Sherman's Food Adventures: 150 Central Park (Allure of the Seas)

150 Central Park (Allure of the Seas)

As mentioned, the dining options aboard cruise ships are becoming more diverse every year.  We saw the introduction of steakhouses and then restaurants focusing on specific cuisines.  Now, we are witnessing the elevation of cruise dining with deluxe establishments offering up food that could give restaurants on land a run for their money.  With a dedicated 6-course tasting menu, 150 Central Park aims to serve up finely prepared dishes that one could never find in the main dining room.

To drive the point home, we were not served just any butter and bread.  No, we were served bread with unsalted butter complimented by a variety of Specialty Salts including (bottom and clockwise) a Hawaiian Alaea salt rich in red volcanic clay; a Smoked Salt from Washington, an Indian salt, Kala Malak, which exhibited an egg-type aroma due to its sulfur content; Sel de Mer and Sel de Gris from France; and pink salt from Australia.  For our first course, we were presented with the a plate that included Falafel atop a tahini sauce accompanied by roasted eggplant, pickled vegetables and flatbread.  Crispy, dense and mildly spiced, the falafel gave way to the roasted eggplant as the star of the dish.  I loved the soft texture and the small amount of chili oil.  The pickled veggies helped add some needed zing to the dish.

Next up was the Curried Lentil Stew with Greek yogurt, cashews and scallions.  Possibly because I'm biased towards non-meat dishes, I found this to be quite ordinary.  The lentils were soft, yet retained a certain firmness.  There was a background spice which was accented by the cool thick yogurt. We moved onto the Pan Fried Gnudi next.  It featured hazelnuts, cipollini onions, sage, brown butter and piave vecchio.  We found the gnudi to be soft and fluffy with a light exterior sear.  The nuts were crunchy and aromatic while the sweet onions and salty cheese completed the array of flavors.

Thankfully, the next course actually featured meat being the Mahogany Black Cod with whipped parsnip, Borek Farms baby bak choy and mustard sauce.  They cod was prepared like it should be - fatty, moist and flaky.  It was sweet from the marinade and accented by the mild mustard.  We liked the browned appearance as it also added a nice caramelization.  Our last savory dish consisted of the Beef Two Ways including White Oak Pastures filet and Harris Ranch short rib with farro risotto, glazed Borek Farms baby carrots and parsley sauce. Tender, meat and flavorful, the beautiful medium-rare filet couldn't have been prepared any better.  The pulled braised short rib was tender and tart with crunchy vegetable bites.  The farro risotto was firm while the vegetables were a bit salty.

Our last course was the Milk Chocolate Cremoso atop hazelnut praline crumble with an espresso semifreddo, EVOO, sea salt and sourdough crostini.  The cremoso was rich and chocolaty where the sea salt further elevated the flavors.  The semifreddo was smooth and only semi-sweet.  This was a good example of how 150 Central Park is worth the $40 cover charge.  There is no way the main dining room could offer such food, not merely based on cost, but due to the amount of food that needs to be plated.  With a small dedicated kitchen, it is possible to offer more delicate and finely presented food.

The Good:
- More delicately crafted food
- Better quality
- More focused service

The Bad:
- It'll cost you $40.00pp
- Not kid-friendly (but you can put them in the kid's program)
- Only one menu, but they can do substitutions


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