Oceania Cruises take their food seriously and it shows. Riviera has more restaurants than almost any other cruise ship. In fact, there are seven Oceania Riviera restaurants to choose from, including five specialty dining venues:
The Grand Dining Room.
The Polo Grill.
La Reserve by Wine Spectator.
As well as the Terrace Cafe.
Restaurants & food
Food quality & presentation
The Grand Dining Room
The Grand Dining Room is the main restaurant on Riviera. Indeed, it is a classic with high ceilings, crisp white tablecloths and chandeliers. There are also large windows with spectacular ocean views from three sides of the restaurant.
The menu in the Grand Dining Room is mostly European. In fact, it often showcases French dishes by Executive Culinary Director, Jacques Pépin.
There are also specialities from Asia and India. As a matter of fact, one of the culinary highlights on my voyage was a special Indian feast with Mulligatawny Soup, Chicken Tikka Salad and a Traditional Indian Lamb Curry – one of the best I’ve ever tasted.
There are also dishes from the local ports of call. I especially enjoyed fresh Mussels with Coconut and Lemongrass. What’s more, the menu changes daily so every meal is like a new culinary adventure.
The Grand Dining Room also has a healthy eating menu. Indeed, it adheres to a philosophy of balancing fresh fruit, vegetables, healthy fats, grains and protein. There are dishes like Mykonos Salad and Grilled Salmon Tournedos, not to mention Carrot Cake. Eating well has never tasted so good.
Additionally, there is also a menu with matching wines crafted by the Head Sommelier. It is a four-course menu which, incidentally, is made even better because the wines are offered at a 20% discount.
All in all it makes the Grand Dining Room one of the most loved Oceania Riviera restaurants.
Insider’s tip: It’s worth noting that during my sailing, service in the Grand Dining Room was patchy. So I recommend finding a preferred waiter and asking to be seated in his or her section whenever you dine there.
The Grand Dining Room is open daily for breakfast and dinner. However, it is also occasionally open for lunch – usually on sea days – so check the daily Currents for opening hours. You never need to make reservations.
Red Ginger is an astoundingly good Asian restaurant. In fact, it’s so good I rate it as the best Asian restaurant at sea.
The interior radiates a sense of harmony with golden walls and ebony woods, as well as modern Asian artwork which adds to the stunning decor. It all sets the scene for a night of innovative oriental cuisine.
The chefs at Red Ginger have crafted a delectable menu. Indeed, they have created fresh interpretations of Asian classics that are mouthwateringly good.
For instance, the Spicy Duck & Watermelon Salad is a taste sensation. In fact it is an explosion of flavours – sweet, savoury and sour – all in perfect harmony. There is also the Tempura selection which comes with a divine Orange Ponzu Sauce – it’s not to be missed. I also enjoyed the Crispy Ginger Calamari with Cilantro, Shallots and Sweet Chilli Sauce.
However, the Miso Glazed Seabass is the most popular dish at Red Ginger. Indeed, it is exceptional in its simplicity with tender white flakes of fish bursting with delicate flavour, carried along by the sweet Miso Glaze. Also, the Twice-Cooked Crispy Chicken with Chilli Jam & Ginger-Scallion Dressing is delicious, not to mention the spectacularly good Thai Vegetable Curry.
However, I think a hidden gem on the menu is the Malaysian Beef Penaeng. As a matter of fact, this heavenly combination of beef short rib, nutty curry paste and coconut is one of the best Asian dishes I’ve tasted. It is a melt in the mouth sensation which you must try.
Even the desserts in Red Ginger are exotic. Indeed, there are temptations like Steamed Ginger Cake with Apple Cardamom Ice Cream as well as Caramel Tapioca with Mango & Ginger Cookies. But I relish the Yuzu Citrus Sorbet – it’s refreshingly light with a subtle sweetness that makes it the perfect end to a spectacular culinary journey through Asia.
Insider’s tip: So as to get the most out of your Red Ginger experience I recommend sharing dishes, just as you would in Asia.
Red Ginger is the most popular of the Oceania Riviera restaurants, so reservations are essential. It is open for dinner only.
Dinner: 6:30pm – 9:00pm.
Jacques is the perfect place to indulge your passion for French cuisine. In fact, it is celebrity chef Jacques Pépin’s restaurant and it celebrates his culinary heritage.
Jacques is like a Parisian bistro. There is parquet flooring and antique furniture, as well as artwork from chef Pépin’s own collection.
The menu is classic French with hot and cold Hors d’Oeuvres and Soups, as well as a great selection of Plats and even La Rotisserie.
Starters include divinely good Escargots, as well as traditional Foie Gras and a very nice Braised Oxtail Salad.
Main course includes classics like Bouillabaisse and Dover Sole as well as Provencal Roasted Lamb Loin with Tarbais Bean Puree. However, I recommend chef Pépin’s Lobster Thermidor. It is baked in the shell with a very light mushroom cream sauce so the lobster flavour shines through.
Jacques has a great cheese trolley, so it’s worth spoiling yourself. In fact it is hard to choose which of the fine AOC French cheeses to sample.
There is also a tempting selection of French desserts. The Mille Feullie and Mousse au Chocolat are always popular, but I recommend the Tarte aux Pommes – apple tart. It’s the perfect finale to a great French meal.
It’s important to remember that Jacques is open for dinner only. Also, reservations are essential.
Dinner: 6:30pm – 9:00pm.
The Polo Grill is an American-style steakhouse. There is crisp white table linen and maroon leather chairs as well as dark wood panelling.
The menu features time-honoured classics like dry-aged beef and spring lamb as well as succulent seafood. There are also soups, salads and indulgent desserts. It’s all very good.
For starters I recommend the the Roasted Beetroot & Garlic Goats Cheese Napoleon. Indeed, this exceptionally prepared dish packs a real beetroot punch with a zesty kick. The Polo Grill’s Lobster Bisque with Morsels of Sautéed Lobster is also not to be missed. It is a luxurious treat.
Of course, red meat is the star of the Polo Grill show. There are delights like Filet Mignon and Pancetta Wrapped Filet of Veal, as well as Kobe Beef with Truffle Demi-Glaze. I also savoured the delicious Colorado Rack of Lamb and the tasty Veal Chop – a squeeze of fresh lemon juice really brings out the flavour!
There is also a tempting selection of seafood too, including Whole Maine Lobster with Drawn Butter as well as Grilled Jumbo Shrimp Scampi, Swordfish and Tuna Steaks.
A small dessert selection is also on offer with sweet treats like Key Lime Pie and Chocolate Layer Cake. However, if you’d prefer something lighter just ask your waiter for the house sorbet.
The Polo Grill is open for dinner only. Reservations are essential, however there is no additional charge to dine in this great Oceania Riviera restaurant.
Dinner: 6:30pm – 9:00pm.
Toscana is like a traditional northern Italian-style restaurant. In fact, it celebrates the food of Tuscany.
There are damask tablecloths and Versace plates, as well as spectacular sunset views. Indeed, it all sets the scene for a night of classic cuisine.
The five-course menu is best enjoyed slowly, that is, just like in Italy. There are hot and cold antipasti, soups and fresh pasta, as well as meat and seafood dishes. Not to mention a tempting selection of desserts.
There is a fine selection of antipasti. For instance, the Fritto di Calamari – Lightly Breaded Calamari – is great with a squeeze of fresh lemon. In addition, I recommend the Carpaccio di Polpo – Octopus Carpaccio with Champagne Vinaigrette & Warm Potato Salad.
However, pasta is king in Toscana. Indeed, there are nine pasta dishes to choose from – all of which are made fresh every day. The Penne with Porcini Mushroom & Meat Sauce is delicious, so too is the Tortelloni stuffed with Ricotta & Spinach.
There are both meat and fish main courses, but I always enjoy the Scaloppine di Vitello al Limone – veal medallions served with lemon sauce.
Toscana also has a decadent dessert menu, including Italian classics like Tiramisu and Cannoli di Ricotta. However, Semifreddo di Zabaione is the most popular dessert – a chocolate covered spongecake soaked in Bacardi Rum and filled with coffee zabaione.
Toscana is open for dinner only. It is one of the most popular Oceania Riviera restaurants, so reservations are essential. However there is no additional dining charge.
Dinner: 6:30pm – 9:00pm.
La Reserve by Wine Spectator
La Reserve is a unique, gourmet food and wine experience at sea. As a matter of fact, it is a partnership with Wine Spectator and France’s premier Champagne house, Moët & Chandon.
Indeed, the intimate venue has just three shared tables and it offers two distinctly different menus: A seven-course Odyssey wine pairing dinner, and an exuberant six-course Dom Pérignon Experience. Furthermore, each of these gastronomic adventures is presented on a different evening.
I indulged in the Dom Pérignon Experience – in short it was exceptional.
As a matter of fact, each of the six courses is paired with a Dom Pérignon vintage. What’s more, the menu has been designed by Marco Fadiga (Moët & Chandon’s Executive Chef), to ensure the nuances of the grapes shine through.
The Dom Pérignon Experience starts with delightful Rossini Scallops with Mole Negro & Roasted Pineapple as well as a glass of Dom Pérignon 2009. Then, there is Brittany Blue Lobster in Yellow Curry Broth with Coco Foam. I especially liked this dish – it was lively on the palate and complimented the Dom Pérignon 2006 perfectly.
The epicurean adventure continues with Black Truffle Risotto topped with edible gold – it’s a decadent treat. Next, there is Seared Sashimi-style Wagyu Beef with Sautéed Arugula, Blood Orange-Soya Jus & Caviar Perlita which is coupled with a glass of Dom Pérignon Rosé 2004.
This world-class dining experience concludes with a selection of fine AOC cheeses from France, as well as an intriguingly refreshing Sakura Geisha Flower Tea Ice Cream with Lemon Caviar.
Incidentally, my favourite vintage was the Dom Pérignon 2009.
La Reserve is only open on select evenings. Reservations are essential. It is also important to note that a wine or champagne surcharge applies.
The Odyssey: US$112.5 per guest. The Dom Pérignon Experience: US$295 per guest.
The Terrace Cafe
The Terrace Cafe is a buffet restaurant with both indoor and al fresco dining. In fact, enjoying a meal on the terrace with a gentle sea breeze is a delight.
The Terrace Cafe is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. In the morning there is a traditional selection of hot and cold breakfast choices. Later, at lunch time, there is antipasti and salads as well as jumbo shrimps, grilled fish and roasted meats. It’s all very tempting.
In the evening the buffet offering goes up-market. There are lobster tails and lamb chops which are cooked to order, as well as dishes themed around the local ports of call.