So, I have been on a few cruises (11 to be precise) and have had a lot of incredible food and fun. One "specialty restaurant" (read: costs a lot of extra money) that I have always wanted to go to is on Royal Caribbean and is called Wonderland. It is only available on a few ships and, until recently, I had not had the opportunity. Let's talk about the food on my latest adventure.
We were in a grand suite which allowed us access to what they call the "Costal Kitchen" which is basically just an upscale, more intimate, version of the main dining room. Food is a little better, service is way better, atmosphere is improved. Some highlights of the dishes I ate every night include:
Escargot in garlic butter (ate 1-2 dishes literally every night)
Slow-roasted prime rib with potato croquette
Crispy pork belly with apple slaw and port wine reduction
Truffle risotto with wild mushrooms
Braised lamb shank with a lemon-oregano jus and spinach orzo
Butter poached lobster with champagne sauce and braised leeks
This is just a sampling of my favorite dishes but there were many more. It was a 7 day cruise and I ordered 2-3 entrees every night with multiple appetizers.
I am not going to sit here and tell you that wonderland had the best food on the ship. Don't get me wrong, the food was great but what you are paying for is the whimsey, the service, and the atmosphere (and I definitely recommend doing it once, especially if you are an Alice in Wonderland fan). We were a party of six and the waitress chose all of our appetizers for us but let us pick our entrees. Because we had allergies in the party, we shared some appetizers and others were set aside for certain people. Our waitress was excellent about this.
First we started with "The Bird's Nest" which was basically smoked, deviled eggs with a kick in an edible birds nest. Overall one of the best dishes of the night, absolutely delicious and great presentation.
Next up was the "Mad Hatter's Purple Potted Shrimp". Each person (who didn't have a seafood allergy, sorry mom) got a single shrimp coated in the same dough that made the birds nest and had a scotch bonnet sauce to dip, of course served in a tea cup. This was another hit at the table. Incredibly bold flavor but the spice didn't overwhelm the shrimp and the coating with perfectly crispy.
After all this fire and smoke, our waitress decided that a little ice was the way to go. We got the "Citrus Seas Shhh" next which is a spicy tuna tartar topped with a yuzu granite and served in a lime. This was good but not incredible. I am not usually a fan of raw seafood (something about the texture) but I did eat my whole portion.
Then we had the "Reconstructed Caprese" and the "Liquid Truffle mushroom risotto". The caprese was nice but a little overthought (they puree the tomatoes and then add agar agar to make them back in the shape of a tomato). The liquid risotto was probably the most "out there" dish of the night. We were the most excited for this dish and it turned out to be a disappointment for many of us. Bella's dad tried it first and his face just went green. As he tried to explain the texture/taste, let's just say I was glad I was warned what to expect. Basically it is just a jelly-like sphere that tastes like mushroom risotto. It just pops in your mouth and coats your tongue in earthy flavor. The taste is there but eating what is essentially a Gusher made of truffles and risotto is not your every day experience.
Last appetizer was the "liquid lobster" which was absolutely my favorite thing I ate all cruise. It was so creamy and rich with just perfect seasoning. I would have eaten an entire bowl of just this. My only complaint was that all I got was one spoonful (literally)
As far as entrees at the table we ordered the chicken, the pork belly, and the short rib. All were very good (and much larger portions than we were expecting compared to appetizers). They were pretty similar to meals that we would get in the Costal Kitchen as far as quality, taste, and even selection. A bit more magic and whimsey compared to Costal Kitchen but overall not up to the level of the appetizers. Here is the short-rib, served on an upside-down platter with various sauces:
For dessert, we were right back to fantasy land however. They gave us 2 desserts to share at the table and 1 dessert all for me (because of my allergy to nuts I couldn't have the shared plates). One dessert was called "The World" which is a ball of chocolate that surrounds peanut butter ganache, chocolate mousse, and caramel ice cream. The waitress pours warm caramel sauce over the top and the "world" part melts. The other shared dessert I don't know the name of but was a combination of mousse and marshmallow and a pistachio and red velvet crumble with macaroon toppers (see below):
My dessert was called "the Forbidden Apple" which was a raspberry cremeux stuffed with coconut mousse formed in the shape of an apple and served with a brown butter crumble and yogurt ice cream. This dessert was absolutely delicious and would have made both my grandmothers proud (one loves raspberry and one loves coconut). The yogurt ice cream was interesting. It tasted exactly like plain Greek yogurt. Didn't have much sweetness at all but was great when used to balance the sweetness of the rest of the dish. This one was fun and tasty and I'd definitely get it again.
I don't want to give away the whole thing but there are a lot more surprises and twists with this restaurant. The menus they give you are creative, the décor is fantastic and we were greeted at the door by the Mad Hatter and seated by Alice. They also had some fun cocktails there that I definitely recommend (especially if you have the drink package so you can try them all). Feel free to ask me any questions about the experience, the food, the whole cruise, or cruising in general. Thanks all!