AmaCerto: Dining in ship’s no-charge specialty restaurant is a taste treat

The AmaCerto specialty restaurant, Erlebnis, is cozy with a glassed-in kitchen to watch the chef at work.
The AmaCerto specialty restaurant, Erlebnis, is cozy with a glassed-in kitchen to watch the chef at work.

ABOARD THE AmaCERTO – Today I learned a new word. And had a marvelous dining adventure.

I also discovered why AmaWaterways is the only river cruise line inducted into La Chaîne des Rôtisseurs, the world’s oldest international gastronomic society. The reason? They deserve it.

My first night on the cruise, I signed up to dine in AmaCerto’s exclusive restaurant. The dinner-only restaurant with its own chef and menu is named Erlebnis – a German word for “something memorable.” It certainly is.

Chef Tamas Peter prepares dishes in Erlebnis specialty restaurant.
Chef Tamas Peter prepares dishes in Erlebnis specialty restaurant.

Erlebnis is at the other end of the ship from the regular dining room. Unlike other cruise ships, there is no extra fee to dine at Erlebnis. Capacity is limited to 28 guests and reservations are required but I was assured that every passenger who wants to dine in Erlebnis should have the opportunity. And many dine there twice on a weeklong cruise. The menu is the same every night but I would certainly choose to dine there again.

The restaurant’s décor is elegant with several four-top tables and larger ones. A glass-enclosed kitchen lets us see the chef at work. A semi-circular walls of windows offers lovely views of the river.

The dinner started with a chef’s welcome of goose liver mousse and choice of red or white wine chosen for the meal. Remember that free-flowing beer, wine and soft drinks are complimentary for lunch and dinner on the AmaCerto. A very attentive wine steward kept our glasses filled.

Appetizer was lemon-pepper crusted salmon with chili sour cream. Not only was the salmon delicious, the serving was wonderfully artistic, a touch that I soon noticed in all AmaCerto dining. Presentation adds to the visual appeal and the AmaCerto chefs certainly have an artist’s eye.

Appetizer of lemon pepper crusted salmon with chili sour cream
Appetizer of lemon pepper crusted salmon with chili sour cream

Soup was carrot ginger with marinated butterfish. The carrot ginger part sounded good to me but I wasn’t so sure about marinated butterfish. Needn’t have worried. It was excellent.

Entrée was choice of grilled pike perch with salsa marguerite, beluga lentils, sautéed spinach and eggplant mash or grilled beef tenderloin fillet, zucchini, broccoli and macaire potato. I chose the beef. It arrived cooked just right and the serving size was perfect.

When I first started cruising back in 1976, the servings were so huge and so much food was wasted. More is not necessary better. In fact, it often isn’t. I’ve been very pleased to see serving sizes reduced on cruise lines so that you still get enough to eat but you don’t have to leave the table feeling stuffed. For folks with a bigger appetite and faster metabolism, there is always the option to order a second serving of something. My grandson did that by ordering two entrees – lobster and steak – on a Disney cruise. Of course, Logan is tall and skinny. I am not.

For dessert – again having smaller servings saves room for a sweet ending – the Apricot Trilogy featured a sweet dumpling, some sherbet and an apricot liqueur. All in all, it was certainly one of the best meals I’ve ever had a cruise.

GASTRONOMIC SOCIETY HONOR

An entree of grilled beef tenderloin was prepared just right.
An entree of grilled beef tenderloin was prepared just right.

As for that La Chaîne des Rôtisseurs honor, it is the world’s oldest international gastronomic society. The society was founded in Paris in 1950 to honor the traditions of the Royal Guild of Goose Roasters. But the organization goes back much longer than that.

Originally chartered in the 13th century, the guild was once so renowned that King Louis XII of France granted it its own coat of arms complete with two roasting spits, four larding needles and hearth flames.

The Guild of Roasters thrived for four centuries until the French Revolution brought it to an end. The society was reborn in modern times and rechristened La Confrérie de La Chaîne des Rôtisseurs.

Membership is by invitation only and has grown to include professional chefs, restaurateurs and hoteliers around the world. On the fourth night of our cruise, we will be treated to a special Chaîne des Rôtisseurs Dinner in the ship’s regular restaurant. I’ve heard that it is a true dining delight and I’m certainly looking forward to it.

Photo by Jackie Sheckler Finch

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