The Test Kitchen : a review.

Aboard Scarlet Lady, Virgin Voyages.

( Ad – disclaimer – Virgin Voyages invited me to stay for the night on their World Launch back in Feb 2020. I paid for my own UK Summer Soiree Voyage, I was kindly upgraded cabin – due to my First Mate Status)

The food aboard Scarlet Lady, is absolutely fantastic.

Virgin Voyages have removed the generic main dining room concept aboard their Ladyships. Instead they spoil sailors with many distinctive speciality restaurants with a wide selection of scrumptious food. These range from Steak and seafood, to a Korean BBQ. I can assure you, that you will find a cuisine (well many!) to suit any and every taste!

I have only been on board for 4 nights so far, I haven’t yet had the opportunity to eat everywhere, but I hope to rectify this aboard Valiant Lady next year! In the mean time, let me tell you about the restaurants I have experienced aboard.

Due to the immense choice aboard Scarlet Lady, this post will focus one the 6 main restaurants, The Test Kitchen. I plan to write further posts focusing on the wide choice at the other outlets over the next few weeks and after my planned Voyage next April.


The Test Kitchen, easily one of my favourite restaurants because it feels so unique! It kind of gave me some work vibes, I felt a bit like I was in theatre with the stainless steel plates and cutlery laid out, seemingly decorative, as every course arrived on it’s own plate. Yet despite giving me work feelings, it made the restaurant seem different from the norm (and spotlessly clean like an operating theatre!!)

Located midship on Deck 6, Virgin Voyages describes how food meets science at this experimental and innovative fine dining eatery on board.

It is inspired by Escoffier’s Ma Cuisine and sells itself as a part cooking school, part eatery. Don’t worry there is no requirement to cook. I found it fascinating watching, what can only be described as artists, producing the works of art that us guests went on to devour! I’m sure many a test kitchen meal is immortalised forever on Instagram! Definitely instagram-able food aboard Virgin Voyages!

The restaurant itself is designed by Concrete Amsterdam. Having cruised many times, I didn’t ever feel I was on a ship in the restaurants aboard Scarlet Lady. Despite there being large portholes, or windows in most restaurants, giving gorgeous sunset views. Eating in a Scarlet Lady restaurant felt more of an occasion, like going out for the evening to a different individual fine dining restaurant. There was no feeling of lets go and eat dinner on a ship. It’s hard to explain! I definitely hope its the future of cruising and I think, for me, it is one of the reasons for which I will definitely sail with Virgin Voyages again. As a foodie, I love a fine dining venue, so to spoil myself with a different venue each night, included in my baseline cruise fare, is a huge positive.

The Menu in the Test Kitchen is led by chef Matt Lambert, with a beverage programme designed by Julia Momose. Virgin Voyages explain how their tasting menu’s will evolve for the curious, boundary pushing taste buds on board.

The Menu, was certainly unique. A choice was offered between meat eater or vegetarian, however no clues were given to the feast ahead of you as each course was announced with one sole word. As a meat eater I went for The regular menu. I have to describe the meal as a performance. Courses are presented to you in a dramatic fashion which adds to the incredible atmosphere of the restaurant. Everyone is anticipating their next course and your personal servers perfectly guides you through your culinary adventure. Do make sure you elevate your meal by treating yourself to a wine or cocktail pairing. Each course is accompanied by a specific glass or wine, or a wonderfully designed cocktail. With flavours designed to compliment each course.

The first course, Mushroom, was delicious, not an actual mushroom, a delicious pate to enjoy with giant croutons. The next course, entitled egg appeared in a dramatic smoky haze, delivered to your table and the jar removed in a theatrical fashion to allow for you to savour the smoky smells and flavours.

The next course was Scallop. I have never been a big fan of scallops, but understood that the test Kitchen was to be the place to try perfectly prepared Scallops and they were indeed delicious.

I next chose Venison, as you can see above, it was presented in rather the artistic way, and tasted absolutely delicious, I have to say I do think it’s one of the best pieces of Venison I have ever eaten. It was served with a delicious potato side, with a kind of baking powder topping, it sounds wrong, but it works and tasted delicious! I do admit, I did initially think / hope it was feta cheese, however I definitely did not need any extra cheese calories and it was delicious without cheese!

In fact, the next course was Cheese, Blue Cheese in fact. I am not a big fan of blue cheese. However I am very much of the mind set that you should really give everything a try, so I tucked in to my Blue Cheese course and boy was I glad I did. A delicious, chilled, almost ice cream like texture, with a strong but not overpowering taste. Delicious. Bizarrely despite Blue cheese being known as a strong taste, with the coolness of the dish, it almost felt like a palate cleanser prior to the final course, Chocolate.

The Chocolate dessert was delicious, I’m not a massive fan of chocolate in cake / dessert form, however this was scrumptious , a perfect rich yet light way to end a magnificent meal!

A selection of Cocktails from the Cocktail pairing menu. For a small extra charge you were served with a different tasting mini cocktail, which complimented the flavours of the course perfectly.

If however, Cocktails or Wine pairing is not your thing, below is the drinks menu for The Test Kitchen.

Having now eaten at the Test Kitchen twice, it won’t be the first place I rush to for Dinner on Valiant Lady, due to wanting to try out Extra Virgin and Gunabe! The Test Kitchen is definitely a favourite of mine, purely because it is just so different from anywhere I have ever eaten before!

If you’re heading aboard, due make sure you book a dinner, then arrive with an empty stomach, a sense of adventures and sit back and enjoy the dinner time show!

Bon AppΓ©tit!

Have you visitied The Test Kitchen? Did you enjoy your visit?

Check out my youtube video showcasing the different eating venues aboard Scarlet Lady!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: