Pinnacle Grill on the Ms Oosterdam

The signature restaurant onboard the MS Oosterdam is the Pinnacle Grill.  Unlike the ship’s two main dining options, the Lido Buffet and the Vista Dining Room, there is an additional charge of US$29.00 (AUS$34.00) per person to dine in this restaurant.  

The main part of the restaurant

The main part of the restaurant

The executive chef of the Pinnacle Grill is Rudi Sodiman who is the Holland America Line’s culinary consultant.  The restaurant is heralded as the place to go where you will have a luxurious, romantic and intimate dining experience with Bvlgari china and Riedle stemware and Frette linens and while all that sounds incredible, a whole lot less is said about the food.  I understood there was going to be a lot of steak and seafood on the menu and was hoping the cuisine was going to be innovative and exciting, and introduce me to something I hadn’t seen or experienced before.

The Pinnacle Grill dining room.  Not sure about the ceiling.

The Pinnacle Grill dining room. Not sure about the ceiling.

During the cruise, Carl and I celebrated our wedding anniversary.  A few weeks before the cruise our travel agent advised us to notify them if we were celebrating a special occasion during the cruise as the ship goes out of its way to celebrate and recognise special occasions.  I’m not after a fuss but went ahead anyway and let the agent know about our wedding anniversary.  She sent a reply letting me know she had notified the ship and they were aware of our anniversary.

A beautifully set table with extremely ornate chairs

A beautifully set table with extremely ornate chairs

Well it’s a good thing I’m not keen on a fuss because the day came and went as per usual.  However, I have a very thoughtful daughter and when we arrived back in our cabin after a day on the Isle of Pines, there was a bottle of Veuve Clicquot chilling in an ice bucket from all three of our children but I knew who’d been the one and only organiser.

It starts with an amazing sunset

It starts with an amazing sunset

I had pre-booked the Pinnacle Grill for our wedding anniversary prior to embarking the ship and so after a glass or two of champagne while watching the sunset we set off down a few flights of stairs to our dinner.

It really is very special to dine beside the ocean.

It really is very special to dine beside the ocean.

Situated on Deck Two and in a quiet and less-trafficked part of the ship, the Pinnacle Grill is meant to recreate an American fine-dining experience.  The tables are very well spaced with many being in banquettes or booths.  We requested a table next to the window so we could experience the final glow of the sunset but all the window tables are set-up as tables for four.  However, when Carl explained we were there for our wedding anniversary, they allowed us to sit at a ‘table for four for two’ beside the window.

A 'room with a view'

A ‘room with a view’

The generously proportioned tables (especially if there are only two of you) are covered in crispy starched linen with napkins to match and stunning Bvlgari china with the Riedle wine glasses.  I wasn’t too sure about the decor or the chairs but I’ll give you a bigger overview of that subject in another post.

It seemed all staff in the restaurant were suddenly aware of our anniversary and all came over at one stage or another to congratulate us.  The waitress approached to introduce herself and while she was very polite and professional and full of smiles, there was a formality in her approach as if that was what the diners would expect.

And the night begins

And the night begins

We were offered Evian water or San Pellegrino to start with.  We chose the sparkling because why not sparkle on a special night.   I noticed then that I was finding the restaurant to be very quiet.  There was no music playing apart from muffled tones coming from a neighbouring bar and I think music can add so much to a dining experience.  There is a couple onboard the ship who plays classical music on the piano and the violin and I would have loved something like that to lift the mood and the experience.

A bread basket arrived and it was beautifully presented with an incredible selection to choose from including lavosh and different rolls and slices of sourdough, all baked fresh onboard the ship.  My favourite was the rosemary bread that I piled high with whipped butter.  It had been a long time since I’d seen piped butter.  

A selection of breads with piped whipped butter

A selection of breads with piped whipped butter

We regrettably ate all the bread as that day we had skipped lunch and so by the time we arrived at the restaurant, we were starving.  It’s never a wise decision though to fill up on bread when you know you have a big meal on its way.

The amuse-bouche arrived and it was a mushroom cappuccino.  It was chilled and rich and absolutely delicious.  (And there wasn’t any coffee in it!)

Mushroom Cappuccino

Mushroom Cappuccino

We were presented with menus and I found the entrée selection to be fairly limited.  There was a lot of seafood, a couple of dishes of beef like steak tartare and a beef soup.  I’m not keen on seafood, I didn’t want beef because I was ordering it for a main course and the clear soup option didn’t interest me.

In the main course section there was a wild mushroom ravioli with a pesto sauce so I asked if I could have an entrée sized portion.  The waitress checked with the kitchen and I was very pleased they were able to accommodate my request.

The pasta arrived and I could barely find the ravioli as it was so smothered in a thick and heavy sauce.  It was piping hot and I didn’t leave any ravioli on my plate, (Carl had a few), however I found the sauce to be overwhelmingly heavy and rich and the amount of thick sauce absolutely drowned and detracted from the flavor of the mushrooms that, in the dish, I would have considered the key ingredient.  The ravioli was also a little tough.

Where for art thou ravioli?

Where for art thou ravioli?

Carl ordered crab cakes and he found them to be the same as the crab cakes he had eaten in the ship’s main restaurant.  He said they were ‘okay’ which as you would know from Carl’s enthusiasm for food and how he never has a bad meal, is not high praise at all.  I thought the presentation was very dated.

Crab cakes

Crab cakes

From viewing the menu it seemed the restaurant was pretty much a steakhouse with some seafood options.  In the main course section there was a list of steaks with their weights in ounces listed beside them.  You choose your steak and then choose a sauce like bearnaise, hollandaise or horseradish cream.  We were both scrambling to convert the ounces into grams and I ordered a fillet mignon which in Australia would be eye fillet and there were two options in size (weight) and not knowing how rich the entrée would be, I ordered the larger size.  Then I had to choose a sauce and there were about six to choose from and I chose bearnaise.

The steak arrived with the sauce in a small jug situated beside it on the plate.  The steak was perfectly cooked and incredibly tender and the knife just glided through it as I cut it.  No complaints about the quality of the meat!  But sadly, having eaten all that bread and then the mushroom cappuccino followed by the richest ravioli on record, I could only eat half of it.

Fillet Mignon with Bearnaise Sauce

Fillet Mignon with Bearnaise Sauce

Carl chose the rib eye on the bone and I think it weighed about 800gms.  It was enormous and the waitress suggested a baked potato as a side that at the table, she topped with sour cream, finely diced bacon and chives.

Carl's medium-rare steak with horseradish cream

Carl’s medium-rare steak with horseradish cream

Even for Carl, this meal was a struggle and he couldn’t finish it.  He chose the horseradish sauce and that too was served in a separate little jug and again, it was one of the best steaks he has ever eaten; full of flavour and very tender and juicy.

An Idaho jacket potato filled with sour cream, bacon and chives

An Idaho jacket potato filled with sour cream, bacon and chives

Sides are ordered separately and from the selection we chose Brussels sprouts with bacon and parmesan, truffle fries with aioli and grilled asparagus.  Carl didn’t like the sprouts while I thought they were just okay, the asparagus was all right and the truffle fries excellent but the aioli very rich and heavy.

Two green sides.

Two green sides.

Although we hadn’t managed to finish our mains we didn’t want to leave without experiencing the dessert menu.  I wanted to order the Bombe Alaska as something flambéed is great theatre and perfect for a celebration.  Carl thought he’d like to have the Warm Grande Marnier Chocolate Volcano Cake (didn’t sound slimming), and I was quite looking forward to seeing its presentation.

Truffle fries with aioli

Truffle fries with aioli

However, the staff had a surprise for us and instead of ordering dessert they brought out a dessert in celebration of our anniversary for us to share.  It even had candles!  The waitress lit the candles and Carl had to run around to my side of the table so she could take a few photos of us as we blew them out.

And here's the dessert!

And here’s the dessert!

We thanked them very much for being so kind but we were actually in hysterics because there was chocolate writing around the plate that said, ‘Happy Anniversary Mr and Mrs Reynolds’.  What’s the joke?  We’re not the Reynolds.  Never have been.  I hoped Mr and Mrs Reynolds weren’t at another table waiting for their special dessert!

Mr and Mrs Reynold's dessert!

Mr and Mrs Reynold’s dessert!

I didn’t have the heart to say anything to the waitress who was just beaming at having done something so special.  The dessert was a very large cube of chocolate mousse decorated with piped heavily-sugared cream.  We picked up our spoons and pushed them through the mousse that was solid and dense and very rubbery – it wouldn’t wobble.

Our celebratory dessert

Our celebratory dessert

We both just couldn’t eat it.  Not only were we full, not only were we eating Mr and Mrs Reynolds’ dessert, but unfortunately, it wasn’t nice at all.  It was just too sickly sweet, too large and it didn’t have great texture.

Trying not to laugh

Trying not to laugh

We didn’t want to offend the lovely waitress who had been so attentive and kind all night and so we asked if we could take it back to our cabin.  She was only too pleased to oblige and so we waited for its return and low, it had become a swan!

The champagne from our three children but organised by our one daughter (we didn't open it that night as I already had a bottle of Mumm), and our dessert that had become a swan.

The champagne from our three children but organised by our one daughter (we didn’t open it that night as I already had a bottle of Mumm), and our dessert that had become a swan.

We enjoyed our dinner at Pinnacle Grill because we were on a holiday and because it was our anniversary and because we were out for dinner just the two of us.  However, this is meant to be the ship’s signature restaurant and you have to pay extra to dine there.  I was expecting an incredible dining experience and although the staff do a first class job in creating that environment, the menu and food fall way short.  The menu reminded me of being in a steakhouse in 1970.  There was nothing innovative or exciting or interesting or unusual or unpredictable about what was offered.  I’d seen it all before; many decades ago.

As this is meant to be a showcase for American cuisine, I believe on the world’s stage it’s nothing but a dated disappointment. And there definitely needs to be music.  However, Mr and Mrs Reynolds did have one of our most memorable and special wedding anniversaries ever and the staff at the Pinnacle Grill beyond doubt were enthusiastic in their congratulations to us and did all they could to make our night as perfect as it could be.  And for that we were both extremely grateful.

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Comments

  1. Oh wow. The Mr & Mrs Reynolds made me cackle violently. The thought was nice, but why they didn’t just gussy up the plate on whatever dessert you ordered I don’t know. I’ve not been on a cruise, but I understand that ships are usually a bit gaudy and somewhat dated, so your restaurant experience doesn’t surprise me. However, I am taken aback by the bizarre scenario of American-style food being served on a Dutch ship cruising the Pacific with mostly (I assume) Australian patrons. Weird :)

  2. At the risk of offending a whole heap of people the menu just screams “American food” to me. At least the company and the waiting staff made up for it and you had a lovely anniversary in spite of the lack lustre meal.

  3. Dear Mrs Reynolds
    That’s just funny. The fact that it was so memorable was one consolation I guess. It still sounds excellent for the cost, but yes, it should have been something special, not retro dining in America. Just goes to show, the kind of market they cater for.
    Carolyn

  4. Congratulations. Everything seems so beautiful… like a dreamy voyage… Thank you dear Charlie, Blessing and happiness to you both, love, nia

  5. Happy Anniversary! We’re going to celebrate our 28 year this year too! What a disappointment, but st least you had grand views. How thoughtful that Arabella organized the champagne for you both, Veuve is my favourite. Way back when we cruised they didn’t have tables for two, only four so our travel agent suggested we sit at a table for ten, surely we’d have luck finding a couple we could get on with. Unfortunately the other four couples were childhood friends and we were the fifth wheel. I’m surprised that there are only two restaurants on this ship, I thought these ships were all enormous. Our friends went on a Princess Cruise that had a large elevator bar which went up and down all night. I do hope your other experiences made up for how dated this dinner looked (I’m surprised they still make animal foils for left overs!)

  6. Happy Anniversity “Mr. & Mrs. Reynolds”. This is so hilarious a memorable celebration indeed. Thanks for sharing your special day with us.

  7. Happy Anniversary! I love the notion of a mushroom cappuccino! 28 more for you!

  8. Well, this is certainly one wedding anniversary you’ll always remember. Congratulations on your anniversary, Mr. and Mrs. Reynolds!

  9. Happy Anniversary!
    What an interesting array was in that bread basket!

  10. Dear Mr. and Mrs. Reynolds, Hopefully the celebratory voyage was memorable in every other way other than the dining. I have yet to hear anyone say they had wonderful food on a cruise…it seems that quantity overshadows quality. Happy anniversary to you both. :)

  11. Oh that is just too funny! Congrats and happy anniversary, you must have been a child bride Charlie! At least the view from your table was spectacular if not the menu.

  12. Everything about that dessert is wrong. Everything. I feel horror inside.

    Happy Anniversary, not-Reynolds! xo

  13. Well, Happy Anniversary Mr and Mrs Reynolds!! ;) ;)

  14. Happy Anniversary my friend! You are so so cute together and what a memorable celebration! :)
    Thanks for sharing!

    Cheers
    CCU

  15. Happy Anniversary darling! I thought you’d been quiet – until I realised that I’d been dropped off your email list for some reason? Back on it now though! Glad you had a good time, even if the food was a little hit and miss.. xx

  16. Definitely dated indeed Mrs Reynolds- or are they? Perhaps the kitchen threw itself enthusiastically into the era of your newly wedded Bliss to transport you back to the moments of your first love? I think they did a great job showing off the eighties- hopefully there was no one there celebrating their honeymoon :)

  17. You are a very classy lady, Mrs. Reynolds, to so sweetly smile and accept the dessert!! So funny!! I have been on many cruises, so I could feel exactly how you felt on how many of the meals are served; some very good, some so very mediocre. Your view was gorgeous, a very happy celebration – congrats to you both!

  18. That is absolutely not indicative in any way of an American fine dining experience, or even a fine American steakhouse experience, rest assured. And I can’t imagine charging an extra $30 per person to dine there, but oh well. At least you had a beautiful view and a giggle. Wonder what the Reynold’s had for dinner? Happy Anniversary to you both!

  19. Congratulations to the Reynolds, wherever they may be. :) And you and Carl, as well, of course. “Memorable” is a loaded word, Charlie. I hope the more pleasant aspects of the evening and the anniversary (Veuve, Mumm’s etc) made up for the mediocre menu. It reminded me of my birthday dinner at The Keg last year around this time. As I like a hearty steak with the traditional sides, it was very much appreciated.

    You’re inspiring me to make some home made ravioli and fill them with something wonderful. And to use only a very light sauce to dress them with.

  20. G’day and Happy Anniversary Mr. and Mrs. Charlie! :)
    Both of your smiling faces are great to see!
    WOW! Ouch! Sorry the signature restaurant food let you down, true!
    Best thing ever? You were both together and enjoyed the cruise and special moments too!

  21. Dear Mr. and Mrs. Reynolds, I’m so glad you enjoyed the Pinnacle restaurant during your cruise. We missed you so much while you were away and you made us very envious that you were doing nothing but enjoying yourselves.

    Those steaks sound like something I want tonight.

    Happy Anniversary!

  22. LOL about the cake, hope Mr and Mrs Reynolds didn’t miss the cake to much, shame it wasn’t up to expectations (the restaurant), for a special night. Looking forward to the next part of the cruise, in your next update :)

  23. Can’t go wrong with a steak in an American steak house. I did expect most of the food to be like this though. I think its called cruisin’… The food looks just like the restaurants I worked in as an apprentice chef

  24. First off.. congratulations! It’s always important to celebrate wedding anniversaries! I think a cruise is an excellent idea, I’ll have to keep it in mind for our next “big one”! This looks like quite the filling dinner, it seems they are really trying and I just wouldn’t have the heart to say anything about the dessert either! That’s hilarious and reminds me of the time my mom forgot to order a bakery cake so she took the one on the shelf and had happy birthday piped on.. So it ready “Happy Birthday Mocha”.. because “Mocha” was already on the cake. Lord knows how old that display cake was, lol! Happy Anniversary again!!! You’re a very lovely couple!!!xx

  25. How funny is that! Shame about the food though and wouldn’t it have been so nice to be able to write about something exciting and new. Never mind it was a great night for Mr. and Mrs. Reynolds alias C+C, one to remember I am sure.

  26. Congratulations Mr and Mrs Reynolds! Hehe Charlie that is quite hilarious and certainly story worthy! :P So I’m guessing somewhere on the internet there is a pic of the Reynolds laughing and holding a “Mr and Mrs Blaxland” plate? ;)

  27. Happy Anniversary :) What a great to celebrate in STYLE! So happy for you and Carl and heres to many many more years to come!!!
    It’s a little strange that they would get the names wrong and call you Mr and Mrs Reynolds but I guess that’s still a lovely gesture and looked like a wonderful meal with the best view! xox

  28. You’re so sweet! Between the poor presentation and untasty food (along with the wrong dessert), you could have been so negative about it but you laughed it off! Kudos to you!

    hillcountryprincess.com

  29. Happy Anniversary to you and Carl, Charlie! May you and Mr Reynolds have many, many more memorable anniversaries! The restaurant was a bit of a sham but looks like it was a good time regardless. At least you were together and had some quiet time, with children, that’s a great plus in my books!! My kids don’t even know when our anniversary is, so you’re lucky!!

  30. In the first pic I was trying to read what it said around the side of the plate. How funny!
    It’s lovely of them to have done that for you but they could have offered you dessert then decorated your order. Considering you’re paying extra it would have been nice to have something you wanted. Happy belated anniversary!

  31. Many wonderful and happy anniversary blessings to you and Carl. Despite the food disappointments it sounds like you had a lovely trip.
    Have a super day.
    :-) Mandy xo

  32. That really is an amazing view – and what a wonderful dessert to finish off the evening! It looks like a very special way to celebrate your anniversary. Congratulations on 25 years!

  33. Best wedding anniversary dining story ever Mrs R! X

  34. How unfortunate that your anniversary meal was such a disappointment! At least the steaks were good. And I suppose you can’t beat the view. I was really looking forward to seeing the desserts you both wanted to order! You two don’t even look like “Reynolds”. LOL

  35. A lot of cruise lines seem to think steak is what should be served in their “special” restaurants. Boring! I make that at home when I want it. There are cruise lines out there with more interesting food, although they never match what you can find in a good restaurant onshore. Sorry this wasn’t a stellar experience, but it’s always fun being on a ship.

  36. I would love to know where Mr. And Mrs. Reynolds were and if they wondered where their dessert was?!? LOL Sounds like you two made the most of what you had to work with! Always the sign of a great marriage! Happy Anniversary! xo

  37. I think your conclusion is probably very accurate. Because of where you were, the special occasion and the fact that you are good sports made it a pleasurable evening. The idea that the name was wrong is hysterical and is a memory you’ll never forget. I think the cruise sounds marvelous, even if their signature dinner isn’t all that special. It provided lots to talk about!

  38. Happy Anniversary to you ! As a bread eater I do sympathise but it looks as if you made the best of the varied meal you had put in front of you and you both look so happy !

  39. Best wishes to you both on your anniversary

  40. You were so gracious to take pictures with the Reynolds name on your anniversary dessert!! Congratulations :)

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