ABOARD THE SIRENA — Every day at lunchtime, the Grand
Dining Room on Oceania Cruises’ recently christened Sirena is transformed into
Jacques Bistro, a French bistro based on the recipes of chef Jacques Pepin,
Oceania’s executive culinary director.
The lunchtime pop-up is a new concept for Oceania, though
Pepin does have another namesake restaurant — Jacques — open for dinner aboard Oceania’s
Marina and Riviera.
Jacques Bistro boasts its own place settings. The Grand
Dining Room’s plates are cleared away at lunchtime, making way for classic
white chargers and plates emblazoned with “Jacques.” The napkin rings, too,
bear the chef’s name.
During a media lunch hosted by Oceania, the chef joked
that he should steal one of the napkin rings so he’ll always know where to sit
at home. His daughter, Claudine Pepin, the ship’s godmother, mulled over taking
one for her mother to use as a scarf ring.
Jacques Bistro features a fixed menu that will change at
least four times a year with the seasons, Claudine Pepin said — it’s filled
with classics and dishes in season, and will evolve throughout the year. There
is also a daily specials menu.
The warm leek salad at Jacques Bistro. Photo Credit: Jamie Biesiada
Everything from soups to salads to fish and veal are
featured, offering a mix of something for everyone. Sandwiches also make an
appearance on the menu, like the Provencal tuna sandwich and the croque-monsieur.
During my meal there, I started with a warm leek salad
with green caper sauce. The tender leeks were cooked perfectly, and the green
caper sauce and cherry tomatoes — and the greens in the center — were an
excellent complement. The rosé the table was drinking went well with the dish.
For an entrée, I ordered off the specials menu. The
teriyaki chicken yakitori with a stir-fried vegetable salad was similarly
delicious. The sweet teriyaki sauce on the chicken skewers was perfectly offset
by the baby corn and assorted vegetables.
By all accounts from my tablemates, the lemon sole fillet
with caper butter, lemon and croutons was excellent, as was the veal piccata
with lemon sauce.
Jacques Pepin himself ordered the veal after he visited
the kitchen before lunch to aid in his decision.
The bistro offers a dessert menu ranging from sorbet to
chocolate mousse that changes each day, and boasts a full complement of coffee
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