Wednesday, March 11, 2015

American Icon Grill

Our third dinner on the Quantum was at American Icon Grill. We had visited American Icon during lunch the day before and had been quite underwhelmed, so we hoped that dinner would be an improvement on lunch (would be hard to get much worse). We also hoped that the food allergy issue would finally be resolved since M's parents had spent some time during the afternoon talking with the dining staff and getting all of the allergies that we had previously notified them about put into the computer system again. Basically, we approached dinner with a lot of cautious optimism.

We were seated somewhat quickly (nothing really moved that quickly on that ship) with a waiter and head waiter who would end up being our favorites on the entire trip. They paid special attention to dietary restrictions and allergy requests, were quite personable, and really tried to make the dinner experience pleasurable. We really felt like this was how it should have been the previous 2 days and hoped things were taking a turn for the better.

The meal started with the same bread basket as lunch, full of corn muffins and "cheesy" bread. We didn't really feel any differently about it this time around.


There were 8 appetizers on the menu to choose from at dinner. We ordered 4 of them and 3 others were repeats from lunch (the shrimp po boy we greatly disliked, the reuben turnover that we kind of liked, and the beet and goat cheese salad that we liked a lot). That meant that, by the end of our dinner, the only untried appetizer was the Louisiana chicken wings. We probably should have tried that too for the sake of completing the whole list, but we must not have noticed it was the only one left.

(NB: Earlier in 2015, Quantum switched up the menus. We've only seen the new menus from January, so if they changed since then, we don't know anything about it. Whenever we can, we've made notes about the new menu alongside our review of what we got.)

M really liked the beet and goat cheese salad at lunch, so she picked the heartland salad (now called the "baby spinach salad" on the new menu) which came with baby spinach, hard-boiled egg, button mushrooms, and bacon vinaigrette. The menu description was a little off as there were also tomatoes, for some reason not listed, and the bacon was less a dressing and more actual pieces of bacon (no complaints).

This was a great salad and we really liked it. Not sure if we preferred this one or the beet and goat cheese salad, as they were both good. The spinach was fresh, the tomatoes were juicy, the eggs were cooked right, the bacon was crispy and added tons of flavor, the mushrooms provided earthiness, and the dressing complemented everything well. We decided that if we made it back to American Icon for lunch on another day we would just get both salads, since this salad was also on the lunch menu (with shrimp).

M also chose the New England clam chowder with homemade oyster crackers. This was fine, very rich and creamy, but definitely not the best clam chowder we've had. The crisps added nothing and were unnecessary, but the soup was fine. (The current menu says the clam chowder has "chunks of potato, onion, and herbs." We don't recall the chowder being that "chunky" but maybe they've changed the recipe.)

A started out with the Yankee franks, pretzel-wrapped smoked sausages (aka pigs in blankets) with cheddar cheese sauce and whole grain mustard. We liked these. We found the cheese sauce wasn't that necessary, but that was probably because we're much bigger fans of mustard, especially whole grain mustard. The pretzels were a touch on the bready side, but they had good, buttery flavor to them. Overall this was a pretty good appetizer, but unfortunately it looks like this has been taken off the menu.

A also ordered the buffalo chicken mac 'n cheese with spicy chicken, blue cheese, and celery. The first thing we both noted was that there really wasn't any blue cheese taste. This wasn't a horrible thing, though, since M doesn't like blue cheese at all. A doesn't mind blue cheese, but at the same time he doesn't think it belongs in mac and cheese. Unfortunately, there wasn't much flavor at all to the dish. It was heavy and creamy, but just not that flavorful. The chicken was also a little on the dry side. Overall this was just okay as a dish, and this also seems to have been taken off the menu.

Overall, considering both lunch and dinner, our favorite appetizers at American Icon were the 2 salads, followed by the pretzel franks. We would get any of the 3 of those again (except 2 out of 3 are no longer on the menu). 

The changes they've made to the menu since we were on the Quantum are interesting. Some of the best appetizers we had at American Icon were the salads. On the recent menu that we saw, the beet and goat cheese salad was gone and replaced with a Cobb salad and a traditional wedge salad. As much as we would like to try those, it's disappointing that the tasty beet salad is gone. We don't remember there being a ton of other dishes with beets in them, so maybe it was a purchasing decision more than a culinary one. Not surprising that they replaced 1 salad option with 2 though, since quite a few people did mention the lack of salads on the menus.

Some of the new appetizers also sound good and certainly fit the theme of American Icon. In addition to the franks and the mac and cheese, they've ditched the reuben turnover and shrimp po boy. In their place, they've added potato pancakes, fried calamari, Maryland crab cakes, and Southern style fried shrimp. The Southern fried shrimp doesn't sound quite like the shrimp from the old po boy, as this one comes with mashed potatoes, so hopefully that turned out better than that sad po boy shrimp. We'd definitely go for the crab cakes, as we had a good one at Chic later in the week (a story for another day). 


Unlike appetizers where we both usually get a couple and share them, we usually only get one entree each, with maybe an extra to share if there's something we really want to try. For her entree, M chose the pistachio-crusted salmon with green beans, Oregon mushrooms, and grain mustard sauce.

This entree wasn't quite what M was expecting, but it turned out to be a pretty good dish. The salmon wasn't overcooked or dry, and the string beans and mushrooms paired well with the salmon. The part that was unexpected was the mustard sauce. M was expecting more of a dijon-type sauce, but it was a pretty creamy gravy. That made the dish a little richer than we were expecting, but it was still quite tasty. M would order this again.

A got the Southern fried chicken with sauteed smoked bacon and spinach, cheddar cheese biscuits, and chicken gravy for his entree. A is a huge fan of fried chicken, so he was really looking forward to this.

Unfortunately, A was really disappointed with this dish. While the spinach was good (it's hard to mess up spinach short of horrid over-seasoning), the rest of the dish wasn't very good at all. The chicken was dry and flavorless, and the "Southern biscuit" wasn't a biscuit at all. It was just a flat, cylindrical dinner roll. We had heard this complaint about the biscuit before we even boarded the ship, but thought it couldn't have been that poor of an imitation of a real biscuit. Sadly, it was. A didn't care much for this dish, and Royal Caribbean must not have either as this was yet another dish they removed in the recent go-around. M tried a little bit but thought the salmon was much better.

There are some interesting entrees on the new menu that we would have tried - cajun blackened snapper, roasted lemon rosemary chicken, and a surf and turf of shrimp and filet mignon (which should please all those people who were mad that surf and turf was on the sample American Icon menu but not the real one on the ship). The pistachio-crusted salmon is also still on there, which M was happy to see.


Everyone in our group of 4 got a different dessert, although we did try bits and pieces of each other's. M went for the grilled banana sundae with vanilla ice cream, fresh blueberry syrup, and chopped Georgia pecans. This was pretty good. We didn't really taste the blueberry syrup, and the ice cream and pecans were fine, but the best part was the grilled banana. It was so full of banana flavor, soft and sweet. This was probably our favorite dessert on the menu, although M thought the dessert would have been even better if she could have paired the grilled banana with the vanilla ice cream and smashed honeycomb from the previous night at Jamie's Italian.

A chose the French quarter coffee and doughnuts, which were described on the menu as coffee-creme beignets with espresso sauce. A was really interested in this dish as he's a huge fan of beignets. After all, he's a doughnut fiend, and these are basically just New Orleans style donuts. However, these were just okay. They weren't as light and airy as a beignet should be, and the espresso sauce wasn't anything special. You also couldn't taste any of the coffee cream. If it was piped into the beignets, we certainly didn't see/taste it. As excited as he was for these, A was once more left disappointed. M was much more interested in her grilled banana sundae.

M's dad got the warm skillet cookie with vanilla ice cream. We thought we would love this, as we love warm cookies. But this cookie was way too rich. It just tasted like butter. It was all butter and richness without any depth whatsoever. We kept trying cookies on the Quantum, thinking we would love them, but you would think we would have learned our lesson after the Windjammer cookies.

M's mom needs dairy-free desserts, and the only real option at American Icon was a fruit plate. It was by far the healthiest of the desserts and it was nice to have some fresh fruit. We were puzzled as to why Quantum wouldn't list a fruit plate as a dessert for everyone on its dessert menus, but they seem to just keep them in the back for dairy-free or special requests. We guess it's one of those things where you have to know it exists in order to ask for it.

Overall, our meal at American Icon was pretty good, far better than our first dinner at Silk was. The service was much, much better. We didn't run into a whole mess about food allergies or dietary restrictions after dealing with it at the start of the meal. We had some good dishes (like the salad, salmon, and sundae), and most of the ones we weren't that fond of weren't that awful, a little disappointing but not as mediocre as our Silk dinner. We weren't "wowed" (which we only mention since Royal says the whole experience is supposed to be a WOW) but it wasn't bad.

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