“Ask not what you can do for your country. Ask what’s for lunch.”
― Orson Welles
One of the little indulgences we allowed ourselves on the Pacific Pearl was complete surrender to good food. Because we were celebrating a birthday, we felt justified in booking Chef Luke Mangan’s Salt Grill for dinner. And when we found out about the Chef’s Table Degustation Menu with 10 courses and matching wines, well, we just had to celebrate the Rock Star’s birthday a little early as well!
Food and service onboard the Pacific Pearl were impeccable in general, and seem a mindboggling feat when you realise that they maintain this quality every day, for every meal, catering for 2000 people at each meal. But the lavish service and attention to detail at these special dinner events simply blew us away. The additional price onboard compared with the cost of a similar meal on land also make them a fantastic value proposition. If you are doing a cruise, seek out your maitre d’ and book the Chef’s table as soon as you get on board – it is an experience to savour.
On to the food porn!!
First the Chef’s table. Apologies for the camera phone photos, and the meals we were too busy eating to remember to take a picture.
A little taster: Beef Tartare, Tuna and Prawn starters with bubbles
The Head Chef and Maitre d’ spent about 10 minutes talking about food and wine and what to expect before taking us on to the Chef’s table, beautifully done in the centre of the main restaurant. As part of the experience, we were also taken on a galley tour (in the midst of full service) which made us appreciate the enormity of the task of catering for a ship-load of hungry souls.
Over the next few hours, we ate:
Quail Galatine (Saint Claire Sauvignon Blanc 2011) – forgot to take a picture before scoffing.
Lobster Bisque (Katnook Chardonny 2010)
Barramundi FIllet (Katnook Chardonny 2010).
I’d never eaten Barramundi before and thought it was quite good – chunky white fish well cooked but still moist. Special commendations here to the Rock Star who does not eat seafood at all, but finished every seafood dish placed in front of him.
* Grapefruit Sorbet * palate cleanser
Roasted Wagyu beef (St Halleth Faith Shiraz 2011) – my favourite (non-dessert) meal of the night. The Garlic potato mash it came with was outstanding (i’m a huge fan of mashed potatoes done well).
Selection of Australian cheese with lavosh (E minor Cabernet Merlot 2008)
Mango 4 ways (Sepplefield Muscat Fortified Vin 8)
By now, we were groaning with the amount of food eaten, and the seas had been choppy enough to be feeling just a wee bit uncomfortable. However, Dessert is my favourite part of a good meal and mangoes are my favourite fruit, so there was no question of not polishing it all off.
Another of the hidden bonuses of doing the Chef’s table was meeting fellow food-lovers Grant and Steph. They were charming, well-informed and great conversationalists, and we enjoyed their company at various points for the rest of the cruise. The wonderful Steph also let me have the rest of her dessert that night- bonus!
For those of you marvelling at my memory for food (and wine!), alas it is not my superpower. At the end of the meal, we received a photo of us seated at the table with the Head Chef and Maitre D’, and a copy of the menu to take for our memories – a final little touch to make our evening complete before we strolled back to our cabins.
Imagine our delight the following day when we received an additional little memento of our experience – delivered to our cabin to enjoy at our leisure.