Lunch on the Silversea Silver Wind – a glorious extravagance in luxury cruising:
I’ve explored a few different cruise options now and discovered a whole range of offerings in the market. What I’ve found is that the perfect cruise for one person may well be another’s nightmare. Silversea operates in the ultra-luxury sector and I was curious to find out just what that meant. A tour and lunch on board Silver Wind while the ship was berthed alongside HMS Belfast, was an opportunity not to be missed. Silversea is the only Cruise operator with ships able to travel up the Thames and under Tower Bridge. Even getting on board, with a river shuttle to HMS Belfast and then a short walk across to the Silver Wind is an experience.
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a blogger in possession of a camera, must be in want of rain. Or so it has seemed this summer. We arrived as the heavens opened and any idea of photography outside was dissipated. My own issue for the day, that onboard this elegant and luxurious ship which seems closer to a boutique hotel than a cruise liner, I’d forgotten my comb. I should have been dressed in Ralph Lauren casuals with immaculate hair and a perfect manicure. Instead, windblown and slightly damp from a walk to Tower Pier, I struggled with a broken umbrella and a rats nest of hair. If anyone noticed, though, they were all far too polite to say.
A quick tour of the ship made evident that the suites (not cabins) onboard are comfortable, elegant and spacious. Bathrooms are equipped with baths, not showers, beds are large and made up with luxurious linens and each suite has its own discrete sitting area and desk or dressing table. Every guest gets their own butler and the all inclusive price entitles guests to a full range of wines, spirits and even champagne while onboard.
Food, of course, is the ultimate test for me and I wasn’t entirely convinced they’d be able to produce the kind of fine dining dishes that were promised. Operationally, running a kitchen at sea is quite a challenging experience, apart from the obvious restriction on the quantities of food that can be stored onboard, the team has to deal with a group of customers who will end up dining in the same onboard restaurants for most of a two or three-week trip.
I shouldn’t have been concerned. The food was superb and we were treated to some excellent wines paired with our lunch too.
We started with a tower of marinated crab, with avocado, quail egg and American caviar. It was a fresh, light way to begin lunch paired with a Frascati Superior, Poggio Verde DOCG from Principe Pallavincini winery in Lazio in Italy.
Next, a dish of char-grilled fresh swordfish with artichokes and rocket dressed with a tomato, basil and olive oil vinaigrette. My favourite plate of food, the swordfish was carefully cooked, flaky but not over dry and beautifully paired with the artichoke and piquant vinaigrette.
Roasted beef tenderloin with creamy mascarpone polenta was paired for me with an Amarasco IGT, also from Principe Pallavincini. I enjoyed the beef but would have preferred it slightly closer to rare. But the dish as a whole was delicious, with the combination of melting polenta, fresh asparagus and a rich beef jus. The Amarasco pairing was excellent. The wine is made with a heritage grape from Lazio, Cesanese, and makes a smooth, rounded yet light and fruity mouthful, perfect for lunchtime drinking.
Dessert was a beautiful fresh forest berry basket, with a marsala wine sabayon. I was delighted that my own version of the dish, without strawberries, arrived with no hesitation. It’s refreshing to see a restaurant coping so efficiently with food intolerances.
The meal was rounded off with fresh coffee and a selection of picture-perfect (and very delicious) petit fours.
We’d learnt that the restaurant where we dined was not the ‘fine dining’ option. That is in a more intimate setting, ‘Le Champagne’ where you can enjoy a choice of degustation menus, paired wines or an a la carte. One of the few things on board that comes at an extra cost, Le Champagne is intended to be for special occasions.
I was impressed. This is the kind of cruise that I suspect would make the perfect once in a lifetime experience. Though, you’d be sorely tempted to come back…again and again.
For more about Silversea, check their website