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First meal on Valiant Lady tonight in Test Kitchen.  It was a gorgeous venue but so embarrassing for VV.  A portion big enough to serve a mouse of mushroom pate. One scallop cut in half.  An egg yolk with some defrosted peas. A thimble sized piece of beef drowning in chocolate sauce with BLUEBERRIES and raw potato galette.  😂😂😂

After an hour and 20 minutes of pretentiousness, we ditched and ran without taking a second bite of the laughable steak/venisn blueberry concoction. On a scale of 1-10. This was a zero.  We left starved and laughing at how silly it was. 

Edited by WatermelonSugarHigh
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Test Kitchen is a really unique place - I really enjoyed my meal there but it was the experience and trying new things that made it fun.  I don’t think it’s an embarrassment but it is a very unique dining experience that you have to go in to with an open mind.

 

I also went towards the end of a longer cruise when I wanted to slow down…. It is pretty drawn out and on the first night I would have been ready to leave too haha. 

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4 minutes ago, Travel-and-See said:

Test Kitchen is a really unique place - I really enjoyed my meal there but it was the experience and trying new things that made it fun.  I don’t think it’s an embarrassment but it is a very unique dining experience that you have to go in to with an open mind.

 

I also went towards the end of a longer cruise when I wanted to slow down…. It is pretty drawn out and on the first night I would have been ready to leave too haha. 

I’ve been in the food and restaurant industry for over 35 years, including owning and operating a restaurant for 10.
It was plain awful.  Nothing even remotely unique or interesting.  A drawn out meal with cheap food and ridiculously small portions, my husband and son are accustomed to fine dining and they lwalked after the chocolate sauced venison to get a burger 😂😂😂

This venue needs a complete overhaul imo. 

Edited by WatermelonSugarHigh
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And you had the better of the two menus.  There are a couple decent items.  THe beef/venison course was actually decent, and the vegetarian chocolate/coconut dessert was delicious.  We had the B menu first, which was awful, and tried a second time for the A menu....we don't eat there any more.  My cruise partner said that if I insisted on A, she could tolerate that, but no way to B.  I said that if I could get the vege dessert without sitting thru the menu, that would be amazing, but no.  Please note that our server was excellent...nothing bad to say about him.  And we had a delightful evening talking with the couple seated next to us.

Can I just have the secret steak come back to Razzle Dazzle?

Yeah, we had pizza that night.

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I really enjoy Test Kitchen menu A with the mushroom pate and the confit egg and peas. With the bread and other sides I find it filling enough once I’ve had all six courses, it’s probably a similar amount of food to what I’d normally eat at home for dinner, I definitely don’t leave Test Kitchen feeling hungry immediately.

 

Yes it’s not the most fine dining tasting menu, but it’s inventive enough and things like sous-vide confit egg yolk are dishes I’d never cook at home! 
 

Menu B however wasn’t so good and the main course (especially if you choose the prawn(shrimp) option is too small, so that menu did leave us hungry. 

They really need to come up with another new menu as good as the original.

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1 hour ago, jon81uk said:

I really enjoy Test Kitchen menu A with the mushroom pate and the confit egg and peas. With the bread and other sides I find it filling enough once I’ve had all six courses, it’s probably a similar amount of food to what I’d normally eat at home for dinner, I definitely don’t leave Test Kitchen feeling hungry immediately.

 

Yes it’s not the most fine dining tasting menu, but it’s inventive enough and things like sous-vide confit egg yolk are dishes I’d never cook at home! 
 

Menu B however wasn’t so good and the main course (especially if you choose the prawn(shrimp) option is too small, so that menu did leave us hungry. 

They really need to come up with another new menu as good as the original.

 

We enjoyed the A menu. The pea/egg was not my favorite, but we thought the mushroom pate was good.  They let you substitute a lot. I think my SIL swapped out half the meal 🙂

 

I thought the steak was good.  We felt it was filling. We thought the cocktail pairings were good. Maybe that's why we enjoyed the food more 🙂  We thought the chocolate dessert was good. But so rich I couldn't finish it.

 

I understand the hate from those who want big meals, but we relaxed and savored and didn't leave feeling hungry at all.

 

For me, it is Razzle Dazzle that is underwhelming.  Taste is subjective  for sure 🙂

Edited by Gretchendz
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9 hours ago, WatermelonSugarHigh said:

We left starved and laughing at how silly it was. 

 

The small portions and overall small meal are well known for Test Kitchen. Most of us grab some pizza about an hour or two later. It's a fun place and we enjoy seeing what they try to come up with. It's not for everyone but nowhere near a 0 for us. It's a 7 most of the time. 

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5 minutes ago, lesters said:

How does a person know if there are getting menu A or B in advance?

Do not believe  anything shoreside sailor services tells you. Our experience has been that they served one menu Sunday -Wednesday and the other Thursday - Saturday.  We booked on the basis of what Sailor Services shoreside told us in advance...thought we were getting A and got B.  Since it was a 14 night cruise, we asked the host at the podium, and he moved us to A for the next visit.

And yes, I swapped out a lot for the vege choices.  That is no problem at all.

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2 hours ago, CruisingWalter said:

It's not for everyone but nowhere near a 0 for us. It's a 7 most of the time. 

 

I can easily see how a restaurateur from New York City could give some of the cruise fodder on any line a zero. There is so much greatness to choose from in the city on a daily basis.

 

There are also people that come from places where their dining choices are limited to Wendy's, Pizza Hut, and Red Lobster, and those folks will swear that the meals they've had on board a ship are the best they've ever had, and sadly, that's probably true.

Edited by CineGraphic
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3 hours ago, CruisingWalter said:

 

The small portions and overall small meal are well known for Test Kitchen. Most of us grab some pizza about an hour or two later. It's a fun place and we enjoy seeing what they try to come up with. It's not for everyone but nowhere near a 0 for us. It's a 7 most of the time. 

I have to agree with Walter. I have done it 3 times and each time I have enjoyed it. I would agree with a 7 rating.

 

I was born and raised in Denver - or as it was referred to back in the early 60s a "cow town" by those from back East. But I have traveled all over this country and eaten at some of the very high end fine dining and steakhouses across the country. With that being said - I will never judge a cruise lines food by some very exclusive restaurant anywhere in this country. Unlike a land based restaurant there are so many variables that a cruise line must factor in for their dining experiences that making a head to head comparison is difficult. Some cruise lines definitely come close. But to say the steak was "thimble sized" is a gross exaggeration of the portion size. It was a tenderloin medallion that was about 2 1/2 to 3 inches in diameter. So with that being said this is the second "restauranteur" from the Big Apple to come here and blast the food. 

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I loved the  food on my visit to Test Kitchen (menu A) and when all was said and done we were stuffed. However after thinking that others on our cruise were exaggerating when they said to plan for a 2.5 hour meal, ours took two hours and 45 minutes!  I don't mind  long meal every now and then but TK is not the most comfortable restaurant to sit in for that long (especially if you are at the counter seats like we were).

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I had no problem with the size of the steak/venison portion.  Several of the other items were very small portions.  This was a bigger issue on the B menu.  Yes, the bar type seating was uncomfortable and we requested table seating the second time due to disability issues as well as comfort.  THat was much more pleasant from a comfort standpoint as well as interaction with the couple seated next to us.

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8 hours ago, Gretchendz said:

 

We enjoyed the A menu. The pea/egg was not my favorite, but we thought the mushroom pate was good.  They let you substitute a lot. I think my SIL swapped out half the meal 🙂

 

I thought the steak was good.  We felt it was filling. We thought the cocktail pairings were good. Maybe that's why we enjoyed the food more 🙂  We thought the chocolate dessert was good. But so rich I couldn't finish it.

 

I understand the hate from those who want big meals, but we relaxed and savored and didn't leave feeling hungry at all.

 

For me, it is Razzle Dazzle that is underwhelming.  Taste is subjective  for sure 🙂

My husband loved TK menu A in June.  I'm the most picky eater ever and really only enjoyed the filet with the sauce scraped off.  How did your husband handle switching items?  Do you tell them when you first go in or before?  What choices do you have?  

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1 hour ago, tbmrt said:

My husband loved TK menu A in June.  I'm the most picky eater ever and really only enjoyed the filet with the sauce scraped off.  How did your husband handle switching items?  Do you tell them when you first go in or before?  What choices do you have?  

 

As we ordered at the beginning my sister-in-law said "Is there something that can replace x and they said yes--we can bring you z instead."  Then another and another.  Sort of a course by course negotiation.  My husband's family are very picky unadventurous eaters and she was happy.  I wish I could recall her substitutions, but the cocktail pairing seems to have affected my memory 🙂

Edited by Gretchendz
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2 minutes ago, Gretchendz said:

but the cocktail pairing seems to have affected my memory 🙂

Ah yes! I would HIGHLY recommend a drink paring.  They have a cocktail, zero proof, and wine pairing available.  That’s a huge win for the experience as the drinks are very good and really do add to the flavor of the meal.

 

I got the zero proof, and the couple next to me split a wine pairing (he brought them 2 glasses for each and did “half pours”) - so I got to hear about the wines as well. Very fun. Honestly on my next cruise I want to  see if I can just get drinks from the bar at the restaurant- they were really good. 

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Just tell your waiter that you'd like to substitute the vegetarian course (that is the only sub available).  For instance, I don't like mushrooms, so substituted the gazpacho.  You are substituting the vegetarian item for that same course number....like item 1 menu A for item 1 vege menu.  There are sort of 2 vegetarian menus, like the A and B, but there are several overlap items.

 

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1 hour ago, cantgetin said:

Just tell your waiter that you'd like to substitute the vegetarian course (that is the only sub available).  For instance, I don't like mushrooms, so substituted the gazpacho.  You are substituting the vegetarian item for that same course number....like item 1 menu A for item 1 vege menu.  There are sort of 2 vegetarian menus, like the A and B, but there are several overlap items.

 

Unfortunately I am not much on veggies either..I had fun the last time we went to TK and gave most if my dinner to hubby..then had pizza later...Did not do wine pairing last time but going to try it this trip

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7 hours ago, Wildcatllamas said:

I have to agree with Walter. I have done it 3 times and each time I have enjoyed it. I would agree with a 7 rating.

 

I was born and raised in Denver - or as it was referred to back in the early 60s a "cow town" by those from back East. But I have traveled all over this country and eaten at some of the very high end fine dining and steakhouses across the country. With that being said - I will never judge a cruise lines food by some very exclusive restaurant anywhere in this country. Unlike a land based restaurant there are so many variables that a cruise line must factor in for their dining experiences that making a head to head comparison is difficult. Some cruise lines definitely come close. But to say the steak was "thimble sized" is a gross exaggeration of the portion size. It was a tenderloin medallion that was about 2 1/2 to 3 inches in diameter. So with that being said this is the second "restauranteur" from the Big Apple to come here and blast the food. 


It was a very smallish unimpressive piece of lukewarm meat covered in a tepid taupe sauce surrounded by blueberries. If it were served in that portion size at any other establishment, it would be questionable at best. And since the other courses were skimpy at best, I feel I ok voicing my opinion here on cruise CRITIC.  And not because of any particular food industry knowledge, but as a person who enjoys eating good food. 
 

We did sit at a long counter supposedly to “watch the chef plating the food” however all we really got to witness was a few line cooks removing toast from an aluminum pan and placing them on plates. Not exactly riveting stuff. 

Yes, everyone has their opinions. I gave mine. 
 

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Thanks for your opinion, but even you must admit that taste is subjective.  I too am a Culinary trained professional…did Test Kitchen blow me away?  No, but I could honestly eat that mushroom pate dish every night.  I appreciate that Virgin is trying to give its customers many  options for dinner different than just the “standard” fare offered on other lines.   I do have to ask, did you enjoy other restaurants on your Virgin cruise?  And have you found other main stream cruises you thought had better “included” food overall?

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11 hours ago, chefchick said:

Thanks for your opinion, but even you must admit that taste is subjective.  I too am a Culinary trained professional…did Test Kitchen blow me away?  No, but I could honestly eat that mushroom pate dish every night.  I appreciate that Virgin is trying to give its customers many  options for dinner different than just the “standard” fare offered on other lines.   I do have to ask, did you enjoy other restaurants on your Virgin cruise?  And have you found other main stream cruises you thought had better “included” food overall?

I expressed my opinion about my experience with one restaurant on one line. It matters not whether it was “standard fare” or “included” or how it stacked up to other meals on other lines.
 

I have no desire to expand the subject. Of course taste is subjective.  One assumes on a critique-based forum that is understood. 

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Oh you’re welcome to your opinion and critique - I’m just saying that I did really enjoy my experience in Test Kitchen. 
 

I’ve also had drastically different experiences on Virgin from ship to ship, maybe your test kitchen food was prepared poorly.  

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3 hours ago, WatermelonSugarHigh said:

I expressed my opinion about my experience with one restaurant on one line. It matters not whether it was “standard fare” or “included” or how it stacked up to other meals on other lines.
 

I have no desire to expand the subject. Of course taste is subjective.  One assumes on a critique-based forum that is understood. 

I definitely respect your opinion. And the portions are smaller then a meal in one of the other restaurants.

 

I know that everyone here at some time has had poor experiences with any one of the restaurant venues on our different sailings. It happens. If this was a norm then there are problems there but I think that as you can see most of us have had good experiences there.

 

Now a perfect example of a change in experience - I have eaten the rib steak at Pink Agave 3 times. The first two is was one of the best rib steaks I have ever had. This last time the taste was wonderful but there was a line of gristle in it. Very unlike the other two times. This is usually found in the last couple of cuts on the smaller end and sometimes these will be labeled as Delmonico cuts. If that had been my first experience, being a steak lover, I would have been a bit turned off by it. So I can fully understand where you are coming from.

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