Flagship Cruises introduces a new menu for San Diego patrons
By Kelley Carlson
There are a number of dining establishments that serve gourmet food and offer stunning ocean views along the coastline of San Diego County. But very few are actually on the water. Flagship Cruises & Events is one of the exceptions, offering dinners, brunches, luncheons for private charters, and fare for other special occasions aboard yachts that cruise along 25 miles of San Diego Bay.
The signature event is the 2.5-hour dinner-dance cruise, Tuesdays through Saturdays. (Mondays are added in the summer.) Reservations are preferred, but prospective guests are also welcome to walk up to the company’s booth on Harbor Drive and buy tickets.
Once their passes are in hand, people are directed to board either the California Princess or the Spirit of San Diego vessels.
The 115-foot California Princess — used during evenings when fewer patrons are expected — contains two enclosed, climate-controlled decks that feature Honduran mahogany and cherry wood, along with modern, yet classic teak furniture. The enclosed decks are connected by a “sweeping Cinderella” stairway; above them is a 1,600-square-foot, open-air observation deck ideal for dancing, socializing, and taking in the views of downtown San Diego.
In many ways, the Spirit of San Diego is similar, yet it’s the larger of the two yachts at 146 feet. It provides 360-degree views from each of its three levels and has an interior that showcases rich mahogany, brass and lush carpeting.
As guests board their vessel, they are greeted by crewmembers and presented with chilled flutes of bubbly. Patrons are then asked to pose and smile for souvenir photos.
While waiting for the cruise to begin, some wander over to the cocktail bar, which offers selections such as the Fish Bone, a mix of Malibu Coconut Rum, blue Curacao, melon liqueur, orange juice, sweet ‘n’ sour and lemon-lime soda, shaken and served over rocks. Others head to the observation deck to drink in the surroundings.
A half-hour after boarding begins, people take their seats in the spacious main dining area, as the yacht leaves the dock and begins sailing through the tranquil bay. Then it’s time to dine.
Executive Chef Brian Gist recently introduced a menu with all-new appetizers, entrees and desserts.
“Guests have always told us our food was beyond anything they would have ever expected on a bay cruise,” Gist said. “We’ve taken that feedback and used it to shape our extended menu and to offer even more of a restaurant experience.”
Because Flagship is owned by San Diego’s Engel family, Gist believes it is important to support other local businesses and turns to area vendors for ingredients and other items. He acquires vegetables and fruits from Moceri Produce, sustainable seafood from Chesapeake Fish Co., and bread and desserts from St. Tropez Bakery on a daily basis.
Furthermore, everything is cooked onboard the ships, from raw to finished product.
The dining experience kicks off with appetizers such as the rich and creamy Hazelnut Encrusted Baked Brie with Black Mission Fig Port Wine Jam, and the Grilled and Chilled Asparagus with Creamy Burrata Mozzarella and Fresh Tomato-Basil Concasse, both of which are accompanied by freshly toasted crostinis.
After everyone’s appetite is whetted, the entrees are presented. Among the choices is Pan Roasted Baja California Jumbo Prawns and Goat Cheese Orzo Pasta, featuring prawns marinated with basil, garlic and olive oil, then seared and roasted, and served on a bed of Goat Cheese Orzo Pasta that has been oven toasted and simmered in chicken stock.
Another selection is the Char-grilled Free-Range Chicken with Tomato and Onion Jam, served over sautéed wild arugula and alongside a Ramona sage-infused whipped red-skin potato.
Children’s dinners, for ages 4 to 12, include macaroni and cheese, chicken fingers, two large chocolate-chip cookies and seasonal fruit.
Meanwhile, the meal is enhanced with low-key music, and guests who are celebrating special occasions such as birthdays, anniversaries and engagements are recognized.
To wrap up the dinner, there are several dessert options, including Classic Cheese Cake and Driscoll Farms Berries that are sprinkled with sugar and soaked in their natural syrups; and the dark chocolate-and-caramel Pecan Brownie and Justin Starboard Chocolate Ganache, topped with a scoop of vanilla-bean ice cream.
Once guests are finished eating, they head to one of the upper decks for dancing and views of the nighttime skyline. An in-house disc jockey takes requests. The 2.5 hours pass too quickly.
Flagship Cruises & Events
Address: 990 N. Harbor Drive, San Diego
Phone: (619) 522-6155 or (855) 955-9558
The Vibe: Festive, romantic, California casual
Signature Dish: Char-Grilled Free Range Chicken with Tomato and Onion Jam
Open Since: 1915
Patio Seating: No
Take Out: No
Happy Hour: No
Hours: Dinner dance cruise-boarding, 7 p.m.; cruising, 7:30-10 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday
On The Menu Recipe
Each week you’ll find a recipe from the featured restaurant online at lajollalight.com. Just click Get The Recipe at the bottom of the story. This week: Flagship Cruise’s Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
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