Two specialty restaurants feature on both ships - ‘Osteria d’Ovidio is in honour of new owner Manfredi Lefebvre executive chairman of A&K Travel Group and features cuisine inspired by various regions of Italy,’ explained Gunter Lorenz, vp F&B at Crystal.
The executive who has worked at Crystal since 1991 says, ‘We are delighted to welcome back cuisine crafted by Japanese chef Nobu Matsuhisa who Crystal has been working with the brand for 20 years.’
Umi Uma by Nobu Matsuhisa Restaurant and Sushi Bar is partially refurbished on Symphony and fully refurbished on Serenity. ‘The Japanese-Peruvian inspired fusion cuisine is open in the evenings and serving around 50-60 Nobu-inspired dishes using his ingredients and includes a special Sake-based menu.’
Globally inspired cuisine is featured in Tastes Kitchen & Bar, the brainchild of Lorenz, which is based on tapas sharing concept of small dishes and inspired by regional itineraries. Different menus are offered at lunch and at dinner in a light airy room which features a magradome and living walls which give the sense of al fresco dining.
The Waterside main restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner in an open seating style with no reservation required and showcases contemporary cuisine along with popular favourites such as fillet mignon and Dover sole in the evenings and handmade pasta and custom sandwiches and fresh salads at lunch, noted Lorenz.
To cater to changing guests needs, ‘we are focussing on smaller portions with less starch whilst vegetarian and vegan options are in high demand,’ according to Lorenz. ‘We have created over 2,000 recipes for this dining room’ and he claims never to repeat a menu – ‘it is different every day and every dish freshly made from scratch. All the chefs are classically French trained and we always try to plate up at the very last minute to ensure the food is fresh and hot – sometimes we could have up to 30 hands involved in preparing one plate to go to the table.’
Whilst preparing the menus for the relaunch of the brand, a pastry summit was held where our chefs came together to create 60 new desserts, mostly smaller in size, with a range that are lighter on sugar, he remarked.
The casual semi-style buffet restaurant Marketplace, located at the aft, is open for breakfast and lunch with carving stations and individual a la minute cooking adding a dynamic element alongside hot and cold food featuring American, Asian and European dishes with fresh salads, cold meats, smoked salmon, and a plentiful display of small desserts.
Afternoon tea is served in the Palm Court, a colonial style room located at the bow of the ship with sweeping windows overlooking the ocean and offering a tea menu and bite-sized sandwiches, scones with jam and cream and cakes.
In addition, 24 hour in-suite dining is available from a menu featuring soups, salads, sandwiches, pizza, pasta, burgers, desserts, cheese, ice creams and fruits.
The Bistro meeting place
A favourite spot onboard throughout the day is The Bistro which has been fully refurbished as a European-style coffee bar and café serving speciality coffees and teas from Julius Meini. It features a central food counter from which to help yourself to croissants, cheese and cold meats for breakfast, followed by cheeses, pates, prosciutto and dessert delicacies in the afternoon. Wine by the glass and beers are also available served by trained sommeliers and the coffees by trained baristas.
Food and wine pairings
The Vintage Room is an intimate concept in wine education and cuisine offering food and wine pairings highlighting the vast selection of wines in the ship’s onboard cellar and special vintages. In addition to daytime tastings and lectures, guests can partake in themed lunch and dinners by arrangement.
It is possible to offer more high-end priced vintage wines by the glass for pairing menus by using the Coravin system - a small hollow needle that pierces through the cork enabling a glass of wine to be poured without removing the cork, which means it can last longer.
On a luxury ship you are never far from champagne and caviar and Symphony is no exception with four different kinds of caviar available and 14 Champagne labels ranging from a $65 Bollinger Special Cuvee up to a $2,500 priced bottle of Krug Clos d’Ambonnay Blanc de Noir Vintage Brut Reims 1998.
Extensive wine list
Symphony’s wine cellar houses around 10,000 bottles, which is constantly restocked. In addition to up to 40 house wines available throughout the ship as part of the inclusive offer, an extensive wine list featuring 365 different labels is also available to purchase.
These include a full range of light to full bodied whites and reds (283 different) as well as dessert wines. The most expensive Grand Cru Burgundy label comes in at $7,800 a bottle.
New on both ships is a digital wine menu listed on a tablet which you can scroll through with information provided about the wine, the region it comes from and the price. Lorez says there are three types of wine drinkers:- Those that know what they want, those that are shy and are looking for help from the sommelier and those that will chose themselves based on initiative.
The most popular wine onboard is Cabernet Sauvignon red by far, according to one of the onboard sommeliers, with no less than 26 different Napa Valley labels to choose from.
In the spirits and cocktails space, gin and tonic is always popular and trending for aperitifs are Negroni cocktails (gin, vermouth and Campari) according to Lorenz who is quick to add all cocktails on board are hand crafted with no pre mixed formulas, whilst less alcohol or non-alcohol drinks are more in demand.
Cognac, brandy and whisky drinks are also popular. A gin and Irish whiskey tasting took place on the Symphony shakedown, expertly and entertainingly delivered by Stephanie Shen, global brand ambassador at Quintessential Brands and featuring a selection of the company’s premium labels.
The Irish Whiskey tasting featured two types of Dubliner, Dead Rabbit, and two types of Dublin Liberties single malts. At the end, and to everyone’s surprise and delight, A&K Travel Group and Crystal chief Cristina Levis gave the nod for the bartender to open a 27 year-old bottle of Dubliner Liberties which was shared out in the room and raising a glass she proposed a toast: ‘to the rebirth of Crystal Cruises, thanked her staff and the crew for bringing Crystal Symphony back to life and a safe passage to all those souls yet to sail on her.’