Celebrity Dining: Two Opposites


This is a tale of two restaurants that happen to be on a cruise ship.

The restaurants are called the Tuscan Grille and Qsine, and the ship is the Celebrity Reflection, which made its North American debut last week in Miami.

The Tuscan Grille, as you might ascertain, is of Italian lineage and costs $30 per person. The first time we tried it was on the Celebrity Eclipse a couple of years ago, and it is a staple on all Solstice Class ships. The problem is that, despite its name and obvious cuisine, it strikes us that this is a restaurant with an identity problem. Start with billing it as an "Italian steakhouse" which could be taken as something of an oxymoron.

Long-time lovers of Italian food, we were convinced by the waiter to have steak on our Eclipse visit. Last week on the Reflection, it happened again…although the steak was much better the second time than the first. Must have been the aging. Its authenticity as an Italian restaurant is undermined by not having "primo piatto" and "secondo piatto" — pasta or meat/seafood, not a little of each as the Italians do. You CAN have both, but they're both main courses.

One of the appetizers (goat cheese) was on the menu two years ago, then it was gone, now it is back. The menu seems to be fluid, which is not necessarily bad, but at the Tuscan Grille you get the idea it is ever-changing. Is it truly Italian or not?

Qsine is another story.

Introduced as a quirky kind of place where you order tapas-style dishes from an iPad, it's also a Solstice Class staple. We never considered ourselves to be quirky people — we have friends who might disagree — but we loved this place on the Eclipse and again during a brief sampling on the Reflection. You pick five to seven dishes (seven is usually too many) on your iPad by scrolling through and picking your list of favorites.

Everything comes in small bites and anybody of our vintage appreciates that. The food was worldly, not to mention out of this world. Popcorn fish and chips came in a popcorn box. Lobster was teamed with escargot. Disco shrimp had flashing lights. It was introduced on Eclipse but is spreading fleet wide. The specialty price is $35, but that's probably going to change.

And here's the kicker…the menu has not changed at all.

No identity problem here.

Royal Caribbean Navigator of the Seas
7 nights
February 2, 2013
New Orleans (return): Cozumel, Grand Cayman, Falmouth
Inside: $399
Cost per day: $57

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