Virgin dining: No buffets, main dining room or upcharges, lots of creative choices

From top left, clockwise, Geonbae for Korean barbecue, the Razzle Dazzle bar, Wake for steak and seafood, The Pizza place with its beach-club design From top left, clockwise, Geonbae for Korean barbecue, the Razzle Dazzle bar, Wake for steak and seafood, The Pizza place with its beach-club design RENDERINGS: Virgin Voyages

Virgin Voyages will offer more than 20 food venues aboard Scarlet Lady, from a lively Korean barbecue spot to a vegetarian eatery with meat 'add-ons,' a CBD-infused cocktail and a Drag Brunch.

The goal is to 'capture the spirit of dining in the best cities of the world and bring it to sea,' said Tom McAlpin, president and CEO, Virgin Voyages.

'There’s a Virgin twist on everything you’ll see aboard the Scarlet Lady,' added Virgin Group founder Richard Branson, 'which means there will be no stuffy formalities, boring buffets and no main dining rooms.'

All restaurant food included in the cruise fare

Virgin ditched the traditional upcharges levied for specialty restaurants at sea and pledged all eateries will offer exceptional, made to-order-eats with all restaurant food included in the ticket price.

Restaurant designs are by Roman and Williams, Tom Dixon, Concrete Amsterdam and Soft Room, among others, with AvroKO Hospitality Group's strategy arm, Brand Bureau, and its Michelin-starred chef Brad Farmerie helping create the ship's entire food and beverage experience. The restaurants will not only serve delicious food, he said, they'll have a unique vibe and energy to 'satiate sailors' hunger for excitement and restoration while on vacation.'

Aiming to field one of the cleanest fleets at sea, Virgin is banning single-use plastics and, with no buffet on board, it aims to significantly reduce waste and reinvest savings into clean technology and quality products.

Late-night options

With the idea of city-like dining at sea, there will be no main dining room, no forced formal wear, no assigned seating, no assigned dining times and the possibility to grab a late bite because restaurants stay open until well into the night and, in some cases, the early hours of the morning.

Sailors will be able to dine at a table or take their meal at the bar, with nearly all Scarlet Lady restaurants offering bar seating. Each restaurant will be helmed by a leading chef.

Wake - steak and seafood

Serving a theatrical take on steak and seafood, Wake is the most glamorous restaurant on the ship with an experience inspired by The Wolseley - London and The Grill - New York, and a dramatic grand staircase. Offerings include a raw bar, land and sea classics, a table-side cocktail cart and a sommelier-led magnum program.

Designed by Roman and Williams, this 5,866-square-foot restaurant gives a dramatic view of the ship’s wake.

Razzle Dazzle - nice and naughty

With vibrant and creative twists on vegetarian fare and a juice bar. Razzle Dazzle delivers a healthy 'nice' menu of plant-based vegetarian and vegan dishes including the Impossible Burger. The 'naughty' side lets diners order meat 'add-ons' and offers to spike their healthy smoothies with boozy shots.

At a Drag Brunch, Scarlet Lady's resident drag performer and friends will perform. For a small fee, sailors can order bottomless drag-inspired cocktails like the 'Yasss Queen' and the Razzle Dizzle, a CBD-infused cocktail.

With decor that nods to the bold camouflaging of ships in World War I using patterns of black and white paint, Razzle Dazzle was designed by Concrete Amsterdam.

The Test Kitchen - avant-garde

Innovative and avant-garde cuisine will be found in this clean and modern space, also designed by Concrete Amsterdam. Inspired by Escoffier’s Ma Cuisine, this laboratory-like eatery is part cooking school and part restaurant. The chef-driven set menus are presented in the form of an ingredient list to diners who will discover how the chef combines the list of flavors throughout the course of the meal.

This eatery will also host cooking classes, a mixology school, coffee labs and even a few late-night lock-ins, where sailors will be invited to raid the chef’s fridge and dig into a midnight feast.

Geonbae - Korean barbecue

Geonbae (equivalent to 'bottoms up' in Korean) is a Korean barbecue restaurant designed by Soft Room. Hosted by the loudest servers at sea, each meal will begin with a complimentary round of soju for the table. Throughout the evening sailors are encouraged to take part in lively Korean drinking games.

A social, hands-on, interactive, fun dining experience, Geonbae features specially engineered flameless grills built into each table where diners cook their own food.

Pink Agave - Mexican

A Mexican restaurant designed by Tom Dixon, Pink Agave transports sailors to Mexico City through immersive void lighting. Sailors will be invited to discover authentic Mexican flavors including tlayudas, memelas, sopes, tortas, esquites and tamales in a shared-plate experience. Pink Agave’s dishes can be paired with a cocktail from Scarlet Lady’s expansive collection of mezcals or signature Agua Fresca cocktails.

A DJ will amp up the room's energy as the evening hours slip away.

Extra Virgin - Italian trattoria

This spot serves regionally-inspired and approachable food rooted in Italian culinary traditions, with fresh, handmade pasta daily. A meal begins with shared antipasti followed by pasta-centric favorites.

Extra Virgin features amari and digestivi and traditional Italian aperitifs. The wine list will be designed with an infographic system to help sailors better understand Italian wines and navigate to the perfect bottle. The integration of a Coravin at the bar will allow sailors to taste rare Italian wines by the glass.

Extra Virgin will offer an aperitivo hour each day with drink specials and small plates.

The Dock - mezze

Set in the ship's lounging area, aft on Deck 7, The Dock is a place to hang day and night. Its beach club-inspired ambience is designed by Roman and Williams. Carts of Mediterranean small plates, salads, dips and mezze will be available throught the day, with flame-grilled-to-order skewers providing filling hot options.

The Galley - food hall

Modeled on popular food halls where visitors can taste a cornucopia from different restaurants, The Galley will be the main spot for a quick and casual meal throughout the day. The food hall will feature more than eight shops and food carts, each offering a different concept and signature dishes that change to suit the time of day. Concepts include a bakery and pastry shop, a panini shop, a burger grill, a taco shack, a sushi bar with bento boxes, a noodle bar, a soup and salad stand, and a 24-hour American diner.

The Pizza Place

No pre-cooked pizza slices sitting under warming lamps will be found on Scarlet Lady. Sailors can choose from the classic menu or design their own bespoke pizza. The Pizza Place features a beach club-inspired design with white and pastel colored furniture hues and navy striped accent pillows and hammocks for lounging.

This casual chill-out spot is a lunch destination, as well as the perfect late-night, post-drink go-to.

Posted 08 November 2018

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Anne Kalosh

Editor, Seatrade Cruise News & Senior Associate Editor Seatrade Cruise Review