By Mimi Kmet
Halfway into our Pacific Coast luxury cruise on Crystal Symphony last week, I noticed on the daily “Reflections” guest newsletter that the Lido Café was going to be open for dinner that evening. It was a “casual dining option” with seating based on a first-come, first-served basis, the newsletter said. My guest Mara and I had already dined in Prego and Silk Road, the ship’s Italian and Japanese specialty restaurants, as well as in the Crystal Dining Room. So why not “try the buffet” for dinner?
When we mentioned this to another guest while on our shore excursion in Astoria, Ore., he informed us that the Lido Café dinner was not a buffet at all; it was a full-service, sit-down dining experience. And he couldn’t recommend it enough. I was intrigued.
We showed up at about 8 p.m. and were seated at a table for two next to the panoramic window. The server brought our menus. I was expecting to see “casual” choices like hamburgers and simple baked chicken. Wrong again. There was a chicken dish, which Mara ordered, but it was Indian butter chicken over jasmine rice with spiced lentil and yogurt sauces on the side. Me? I had grilled salmon with miso sauce, bok choy and mushrooms. And of course, we had some complimentary wine. For dessert: brownie trifle and lemongrass crème brulee.
And here’s the bonus: We had a front-row seat to a spectacular sunset off the Pacific Northwest coastline. The orange-pink light filled the Lido Café with a warm glow, as we watched the sun sink below the horizon while a quartet of birds skimmed the surface of the ocean.
It might not have been considered fine dining, but this was casual dining at its finest.
Featured image: A dinner entrée at Lido Café – salmon with miso sauce, bok choy and mushrooms (Photo by Mimi Kmet)