The ship’s steakhouse offered the best food of our cruise.
Offering up chops of Sterling Silver premium beef in elegant surroundings, the Pinnacle Grill is Holland America’s steakhouse. On Veendam, the Pinnacle Grill is tucked to the starboard side of Deck 8, near the upper level of the main dining room, in a refined setting that included elegant plate-ware and Riedel stemware.
Our dinners here (on other ships) have generally been very good, with Colorado lamb chops, broiled king salmon, lobster tail, cedar planked black cod and shrimp scampi rounding out a satisfying menu (you can read about our dinner experience on Holland America’s Zaandam here). But one night of each cruise the Pinnacle Grill is transformed into “An Evening at Le Cirque in the Pinnacle Grill,” a tribute to the famed Le Cirque restaurant in New York, replete with Bvlgari china. On this evening guests will find a set menu with optional wine pairings, and reservation are required; there is a $39 supplement for this meal. This is what we opted for on our cruise aboard Veendam.
On certain days, the Pinnacle Grill also hosts lunch, with a $10 surcharge. Our experience here at lunch on Veendam was excellent.
For the Cirque dinner we started with a delightful amuse bouche, a small jar of frothy, whipped foie gras underscored with a layer of rhubarb chutney. We ordered the lobster salad “le Cirque,” served composée style, with grapefruit, wedges of potato and dollops of French-type dressing. The server offered fresh pepper, which emerged very coarsely ground. The tail itself was a small tail with good flavor, but the dish struck us as one of a few choice ingredients that someone could easily compose at home. The soup—butternut squash with huckleberries—was excellent, rich and full of herbs and spices, with a spoon of cream and a raisin-y dollop. It was an unexpected (though welcome) embrace of Thanksgiving flavors.
The first three courses arrived in breathless succession—bam, bam, bam. There was just a couple minutes between setting our fork down and the next course arriving. Meanwhile, the main course took almost 20 minutes to arrive, but it was worth the wait—a quartet of lamb chops cooked as ordered, medium-rare, with a nice layer of fat and a robust sauce with a couple pools of pesto sauce.
We came back to Pinnacle Grill for lunch, though our waiter was oddly not familiar with the menu. All the ingredients were right for a starter of grilled prawns atop a bruschetta of roasted corn and balsalmic on toasted baguette, foundations that fractured with each cut. Our beef tenderloin was an excellent cut, cooked just as we ordered it, crusted with blue cheese. A delicious potato au gratin was accompanied by asparagus and a squirrelly frill of cucumber. For dessert we imbibed in a simple and elegant orange and lime panacotta—wonderful. Other lunch entrées included a beef salad with mango and lotus fruit, an Alaskan halibut fillet sandwich and a cheeseburger with bacon and cheddar cheese.
The wine list at Pinnacle Grill was almost identical to the one offered at the Rotterdam Dining Room, but with the addition of a few very high-end recommendations.
There was a “wine pairing” option to accompany the Cirque dinner, for an additional $20. But when we asked about the wines, the wine server told us: “it starts with Prosecco, then the chardonnay, then a red wine.” So what we ordered for dinner made no difference, which didn’t exactly seem like a traditional pairing. Oh, and the wine? Both were from Sicilian winery Feudi del Pisciotto. We passed. This led to a service hiccup—the server delayed taking our wine order until the amuse bouche arrived and the wine we chose to go with the lobster salad did not arrive until just as we were finishing that course.
Reservations were required for dining at the Pinnacle Grill. Dinner was offered nightly from 5:30 to 9 or 9:30 p.m. One evening of our cruise was set aside for the Cirque dinner, and Pinnacle Grill was open on four days for lunch, from 12 to 1 p.m.
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