Thursday, February 25, 2010

"Sliders" Make A Menu Appearance When 'Uniquely Unordinary' Dining Venue Debuts On Celebrity Eclipse

Your mom probably told you not to play with your food and it's usually unacceptable to do so in public; however the hot new dining spot aboard Celebrity Cruises' soon-to-launch Celebrity Eclipse will encourage it. Beginning April 26, in-the-know food followers can experience a new venue whose cuisine is an engaging combination of art and design. But they won't find it through MapQuest, and their GPS will find it tough to track, too...since it's moving. That's because the new restaurant, "Qsine," can be found only on Celebrity Eclipse, the third of five ships in Celebrity Cruises' stylish, $3.7-billion Solstice Class fleet. The brainchild of Celebrity's Vice President of Culinary Operations, Chef Jacques Van Staden, Qsine presents guests with an unexpected, modern approach to familiar dishes from around the world.

"Our guests love new and different dining experiences, and we've designed Qsine to deliver that in a big way," said Van Staden. "Qsine is designed to offer a globally-influenced blend of nostalgic and contemporary favorites, artfully presented with elements of surprise." Van Staden says Qsine also will further validate Celebrity's leadership position in offering world-class dining experiences, as evidenced in the brand's stunningly designed, guest-inspired Solstice Class specialty restaurants including Tuscan Grille, Blu, Murano, and Silk Harvest, not to mention the series of intimate venues on Celebrity's Millennium Class foursome.

Qsine's menu design alone—a large, backlit square (think iPad) filled with words and phrases designed to engage guests in the experience—implies that Qsine is an unusual place. And the cuisine makes it abundantly clear, with most of the selections so unique that nearly all of the dishes and plating have been designed exclusively for Celebrity. Among the selections are:
  • Spring rolls nestled in vertical springs,
  • "Sushi Lollipops" (Nigiri sushi with soy center, wasabi mayonnaise and pickled ginger-radish salad),
  • "Meatball Trilogy" (Kobe beef with cheddar and marinara sauce; veal with mushrooms and marsala sauce; and turkey with cranberry and sage gravy),
  • "Chitinis" (Chinese selections served in martini glasses),
  • "Tresviche" (tiger shrimp and bay scallops with lemon juice, tequila, cilantro, tomatoes and jalapeno oil),
  • "Popcorn Fish & Chips" (Boddington's-battered codfish and chips served with malt vinegar or aioli),
  • "Slider Party" (mini-grilled Kobe beef patties with aged Wisconsin cheddar served on brioche buns with "Qsine's original slider sauce" and garnishes),
  • "Taco Royale" (Black Angus sirloin steak, homemade taco shells, caramelized onion-poblano, and do-it-yourself fresh guacamole, with a stone mortar and pestle), "
  • Lava Crab" (Alaskan King crab, sweet yellow corn and scallions with Hataifi and Old Bay sauce, served in glasses over heated red stones).
Libations to accompany the cuisine range from approximately 100 varieties of primarily organic, contemporary wines, to a vast array of creative cocktails. And, for the first time on a Celebrity ship—just one week after announcing the hip, new "Celebrity iLounge"—Celebrity has designed a means for guests to capitalize on technology to easily review and order wines via an iPod Touch wine menu. If you want a white wine and your dinner companion prefers a red, the wine list offers the option to order a half bottle of each.

Even the uniforms of the wait staff illustrate the venue's unique nature. Designed by Van Staden and custom-made exclusively for Celebrity, the jackets are decidedly asymmetrical and sport square buttons, and are intended to illustrate that the wait staff also are considered chefs, offering guests a highly interactive and personalized dining experience. Capping the Qsine experience is a series of desserts whose menu is as sweet and surprising as its selections: A hinged, twistable cube presents options ranging from candied apples to popcorn to individual cookie jars.

"Qsine is designed to surprise our guests with uniquely unordinary dishes, innovative presentations and engaging experiences," said Van Staden. "It's designed to allow them to share with each other, sample several different selections, and simply experience both new and favorite foods in an entirely fun and unexpected way."

Qsine will be open nightly on Celebrity Eclipse from 6 pm to 11 pm, for a cover charge of $30 per person. There are no age restrictions for dining in Qsine, and the dress code is smart casual and above. Guests booked to sail on Celebrity Eclipse can plan their unique evening in Qsine right now, by making dining reservations on the Celebrity Cruises web site. Designed for cruisers who appreciate online options, the Celebrity site offers Celebrity Select Dining, the industry's first pre-cruise, day-by-day flexible dining reservation system. The site also presents guests with the option to book pre-cruise AquaSpa reservations, specialty dining reservations, shore excursion bookings, and online documentation, or "e-docs."

I should have more details next month during the "conveyance" of Celebrity Eclipse on the River Ems from the shipyard in Papenburg, Germany. Although the ship won't be totally complete at that time, hopefully the Internet service will be up and running for daily blog reports.

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