The restaurant Qsine,
located onboard the luxury Celebrity Cruises - Eclipse cruise
ship, is a play on the word, cuisine, which clearly defines its focus
on being "uniquely unordinary." Chef Jacques Van Staden is the
man behind the innovation of menus presented on iPads, where wait staff are
"Culinary Tour Guides", Sommeliers are "Grape Connoisseurs," and innovative
food presentations are all part of the delectable culinary experience.
Edward and I had an
outstanding dinner at Qsine onboard the Celebrity Cruises - Eclipse cruise ship in November
2010, and were definitely impressed with its creative non-stuffy approach that
breaks down inhibitions and allows diners to have fun and become participants
in the culinary experience opposed to merely being spectators.
Even the décor is fun,
whimsical lamps with pleated shades hang upside down from the ceiling, ivory
one-armed throne chairs, and ornately carved dark wood chairs upholstered in
black silk flank dark wood tables inlaid with lighter wood dressed with orange
and brown placemats, and square orange acrylic napkin rings. A wall of windows
overlooking the ocean provides a reality check that you have not fallen down
the rabbit's hole like Alice
Qsine is about "leaving
preconceived notions of dining behind ... (where you can) ... dig right in ... try
new things ..." sharing the experience and the food, where their motto is "caring
is sharing." With this is mind, we eagerly began our culinary experience with
guidance from our Culinary Tour Guides, Charnae and Thabi, who like the chef,
hail from South Africa, as we played with our iPad menus. Using the icons on
the iPads, we were able to select a cocktail from the menu with the recipe
noted, select a bottle of wine with in-depth label information and tasting
notes, and select our food.
Culinary Tour Guides Thabi and Charnae
Edward and I began our Qsine
experience by making our own Sidecar cocktails at our table with the necessary
ingredients presented to us on large trays laden with shakers filled with ice,
chilled martini glasses garnished with extraordinarily long orange twists, and
vials holding cognac, lime juice, and Cointreau. We dived right in, expertly
mixed the cocktails to our liking, did a little "shake, rattle, and roll," and
poured our cocktails into the martini glasses. The fun had already begun!
Debra and Edward Mixing Cocktails
Our first sharing experience
began with hot South African pot rolls sprinkled with oregano and presented in
a black cast iron pot, followed by Disco Shrimp, which consisted of Bouillon
Poached Tiger Shrimp, Avocado, Tomato and Celery, Cocktail Aioli and Crunchy
Toppings, presented in a glass bowl over a bowl filled with ice and a blue "disco"
South African Pot Rolls Disco Shrimp
An especially lovely seafood
discovery was Lava Crab, consisting of Alaskan King Crab, Sweet Yellow Corn
& Scallions, Kataifi (shredded, crispy filo pastry), and Old Bay Lobster
Sauce. I really loved the play of textures and spices in this creative dish.
Using the Wine icon on the
iPad, we selected a Morandé Reserva Merlot, 2008, 14% abv, from Casablanca Valley, Chile, which was a medium-body,
deep red aromatic wine with dark fruit, chocolate, and spice on the nose, with
a lovely finish with hints of vanilla on the palate that paired well with our
diverse selections of our "culinary tour."
Our Culinary Tour Guides next
took us to Asia, where we experienced Baby
Back Spring Rolls with Chipotle Coleslaw and White Truffle BBQ Sauce, and Vegetable
Mélange Spring Rolls with Cilantro, Chipotle Coleslaw, and Sweet and Sour
Sauce. The spring rolls were wrapped in newspaper, presented standing in a
specially designed holder, accompanied by sauces presented in squeeze bottles,
and the colorful and spicy coleslaw presented in a square glass bowl. Varying
textures, flavors, and the "art of the squeeze" made this another excellent
Baby Back Spring Rolls
From Asia, we "traveled" at
least by palate to Mexico,
with Taco "Royale" made with Black Angus Sirloin Steak, Unordinary Tacos,
Caramelized Onion-Poblano, and Mortar Pestle Guacamole. What made this fun and
"unordinary" were the shape of the rectangular tacos with flat bottoms created
for the specially designed tiered taco holder, the accompanying squeeze bottle
sauces, and the fact that Edward made the guacamole for us using the mortar and
pestle provided to mash the avocados and tomatoes with lime juice, garlic, and
We continued with Treseviche,
three light and refreshing ceviches presented in small glasses, Tiger Shrimp
and Bay Scallops with Lemon Juice, Tequila, Cilantro, Tomato & Jalapeño
Oil; Salmon with Yuzu Citrus (an Asian citrus fruit), Cucumber, and Vodka &
Basil; and Sea Bass with Lime, Red Onion, Choclo ( a type of large grain Andean
corn), Avocado, and EXVOO (extra virgin olive oil).
Another favorite of the
evening was the Lobster Escargot Fritters with Parsley-Garlic Butter Sauce,
presented on a long, thin, rectangular escargot plate, perfect when paired with
the South African bread to dip in the sauce.
Lobster Escargot Fritters
From Mexico, we journeyed to "America" with Soupe & Soufflé a
delicious yin yang pairing of chilled soups, Celery Root, Green Pea with Mint,
and Tomato Basil, and hot soufflés of Crab and Asparagus, Lobster and Yellow
Corn, and Cheddar Cheese.
Soupe & Soufflé
The American experience
continued with the Slider Party, deconstructed Grilled Kobe Beef Patties, Aged
Wisconsin Cheddar, "Qsine Slider Sauce," Brioche Buns, and all the
accoutrements, which guests assemble to their liking; and Painter's Mignon,
Filet Mignon with Palatable Pleasers.
Painter's Mignon was
presented on a large plate that resembled an artist's palette, with "palatable
pleasers" of sautéed mushrooms with red wine demi-glace, creamed spinach,
mashed potatoes, and macaroni and cheese served in a glasses positioned as the
Chef Jacques Van Staden
creatively captured the spirit of exotic India with the Taj Mahal with Palak
Paneer (spinach and Indian paneer cheese), Veggie Samousa, and Chole (a spicy
chick pea curry), accompanied by Papadam (a type of very thin and crispy Indian
flatbread), and mango chutney.
Desserts were sweet surprises
with playful names of The Cupcake Affair, Chocolate Tombstone, Cheesecake Tini,
Bread Pudding, and Beignets - Doughnuts - Fritters. The Cupcake Affair was a
selection of Red Velvet and Vanilla cupcakes with three pastry bags filled with
peanut butter, chocolate, and strawberry frostings, along with toppings, which
appealed to our "inner artist" as we decorated and personalized the cupcakes.
Bread Pudding Cheesecake Tini
Chocolate Tombstone, described as layered Ganache,
Nutella, Rice Crispies, and More Chocolate was a chocolate lover's dream come
true. Cheesecake Tini presented in a double glass bowl had a delicious little
secret of pretty, pink cotton candy. Beignets - Doughnuts - Fritters were all
things warm, fried, and sugared, served with caramel and fudge sauce.
For those that may be
wondering if tried the entire menu, we did not, but we made a valiant effort.
It was an evening where culinary innovation met playful, joyful abandonment,
where taste, style, and service by a team of gracious professionals made for a
very memorable dining experience.
Read Chefs' Recipes
where Chef Jacques Van Staden shares a few of his creative recipes.
Read about Celebrity
Eclipse in the Destinations, Restaurants, and Spas
For information on the Celebrity Eclipse and Celebrity Cruises, Inc. please visit
the website: www.CelebrityCruises.com.
Celebrity Cruises, Inc.
© December 2010. Luxury
Experience. www.LuxuryExperience.com All