Monday, November 24, 2008

Regent's New Prime 7 - A New Luxury Restaurant or Just an Extra Ordinary Eatery?

So the news announced today by Regent Seven Seas is that it is about to install its new Prime 7 Steakhouse on its Voyager and Mariner ships. My question, to be honest, is "What, in real terms,is new and luxury?"

This replacement for the lackluster and curious Asian-esque Lattitudes sounds physically appealing:  a "rich pallete of greens and golden hues", "supple leather furniture" and "polished granite and burnished woods".  I am most interested to see the design, especially after seeing just last week what Celebrity accomplished with its Celebrity Solstice's steakhouse.

That said, the menu sounds like a very common steakhouse menu and nothing more. It starts out with an interesting "trio of steak tartares and foie gras sliders with rhubarb chutney", but then hypes them as being avant-garde.  They aren't.  Did Regent find the recipe on The Food Network website?  See http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/emeril-lagasse/rhubarb-and-foie-gras-recipe/index.html .)  After those highlights it was old fashioned oysters Rockefeller and jumbo lump crabmeat cakes.  To be fair, they can be extraordinary or just the same old, same old.  Time will tell.

So I look further into the menu and am really disappointed.  Once I get past the 32 ounce Porterhouse and the 18 ounce Cote de Boeuf (ribeye steak), the remainder is nothing extraordinary, but rather exactly what you would expect...nothing more: surf and turf, lambchops, frozen crab legs, frozen lobster tails and roasted chicken.

OK, you probably think I am being harsh...even anti-Regent.  No, I am wondering where the gourmet "6 star" luxury experience is.  (Regent is the one that started the 6 star hype.)  I would expect that coming out with a new restaurant on these ships would bring something special.  (It is not hard.  For example, Celebrity Solstice has Kobe beef as an offering in addition to homemade gnocchi and ravioli.)

If I am going on what is clearly one of the most, if not the most, expensive major cruise line in the world I expect better than expected, more than ordinary and, most certainly, something better than hype.  While it is only one element of a cruise, I find it worrisome that Celebrity seems to have executed the steakhouse concept better on on a cruise that will cost you literally a fraction of what a Regent cruise will.

I hope I am wrong, but having just come off a ship which wow'd me and which provided me with more than solid service and which proudly calls itself "premium" not "luxury" I just expect more.  We shall see.