When I boarded the good ship Celebrity Reflection for a Caribbean cruise back in the spring, the epic, never-ending cuisine on board was probably a trip highlight.
Certainly, one healthy breakfast I enjoyed on my private balcony already stands out as one of the most unforgettable of my life.
The free dining was so varied, tasty and elaborate that, at first, I was bemused as to why anyone would pay extra to dine at one of the ship’s handful of speciality restaurants (which include Italian steakhouse Tuscan Grille and Blu, offering unfussy ‘clean cuisine’).
But when I tried out smart/casual eatery Qsine, I noticed three tables around me celebrating birthdays – proving sometimes you simply need something extra, extra special.
And the eatery in question, where food is selected via iPad, is certainly eccentric enough for such a celebration.
Seriously, the menu is frenetic. The dishes are playful and evocative, but more than a bit on the polarizing side. Seafood, sliders, soups, soufflés and spring rolls all sit side-by-side, with cultures and cuisines often colliding in dramatic ways. I passed on the lobster and escargot fritters.
Everything I did try, though, I liked; particularly the Lava Crab, comprised of chucks of meaty Alaskan King Crab, sweet yellow corn and scallions with kataifi (a crunchy, shredded dough used for desserts) in an Old-Bay Lobster sauce.
I regretted not trying the black Angus sirloin steak tacos, served with guacamole, caramelized onion and poblano, which looked amazing.
The sushi lollipops [pictured top], popcorn fish and chips and disco shrimp (named as such because it’s served in a flashing neon bowl) were also all excellent and imaginatively presented.
The absurdity was even present in the staff. They seemed to serve with a sense of performative exaggeration, while laughing and joking with the diners. Indeed, my waiter was very sweet and extremely chatty, which felt appropriate given the context.
Basically, the meal was a breath of fresh air, a bit of fun. The concept is definitely child-friendly, but that’s not to say it was overrun with kids. The ones I did see were well-behaved but having a cool time.
The best compliment I can give Qsine though, is probably this: it gave me plenty to write about!
In addition to Celebrity Reflection, the restaurant can also be found on Celebrity Infinity, Celebrity Silhouette, Celebrity Summit and Celebrity Millennium.
For more information about Celebrity Cruises and the food and drink on board, click here.