Sherman's Food Adventures: Pinnacle Grill (Holland America MS Veendam)

Pinnacle Grill (Holland America MS Veendam)

There once was a time where all the food and I mean all of it was inclusive on cruises.  Well, that was a long time ago and really, it was before my time.  You see, from the very first cruise I've been on, there has always been an alternative restaurant on board for a fee.  Fast-forward to the present and some of the mega ships sport specialty restaurants in the double-digits.  It is a reality and to be honest, I don't really mind it.  One can choose to eat in the main dining room for the duration of their cruise while others will gladly shell out a bit more for different experiences.  Since we had a good experience at the Pinnacle Grill aboard the Oosterdam, we made resos for the one aboard the Veendam.

I'm a big fan of Lobster Bisque, so I had to order it once I knew it was on the menu. Poured table side, the silky rich broth was super intense with the aroma of lobster. The soup wasn’t creamy per se, but it was thick and full of body. It wasn’t overly salty and I could taste the cognac. Little bits of lobster helped complete the concoction. Viv went for the Beef Tartare that featured tender hand-diced meat. It was well seasoned with pickles, salt and pepper while being accompanied by capers, onions and parsley. When placed on the crostini, the dish ate fine with soft well-seasoned meat. However, on its own, the meat could’ve been dressed more aggressively as it was somewhat dry.

Costanza decided on the Crab Cakes for his appie and it was merely “okay”. The exterior was crispy and light, but the crab inside was a bit stringy and dry. We liked how there was little filler, but the texture wasn’t exactly what we were expecting. It was well spiced and the drops of aioli added a creamy spiciness. We also got the Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail and it was superb. The large shrimp were meaty with a firm snap while being naturally sweet and briny.  The picture doesn't really do it justice as they were huge!

For her main, my daughter had the Mushroom Ravioli that was doused in a super creamy sauce. It ate far too heavy for her liking as every bite was cumbersome. They could’ve eased up with the cream. As for the ravioli, the pasta was a bit soft while the mushroom filling was not moist enough.  Flavour-wise, there was no absence of Earthiness. Costanza’s oldest son went for the Alaskan King Crab Legs which were meaty and large in portion size. A bit on the saltier side, the meat was still moist and springy.  This was pretty decent for frozen crab legs.

For myself, I had the 23 oz Porterhouse which was prepared more rare than medium-rare as requested. Despite this, the steak was appealingly tender and properly rested. I liked how it was consistently cooked from the tenderloin to the striploin (which is a difficult thing to do as both steaks cook differently). The accompanying peppercorn sauce was creamy and only slightly peppery. My son had the Striploin which was prepared a proper medium rare. It was also tender while still retaining a meaty chew. The side of maitre’d garlic butter was flavourful and sinful.

Viv and Costanza had the Cioppino packed with shrimp, scallops, mussels and fish. The scallops were buttery while the shrimp had a nice meaty snap. Fish was moist and flaky. The broth was tomatoey with a tang and apparent spice. It was nicely briny as well. For the table, we got all of the sides including the buttery and salty Asparagus, sweet Carrots and firm Brussels Sprouts with bacon. The Fries were pretty crispy while accompanied by a flavourful truffle aioli. Mashed Potatoes were a bit dense and could’ve been creamier while the Creamed Spinach didn’t have that issue. Lastly, the Baked Potato was a bit firm, but loaded with butter and sour cream.

For dessert, my son had the Chocolate Volcano Cake with Grand Marnier and it was pretty strong (no, we were not encouraging underage alcohol consumption!). It wasn’t too sweet though, yet as mentioned, the booze was definitely there (we are not bad parents...). Texturally, it was soft and rich being on the wetter side. Viv had the Souffle and it was a touch dense where it ultimately collapsed. Despite this, it was still decent being just sweet enough with chocolate. 

Costanza had the Lemon Brulee Tart and it was tangy and smooth. It was also rather sweet due to the sugar topping. It was bruleed nicely though.  Overall, we thought the meal at Pinnacle was worth the extra cost.  The menu featured premium dishes constructed with premium ingredients.  Of course there were stronger dishes and weaker ones.  The rule of thumb here would be to stay away from the lesser dishes such as the ravioli.  One important note though: even if kids are eating off the kids menu, they still pay the full price.

The Good:
- Premium ingredients
- Excellent service
- Smaller dining room

The Bad:
- Of course there is an extra cost involved
- Not worth it for the kids unless they order off the regular menu (which they did) 

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