Posted on Monday, 10th November 2014
Note: Words and pictures by Food Porn Nation and myself.
Night one in Chicago and we escaped on board one of Chicago’s Odyssey Cruises for a dinner. Sailing back and forth on Lake Michigan, we relaxed to sweeping views of Chicago’s downtown area. Odyssey Cruises also offers brunch, lunch, fireworks and sunset champagne cruise options ranging from $51.90 – $129.90.
Boarding commences an hour before departure time, and to get to the cruise ship you first walk along the sparkling lights of the fun filled Navy Pier, before being welcomed on board the modern and stylish Odyssey ship which has recently undergone a $2m renovation. The DJ set a relaxed mood, and before long he had a few of the guests up and on the dance floor, or at least bouncing around in their seats! The cruise host also took the time to mingle with all the guests and to make sure we were all having a great time. There were many birthday parties on board and a whooping 50-year wedding anniversary to celebrate too.
The lovely wait staff really looked after us throughout our entire experience and the service was charming throughout to help us settle into what was a lovely experience. For the dinner service, diners can choose three courses from an a la carte menu. We began our meal with a fantastic amuse bouche, a mixture of shrimp, lobster, kiwi, cucumber, red onion, cilantro, mayo and mustard. The spoonful was deliciously light and tasty, so much so that we asked for seconds.
Moving onto the starters, we found the creamy lobster bisque to be pleasant, although it was more of a thick, creamy soup than that of a classic French lobster bisque. The bisque came with small pieces of lobster from Maine which were tasty and sweet. The brandy cream added a light undercurrent of flavour while the croutons adding crunchiness and texture.
The blue corn crusted crab cake was generous in size and paired well with the roasted garlic aioli. However, the crab cake was a little mushy and a crunchier coating would have been preferable.
We wanted to try both a fish and a meat dish, and for the meat dish we couldn’t decide between the short ribs and the filet mignon ($20 supplement) so our lovely waiter brought out both for us to try. The filet mignon was cooked as requested, medium rare. The 10oz steak was beautifully tender, thick and juicy, but it needed a touch more seasoning. Accompaniments of scalloped potatoes, Brussels sprouts, carrots and squash were tasty.
The short ribs had been cooked for 6 hours and came with a rich, slightly heavy cabernet demi-glace. The meat was very tender, and certain parts of the ribs were deliciously marbled with tasty fatty bits running through it that added to its flavour. It was moreish and came with the same accompaniments as the filet mignon.
However the fish course was less successful. We had the grilled salmon which was a little bland. It was an underwhelming plate of food, and the sides of cilantro corn salad and habanero apricot jam tasted dull and did little to lift the dish. The coucous was too wet.
Bread pudding with chocolate chips, a salted caramel sauce and vanilla bean ice cream was nice way to finish our meal. It was tasty and comforting, and offered a nice contrast between salty and sweet flavours. The salted caramel sauce with a kick of bourbon was especially enjoyable. The Odyssey chocolate cake with chocolate mousse and dark chocolate ganache was also tasty.
The food on the whole was respectable, but it was the other aspects of the cruise that we enjoyed more, from the lovely service, to the views of Chicago, to the overall ambient and pleasurable spirit of the experience. An Odyssey Cruise was a lovely way to spend the evening, one we would highly recommend if you are looking for a dinner cruise when in Chicago. There also day cruises if you want to see downtown Chicago by light.
The dinner cruise lasted for about 2.5 hours.
Food Summary: 3/5
Overall experience of the cruise: 4/5
Prices: from $51.90 – $129.90, excludes drinks, taxes and service.
If you’re visiting Chicago consider getting the Chicago CityPASS. It is priced at $94, giving you admission to five out of seven key tourist attractions in Chicago at half the price. These include the must see Institute of Art and The Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower) which offers unparalleled, 360-degree views from the top of the world-renowned Ledge viewing platforms – glass floor balconies 103 floors over Chicago! The Chicago CityPASS also offers you VIP access to each of the attractions so that you can avoid the queues.
The other attractions include Shed Acquarium, The Field Museum which is home to Sue, the largest and most complete T. rex ever found, The Museum of Science and History, 360 CHICAGO (formerly the John Hancock Observator) and Adler Planetarium. If these attractions are of interest then it might be worth consider Chicago CityPASS.