Archive for Allure of the Seas


Posted in BYOB Restaurant Reviews, Chops Grille (on board Allure of the Seas) with tags , , , , , on April 24, 2011 by ballymote

 On our first night on board we passed on the Main Dining Room in order to try one of their specialty restaurants, Chops Grille. Located on Deck 8 in the Central Park area of the ship it’s an impressive venue much like you would expect at a land-based steak house. Our party of six were one of the first to be seated and presented menus and the wine list. Wine selections are slightly limited but there is enough to choose from and prices are about equal to what you would expect to pay in any decent restaurant offering wine (slightly more than 2x retail).

 Kathy and I shared a bottle of the 2008 Craggy Range, Te Kahu, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand. This was a tasty blend of Merlot, Cab Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec and would stand up well with the filets that most of us were eyeing on the menu.

I began the meal with the Dungeness Crab and Shrimp Cake with a Remoulade sauce.

 Joe had the Beefsteak tomatoes with Purple Onions sprinkled with blue cheese crumbles. His was a nice presentation of fresh looking tomatoes and mine was a good choice as the sauce for the crab cake was perfect.

A few of us also ordered the Cheese and Onion Soup. One nice thing about these specialty restaurants is that they will bring you virtually anything and everything from the menu if you so request, It’s not like restaurants where you are limited to one appetizer or else you pay for additional items. The soup was very good. Some in our group raved about it but I felt I had tasted better onion soups in the past.

 Some of our group went with the Chops Grille House Salad and others sampled the Shrimp Cocktail. All of us were pleased with our choices and looking forward to the star of the evening, the 10 ounce filet mignon. The steaks came with your choice of four sauces, Classic Bernaise, Chimichurri, Green Peppercorn and Cabernet reduction. Most of us tried two of the four. All of them were good. We had ordered sides for the table which included sauteed broccollini, roasted potatoes with prosciutta and parmesan (yummy) and fried onion rings. The steak was wonderful. Tender and prepared just as each had ordered. Barb was the lone holdout.

She described her Alaskan Halibut as, tender, flaky and delicious.

 Our server, Richard, was from South Africa and he preformed admirably all evening. He even explained why he would not be telling the guys at the next table that shorts and flip-flops were not permitted in the restaurant. The best thing Richard did all night was telling us how good the Chocolate Mud Pie on the dessert menu was.

I wish I had been hungrier because I didn’t eat nearly enough of this delicious treat. I found myself several times during the course of our week on the Allure wishing that I had this dessert back. Everyone agreed it may have been the single best dish we ate all week.

Dinner at Chops was a great way to begin our week of fun and food and I would highly recommend making reservations here prior to your cruise.


Posted in BYOB Restaurant Reviews, Cucina Forte, Wine Dinners with tags , , , , on April 7, 2011 by ballymote

 As I mentioned in the previous post, we have a cruise coming up shortly and so on this Saturday evening in early April the four couples who will be on the Allure of the Seas met for dinner at Cucina Forte in South Philly. As usual, parking in the area was at a premium and it’s no small accomplishment to finally secure a legal spot within walking distance of the restaurant. 

Inside the restaurant, we looked over our menus while our server, Vinnie, (I know, how would a South Philly waiter ever have a name like Vinnie) recited some of the many special appetizers and entrees for the evening. I had looked at the menu online earlier in the day and was already pretty damn sure I knew what I was going to be having for my starter. Before I get to the food though, I want to talk about the wine.

 I have been anxiously awaiting the right time to open my first 2008 Bedrock Wine Co., The Bedrock Heirloom, Sonoma Vally. This interesting blend by Morgan Twain-Pederson is quickly becoming a cult classic that distinguishes itself from the other cult wines by being eminently affordable. The Bedrock Heirloom is made from 120 year old vines, some of the oldest in California and it’s spicy, full of flavor fruit has great structure and balance and drinks well now and will be even better with more time in the bottle. Just a yummy wine but only 228 cases made and it’s all gone now.

 Maria’s Dream Soup. Maria is Maria Forte, Chef/Owner of Cucina Forte. I spoke with her on the phone when making our reservation and I told her about my blog. She sounded genuinely excited that we were coming but unfortunately, she had a death in the family and was back in Italy on this Saturday evening. Very sorry for your loss, Maria. Her Dream Soup was created with love for her late husband and features grilled chicken, sun-dried tomatoes, wild mushrooms (I took them out), broccoli rabe, home-made bread cubes dipped in a light egg batter and all served in a chicken broth. I thought it was great. Kathy thought it was just OK,  but I don’t think she sampled enough of mine.

 Some had the mussels, others split a seafood appetizers with grilled shrimp, scallops, calamari and lagostinos over broccoli rabe. There was also an antipasto consisting of roasted peppers, olives and assorted premium meats and cheeses. All of these were tasty and a great way to start dinner.

 For my entree I went with the Lobster Ravioli, in a cream sauce with four nice-sized shrimp circling the dish. I thought the dish was very nice without being overly filling as these dishes can sometimes be.

Tom had the Chilean Sea Bass served in a white wine sauce with tomatoes and capers while Kathy ordered the Veal Saltimbocca, veal medallions with prosciutto sauteed in a wine and sage cream sauce served with potatoes and asparagus spears. She thought the veal was nicely prepared but could have used additional flavoring.

 Joe and Carol both ordered one of the specials, the Sacletti, little purse shaped pastas filled with fontina cheese and prosciutto and served with tomatoes, mushrooms and shrimp in an olive and garlic sauce.

Tom had a side order of the house-made gnocchi and I managed to taste a few of these tiny pasta creations and I thought they were very good.

We decided to skip dessert  went back to one of the couples house to discuss our upcoming trip. We thought dinner at Cucina Forte was a very nice event.