I guess hitting up The Pinnacle Grill on our first night and then subsequently being treated to our first formal night dinner at The Rotterdam main dining room, our expectations were rather high. If the food was anywhere close to previous experience with Holland America aboard the MS Oosterdam, then the rest of our meals would be more than acceptable. With that in mind, we set our sights on dinner on day 3 back in the main dining room.
At first, Viv’s Carpaccio of Beef Tenderloin looked rather strange and not very promising. However, looks were deceiving as the meat was buttery and melted-in-our-mouths. There wasn’t a whole lot of seasoning other than the olive oil, a tiny bit of parm and mustard on the side though. We also had the Smoked Seafood Sampler featuring smoked trout, mackerel and scallop. I found the items to be relatively smoky and well-cured, but the salmon was rather dry. The mackerel was fairly buttery as well as the scallop. The apple horseradish sauce on the side was not overly strong, which paired nicely with the smoked seafood.
The best appie of the night was the Salt Cod and Lobster Cake as it was fairly mild-tasting. The texture of the cod was surprisingly moist (as moist as it could be) while the lobster content was minimal. We loved the crispy well-seared exterior which was also well-seasoned. The tartar sauce worked well with a creamy and light tang. Costanza’s son had the Shrimp Corn Chowder which was creamy and sweet. The small shrimp were buttery and added another layer of natural sweetness. Although the menu described the cream on top a brandy whipped, we couldn't taste much of it.
For my entree, I had both the Boston Lager Strip Loin Steak and the Sauteed Pork Chop. I could definitely taste a lager finish with the well-seasoned steak. It was really tender and well-rested. Although it was succulent, the steak was more medium, than medium rare. I found the sauce to creamy and impactful. The pork chop on the other hand was somewhat dry (although not dry enough to be inedible). It was well-seared and seasoned. I liked the flavourful and meaty reduction as well as the plum chutney. I loved the chewy kale as well as the tender quinoa. It was salty though.
Viv and Elaine had the Bucatini with Duck which was excellent. The pasta was nicely al dente and not clumpy. On top, the shredded braised duck was tender like confit and incredibly rich in flavour. There was a meaty depth that penetrated the noodles. The kiddies had the Rosemary Roasted Chicken which was relatively moist, even the white meat. The skin was somewhat rendered and tasty. The gravy was also very flavourful with a meaty depth and saltiness. The red skin mashed potato was creamy and garlicky. As much as the brussels sprouts were rather pale, they were not mushy.
Costanza’s son had the Broiled Halibut with lime-tarragon aioli. By first looks, it appeared to be well-prepared. Sadly, it was dry though mostly due to it being probably frozen. It was nicely spiced with an herbaceous acidity. Underneath, the quinoa wild rice mix was chewy and well-seasoned. On the other hand, Costanza’s Grilled Salmon was practically perfect being nicely seared and buttery flaky inside. It was also well-seasoned with an herby ginger-cilantro pesto that had a slight sharpness. This dish was surprising as fish can be very hard to prepare on a large scale.
For dessert, the Alize Cake was soft, airy and light. The passionfruit mousse in the middle was creamy and not overly sugary. The sponge cake was also soft and light. Loved the fruit compote on the side as it added a burst of sweet tanginess. We didn’t enjoy Elaine’s Warm Chocolate Cake as it was dense and mealy. It was rather bland as well except for a minor chocolatey bitterness. Even the promise of bourbon whipped cream didn't add much to the dish. However, the fresh blueberries were tasty...
On the other hand, the Mango Blueberry Crisp was really good with big hits of fruit while just sweet enough. We liked how visually we could see the fruit and hence as a result, the dessert was not without substance. To top it all off literally, the topping was buttery and crunchy. Compared to our first 2 meals so far, the 3rd night was hit and miss. To be fair, it was still pretty good considering cruise food can often be glorified catered fare. The attention to detail was there at the very least.