Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served in the Panorama Restaurant on Strauss Deck (2), with a light breakfast, a lighter buffet lunch option and afternoon tea on offer in the Panorama Bar. The food is excellent; tasty, imaginative, nicely presented and, on several days, reflecting the local cuisine; if you cruise when executive chef George Pereira is onboard, you are in for a treat. Pereira seems genuinely passionate about his creations, appearing at the cruise director's talk every night to give a little presentation about what's on the menu.
Brabant doesn't have any alternative dining in the evenings and during my Rhine and Moselle cruise, no dining on deck was offered, although this would have been uncomfortable as Germany was in the grip of a heatwave. There's no room service menu.
Panorama Restaurant (Deck 2): The Panorama Restaurant is located on Strauss Deck (2). Tables are in fours and sixes and the layout is pretty standard for a riverboat, with a central buffet and a table at one end for desserts or a la minute preparation.
Breakfast is buffet style, while lunch is a set menu with a salad buffet and dinner, table d'hote. Tables seat four or six; there are no twos and towards the end of the week, there was a bit of table-bagging as people snuck in early to dinner to pick a choice spot and save spaces for their friends.
Breakfast includes a decent array of pastries and cereals, with hot dishes varying, although scrambled eggs, bacon, grilled tomatoes and sausages are always on offer. You can order eggs any way and there's a daily special, such as pancakes with maple syrup. Fruit, yoghurts, cold cuts and juices are available, too. Waiters circulate with tea and coffee, but sometimes this takes a long time to come. Breakfast is usually served between 7.30 and 9.30 a.m. but this may change to fit the shore excursion schedule.
Lunch is a salad buffet with a selection of salads and cold dishes followed by a three-course, waiter-served meal. There's always a soup and a pasta dish to start with (and both were consistently excellent, especially the pasta carbonara and the cream of cauliflower) and then a choice of three mains, one of which is vegetarian, often a veggie version of one of the meat dishes -- something like potato rosti with applesauce and sour cream when the carnivore option is roast pork with apple and potato dumplings. British classics appear every now and then, including plenty of roast meats, and a posh version of fish and chips was an outright winner among guests. There are regional specialities, too, such as German sausages, pretzels and sauerkraut. Lunch is usually at 12.30 p.m., with last orders a half-hour later.
Dinner is usually a choice of two starters, two soups, three mains and a dessert or cheese plate or fruit. Starters included seared duck breast with mango chutney, or blue cheese salad. Soups might be beef consomme, or forest mushroom. Mains I particularly loved were seared halibut with bouillabaisse sauce and white beans, as well as a magnificent vegetarian curry (which the chef made specially after I asked). There are two gala dinners per cruise with five courses and showier main courses, like slow-roasted beef with tiger prawns, and traditional cruising desserts such as baked Alaska. Chicken breast, green salad and ice cream are always available and the waiters were pretty flexible about bringing things like a bigger cheese plate as a main for my vegetarian friend, or daily fruit plates for me.
Dinner is served at 7 p.m. most nights, which is pretty early, although in line with other river cruise lines. You can turn up as late as 7.30 p.m. and take potluck on where is left to sit, but most people trotted down obediently as soon as the dinner announcement was made.
Wines are poured by the glass for those on the £10-a-day package but I felt this sometimes lacked finesse; I'd ask what the wine was and get the reply 'red or white', with no further elaboration. There is no rose in the wine package, either. Otherwise, there's a wine list and a recommended red and white of the day, from a very reasonable £15 a bottle. Many of these are Romanian, though; we were sailing mainly in Germany but didn't see any German wines as daily suggestions.
Panorama Bar (Deck 2): Early bird tea, coffee and pastries are served from a station in the main lounge from 7 to 7.30 a.m. A lighter version of the day's lunch menu is served at the same time as lunch in the main restaurant. This is popular, as it's buffet style with some of the same dishes but a more restricted choice. There are salads, sandwiches, soup, one or two hot dishes and a pasta station, where a chef makes the daily pasta dish to order. Afternoon tea is served at 3.30 p.m. and consists of sandwiches and cakes.
Amadeus Club (Deck 3): Tea and cookies, as well as coffee and hot chocolate from a machine are available round-the-clock in the Amadeus lounge, aft.