This is one of two main dining rooms, offering decent food and a little light entertainment from the wait staff.
Southern Lights Restaurant is the main dining room for most passengers who have signed up for traditional fixed seating (those not opting for the line’s more flexible Your Time Dining). Traditional fixed-time dinner seating (early at 6 pm, late at 8:15 pm) is available in both dining rooms, but Your Time Dining only is offered in the Northern Lights restaurants. The wait staff is pleasant and speedy, and after being served by the same waiters for seven days you do get to know them a little. Each night the whole staff sings and dances to the tunes of modern and classic music. Though the restaurant offers different main courses every night, a part of the menu stays the same.
Both dining rooms are decorated with big chandeliers, and have the same decor as the main lobby. The tables are covered with white cloth with pink-and-black place settings. On the far end of the restaurant is a big panorama window that looks out over the ocean. Both restaurants have big staircases leading to the upper level.
Breakfast in the main dining room is pretty basic: Eggs Benedict, omelets, french toast, waffles, and pancakes. Side dishes can be ordered too, like turkey or regular bacon, hash-browns, and sausages. Cereals, grits, oatmeal, and fresh fruits are also available, as is a choice of bread and croissants, iced and hot tea, coffee, or chocolate milk.
This is definitely not gourmet food, but the chefs of the Magic do a pretty good job. On the daily-changing menu, some dishes sound more exotic than others – such as the chicken tenders marinated in Thai spices – but the majority of the menu is standard restaurant fare. Most dishes are tasty and well-prepared. If you order a steak medium rare, that’s exactly what you get.
For appetizers, you can get shrimp cocktail or Caesar salad, or you choose from the daily menu, including some unusual soups: Carnival Magic offered strawberry, peach, and cherry soups. They looked like molten ice cream and tasted like a smoothie, but in a good way, especially if you like sweet appetizers.
On the main menu, which does not change, you can get a burger, a steak, grilled chicken breast, and fried chicken – good old American dishes – and a choice of sides. The choices on the daily menu, range from veal parmigiana to penne frutti di Mare.
We tried several dishes on the daily menu and were surprised at the high quality. The fried shrimp with plum-mustard sauce was delicious, especially the dip. The ahi tuna tartar was also quite good. Still, we would suggest going a little out of the usual and trying the escargot in olive oil and garlic sauce. Compared to the same dish on another ship from a competing line we just visited, the Norwegian Dawn, it was amazing.
For the main courses, we would also suggest the French cuisine, the Chateaubriand with sauce bearnaise, the beef either medium rare or medium well (the only two possibilities with this dish). It tasted great, with tender beef and just the right preparation.
Dessert offerings never change. There’s the usual cheese plate with brie, Swiss, gouda, port salut, and Danish blue; a tropical fruit plate; diet-style and regular pies; and sherbet. One of the best desserts on the ship is the warm chocolate melting cake with vanilla ice cream — a Carnival classic. The cake is not baked all the way, so the inside is still a little runny. Bravo.
On sea days, the Carnival Magic offers a tea time in the Southern Lights restaurant. With your tea, you can get a piece of cake, cucumber sandwiches, and salmon crackers.
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