Pinnacle Grill is Holland America Line's top specialty
restaurant. .On each HAL ship, the Pinnacle Grill offers guests
a high quality meal in an elegant environment with luxury
trimmings such as Bvlgari china, Riedel stemware and Frette
linens. Although this is a sophisticated dining experience, it is
not formal French-style fine dining. Rather, it is a relaxed
Although the Pinnacle Grills throughout the fleet follow
the same menu developed by HAL's Master Chef Rudi
Sodamin, the Pinnacle Grill on each ship is unique. The
restaurants differ in décor and in the personnel who operate
them both in the kitchen and in the dining room.
On Zuiderdam, the Pinnacle Grill is located on the port
side of the second level of the ship's three-deck atrium. While
the layout is essentially the same as the Pinnacle Grills on
Holland America's other Vista-class and Signature-class
ships, the décor here is brighter. There has been substantial
use of white, which contrasts strikingly with the dark burgundy
carpet. The chairs are silver and show an art nouveau
influence in their organic-looking backs and legs. Overhead,
lights flicker across white water lily shapes that are
suspended from the dark ceiling. The effect is like looking up
from underwater at the surface of a pond.
I found Zuiderdam's main dining room to be quite good.
Thus, one does not need to come to the Pinnacle Grill to have
a good meal. But since cruises on Zuiderdam tend to be
relatively long, it is nice to add variety to the dining
experience. Moreover, one is unlikely to find a comparable
meal shoreside for the amount of the Pinnacle Grill cover
charge ($10 per person for lunch and $20 per person for
When I arrived for dinner at 7:30, I found the restaurant
about half full. By 8:00, however, it was full to capacity. The
tables nearer to the atrium provide something of a view of the
passersby but since the restaurant is not enclosed, the
conflicting sounds coming from the Ocean Bar above and the
Atrium Bar below can be disturbing. Consequently, the more
desirable tables are towards the windows even after sunset.
The ship's dress code for the evening was casual.
Nonetheless, a few jackets, but no ties, were in evidence.
Soon after I was seated, the server brought an assortment
of bread along with three styles of butter - - tomato, garlic and
traditional. Together with the colors of the three varieties of
sea salts that arrived shortly thereafter, these made a colorful
display. Aside from their visual appeal, I found that these
condiments did indeed enhance the items with which they
came into contact.
The server was friendly as he explained the menu in a
knowledgeable manner. Throughout the meal, the service was
prompt, efficient and intelligent; not wavering in its standards
even as the restaurant became busy.
After you place your order, you receive a small gift from
the chef; an amouz-bouche, to stimulate the palate. This time it
was a mushroom ravioli in a tomato sauce.
Although not listed as such on the menu, there are three
broad categories of starters - - salads, soups and sea food
appetizers. Within each category, there are three choices.
While most people select one item, it is quite permissible to
order more than one starter so that you have an appetizer
course and a salad or soup course.
The Dungeness Crab Cakes was the most impressive
starter. It has a strong flavor in which one can taste both the
crab and the spices, neither overpowering the other. The
sweet chili-mustard sauce gives it both a sweet and a sour
element. All in all, a superior crab cake.
The shrimp in the Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail very much live
up to their name.
French Onion Soup King Louis XV is a subtle version of
the classic soup. It arrives under a dome and after the flourish
of lifting the cover, it should be left to breathe for a moment so
that the flavor is not overpowered by the temperature.
At its heart, the Pinnacle Grill is a steakhouse, albeit an
elegant one. This is underscored by the disclosure at the top
of the menu where it states: "The Pinnacle Grill features top
quality, hand-selected Sterling Silver premium beef. We use
our own special collection of seasoned rubs to add intriguing
dimensions of flavor, and our 1,600 degree grill helps seal in
the juices." Thus, even though the menu has a list of
"Signature Skewers" and seafood dishes such as Broiled King
Salmon and Broiled Lobster Tail as well as lamb and veal
chops, it is clear that beef is the specialty of the house.
Porterhouse Steak at the Pinnacle Grill is a very
substantial piece of beef. The exterior of the steak is sealed by
the grill, keeping the interior moist. It is soft and tender on the
fillet side while the strip steak side is tougher but perhaps
more flavorful, which is as it should be.
What really makes the steak outstanding is the sauces. The
Pinnacle Grill has five different sauces. The Master Chef's
green peppercorn sauce is explosive. The bearnaise
horseradish-mustard is strong enough to stand up to the beef.
In contrast, the sun-dried tomato sauce is more subtle with a
pleasant lingering taste.
To accompany the main courses, guests can select from an
array of standard steakhouse side dishes including potatoes in
various forms, sautéed mushrooms, sautéed onions, asparagus,
basmati rice and creamed spinach.
Much more imaginative are the desserts. It is unusual for
me to pass up a chocolate velvet soufflé with Grand Marnier
sauce. However, at the top of the dessert list was something
with the intriguing title "Not-so-classic Baked Alaska."
Baked Alaska as it is something of a long-standing
tradition on passenger ships. These meringue-covered
mountains of ice cream, cherries and cake are usually
encountered being paraded around the ship's main dining room
by the restaurant staff in a celebratory fashion. They are then
presented to each table by its waiters with beaming smiles. It
is always good but typically, these Baked Alaskas are big
enough to satisfy a table of eight passengers with some left
The Pinnacle Grill's Baked Alaska is a Baked Alaska
prepared for one. Furthermore, it substitutes Ben and Jerry's
premium ice cream for the run-of-the-mill ice cream one
usually finds in Baked Alaska. I had to order one.
When it arrived, the server doused it liberally with
Kirschvasser by the side of the table. It ignited in a glowing
blue flame, which in addition to being a spectacular display
was the final touch in baking the meringue.
This was indeed a Baked Alaska to be reckoned with.
Freshly baked, the flavors stood out. Moreover, the premium
ice cream made a real difference with its chunks of dark
chocolate. Quite delightful.
Above: The amouz-bouche.
Below: Dungeness Crab Cakes.
on Holland America’s
Richard H. Wagner
Cruise ship specialty restaurant review - Holland America Line - Zuiderdam - Pinnacle Grill
Above and below: For dessert - -
Not-So-Classic Baked Alaska.
Above: French Onion Soup King Louis XV.
Below: The main course, Porterhouse Steak.