The Pinnacle Grill specialty restaurant has become a fixture on Holland America ships in a relatively short space of time.
“We started in that restaurant as an Italian restaurant. We had two ships with the Odyssey and two ships with the Marco Polo, the same menu but with different names. It was an Italian cuisine.”
“With the building of the Vista ships, Holland America decided to go over to a northwestern cuisine. We introduced that on all the ships and the Odysseys and the Marco Polos changed into Pinnacle Grills. Now all the ships are Pinnacle Grill with this menu.”
The restaurant is primarily a steakhouse. However, Washington state, where Holland America is headquartered, and Alaska, where Holland America transformed itself from a provider of ocean liner transportation into a cruise line, are known for their salmon and other fish dishes. “Therefore, we came out with several fish dishes as well on that menu. So it is a combination, great steak but also fish dishes.”
On Eurodam, the Pinnacle Grill is located midships on the port side of Deck Two overlooking the atrium. It is a glamorous looking venue with low lighting broken occasionally by back lit panels upon which are excerpts from Dutch master paintings. There are several seating areas, each providing a somewhat different atmosphere.
This restaurant was not meant to be European-style fine dining. It is nonetheless, a gracious experience. Appointed with Bvlgari china, Riedel stemware and Frette linens, the Pinnacle is elegant. The staff are friendly but deferential. Little touches like four styles of salt, three types of butter and four types of bread brought automatically to the table distinguish this experience from the ordinary.
The Pinnacle features Sterling Silver Beef and, for me, the filet mignon with the peppercorn sauce is a knockout. Similarly, the innovative individual size baked Alaska with Ben and Jerry's ice cream in the center is both fun and tasty. (However, somewhat disappointingly, the ice cream was Cherry Garcia and not Mint Chocolate Chunk as it was when I had this dessert on Zuiderdam).
A ship the size of Eurodam does not have the room for an extensive number of specialty restaurants. However, Holland America has made innovative use of the space it does have by having the Pinnacle Grill provide different types of dining experiences on certain nights during a cruise. In this way, the line presents guests with more dining choices.
The most extensive transformation comes on Le Cirque night. On those evenings, the menu, the table setting, the china, the staff uniforms and even the decoration of the restaurant change. The goal is to provide the same type of dining experience as New York's famous Le Cirque restaurant.
“Micky Arison [Chairman of Carnival Corporation, which owns Holland America Line] had this idea that Le Cirque should come on Holland America Line and now its realized. “
Holland America did not simply buy the name; the management of Le Cirque is actively involved in this project. “We have them aboard very often - - the chef, the cellar master, the maitre d' or Sirio [Maccioni, Le Cirque's founder] himself. They check our operation and see if we are following the recipes correctly, we are doing the menu cycle correct, and so on.”
I have done the Le Cirque nights on several of the Holland America ships and I am always impressed by the difference in the experience. Indeed, on Eurodam, I had the same table and same waiter as when I dined in the Pinnacle Grill on a normal evening. Yet, the restaurant felt even more sophisticated than it had on the earlier evening.
The meal itself was also different, a more cosmopolitan New York cuisine. The amuse bouche was a fois gras mousse over rhubarb chutney with contrasting sweetness, sourness and saltiness. Its texture was smooth and refreshing.
Similarly, the lobster salad appetizer, a Le Cirque signature dish, provided a clean taste with contrasting flavors coming from its lettuce leaf vinaigrette and slices of grapefruit, avocado and tomato.
The Chateaubriand was beautifully finished and sliced table side. Very tender beef with its own subtle flavor contrasting against the underlying beet sauce.
For dessert, a chocolate souffle. However, rather than the usual sauce, this dessert had vanilla gellato. An interesting idea, nice for a change.
The Pinnacle Grill also offers a chef's table experience on certain nights. The chef's table is a gourmet dining experience in which a limited number of people are treated to a seven course meal with wine pairings. The Pinnacle Grill chef and the ship's cellar master attend in order to discuss the various courses and wines with the group.
Chef's tables have become very popular and so several cruise lines have implemented the concept. On Holland America, it was started on the Nieu Amsterdam, Eurodam's sister ship. “On Nieu Amsterdam, we started off with a separate concept with a separate table setting and so on. “When we had it running on the Nieu Amsterdam for awhile, it was tweaked a little bit and now it has been introduced on all the ships. Another option in what we offer.”
Cruise ship dining guide - Eurodam - Holland America Line - page three