Regardless of what is on the menu, special requests are cheerfully honored. Star Pride has 50 vegan recipes on offer and is more than adept at catering to gluten-free needs and allergies, all the while serving up exciting cuisine.
AmphorA (Deck 3): AmphorA, the main dining room on Star Pride, is open for dinner only. Dinner starts at 7 p.m., with open seating. The tables are a mix of two-tops, four-tops and larger group or communal tables. Upon arrival in the restaurant, you are asked if you would like to be seated with others or have others join you, or if you prefer a table for just your party. We enjoyed having a romantic dinner one night, dining with a couple we'd never met on another and arranging a group table of newfound friends by the cruise's end.
The dinner menu changes daily, although a few side dishes and a few mains (salmon, steak, chicken and pasta) remain the same and are available each night. Two dishes -- an appetizer and an entree -- are designed by James Beard award-winning chefs and were consistently good.
Meals begin with homemade breads, made daily onboard. The menu is divided into appetizers (e.g., caprese salad, escargot bourguignon, crab Louie and bell pepper terrine), soups (seafood chowder, cream of baked potato), salads (market greens, signature Caesar, Italian artichoke), entrees (sea bass, lamb shank, steak churrasco, roasted whole turkey and wild mushroom ravioli) and desserts (tiramisu, chocolate souffle, berries sabayon, sugar-free mango upside-down cake, ice cream and a cheese plate). Portions are European sized, so you won't feel uncomfortable by the end of the meal (and you can order more if you need it).
House wines are served by the glass at a reasonable price; higher-end bottles come at a premium price. A wine steward is in the room to advise with wines. Service was more formal than you'd expect on such a casual ship, although wait staff warmed up by the end of the week. Regardless, the main dining room provides a leisurely experience with an extensive and impressive menu throughout.
Veranda (Deck 7, aft): Buffet breakfast and lunch are served in the Veranda. There is open-air seating aft and in front of the restaurant (the latter is a somewhat weird space with a courtyard and garden wall) and indoor seating next to the buffet. Early risers catch the sunrise and the best tables on the outside deck, as the outside seats tend to get scooped up first, unless the weather is wild. Indoor diners don't lack for light or views with sliding-glass doors dividing the venue from the back deck.
In general, seating can get crowded inside or out during prime times, as it is a relatively small space. Plan accordingly.
The breakfast buffet is open from 7 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. You can expect fruit, yogurt, pastries and bread, hot and cold cereal (oatmeal and porridge), scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, cold cuts, cheese, salmon, potatoes, tomatoes, mushrooms and eggs to order. In addition, eggs Benedict, breakfast burritos, French toast and pancakes can also be ordered through your server. Coffee, still and sparkling water, orange juice and two smoothies (often one fruit and one green) are plentiful each day.
The lunch buffet is open from noon until 2 p.m. You will find several prepared cold salads, an impressive salad bar with nearly a dozen options and add-ons, antipasto, sandwiches (Buffalo chicken crepe, grilled Cuban sandwich, fontina and mushroom burger) and an array of burgers (including beef, veggie and turkey) and dogs, plus sausage with sauerkraut).
Typically, you'll find three hot dishes (Italian sausage with marinara, turkey breast with sage jus, barbecue pork ribs or salmon escalope) and several hot veggies, potatoes and soup. Dessert includes homemade cookies, ice cream and options like cheesecake and bread pudding.
Candles (Deck 7): At night, the Veranda restaurant, both inside and out, converts into Candles, a romantic steak and seafood restaurant where the focus is on the grill. Reservations are a must, as seating is limited and passengers are only given one Candles reservation per cruise. When the weather is pleasant, outside seating is evocative with a setting sun and a romantic ambiance. Don't miss it.
The menu is the same each night, a mix of surf and turf (filet mignon, sirloin steak, veal chop, sea bass filet, skewered tiger shrimp and marinated tofu) with sauces, sides and desserts (raspberry creme brulee, chocolate strawberry truffle cake, fresh fruit and assorted cheeses). Service is attentive.
Deck Barbecue (Decks 7 and 8): The epic, once-per-cruise barbecue takes place outside on Decks 7 and 8. Come hungry, as crew serve enough food to feed several ships. Before you even get to the barbecue portion of the program, you'll encounter a massive buffet of antipasto, cold cuts, cheeses, grilled vegetables, mixed greens, Caesar salad, penne pasta salad, chipotle corn salad, German potato salad, mixed Mediterranean breads and shrimp.
On the grill, you'll find basted lobster tails with drawn butter, jerk-marinated chicken drumsticks, catch of the day with soy-sherry glaze, beef short ribs and thyme-marinated lamb loin. There's also a signature paella, a carving station, a gyro station and a dessert station filled with carrot cake, sachertorte, cheesecake, strawberry and rhubarb cobbler and ice cream, a chocolate fountain with pound cake and banana bread, and fresh fruit skewers and grilled barbecue bananas with chocolate and marshmallow.
Yacht Club (Deck 8): Offering dark wood, luxe sofas and expansive views on Deck 8, the Yacht Club is the perfect place for early risers to grab coffee and a quick Continental breakfast. In the afternoon, there were cookies, fresh fruit and an array of sandwiches (turkey and Brie, roast beef and cheddar, etc.) -- useful if you miss lunch or need an afternoon pick-me-up.
Room Service: In-suite dining is complimentary and available 24/7. Room service tags are left in your room each evening, making it easy to order the next day's breakfast before going to bed. We found orders were ready in 20 to 40 minutes, depending on whether it's a busy time of day.
A typical breakfast menu includes everything from eggs and bacon to sausage, salmon, bagels, fruit and granola. Similar to Veranda, you can also order waffles, pancakes, French toast and eggs Benedict. Throughout the day, soups, salads, sandwiches, wraps and burgers are served.
Once AmphorA is open in the evening (7 p.m.), you are able to order off the restaurant's menu. Between the hours of 10 p.m. and 4 a.m., the menu is very limited. Only quesadillas, tuna sandwiches, Cobb salad, turkey club and a hot beef sandwich are available. When you actually call in, the galley might not have every item on the list available. They will, however, have potato chips, tortilla chips and popcorn. If looking for something more substantial, get your order in while the restaurant is still open.