Who Needs a Chocolate Souffle When There's a Cheese Trolley to Tempt Your Tastebuds?
I admit it: Jay and I were both really skeptical that the Remy experience would live up to the hype. We've cruised Disney before and while the food has been decent-to-good, it has never bowled us over. We were also a little leery of the $75 per person dining charge - the thought of dropping that much money for a dinner on Disney Cruise Line didn't sit well until I discovered that Remy offers a cheese trolley as part of their prix fixe dinner.
Disney Cruise Line 1; Brenda's vow to spend less on this vacation (-$150 and counting).
For those of you not familiar with the Remy concept, it's a new adults-only restaurant that's been featured on the Disney Dream throughout 2011 and which will also open on the Disney Fantasy in 2012. It's billed as the most upscale dining experience on board ship and having now dined there I would completely agree with that statement. The menu is French-inspired but still accessible for the less adventurous in your party; it's also a collaborative effort between Scott Hunnel (executive chef at Victoria & Albert's) and Arnaud Lallement (2-Michelin star French chef).
The dining room is located on Deck 12, and features large windows that look out to the ocean; the decor is French Novueau with rich red, green, and gold tones - it manages to be both luxurious and welcoming at the same time. One of the very nice extras that Remy provides (and there are many) is that once dinner is booked and guests are on board they are invited to meet with a sommelier in Remy's wine room and pre-select their wines for the evening. Jay and I very much wanted to do this just for the experience, but ran out of time - we plan to take advantage of this service on our next cruise.
Main dining salon
Second dining salon ... much prettier in my opinion
Look who it is!
There is a wonderful bar located on Deck 12 between Remy and Palo called Meridian; they make some truly tasty and inventive martinis here with a hearty alcoholic kick. Jay and I stopped in here before dinner to allow them to dazzle us; we in, turn, dazzled them enough that they remembered us the next day!
Well dressed hogs are hogs nonetheless!
Dining Salon for dinner seating
Dining Salon once more ...
Our primary server for the evening was Jerry, an American cast member who had trained in France as a sous chef. He was like a gift from the culinary gods - personable, knowledgeable, fun, and willing to talk food until the cows came home, were slaughtered, and served up rare with a side of parsnip puree. Once we were settled and had been presented with the evening's menu, he rolled over a cart and began making us Remy's complimentary signature champagne cocktail. The "Colette", which is always prepared tableside, combined Taittinger Champagne and house infused Pear Vodka; fresh blueberries and apricots were added and the drink was garnished with a mint leaf. It was wonderful, smooth, and refreshing.
Mmmmmm, soon to be boozie fruit
Cheers to you!
No, no no; cheers to you!!
As I previously mentioned, Remy's menus are prix fixe and there are two to choose from: a French tasting menu and an American-French fusion tasting menu. Guests may also order a la' carte, but most items are already included in one of the two tastings so it seems to make more sense to choose a menu. In order to try as much as inhumanly possible, Jay and I each ordered a different tasting menu and then asked for a supplemental item to be included as well. In this way, as Jerry told us at the end of the evening with something like admiration tinged with disbelief, we tried everything on the entire menu save two items.
The first Amuse Bouche was presented shortly after we ordered and it was such a delight! The server who brought it to us explained that we had to pop the entire thing into our mouths and chew ... mouths closed please, or you will squirt soup at your dining partner! Somehow the chef deep-fried a wee wad of cheese and then infused it with tomato soup. It was such a small little bite, but full of so much flavor and texture that it was like 'mater soup and grilled cheese had a surprise party in my mouth!
They look like tater tots
We were presented with a second Amuse Bouche, which a friend has informed us was Cold Watercress Soup with Wafer thin Crostini. It was quite tasty, and much lighter in flavor and texture than you might expect based on the picture.
Remy also offers wine pairings with each dinner for about $99 per person. Jason and I weren't really interested in that so we chose our own bottle to enjoy throughout the evening. We selected a Puligny-Montrachet, which is considered by many to be one of the finest dry white wines produced in the world. I couldn't tell you if it's really the finest or not because I'm not smart enough to know; what I do know is that we both think it's a terrific white wine that we don't often have a chance to enjoy.
Our wine steward for the evening told us later that he doesn't often have guests who order white wine with dinner - most Remy guests stick with the pairings or order California reds - he went on to say that he liked us already because it was obvious that we drank what we liked instead of what we thought we were supposed to like. That was a nice comment for him to make, but like I said earlier ... we aren't smart enough about wine for the most part to know what we're supposed to like!
Montrachet ... yum!
And now, let the food parade begin!
My first official course was the Jamon Wrapped Shrimp - Iberico ham wrapped Florida shrimp with melon. This was a sweet-salty joy! The double melon soup (honeydew and cantaloupe) ensured that every bite of ham and shrimp took a sweet, fruity bath before finding its way to my mouth. The presentation was lovely, as was the mix of flavors.
Jamon Wrapped Shrimp
Jay's first course was the Langoustine Royale - Royale Norway lobster with nage reduction. The man was all over this one and said it was fabulous and tasty and "please sir, may I have another?" As to the nage reduction, it's obviously some kind of sauce but I can't seem to find any information on it; it could be a typo or it could be a Norwegian secret sauce on par with that of McDonald's. Only time will tell.
Jay's second course was Asperge Verte - Asparagus with black truffles and vin jaune sauce. Jason adored this - he's a big fan of asparagus to begin with and when someone adds black truffle sauce to it ... well, he's over the moon! There was a second component to Jay's asparagus course which is pictured below. He didn't have as much to say about that one but still enjoyed it.
Asperge Verte - black truffles
Asperge Verte - Vin Jaune
My next course was the Tomato Rataouille - served in Calamarata pasta with cuttlefish. This was good, but not my favorite of the night; it seemed a little salty to me but I loved the presentation.
Next up for Jason was the Sea Bass Atlantique with Thai Sauce. The sea bass was lovely and flaky and the Thai sauce provided a strong spicy punch - one of Jay's favorites during the dinner for sure because there are few things he enjoys more than fish and spice!
Sea Bass in Thai Sauce
Duck Breast was next on the menu for me - Duck sausage and Duck confit with strawberry-rhubarb puree. Jason ended up eating most of this because I'm just not a big fan of duck. I'm getting there, but this was just too gamey for my taste and the puree was far too sweet an accompaniment.
Duck Breast ... two ways!
A return to normalcy with the next two courses saw Jason presented with Homard Maine - Maine lobster with Spicy Bouillon. He loved it - lobster is another one of his favorites and paired with spicy broth it was a win-win for him.
My next plate was one of my favorites for the evening: Seared Tuna with quail eggs and sherry vinaigrette. The kitchen staff very kindly did not include the black olives that were supposed to garnish this dish and that made me very happy. The tuna was just lovely - rare and sweet - I could have eaten nothing else for remainder of the meal until the cheese cart arrived and been quite content.
My "main course' was the Australian Wagyu Beef Tenderloin with Braised Short Ribs. I've had this before at Victoria and Albert's and it never disappoints. The Wagyu was tender and flavorful while the combination of short ribs and potato puree was so good that it should be outlawed.
Wagyu Beef Tenderloin
Braised Short Ribs & Potato Puree
Jay's "main course" was Poularde Rotie with Albufera sauce ... also presented in two dishes. Too be completely frank - we have no idea what this was but agreed that is was quite tasty. Our menu, unfortunately, doesn't provide much in the way of description and our knowledge of French is limited to cheese!
Poularde Rotie, Part I
Poularde Rotie, Part II
And then the best part of the meal, at least as far as I was concerned, came to pass. The arrival of the cheese trolley ... 12 beautiful and delicious examples of French cheese just waiting for this little piggie to get her hands on them!
Mine! Mine! It's all Mine!
Jerry knew, both from the crazed glint in my eye and the timely warning from Jay, that he was dealing with a fromage fiend. But he really seemed to enjoy the cheesy enthusiasm - he told us that it's rare to find many guests on the cruise who really love cheese and who know much about it. And I suppose that's understandable since the cheese course is more of a European dining tradition than an American one ... but those of us here know there are other cheese addicts out there who would have run away with the trolley just like I did!
I continued making friends with the wine steward by asking for a 20-year tawny port to drink with my cheese. He gave me some samples (I love him so much) before we decided on the Noval 20-year; oh, brother was it ever good!
Port ... the other cheese drink
Getting back to the cheese for a moment ... I asked Jerry if they could just make us a cheese plate with a sampling of everything in the cart. No problem, says he, with a cute little smile (he really was cute!) and a few moments later a lovely plate loaded with cheese and a spoonful of fresh honey was delivered for Jay and me to share. For you cheese loving cruisers who end up at Remy, don't be shy about asking to sample all the cheeses - they don't mind and actually seem to enjoy sharing the cheese-love with their guests.
Clockwork cheese plate!
Bendy, cheese, and port
Jay is a scotch man ... single malt of course!
You wouldn't think we had any room left to continue eating, but Jason and I have an extra stomach that we roll out on occasions like this. We couldn't let dessert go to waste - that would have been a crime.
I was presented with the Tanzanian Chocolate Mousse, another item I've had the good fortune to try at Victoria and Albert's. It's quite a light dessert, actually, and the ice cream served in the chocolate eyelashes is a perfect compliment.
Tanzanian Chocolate Mousse
Jason received Vacherin Framboise, which was vanilla ice cream sandwiched between meringue and topped with fresh raspberries and raspberry puree. It was lovely and light and full of delicate flavor - we both really enjoyed it.
We then received a surprise dessert. I don't know what exactly it was, although it looked to be a variation on Jay's initial dessert. We suspected at this point that they were pulling a Monty Python on us ... "just one mint? It's wafer thin..." waiting to see if either Jay or me (or both of us) would explode from all the food we'd eaten. I have no doubt that they were stunned by what we put away that night - we didn't earn the title Remorseless Eating Machines for nothing!
Aerial shot of dessert
If that wasn't enough we were then presented with Mignardises ... handmade candies and treats that we should have asked them to package up for us, but at this point in the evening we literally couldn't seem to stop eating. Now that I think back on it I am surprised we didn't explode right there in the dining salon!
Everything at Remy was incredible - the service and the atmosphere and the food. It was such a lovely experience and so much more than we originally expected and we adored every moment there. We cannot wait to try it again on our next cruise in October 2012. For those of you out there who truly love fine dining, give it a try the next time you're sailing one of Disney's two new ships -you won't regret it and the staff seems to adore guests who are foodies. For those of you who aren't quite as in love with your food as the rest of us, I would still strongly encourage you to dine there if you have the opportunity. You'd be hard pressed to find this kind of experience on land for $75 per person (excluding the booze, of course) and it's staffed with friendly, accessible cast members who want to share the food love with you!
And, to close it out ... if all that food wasn't enough ... when we returned to our cabin there was a note waiting that thanked us for dining at Remy along with a small box of signature truffles. Holy Overkill, Batman - we couldn't eat another bite!