Tasting at the New “Food Republic” on Norwegian Escape
In Travel Agent Central
If you love eclectic global dining with small plates to sample and share, then one new eatery to check out at sea is The Food Republic on Norwegian Cruise Line’s new Norwegian Escape.
Created by Miami-based restaurateurs Jose Mendin, Andreas Schreiner and Sergio Navarro of The Pubbelly Restaurant Group, the specialty dining experience is modern and high-tech. It resembles a food hall and has fabulous sea views from many tables along the windows.
Randy Gonzalez, a CruiseOne franchise owner, Clearwater, FL, dined at the Food Republic in November. He loved the atmosphere. It was as “if being one with the ocean – meaning all the windows made the views breathtaking.”
Diners order from iPads on high-top tables. The screens not only list the dishes but also show photos of each and the price for each.
”Having the tablets on the table made everything at your fingertips and that’s what you want because the food is amazing,” Gonzalez emphasized. “My guest was raving about the sushi.”
If diners wish a fusion of flavors from around the world – from Peru to China, Europe to the U.S., this is a good spot.
Just pull up the “Noodles, Rice, Soups and Dumplings” menu to see small plates of Duck & Pumpkin at $4, Yaka Soba at $6, Kimchee Fried Rice at $4, Pastrami & Sauerkraut $4, and many more dishes.
On the “Sharing is Caring” menu page are Dates with Chorizo at $6, Ahi Tuna Tataki at $6, Baby Wedge Salad for $4.50, Broiled Bay Scallops for $6, Salt & Pepper Calamari at $5, Heirloom Tomato Salad for $5.50 and Buffalo Style Rock Shrimp for $10, among other choices.
During a brief preview cruise during the ship’s inaugural, I popped into this restaurant to see it and photograph it. Wandering in, I happened to encounter Michelle Fee, co-founder and CEO, and Vicky Garcia, COO, both of Cruise Planners; Lori Sheller, vice president of cruise development, Tourico Holidays; and Andy Stuart, the president and COO of Norwegian Cruise Line, who were dining there.
“We absolutely loved Food Republic on the Escape,” says Garcia. “The creative menu of delicacies was amazing. We actually tried to go back that same night for dinner.”
Her favorites? “The porkbelly sliders were delicious, as were the chorizo-stuffed dates, noodle bowl and crudo (like ceviche), but my absolute favorite was the Truffle Shortrib Dumplings, as they were like pillows of culinary heaven,” Garcia says.
I dined during the following week’s regular week-long cruise. I sauntered in during a sea day at lunchtime. The hostess greeted me promptly, was friendly and showed me to a table.
Upon being seated, my waiter welcomed me and explained how the ordering process worked. He offered assistance if I needed it.
He explained the eatery’s “sharing concept” and said that most times, tables order two or three small plates per person for everyone to taste and share. Of course, that’s up to the diner; if you find two or three things you want all to yourself, you can go for it.
But if you’re there with a spouse or friend and in a sharing mood, you’ll have the chance to taste four to six dishes. I envisioned this as a wonderful place for a small group of couples traveling together or family members coming together for a meal.
Some restaurant tablet ordering systems can be a bit complicated, but not this one. The iPad was easy to use; I easily browsed the menu pages and “touched” for choices.
I’m a Thai food fanatic, so my first selection was the Rock Shrimp Pad Thai at $6. It wasn’t prepared the way I am accustomed to (from a Thai restaurant near my home), but it was very good.