The inside scoop on Jelly W-argh! *choke* Circulation: 117,885,008 Issue: 236 | 21st day of Eating, Y8
Home | Archives Articles | Editorial | Short Stories | Comics | New Series | Continued Series
 

The Neopian Review: A Guide to Fine Dining


by phsycoticdancer

--------

Up until the year 7, The Golden Dubloon, located on the south side of Krawk Island, was the best, the worst, and the only restaurant in all of Neopia. Amidst the reconstruction of Maraqua, a new restaurant set up shop and is now vying for the attention, and neopoints, of Neopians everywhere. Kelp, located at the heart of the new Maraqua, has had waiting lists hundreds of names long every night since its opening and anyone with a desire to taste Maraqua’s finest cuisine must make a reservation months in advance. Is Kelp worth the trouble? How is Kelp different from the Golden Dubloon? What is the best way to get an evening of fine dining without completely draining your bank account? The answers to these questions and more will be addressed in the following guide, written just for you, the average Neopian.

The restaurants will each be evaluated individually; descriptions will be given of the following categories: Atmosphere, Service, Cuisine (quality, taste, presentation), and Price. Based on these four categories, an overall grade will be awarded.

THE GOLDEN DUBLOON

For years, The Golden Dubloon has withstood the tides, the pirates, and the health inspections, while still defending its name as the best restaurant in all of Neopia. Its guarantee that “every customer is treated like the captain” has drawn a wide variety of eaters, from tourists to dissatisfied sailors to pirates that just want to eat something other than slop. Here, the champion scoffers of Food Club get their training, taking full advantage of the Golden Dubloon’s belt bustin’ motto. Under the scrutiny of Captain Hackett’s only eye, no more than one pet per owner is allowed in at a time, and for no longer than 15 minutes per visit.

Atmosphere

A visitor’s first impression of the restaurant may be one of surprise, shock, or complete disgust – all depending on which pirate he or she sees first. As can be expected, the Golden Dubloon is stuffed with ravenous pirates, and is NOT a family restaurant. The air is filled with the smell of brine and sweat; unless you start scoffing down food, the unique blends of aromas may more than just overwhelm you. Food goes flying constantly, and though the sea-weathered patrons are mostly concerned with their meals, a few may involve themselves in a short scuffle before Captain Hackett tosses them out. Once you grow accustomed to the vulgarity and the sticky floors and the filthy tables, the atmosphere becomes one of great jollity and high spirits. Music is constantly playing, whether it is from the splintered old piano in the back of the room, or from a pirate that has had a bit much to drink. The sailors are generally happy to be on dry land again and the pirates can’t help but celebrate any plunder made out on the high seas. Seafarer or not, every customer at the Golden Dubloon leaves with a happy grin on his face, a “yarrr” on his tongue, and a major headache to be anticipated the next morning.

Service

Captain Hackett is the first Neopet each customer sees upon entering the Golden Dubloon. With a squint of his single eye, he will tell you brusquely whether there is room or not for your pet. If there is a seat available, he will quickly lay down the rules of his restaurant and leave you to navigate the chaos to your table. As intimidating as this encounter is, it is to maintain Captain Hackett’s idea of quality within his restaurant. However, with a flip of a one-dubloon coin, anyone can walk right in, regardless of the Neopian Health Committee’s 100 pet maximum occupancy rule. Once you are seated, one of the lovely Fontaine sisters will come right to your service to take your order. The three Fontaine sisters are the gems of Krawk Island, but while you admire them, do not forget to order! They are as courteous as the patron they serve, and have been known to toss unruly and rude customers out the window. On weekend nights, these girls can strike up quite a tune and will have you on your feet, stomping and clapping to their incredible voices. Food is always delivered promptly, and your cup is always full to the brim. Now that’s what I call good service!

Cuisine

In adamant spite of the Neopian Health Committee, Captain Hackett brings in the finest chefs from the galleys of some of the most renowned pirate ships that ever sailed the Neopian seas. The chefs at the Golden Dubloon use ingredients harvested right from the waters around Krawk Island, and occasionally ship in fruits from nearby Mystery Island. Meals are almost always prepared with fresh catches from earlier in the day, and leftover ingredients are stored and preserved with all-natural methods (no artificial preservatives, ever!). One chef proudly boasts that every Bilge Rat Madeira (4 dubloons) is made from the best rats found on his ship. There’s no denying it, customers are served the best of the best from the best pirate chefs.

For visitors new to the pirate culture, food at the Golden Dubloon is an acquired taste. The chewy textures of some of the seafood and the strong, burning sensation of the restaurant’s famous grogs (Grog in Four Fruity Flavors, 2 dubloons; Grog Light, 2 dubloons per tankard) are a lot to absorb in one sitting. For pirates, however, it is like a home-cooked meal. There is one thing that is always for certain: you will never be bored of the same old, same old, since meals at the Golden Dubloon never taste the same as they did the last time. The restaurant has only one identifying flavour, and that is the underlying taste of the sea salt used to season the food.

“Yarrr, food be food,” snarls Captain Hackett when asked about the presentation of his restaurant’s food. “What good does it do ye if it be sittin’ pretty like some golden goose?” And indeed, it doesn’t do any good at all. Dishes are served in a practical manner: quick, with everything laid out to see. There are no garnishes to distract the hungry eater from what matters most at the moment – the food. Chefs do cater to each customer’s inner child, though, with their newest creation: Joy Fun Pops (2 dubloons each), in fun shapes like ships and pirate insignias.

Price

For a good time and a hearty meal, these prices are fair:

Starter courses range from 1 dubloon for a Tropical Breeze (a mix of Mystery Island fruits) to 5 dubloons for a Double Stuffed Guppy (one small guppy within a larger guppy).

Main courses range from 3 dubloons for a Baby Bloater (steamed, seasoned, and presented on a bed of pickled seaweed) to 9 dubloons for Cap’n Threeleg’s Cutlass Crusade (a prime selection of meat, cooked as desired).

Desserts range from 2 dubloons for a Kraku Berry Cove (cake drizzled with warm berry sauce) to 4 dubloons for a Pinanna Paradise (a delectable puree of Pinanna and cold sweetened cream)

All drinks are 2 dubloons each, and all fruity grogs come with free refills. For the brave Neopet, the famed Golden Dubloon Hogshead is available for a whopping 10 dubloons.

The least expensive meal: Tropical Breeze, Baby Bloater, Kraku Berry Cove or Joy Fun Pop, and a Fruity Grog (8 dubloons total)

Although it is uncommon to see a pirate not finish his food, the Fontaine sisters will gladly pack up any leftovers to send home. After all, it cuts down on how much they have to clean after their customers leave. Trying to lose weight? The Fontaine sisters encourage you to stop by anyway, even if just for a drink (or two).

Overall Grade: B (Yes, the influence of the Neopian Health Committee does stretch far, doesn’t it?)

THE KELP RESTAURANT

Months after its Grand Opening, Kelp in Maraqua still draws a crowd. Little is known yet of who the owner is, where the owner is from or why the owner decided to build a restaurant in the middle of the ocean, but that does not matter while the Neopian public still cannot get enough of Kelp’s “eclectic blend of both modern and traditional cuisine.” Every menu featured by Kelp contains something for everybody. Already, the small restaurant has established quite a name for itself, and the benefits used to appease dissatisfied customers seem not to exist (or is it the dissatisfied customers that do not exist?). The average Neopian would be fortunate to have even a glimpse of the inside of the incredible Kelp, as the tabs are rumoured to be in the tens of thousands of Neopoints, and there never seems to be any end to the waiting lists.

Atmosphere

The inside of Kelp is like a celebrity ballroom, filled with only the most privileged of Neopia. Pleasant fragrances of steaming entrees and floral decorations waft through the entire restaurant, and the clink of wine glasses and silverware sound above the muted murmur of intellectual conversation. In the background, instrumentalists play faintly enough not to be a disturbance but are an integral part of Kelp’s elegant aura. The underwater setting allows the Maraquan waiters and waitresses float in a smooth, dignified manner between tables, thus preserving the calm and relaxed mood of their patrons. This is certainly not a family restaurant, exclusively reserved for small dinner parties, couples, and perhaps the odd restaurant reviewer. Any young Neopets present must be dressed well and kept quiet and behaved. For the cultured and worldly Neopet, Kelp is the ideal place to savor some of Neopia’s finest company and dining.

Service

As every fine dining connoisseur knows, excellent service is essential to an excellent dining experience. As can be expected from any top-tier restaurant, customers at Kelp are treated like royalty. Upon entering Kelp, a smartly dressed Maraquan Scorchio asks for your reservation, looks you up and down, and then gives you a smile as if he knew you had a reservation, but had to simply ask as a part of his job. If you are not dressed properly, you will be treated as if your name were never on the list to begin with, so dress well before leaving your Neohome. A waiter escorts the customers to their table, and for a lady Neopet, will seat her by pulling her chair out for her. A beautiful waitress comes to take orders a little while later, and appetizers and drinks are served promptly. The waitresses at Kelp are specially trained to be polite and courteous at all times, without seeming superficial. At the slightest movement of a hoof, paw or finger, a waitress will be at the table, ready to do her best to serve. Be sure to leave a substantial tip for their services, as they are known to never forget a bad customer!

Cuisine

Kelp is world-renowned for its exquisite cuisine, and a look inside its kitchens does nothing but exalt the quality of its dishes. The Neopian Health Committee praises Kelp for its impeccably clean kitchens, and the immense care taken into handling ingredients. Kelp has three large storage freezers that are kept at a specific temperature at all times to maintain freshness. Chefs do not start cooking dishes until they receive the order from the waitresses, and therefore patrons are guaranteed the freshest quality possible, though the wait may be excruciatingly long. All seafood is harvested from the waters surrounding Maraqua, and sea vegetation is grown in Kelp’s special greenhouse, along with rare herbs and spices.

The chefs of Kelp hail from all over Neopia, bringing in the finest ingredients from their homelands, and the variety of styles is reflected in the variety of dishes offered on the course menu. Kelp drinks are by far the most exotic, with specialized drinks from as nearby as Mystery Island (Foozette Juice, 9,000 np) to as far as the Lost Desert (Aged Tchea Juice, 8,000 np) and the Virtupets Space Station (Blue and Orange Rambus Blend, 8,000 np). Kelp is especially proud to be able to make the claim that its menus cater to all preferences – red meat, white meat, fish, and vegetarian dishes are served with the most unique and tasteful seasonings. For the picky eater and those with particular taste buds, Kelp guarantees that there will be a dish suited to your taste. For more curious Neopians, Kelp offers its signature ice cream, made of the finest, but most mysterious, ingredients (Kelp’s Signature Ice Cream, 12,100 np).

To the chefs of Kelp, presentation of food is an art form. Sauces are poured to form patterns on the plate before the main course is placed upon it, and garnishes add flair and beauty to an otherwise plain, but succulent, piece of meat. Desserts are presented in stylish wafer shells, hand-dipped and arranged (Triple Chocolate Shell, 12,400 np; Peachpa and Stramberry Shell, 12,200 np). The chefs take pride even in their drinks. Take for example Aged Tchea Juice, served in a specially shaped glass to help “aerate the fine vintage and bring out the bold Tchea flavours”, and garnished with a grilled Tchea fruit. One chef, from Mystery Island, highly recommends the Luxurious Vegetarian Star Pie (29,100np), his unique take on a vegetable quiche, infused with Grunions and Zeevines, and arranged in the shape of a star. The food is so beautifully presented at Kelp, customers cannot help but admire it for a moment before digging in.

Price

It is highly encouraged to order a full course meal, and customers find that the food, service and overall dining experience at Kelp is very much worth these steep prices:

Appetisers range from 13,000 neopoints for an Angel Hair Salad (a light pasta salad sprinkled with meats and vegetables) or a Tropical Fruit Bowl (a unique selection of some of the freshest Maraquan fruits) to 16,300 neopoints for Fresh Oysters (three fresh oysters with a lemon butter sauce).

The main course can range from 28,400 neopoints for a Spicy Radish Salad (thinly sliced and spiced radishes with fresh, crisp vegetables) to 33,000 neopoints for a Filet of Beef (a succulent steak with a whirl of asparagus) or Ocean Platter (a blend of Maraquan treasures).

Desserts range from 12,000 neopoints for a Honeyed Horn Of Plenty (ice cream, sorbet and assorted Maraquan berries all drizzled with honey) to Octopi Souffle (three delicious types of chocolate souffle shaped like Octopi).

Drinks are by far the most expensive per amount, and duly so, ranging from 7,000 neopoints for a Thornberry Brew or Lemwart Fizz, to 9,000 neopoints for all other drinks except Aged Tchea Juice and Phear Juice, which are 8,000 neopoints each.

The least expensive meal: Angel Hair Salad or Tropical Fruit Bowl, Spicy Radish Salad, Honeyed Horn of Plenty, and Thornberry Brew or Lemwart Fizz (60,400 neopoints total).

The chefs at Kelp are staunch believers that good food should never go to waste, and if you should not be able to finish a meal in one sitting, the waitresses would be more than happy to pack it up for you to take home. However, one bite out of any dish here at Kelp, and it is almost guaranteed that you will not stop until you are finished.

Overall Grade: A- (In spite of everything, the food is still a bit overpriced.)

Conclusion

The Kelp Restaurant and the Golden Dubloon are both excellent, sit-down restaurants that offer a wide variety of tastes, styles and ingredients. Between the two, there is something for everyone, and one restaurant is better than the other based only on the preference of the customer. So, readers, give both restaurants a try and decide which is best for you! Bon Appetit!

 
Search the Neopian Times




Great stories!


---------

Notions and Nonsense - Lemonade Stand
What do you mean "sugar costs extra"?!

Art by humblely

by patjade


---------

Neopian Nobodies
It's so scary.

by me_like_juice

---------

Neopups Crossover
What's with those wishes?

by smockey11

---------

The Shoyru Tamer: Part Five
"Does Tamer look a little…crazy to you?" Angel asked Duel as Duel sat down next to her...

by dragoncatcher_sammy



Submit your stories, articles, and comics using the new submission form.