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Cruise Day 5 – Dinner

October 24, 2012

After a long day in St. Petersburg, and a lot of walking, we were all looking forward to a hearty dinner meal.  Since my husband and I knew that we wouldn’t make it back to the ship in time for our normal dinner seating, since our tour was so long, we decided to make this a special night and book dinner in a specialty dining restaurant.  The way most cruise ships work is that the ship has one or two main dining rooms where guests go to enjoy their meals.  In addition to the main dining room, most ships feature separate small, intimate restaurants called specialty restaurants where you can pay an additional cover charge to enjoy a special meal. On our ship, there were 2 such specialty restaurants, an Italian restaurant and a traditional steak house.  As I am much more of a meat and potatoes kind of girl, we went with the steakhouse.

On board our cruise ship, the steakhouse is called Chops.  Compared to the massive maining dining room that seats many hundreds of guests at each dinner seating, the dining room at Chops is small and cozy, perhaps only seating one hundred at any given time.  It has beautiful windows that look right out to the ocean.  One of the features of dining at a specialty restaurant is that not only is the quality of the food that is served better, but the level of service you are provided with is improved as well.  Not that service in the main dining room is bad, just the opposite, it’s fantastic.  But in the smaller speciality restaurants, you have waiters and assistants who are responsible for fewer guests so they can be more attentive to your needs.

As soon as we were seated, we were presented with bread at our table.  The bread was San Francisco-style sourdough accompanied by whipped butter and whipped cream cheese blended with roasted red peppers.  But you shouldn’t fill up on the bread because there is so muchmore food to come!

Soon our waitress presented us with our menu.  The menu listed a variety of appetizers, soups and salads we could choose from.  The possibilities were endless and our choices were only limited by our appetities.

The other half of the menu listed the entrees we could choose from, as well as the accompaniments.  Like many steakhouses, you choose your cut of steak, and then you choose side dishes as accompaniments that are served tableside for everyone to share.  The waitress also explained that while the menu listed the various options for steak sauce, there was no need to choose a sauce as all of the sauces would be presnted to us tableside.

For our first appetizer, my husband and I both chose the same dish.  After looking at the menu, it was pretty obvious that we were both going to order the Dungeness crab and shrimp cake.  My husband and I are huge fans of crab cakes and never pass up the opportunity to order them when that is an option.  The crab cake was huge, and served so artfully, topped by a frisee salad and accompanied by tartar sauce and a wedge of lemon.  You worry that with a crab cake that’s so large that the outside might be a nice crispy, golden brown, but will the inside be soggy and mushy because it isn’t cooked through?  In this case, the crab cake was cooked perfectly.  The inside was tender, and cooked, and moist and delicious, while the outside was golden and crispy.  The tartar sauce and the little bit of lemon juice provided the right amount of acidity to the dish to counterbalance the sweetness of the Dungeness crab.  It was fantastic!  What a great way to start a meal.

My husband chose Cheese & Onion soup (aka French onion soup) as his second starter.  It was huge.  Large enough for 2 people to share!  The soup had good flavor; salty from the broth, sweet from the onions and cheesy goodness on the crouton.  Unfortunately, it was so large that he couldn’t finish the whole thing.

For my second starter, I chose the Chops Signature salad with raspberry vinaigrette.  Bacon and hard-boiled eggs atop a bed of mixed lettuce greens and tomato wedges, the raspberry vinaigrette with its tanginess complimented the salad perfectly.

It was finally time for our entree, and yet it felt like we’d already eaten a whole meal!  My husband went with the waitresses recommended porterhouse grilled medium rare.  The steak was grilled to perfection and was tender and delicious.

As promised, there was no need for us to choose steak sauces as all 4 sauces were presented to us at the table.  The choices were a green peppercorn sauce, a chimichurri, and bernaise sauce and a reduced red wine sauce.  I chose the green peppercorn sauce, which I thought was wonderful.  The waitress, however, urged me to give the chimichurri sauce a try and offered to put it on the side of my steak.  Boy am I glad she did that as the chimichurri sauce was amazing!  I had to tell her how wonderful it was and she even ended up bringing me more of the sauce.  It was bold and full of flavor.

For my steak, I chose a New York strip steak.  I probably could have gone with the smaller filet mignon, because I was stuffed by the end of the meal!  Again, I chose to have my steak cooked medium rare, and again, it was cooked perfectly.  The steak with the compliment of sauces was perfect.

Along with our steaks, we ordered a couple of side dishes to share family-style at the table.  Our first choice was the fried onion rings.  Nothing too special about these onion rings.  They weren’t super crispy, but with the size of the meal, we didn’t really care what they tasted like.

Our waitress brought out a plate of the cremini mushrooms with leek as another side.  However, we didn’t order it.  But since it was there, she left it anyways.  I felt kind of bad since we didn’t actually end up eating any of it because we were so full, and I don’t like mushrooms anyway.

What we had ordered as our second side dish was the double whipped mashed potatoes.  When the waitress realized that she had brought us the wrong side dish, she went and got us a side of mashed potatoes right away.  As I’ve said, I’m a meat and potatoes kind of girl, so I really wanted the mashed potatoes.  They were so good.  Rich, light and fluffy.  These were mashed potatoes the way mashed potatoes should be.  A perfect compliment to the meal.

By now, we were stuffed to the gills, but we weren’t done with dinner yet.  There was still desert. And even when I’m full, there’s always room for desert!  So, we were given the desert menu to peruse.

My husband chose the lighter, and probably healthier desert of passionberry duo.  The desert looked like a piece of art when it came to the table.  It looked like a glowing sun just begging to be devoured.  My husband said that the dessert was terrific with just the right amount of sweetness and tanginess.

I went with the chocolate lover’s delight, chocolate mud pie.  As much as I love desert, even I couldn’t finish the desert.  My husband had my peanut brittle, which he said was good.  The mud pie was delicious.  The chocolate was sweet, but not overpowering and over the top.  It was a great ending to a yummy meal.

We could have rolled ourselves out of the dining room after dinner was over.  We had had a long day on land in St. Petersburg and then topped it off with a wonderful multi-course meal that would be enough to induce a coma.  You can beat we slept soundly that night.  Our appetites were certainly sated with some yummy crab cakes, steaks, sides, and dessert!  Couldn’t have asked for a better day.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. October 28, 2012 2:41 am

    Hi Ducky, Your cruise sounds so nice and your dinner in the specialty restaurant must have been great. I’ve always wanted to visit Russia, I’m sure you are having a good time.

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