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By Jeannette and Dan Dudek
Celebrity Summit hosts two outstanding gourmet restaurants: Normandie, a 5-Star French restaurant; and Qsine, offering a series of exquisite samples of cuisine from around the world.
Both restaurants require a $40 per person surcharge for dinner; for the gourmet food, ambiance, attentive service and experience we believe this to be one of best bargains you will be offered. After we told a number of our fellow cruisers about these specialty restaurants many tried them; all were extremely pleased and several went back for another dinner (with one couple from England deciding to dine at Normandie three times during their two-week cruise).
Executive Chef Pascal Mullier explained to us that “the specialty restaurants do not compete with the main restaurant dining; they supplement your overall cruise dining experience”. Once we dined at Normandie, we understood exactly what Chef Pascal meant, and we agree with him completely.
Normandie Specialty Restaurant
After talking with Chef Pascal we expected our dinner at Normandie to be similar to dining at one of the finest restaurants in France. We were not disappointed. Upon entering Normandie we were invited to visit the restaurant’s private, extensive and impressive wine cellar which boosts over 800 bottles from 150 different labels. The Normandie’s Sommelier, Merial, and the Normandie Restaurant Manager, Angel Dimitrov, proudly showed us an 1898 vintage bottle of Chateau de Rothschild valued at about $4,000. This set the tone for what would be an elegant dining experience.
As you walk into the main dining area the French ambiance prepares you for a night you know you will remember. It felt like an old European room mixed with a modern classical and upscale style. All of the tables were superbly set, each with a real candle burning softly, custom Rosenthal Dinnerware and Riedel crystal. Some of the original furnishings, including a wood paneling, from the SS Normandie supplement the overall decor of this restaurant. (When launched in 1935, the SS Normandie was the largest and fastest boat on the oceans. Even today, many consider her the greatest of ocean liners.)
Diners at Normandie can choose selections a la carte, or take a “Gastronomic and Vineyard Tour” called the Five Senses. Jeannette chose the a la carte route and Dan went with the Five Senses four-course dinner, plus a dessert. Merial, the sommelier for Normandie pre-selects the wine for each course and his pairings were inspirational, they complemented each dish exquisitely.
Along with Dan’s Five-Spice Crusted Cervena Venison Loin entree, a Napa Valley Zinfandel enhanced the taste of the meat without competing with or overpowering it. The Five Senses food and wine pairing option required an $89 surcharge rather than the normal $40 amount; however, the opportunity to drink a glass of perfectly paired wine with each of the courses was well worth the fee. We highly recommend this pairing option if you have dinner at Normandie.
To start our meal, they served a complimentary tasty bite of bruschetta with eggplant and balsamic reduction. For Dan’s first course he chose the Creamy Main Lobster Bisque served with Leek and Shallot Flan, Cognac Cream and Crispy Sweet Yellow Corn Beignets. The bisque was poured at the table from a pitcher into a bowl; an interesting presentation.
Dan’s second course was a delicious Porcini & Morel Risotto and his third course was Pan Seared Pork Belly with Parsnip Purée, Caramelized Apples and Calvados Jus. Dan usually does not care for risotto, but the combination of ingredients made this risotto a welcome delight for him. However, he was disappointed to learn the Foie Gras was replaced with the roasted Pork Belly. Jeannette enjoyed a Phyllo baked Anjou Pear with Roquefort Cheese for one of her courses.
For a main entree Dan selected the Five-Spice Crusted Cervena Venison Loin. This was accompanied with Celery Root Fondant, Wilted Spinach, Red Cabbage Marmalade and Lingonberry Sauce. The New Zealand farm raised venison paired with a Napa Valley Zinfandel from Chiarello Family Vineyards was simply sensational.
Jeannette chose the Dover Sole Veronique which was pan seared golden brown with Green Grapes au Beurre Noisette. The Dover Sole was prepared table side and expertly deboned. Both entrees were covered, and then presented to us by a simultaneous unveiling.
For dessert Dan had the Grand Marnier Soufflé. For Jeannette, the waiter prepared table-side a strawberry crepe served with a balsamic sauce.
Dining at Normandie was certainly one of the highlights of our cruise; we were treated as celebrities. An exquisite meal, beautifully presented, excellent service, and superbly complemented by palate pleasing wines.
Note: Celebrity Cruises hosted Jeannette & Dan to a dinner at Normandie and Qsine, Celebrity Summit’s specialty restaurants.
Read More of Jeannette and Dan Dudek’s Celebrity Summit Review:
Overview | Pre-Cruise Documentation | San Juan Airports & Embarkation | Sunset Balcony Staterooms | Dining Options | Normandie Specialty Restaurant | Qsine Specialty Restaurant | Excursions | Production Shows | Bridge & Engine Room Operation | Senior Officer Interviews | General Info | Disembarkation in San Juan |
If You Go:
Jeannette and Dan Dudek travel extensively domestically and internationally; visited over 30 countries; and have been to most U.S. states and Canadian provinces. Jeannette’s career has included teaching elementary school classes; as well as English classes for middle school students; she also as has been a business manager and accountant for several firms. Jeannette’s passion is gourmet cooking and hosting special gatherings for friends and family.
Dan spent his career as an international consultant; assisting large firms implement computerized project and portfolio management systems. Besides international travel, Jeannette and Dan enjoy traveling North America in their RV, as well as handgun competitions, sailing, hunting, hiking, biking and other outdoor sports.