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Thomas Keller Napa Burger


kjbacon
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What special about this burger is that fact that Seabourn paid millions to have the right to cook it. When I first ordered one I requested the mushrooms(?) be taken off and was told there are no variations to the recipe.  If Seabourn needs to cut costs eliminating the association with Thomas Keller would be a great start in my opinion.  

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While I certainly agree with Corony's indication that the Seabourn-TK deal was an expensive mistake, I will point out that after the initial season of the Napa Burger being offered at the Patio (pool grill) in an inflexible manner, one can now order the Napa Burger as one prefers it, both in terms of which toppings are included and in terms of the degree of doneness.  On our last three SB cruises, we have enjoyed the Napa Burger on our terms, which is, of course, as it should be.   The absurd arrogance of a celebrity chef dictating to the consumer of his products that a dish may be presented solely as determined by said celebrity chef runs entirely contrarily to the ethos of a luxury line such as SB.

Edited by freddie
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Would anybody book a cruise on Seabourn just because of the Thomas Keller meals over another cruise line?

 I doubt it

Or for the Retreat in that matter as well 😀

 I would not miss either

Edited by Thecat123
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5 hours ago, Corony said:

What special about this burger is that fact that Seabourn paid millions to have the right to cook it. When I first ordered one I requested the mushrooms(?) be taken off and was told there are no variations to the recipe.  If Seabourn needs to cut costs eliminating the association with Thomas Keller would be a great start in my opinion.  

 

We actually like the Napa Burger but agree it's well past time for SB to cut their ties with TK.

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7. The Napa Burger, Seabourn Cruise Line

The Napa Burger

The Burger: Developed by Michelin-starred chef and Seabourn partner Thomas Keller, this decadent burger is made with a high-quality RR Ranch beef and pork patty, five-year aged Wisconsin cheddar cheese and Thousand Island dressing made in house -- all packed into a potato brioche bun with the freshest fixings (lettuce, tomato, onions and pickles).

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1 hour ago, kjbacon said:

Ok, sounds like mixed reviews and not a lot of love for Thomas Keller but still ... can someone please tell me what is on this burger? Thank you.

 

Someone mentioned mushrooms. I've never been given one with mushrooms on it. 

The burger is on a brioche bun.  The meat is decent quality and not greasy. I particularly enjoy the cheese, which is an aged cheddar. When prepared properly the cheese mostly oozes into a sauce.  My partner find the cheese too rich. There's a sauce on the burger. I don't know for sure what sauce it is but my taste buds have the impression that it's close to Thousand Island dressing. Lots of lettuce, dill pickle, tomato and red onion slices. 

It's very good but it's not the best burger I've ever eaten. 

I wish I were at the Patio right now eating one...

 

I know you didn't ask for opinions on TK overall but since we're discussing the Napa burger I'll throw in my view.

Our first cruise with the TK offerings was in October 2016 and since then very little has changed.

On our last cruise in December 2019 they had removed the TK menu items in the MDR. Previously there had been a small selection offered on alternate evenings. I enjoy some of the TK evenings in The Colonnade, in particular the fried chicken but that one isn't available on the newer ships (Encore and Ovation) as the galley doesn't have the appropriate fryer to make it. 

TK Grill is good but in hindsight I realise I preferred Restaurant 2 which it replaced. The menu never changes. I could now recite it from memory although they usually have one special each evening.  Don't get me wrong, we do enjoy our evenings in the Grill but  I  strongly feel that it's time the menu had a refresh. 

 

Edited by Isklaar
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Oh so I posted at the same time as MJN1. I see from that post the dressing is indeed Thousand Island.  Now I've seen that photo I definitely wish I were at the Patio right now!

The Seabourn fries are great, by the way. 

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17 minutes ago, MJN1 said:

And in case you wonder which are the top six.....     https://www.cruisecritic.co.uk/articles.cfm?ID=2349


Thank you both soooo much for the detailed descriptions and pictures. Much appreciated! I searched for what felt like forever and just couldn’t find it. Your opinions are very helpful too and also appreciated. I think that burger looks pretty darn good and the thought of safely being back on deck, watching the sea and having a burger sounds like heaven. Please share any other info you’d like. It’s great diversion to daydream and plan for next year.

 

12 minutes ago, Isklaar said:

Oh so I posted at the same time as MJN1. I see from that post the dressing is indeed Thousand Island.  Now I've seen that photo I definitely wish I were at the Patio right now!

The Seabourn fries are great, by the way. 

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I don't think I've eaten any sort of burger for maybe 30 years.  And I haven't drunk Coke since I was in my teens.  Maybe that's why I'm slim and healthy. 

 

As I said on another thread a week or so ago. Thomas Keller's contract should be terminated before the ships sail again.  His restaurant food is (apparently) nothing like the food on the ships so Seabourn simply bought his 'name' to fool the gullible passengers.  

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On closer inspection, in that  CC photo, the bun doesn't look right. Actually the cheese doesn't either. They both look more like a standard burger. I've never been given a sesame seed bun when I've ordered the Napa Burger.

I wonder if they now use a sesame seed bun onboard if they're out of the brioche? Not long after the Keller launch we were on a cruise and unable to get the Napa burger because they didn't have the correct bun. 

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8 hours ago, Isklaar said:

TK Grill is good but in hindsight I realise I preferred Restaurant 2 which it replaced. 

 

We strongly preferred Restaurant 2 to TK Grill.  The menus for R2 were a delightful surprise while those of TK are predictably always the same.

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4 hours ago, Isklaar said:

Not long after the Keller launch we were on a cruise and unable to get the Napa burger because they didn't have the correct bun. 

 

Likewise.  Shortly after the TK launch, we were on a long cruise and got to taste the Napa Burger early on.  Then SB ran out of the proper buns.  No bun. No burger.  We pleaded and eventually got the chef to make us the burger on a different bun.  He agreed as long as we didn't call it a Napa Burger.

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21 minutes ago, MightyQuinn said:

 

We strongly preferred Restaurant 2 to TK Grill.  The menus for R2 were a delightful surprise while those of TK are predictably always the same.


Sounds like you have been with Seabourn for a good long time. Any tips for those of us new to Seabourn? We are coming from years of mainstream lines, then Viking ocean, and our most recent cruises on Regent.

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1 hour ago, kjbacon said:


Sounds like you have been with Seabourn for a good long time. Any tips for those of us new to Seabourn? We are coming from years of mainstream lines, then Viking ocean, and our most recent cruises on Regent.

 

We've not sailed SB for all that long but enough to know we like them!  Here are some thoughts ... hopefully some SB old timers can add to them:

 

* complete the online preference form before you go
* email SB and ask for your preferred beverage if it's not included in the online selection
* make reservations for TK Grill in advance
* swap the welcome champagne for anything else you prefer
* all complimentary wines should be available every day, upon request
* indulge in always available caviar
* Caviar in the Pool is a ton of fun
* participate in the Block Party, at least once
* enjoy a lazy sea day with cappuccino and treats at SB Square
* SB is famous for Grandma's Cake
* hit the whirl pools with drink in hand
* try the Napa Burger and Yountville Dog
* have dinner at the Patio Grill
* souffles at dinner are usually excellent
* enjoy house-made gelato
* SB breadsticks are legendary
* don't miss the Galley Lunch, though I suspect it may not happen post-covid
* Sushi is worth a visit on Encore/Ovation
* special order any meal with 24+ hour notice
* cocktails are not SB strong point so come with modest expectations
* pop into SB Square around 5:00 pm to get early access to next day port maps
* sign up early for Shopping with the Chef if interested
* purchase an FCD while onboard to get 5% discount on future SB cruise
 

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9 hours ago, Fletcher said:

His restaurant food is (apparently) nothing like the food on the ships so Seabourn simply bought his 'name' to fool the gullible passengers.  

 

To be fair, the menu and suppliers are virtually the same at his newer restaurants (the TAK Room and Surf Club); on our last cruise Chef Michael from TK dined with us, and apparently they are testing out new dishes between these restaurants and the ships.  True, TK Grill on ship is not French Laundry, but the food is the very similar to other parts of his empire, and there are staff who go between the ship-based and land-based restaurants.  Example video below of a starter on our last cruise - liked the live video feed from the kitchen and great presentation.

 

And FWIW, we really liked R2 and prefer it over TK Grill.  

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3 hours ago, MightyQuinn said:

 

We've not sailed SB for all that long but enough to know we like them!  Here are some thoughts ... hopefully some SB old timers can add to them:

 

* complete the online preference form before you go
* email SB and ask for your preferred beverage if it's not included in the online selection
* make reservations for TK Grill in advance
* swap the welcome champagne for anything else you prefer
* all complimentary wines should be available every day, upon request
* indulge in always available caviar
* Caviar in the Pool is a ton of fun
* participate in the Block Party, at least once
* enjoy a lazy sea day with cappuccino and treats at SB Square
* SB is famous for Grandma's Cake
* hit the whirl pools with drink in hand
* try the Napa Burger and Yountville Dog
* have dinner at the Patio Grill
* souffles at dinner are usually excellent
* enjoy house-made gelato
* SB breadsticks are legendary
* don't miss the Galley Lunch, though I suspect it may not happen post-covid
* Sushi is worth a visit on Encore/Ovation
* special order any meal with 24+ hour notice
* cocktails are not SB strong point so come with modest expectations
* pop into SB Square around 5:00 pm to get early access to next day port maps
* sign up early for Shopping with the Chef if interested
* purchase an FCD while onboard to get 5% discount on future SB cruise
 


Thank you so much for this! It really is nice to do some good quality daydreaming and planning. Have you cruised with Regent? Curious how you feel Seabourn composers.

 

I absolutely love caviar so that tip might be my favorite. I’ll find that in The Restaurant? What types are available?

 

Now I’m curious what the Yountville Dog is and Grandma’s cake too! I’m almost strictly a wine drinker but my husband and our friends usually order cocktails so your mention that the cocktails are a weak point catches my attention. Weak as in the drinks are light on alcohol or?

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46 minutes ago, kjbacon said:

I absolutely love caviar so that tip might be my favorite. I’ll find that in The Restaurant? What types are available?

 

The caviar service is available 24/7 anywhere on the ship, including room service.  We usually have standing orders for a double order in the Observation Bar at 6pm; half toast and half blinis (blinis you have to ask for).  The supplier is the same for all Thomas Keller's restaurants, Regiis Ova - and TK is the co-owner.  Not sure what specific caviar they serve.  Have never checked if they have other caviars for a charge, but I don't think so.  

 

On the cocktails topic, like you we stick almost exclusively to wine - except on Seabourn before dinner.  We have had a couple of great bartenders, and they really made a big difference because they get to know your tastes/preferences.  Never have had a weak drink onboard.  Where you may be let down is the mixers - seems like unless you preorder Fever Tree you get pretty average stuff.  Real cocktail folks here would have more details, but as a rookie that's been my view.

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41 minutes ago, kjbacon said:


Thank you so much for this! It really is nice to do some good quality daydreaming and planning. Have you cruised with Regent? Curious how you feel Seabourn composers.

 

I absolutely love caviar so that tip might be my favorite. I’ll find that in The Restaurant? What types are available?

 

Now I’m curious what the Yountville Dog is and Grandma’s cake too! I’m almost strictly a wine drinker but my husband and our friends usually order cocktails so your mention that the cocktails are a weak point catches my attention. Weak as in the drinks are light on alcohol or?

 

We cruised on Regent Mariner in 2011 and were underwhelmed.  I wrote a CC review titled "All Inclusive But Not Luxury" which pretty well summed up our experience. I know it's probably nor right to judge a cruise line based on a single voyage but we haven't been motivated to go back to Regent after we found our sweet spot with Seabourn and Crystal.

Caviar is available anytime and anywhere.  Hot tub ... room service ... pre-dinner in a lounge ... by the pool ... breakfast on disembarkation day.  In 2019, SB made a change in their caviar to Regiis Ova, which has a TK connection.  Here's their description: Regiis Ova, co-founded by culinary partner Chef Thomas Keller and Shaoching Bishop, offers Siberian Reserve (Acipenser Baerii) caviar from a family owned and operated farm in the fisherman village of San Gregorio de Polanco on the shore of the Rio Negro in Uruguay. 

My bad on Yountville Dog.  It's actually called the Yountwurst and is another creation of TK.  It's an artisanal hot dog named for the hometown of The French Laundry, Ad Hoc and the original Bouchon.  I'm by no means a hot dog connoisseur but I thought the Yountwurst was juicy and delicious.  I was less taken with Grandma's Cake, another SB fave.  It was nothing more than a simple pound cake with a sugar nut ring running through the centre.  Nothing to rave about but others think so!

As for cocktails, SB has all the usual top shelf stuff and the pours are generous.  My issue was that, almost without exception, the bartenders just couldn't produce decent drinks.   And I'm not talking exotic concoctions.  Cocktails like Lemon Drop Martini and French Martini.  Mixed drinks like Bloody Caesars.  Or my favorite Gin & Elderflower with Tonic (special order Fever Tree) was impossible for them to execute consistently.  
 

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8 hours ago, MightyQuinn said:

 

We strongly preferred Restaurant 2 to TK Grill.  The menus for R2 were a delightful surprise while those of TK are predictably always the same.

We loved it too, much preferred it to the TK grill concept. There were to be fair lots of complaints about how stale the concept was at the time but I think a lot of that falls at the feet of Seabourn who left the same sequence of menus to rotate, let the decor get a little dated and rested on their laurels. I find it odd that a business which relies on repeat customers rolls out a concept and then doesn't continue to change it to keep the experience fresh. R2 was certainly popular, we were always happy to take a cancellation or an early table to get in an extra reservation and there were many cruises that pretty much never happened. 

 

So their eventual response, instead of inventing a new concept and rolling it out, was to partner with a celeb, spend vast amounts converting the space and kitchens and roll out a restaurant with a fixed menu. I think they'd have done better refreshing R2 and holding onto at least the name, which harkened back to the little sisters, and if they wanted to have a celeb chef name, limit it to a daily special in the MDR, one preferably done somewhat better than the occasional TK special they now seem to be giving up on. Personally I've never had a problem with the food dreamed up by Seabourn's chefs, either on land or in the galley and find the whole celebrity idea a total distraction. 

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5 hours ago, rols said:

I find it odd that a business which relies on repeat customers rolls out a concept and then doesn't continue to change it to keep the experience fresh . . . Personally I've never had a problem with the food dreamed up by Seabourn's chefs, either on land or in the galley and find the whole celebrity idea a total distraction. 

I totally agree.  When I look back across my cruising life and think of the greatest meals afloat I think of the spontaneity of two ships in particular - on the Corinthian II in the Med the chef bought freshly caught red mullet and octopus and served up a grilled lunch on deck with these fishes, ratatouille and rice.   And on the Orion in Papua New Guinea the chef bought sackfuls of mud crabs and cooked them for everyone at dinner, either steamed Chinese-style or served as a light curry. Utterly fabulous.

 

Beats a lousy burger any day!

 

 

DSC_1954.jpg

Edited by Fletcher
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