Sherman's Food Adventures: Seafood Buffet @ Garden Cafe (NCL Bliss)

Seafood Buffet @ Garden Cafe (NCL Bliss)

Typically, we rarely eat dinner at the buffet on cruises (except for breakfast).  Even though some of the same items at the main dining room are available at the buffet, the experience isn't quite the same.  Something about plated food served in a fairly elegant setting seems more appetizing than spooning this and that onto your own plate.  Hey, don't get me wrong, there are times when I want to eat a variety of food and pile up my plate with random stuff.  So that was our mentality when we decided to hit up the Garden Cafe on Seafood Night.  This was the second night of our cruise after a day at sea.

As much as the Garden Buffet was the hub of activity, such as embarkation and the breakfast prior to debarkation, there was always enough seats since there were tables outside near the pool area.  Often, the buffet was not too busy.  Back to the seafood buffet, if you were expecting things like lobster and crab, you would've been bitterly disappointed.  Rather, it was merely like any other night except with a seafood theme consisting mostly of fish and shrimp.  So for my first plate of food, I loaded up on Mussels, Cocktail Shrimp and Grilled Shrimp.  Everything was actually quite good with the mussels being the highlight.  As you can clearly see, they were large and plump.  The cocktail shrimp were textbook with a buttery cold-water crunch.  Grilled shrimp were meaty and well-seasoned.

Consisting much of the same ingredients, we found the Seafood Paella and the Cioppino prominently displayed at multiple food stations.  I wasn't expecting authentic paella and I'm glad that I didn't.  This was more like rice with some seafood.  It didn't taste like a paella nor did it look like one.  With that being said, I didn't mind it for what it was with lots of sausage, mussels and shrimp.  Rice was not overdone, but wasn't all that flavourful.  As for the cioppino, it sported mussels, calamari, baby scallops and fish.  It was somewhat briny with plenty of tomatoey flavor.  Seafood was prepared properly.  One of the more surprising items was the Spaghetti Vongole.  In addition to the bevy of fresh clams, the pasta was al dente and tasted pretty good with enough seasoning and brininess.  On the side, the Clam Chowder was more starchy than rich.  It was rather salty as well.

For my last dish, I moved somewhat away from seafood and went for a Sirloin Steak with veggies and polenta cake.  However, I did try the Seafood Pie and Salmon with Bearnaise as well.  Although it didn't look the part, the steak was actually tender and cooked to medium.  A total shock was the salmon as it was moist and flaky (very hard to achieve for a buffet).  I didn't care for the seafood pie as it was a mushy mess.  The veggies were good being vibrant and not salted much at all.  For Dessert, there was a selection of cakes, soft-serve and hard ice cream.  The picture of the station was from embarkation, but you get the idea of the selection.  I found them to be really hit and miss, but since it is a buffet, you can find something you like by trial and error.  So although some of the items were better than expected, this was not a comprehensive seafood buffet.  Good for those who don't like crab and lobster, otherwise, stick with the other choices if you were expecting more from "Seafood Buffet Night".

The Good:
- Better than expected (in terms of execution)
- Not overly busy (for the seafood buffet night)

The Bad:
- Not comprehensive in terms of seafood (but I get it, crab and lobster is expensive)
- Desserts are hit and miss


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