Cruise ship restaurant review - - Celebrity Constellation - - Celebrity Cruises - - The Ocean Liners Restaurant
THE OCEAN LINERS
Richard H. Wagner
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Dialogue can greatly enhance a fine dining
experience. By this I mean the exchange of
information between the server and the guest about the
restaurant and about the guest’s preferences. With this
information, the server can act as a guide catering the
evening’s experience to the guest’s taste. At the Ocean
Liners Restaurant on Celebrity Constellation, the very
professional staff is quite adept in handling this role.
Ocean Liners is a well-established dining venue. Each
of the four Millennium class ships in the Celebrity fleet
have for many years operated a fine dining specialty
restaurant dedicated to the great ships from the ocean
liner period. On Constellation, the restaurant has
lacquered paneling from the Ile de France but the
decoration also includes painting and artifacts from
other great liners as well. Although her last re-fit added
two more specialty restaurants, Ocean Liners remains
the top-of-the-line dining venue on Constellation.
Celebrity describes Ocean Liners as offering “French
cuisine with a Mediterranean Influence.” The menu
was designed by Jacques Van Staden, the line’s Vice
President of Food and Beverage Operations. Van
Staden was a celebrity chef in his own right before
coming to Celebrity, including being the chef at top
rank restaurants in Washington, London and Las
Vegas. Since coming to Celebrity, his work has
continued to be innovative and imaginative and having
been on most of the Celebrity ships, I have come to
regard his name on a menu as very a good sign (see a
copy of Ocean Liners' menu).
Of course, Chef Van Staden is not onboard each sailing
of the Constellation cooking each meal in Ocean
Liners. Thus, the success of the restaurant depends
upon how well the staff is able to execute his recipes
and concepts. This is where input from the server
comes in particularly handy. Working in the restaurant
each night, he or she is in a unique position to know the
capabilities of the kitchen and what dishes have been
the most successful with the guests.
Focusing on the entrees, my server recommended the
pan seared millet mignon in a green pepper and cognac
cream sauce. This dish is prepared flambé tableside.
While this is a spectacular show, it is actually an
important step in the cooking process. Searing it in
flaming cognac opens up the meat and softens it by
allowing the sauce to seep into it.
One the flambé is completed, the meat is transferred to
a dish where it joins laratte pomes puree, honshimiji
mushrooms and haricots vert. Then it is brought to the
table under a silver dome and presented with a flourish.
The filet was exceptional, soft and brimming with
flavor. The peppercorns came through in gentle bursts
accentuating the tender beef. An excellent
To really get the most out of a good server, the
dialogue should be a two way exchange. Unless the
server knows something about your likes and dislikes,
he or she is likely to recommend dishes that are the
most universally popular. This may cause you to miss
out on something that would be appealing to your
For example, in my conversations with the staff at
Ocean Liners, I mentioned that I had enjoyed the
venison at the Normandie Restaurant on Celebrity
Summit (see review). Venison is a difficult entrée to
prepare well and because of that many people shy away
from it. Knowing that I appreciated venison, my server
recommended that I try Ocean Liner’s venison entrée
saying it was the “best dish on the menu.”
Ocean Liners uses New Zealand farm-raised venison,
which helps to avoid the gamey taste and toughness
that can mar this dish. The meat is tender, having a
slightly smoky taste.
To be successful, however, venison requires a good
sauce and contrasting accompaniments. At Ocean
Liners, the lingonberry sauce and red cabbage present a
fruity contrast to the venison. Meanwhile, the bed of
celery root fondant has a more subtle flavor that allows
the complexities of the meat to emerge.
My server’s recommendations were similarly
successful with regard to the selection of premium
champagnes that were offered at the start of the meal
and with regard to the assortment of European chesses
following the main course. The Grand Marnier soufflé
recommended for dessert had a gossamer lightness, the
fragrant pleasing aroma of the just-baked and a
Ocean Liners is a gracious dining experience in an
attractive setting. The advice of its professional staff,
reflecting pride in their work and a genuine desire to
produce a first class experience, serve to enhance this
most enjoyable experience
Also recommended were the warm goat cheese souffle
appetizer (above), a very light souffle that disappears
all too soon, and the lobster bisque (below).
A pre-meal surprise gift from the chef -
- chilled paradise soup, combining
honeydew, passion fruit and pineapple
into a flood of flavors.
Above: The pan seared filet mignon.
Below: The five spice crusted cervena venison
Above: The Grand Marnier souffle.
Above: The Ocean Liners Restaurant.
Below: Branislav Babio prepares a
filet mignon tableside.