Sherman's Food Adventures: Cagney's Steakhouse (NCL Pride of America)

Cagney's Steakhouse (NCL Pride of America)

3 days into our cruise and we finally hit up one of the three alternative dining venues as part of our package. Similar to the one found on RCCL, Cagney’s Steakhouse would have cost $29.95 per person if booked by itself. Would this surcharge be worth it? Well, that is a common question amongst cruisers on many of the different mainstream cruise lines. There once was a time where people dined at fixed times in the main dining room and that was it. Now, there are premium options that cost extra. This started over a decade ago and seems to be picking up momentum.

For me personally, I enjoy the variety of restaurants aboard the larger, more modern ships.  As for the surcharge, I don't mind shelling out the extra coin if the experience is ultimately worth it.  For this meal, I started the meal with the Chicken Drumsticks dressed in a syrupy and sweet BBQ sauce that made everything quite wet. In fact, the skin was not crispy nor rendered. Hence, it was fatty and not appealing. The meat was succulent and juicy though. I also got the Iceberg Wedge in a poor attempt to add greens to my diet. This was exemplified by the obscene amount of blue cheese dressing on top. However, I did enjoy the crisp iceberg, crunchy bacon and fresh tomatoes.

Viv inexplicably had the Wagyu Sliders with apple/celery slaw and caramelized red onions. These 2 fairly large burgers were a meal in itself.  I wasn't sure how she could finish her meal after this. Sadly, the meat was dry and somewhat chewy even though it was still pink inside. On the other hand, the meat did taste good with natural flavours which were accented by the sweet onions. My son ended up with the Beef Short Rib Confit with hummus and smoked bell pepper and pine nut dip. He devoured this as the meat was tender and moist while lightly seasoned.  Naturally, he ignored everything else on the plate, but I got to sample it and I liked the puree as it was sweet with a nice aroma.  The hummus was pretty bland though.

My dad opted for the Lump Crab Salad with red pepper coulis and arugula which consisted mostly of crab. It was lightly dressed where the fluffy and moist crab wasn’t overwhelmed. The sweetness of the crab did come through while the other items on the plate added the necessary color. My mom and daughter both had the Baked Potato Soup and it was thick, starchy and rich. It was surprisingly not too salty and did really taste like a baked potato with sour cream, crispy bacon and scallions. She also had the Shrimp Cocktail which was good, but kinda skimpy with only 3 shrimp.

For my main, I had to get the 32oz Certified Angus Beef Porterhouse Steak (even though there was another $9.95 surcharge). This monstrosity was indeed 32 ounces or more as it was pretty thick. Despite this, it was prepared medium-rare as requested. This was quite impressive for not only a cruise ship, but any land-based restaurant as the meat on both sides of the T-bone was medium-rare (although the filet was a bit more so). The meat was tender and well-seasoned. It didn’t need the side of salty peppercorn sauce. My son had the 5 oz Filet Mignon and it was also a beautiful medium-rare.  He requested it to be prepared with garlic butter and accompanied by Bearnaise sauce.  His side of Mac n' Cheese was dry while still quite cheesy from all the cheddar.

Both my daughter and my dad had the Grilled Sea Bass with lobster saffron broth, champagne foam, spring onion, fennel and radish. It was buttery soft while barely seasoned. Hence, the fish itself was not very flavorful.  However, the broth did exhibit enough saltiness to correct that issue.  Although there was both lobster and saffron essence present, it wasn't particularly impactful.  My mom and Viv both had the Lobster Tail and Shrimp Linguine and it was pretty much on point.  The lobster was buttery with a rebound texture while the shrimp were flavorful with an elasticity.  Although the pasta was a bit past al dente, it wasn't soft and flavored nicely by essence of lobster.

We ended up ordering almost every side dish that was available including Green Beans, Onion Rings, Roasted Mushrooms, Creamed Corn, Grilled Beetroot and Shallots, Steamed Broccoli and Cagney's Fries with white truffle oil and Parm.  The one that really stood out was the creamed corn as it was sweet and actually creamy.  The pop of the sweet niblets was the best part.  We universally thought the beets were far too greasy and unappealing.  It would've been better off being just as they were without the shallots and oil.  As much as the fries were crispy and nicely seasoned by the Parm, the overwhelming amount of truffle oil made it difficult to finish.

For dessert, I had the Citrus Fruit Salad with Grand Marnier and mint sauce. This was a refreshing dessert that was spiked with plenty of booze and just a background hint of mint. I thought it was less sweet due to the Grand Marnier. The maceration did create a lot of excess moisture though. Viv had the Raspberry Creme Brulee with Florentine crunch and white chocolate twist. Appealingly caramelized, it featured a nicely seared sugar topping. It was firm and cracked nicely. Unfortunately, the custard itself was pretty sweet and super dense. 

My son had to get the Chocolate Fudge Brownie with caramel sauce and brittle. The brownie was more cake-like than anything else, but it was dense and chocolaty though. The brittle was a bit wet and sticky.  We would've prefered something crunchier.  It was almost overkill to have the chocolate ice cream and caramel sauce as everything was sweet enough already.  My mom went for the Oreo Cheescake with balsamic reduction, strawberry and lemon zest. We found it to be pretty smooth and cheesy. It wasn’t as sweet as we feared though.  The tart strawberries and bitter lemon zest probably had something to do about that.

My dad went for the Warm Apple Cardamom Crisp with port wine reduction, crisp phyllo tuile and vanilla ice cream.  This was pretty filling and moderately sweet with a crunchy topping. Of course the large scoop of melting ice cream did amp up the sugar content.  The cardamom was kept to a minimum so it didn't overwhelm the crisp. Overall, we enjoyed our meal at Cagney's, but weren't sure if it was worth the extra $29.95 cover charge.  Sure, beef prices are high these days, but the meal didn't wow us.  However, we do have to remember this was on a cruise ship and the kitchen is pumping out hundreds of dishes at once.  The fact they got the doneness of our proteins right was an achievement in itself.

The Good:
- On point proteins
- Better service than the main dining room

The Bad:
- Weak sides

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