Mariner of the Seas…Amplified! The Dining Part – Jamie’s Italian

For dinner on night two, we decided to go to Jamie’s Italian as part of our Ultimate Dining Package.  This was the restaurant I was most worried about.  We loved Portofino’s and were not happy when they decided to transition them out.  But eventually, we came to love Giovanni’s Table almost as much.  And now this.  More changes to our favorite restaurant on board.  I mean, we like Chops just fine but its a steakhouse…there really are plenty of good ones on land.  But good Italian food is harder to find, at least where I live.  Add to that, the reviews that I had read previously were really mostly negative and the menu did not excite me that much.

So basically I went into this dinner expecting to be disappointed.  Was I?  Read on and see!

img_9016

A little tidbit about me: I LOVE appetizers!  I could skip dessert nine times out of ten, but apps?  I want them all!  So that’s what we did…No, not really.  But we did have 4 appetizers between the two of us.

img_9017

The famous Antipasti Plank. From the top: Rainbow Carrot slaw (yummy), Pecorino with chili jam (yummy), buffalo mozzarella (yummy), fennel salami (yummy), pistachio mortadella (kinda weird), prosciutto (yummy) and on top some black and green olives (yummy).  So overall, a win with two little exceptions: the mortadella was strange, but I don’t like it usually so no big surprise; and one other little item: caper berries.  YUCK!!  Now I know that they are in the olive family and I Love olives…black, green, kalamata, all of them.  But I cannot stand caper berries, or capers for that matter.  But at least caper berries are easily avoided!

img_9018

Crab & Avocado Bruschetta.  This is basically avocado toast with crab.  Its good.  If you are a fan of avocado toast, and not allergic to shellfish you will probably enjoy this appetizer.  I had a bite or two and was done.

img_9019

Ultimate Garlic Bread.  Well what can I say.  Its bread.  Good bread, and there is plenty of garlic and Parmesan cheese and the rosemary adds a nice touch.  If you have a picky eater in your group, you can’t go wrong with this.

Which brings us to this:

img_9020

Crispy Squid.  An almost certain no go for that picky eater, but if you are not…GET THIS DISH!!  That garlicky mayo is the bomb.  The squid were tender and well cooked and they were indeed “crispy.” Granted I only ate the tubes, not the tentacles, but fortunately my kid is not so squeamish!

And that was our appetizer spread.  I would certainly order the plank again, and I could probably eat that squid (and aoli) at every meal and be pretty darn happy.  As for the other two?  I will probably skip them next time…I know I say that now, but in January when I’m back on the Mariner, I will be with the picky son so Garlic Bread is most probably in my future.

Next up:  Entrees!!

img_9021

I had the Mushroom Tagliatelle .  It was fantastic.  Earthy, creamy, goodness.  I love me some mushrooms so this dish was one I expected to love, and it did not disappoint!

img_9022

Jarod ordered Silky Penne Carbonara.  This was really good as well.  There was plenty of pancetta, and a healthy dose of cracked black pepper gave it some balance against the saltiness of the parmesan and pancetta.

Overall, I would order either of these dishes again, however there are some other items I would like to try as well so I will probably go for them first.

And Finally…DESSERTS!!!

Like I mentioned before, I am not a big dessert eater, but in the interest of research, I ordered one anyway!

img_9023

 

Fortunately for me, they have Affogato on the dessert menu.  This is a scoop of vanilla ice cream drowned in a shot of hot espresso.  It has the benefit of being both dessert and after dinner coffee!  It was the perfect end to a somewhat heavy meal for me.

img_9025

My son, however, judges every Italian restaurant on their Tiramisu so of course that is what he ordered.  And according to him, it was pretty good.  It was not as good as Portofino’s tiramisu, but it was good.

Final Thoughts:  Overall I was pleasantly surprised.  It was rustic and homey, casual and comfortable.  The food was well made and the service was helpful and professional.  It was certainly better than I had anticipated going into the meal and I am happy to say that I will definitely eat there again on my next Mariner sailing in January.

One last restaurant left…Chops Grill.  Stay Tuned!

Advertisements

Mariner of the Seas…Amplified! The Dining Part – Izumi Hibachi & Sushi

In my world, if someone else is going to do all of the cooking and all of the cleaning, I am pretty much in heaven.  So for us, the MDR has always been just fine.  Oh sure we have eaten at the specialty restaurants, we LOVE the Chef’s Table experience,  but we are usually just as happy to eat every night in the Main Dining Room.  We have (mostly) always had excellent service and by this point we all have our favorite dishes on each menu (let’s not talk about the great escargot shortage of 2015).

But for this trip, I purchased the Ultimate Dining Package.  This allows us dinner in a specialty restaurant every night of the cruise, plus Lunch at Jamie’s on boarding day (I learned this too late for me, but still a good option for next time).  It does not include the Hibachi experience at Izumi’s, however they will give you a discount if you want to eat there one night.

We had originally planned to do Jamie’s Italian the first night, Chops Grille the second night and then repeat whichever we liked best on the third night.  However, when we got on board and talked to the dining people, we decided to take the discount for Izumi’s Hibachi on the first night, eat at Jamie’s on the second night and finish at Chops on the third night.

Up first:  Izumi’s

img_8926img_8925

Since we were only two, we were seated with another group…fortunately they were really awesome and celebrating a birthday!  The meal begins with Salted Edamame Beans and a green salad, pretty typical of many hibachi restaurants.

img_8966

img_8965

Our waiter described the process of hibachi in case anyone was unfamiliar.  Next you choose you protein, I chose the steak and shrimp. I love hibachi shrimp so I am always going to choose this.  As it turns out, we had someone allergic to shellfish so it was interesting to see how they handled it.  Suffice to say, if you have an allergy, just let them know and they will make sure you are safe.

Then…the show begins!

Our chef was from the Philippines and I thought he was great.  We LOVE hibachi so we eat at our local restaurant at least once or twice a month so we have seen great chefs, really good chefs, and just okay chefs.  I would certainly place him in the really good category.  The food was pretty standard hibachi, our meat was cooked well and my shrimp did not get overcooked.  My only TEENY, TINY complaint was that the only choice was rice and I usually don’t get rice, I get lo mein, that was not an option.  But overall the dinner was really good, onion volcano and all!

I also have a full 30 minute video of our chef preparing everyone’s meals, but goodness that is too much for a review!  Also, a note on meal timing.  The first picture of our waiter at the beginning of the meal was taken at 7:09pm, the dessert pictured below was taken at 8:52pm so count on a full two hours for this dinner.

Then, if you’re not already full…dessert!  We were actually pretty full so just ordered one of each to see them.

img_8973img_8974

Sorry about the half eaten one…I didn’t get my picture fast enough!  And don’t forget…Is’s someone’s birthday!  They brought out cake!

img_8971

I am fairly certain that I rolled out of this dinner…I was that full!

Final thoughts on Izumi:  I think it is a great addition and it will continue to be a big draw.  It has the potential to be a “one and done” restaurant because of the limited menu, but I for one already have reservations for my next Mariner cruise in January.  Now if I could only convince them on the noodles!!

img_8924

Next Up: Jamie’s Italian