternative dining is a part of the Kings Court - set with tablecloth, candles etc. It is well done.

The dress code is per the formality of the day, not casual.

 

The issue is that people dressed casual are directly adjacent in the Kings Court. The staff stop non guests from walking through the alternative dining, so that lends a serene atmosphere. There is signage and a podium where a staff member checks you in.

 

I can not say enough good things about this dining option, it was the best food on a cruise ship I have experienced. In fact, I can not remember a meal on land as good.

 

As I mentioned in my originating post, the MDR and Kings Court was of basic/cheap quality, not befitting the QM2 or Cunard.

 

 

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If you're a solo traveller how do you go for alternative dining? Sat on your own, put on a shared table? 

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