Royal Caribbean’s Wonderland Restaurant: A Journey Down The Rabbit Hole
When one thinks of Cruising, one may think of buffets, or even specialty restaurants that are a step up from the crowded bustling buffets on the lido deck — but Royal Caribbean took it a step further when they came up with the concept for Wonderland Restaurant. It’s definitely a special place, steeped in magic and whimsy, for people who consider themselves “foodies”.
The definition of Foodie is someone who takes a particular interest in food. To be fair, many of us take an interest in food! Food brings us together across generations, cultures, and geographic locations. The importance of food around the world is well known. We come together for holidays, wakes, dinner parties with friends or even reach for it within the solitude of heartbreak—indeed food is used for many reasons. It is wrapped up in our identities, our past, our daily lives, our very bodies.
For me, food provides a pathway when I’m missing home, I can pull out mom’s recipe box (the one she sent me off to college with) and whip up her famous Mac and Cheese In Its Original Glory, or her Almond Torte and be instantly transported back to the comfort of my childhood. It’s also a way to re-connect with loved ones who have passed. I make my Great Grandmother’s Egg Nog every Christmas and think of her and all the people who came before, the choices they made— the paths they took, that made it possible for me to be here at all.
So, as you can imagine the term “foodie” means far more to me that just having a particular interest in food. But, nonetheless, it’s the term I use. My husband and I both identify as “foodies” and our son, well he is always up for an adventure when it comes to food. He’s eaten things that even my husband and I wouldn’t!
Now, all this being said I do know people who just don’t have much interest in food. For them, it’s just a means to an end. When they’re hungry they just grab whatever to satiate the hunger pangs. They don’t pay extra for a filet when they can just eat a burger and they certainly don’t care what the presentation is like. If that’s you, then Royal Caribbean’s Wonderland is a restaurant you probably wouldn’t enjoy and thankfully, a cruise ship has no shortage of options for different tastes. But for those who connect with food and enjoy the experience of food, Wonderland is simply a magical event.
Alice In Wonderland is one of my favorite stories, so when I heard that Royal Caribbean had a restaurant based on Wonderland, I couldn’t wait to try it! From the moment we stepped into the restaurant, I knew we were in for a treat. The furnishings were perfect — a mish-mash of chairs, some sporting black and white faces, others in crushed grey velvet with absurdly fun high backs — definitely made one feel as if they were entering a cartoon-like world.
All the decor lent to the feeling of being down the rabbit hole — from the heart shaped old-fashioned keys hanging from the ceiling to the colorful glassware. It should be noted here, that we were on the Ovation of the Seas, and hence I’m describing our experience on it. But, after a brief internet search, it looks like all of Royal Caribbean’s Wonderlands have a similar look.
The meal began with the menu being presented to the table in a fun frame…and surprise, the paper was blank! We had to use a paintbrush dipped in water for the words to appear. We hadn’t even had the food yet, and I was already in love!
The waiter appeared in a crushed velvet jacket in a luxurious deep purple. We proceeded to order some wine, and then came the first course — a whimsical dish called Baby Vegetables in the Garden. It was a medley of little vegetables served in a way that made them look like they were growing out of ‘dirt’. It sounds strange, I know, but it was very cool.
We also tried the tomato water with bread foam on top…Some of these dishes are very difficult to explain, but I highly recommend you visit to experience them for yourself.
Next came Crispy Crab Cones with cilantro and avocado mousse. Wow! Those were great!
The course to follow was the buffalo chicken eggs. They were basically deviled eggs with smoked blue cheese and hot sauce served in a ‘nest’. Our waiter presented it under a glass dome filled with smoke. Wow…these were great too and the presentation was fabulous!
Our main meal choices included Halibut Cooked in Clear Paper and Terroir Beef served with river stone potatoes and a bordelaise sauce. It was all fantastic, but we were in for a real treat with dessert!
I hesitate to give all the details, as the element of surprise was part of the fun. So, as I found the dessert to be quite possibly the most ‘magical’ part of the evening, I will skip telling you about it. Sorry, you’ll just have to check it out!
We loved the Wonderland experience so much we went twice. If you are one who enjoys food and the magic that can ensue whilst experiencing it in a new way, do yourself a favor, and the next time you find yourself on a Royal Caribbean cruise, treat yourself to a night of whimsy at Wonderland!