Without doubt the cuisine is a standout feature of the Majestic Line experience. All guests dine communally around a long table that the bosun prepares for each meal -- rather romantically in the evening -- and the skipper rings a brass bell to formally announce each mealtime. The chef onboard Glen Massan manages to conjure up amazing culinary treats from his tiny galley, with menus revolving around the very best locally sourced produce, much to the delight of every passenger.
Breakfasts are leisurely affairs that start at 8.30 a.m. There's a selection of fruit juices, yoghurts, muesli, cereals, local berries, toast and preserves, as well as a hot daily dish which might be kedgeree (scrambled eggs with smoked salmon) or poached eggs, bacon and traditionally square Lorne sausage. Morning coffee and biscuits are served at around 11 a.m., then two hours later a light but substantial lunch might include home-made soup with crusty bread or salad Niçoise with fresh-baked granary bread. Afternoon tea with cakes comes along around 4 p.m., then at 7 p.m., as guests gather in the saloon for cocktails, appetising canapés are served.
Dinner is quite rightly the main culinary event of the day -- a nightly showcase of the finest produce from Scotland's larder. Typically served when the Glen Massan is anchored in an idyllic sea loch, with soaring mountains as a backdrop, it's an occasion that sparks interesting conversation inspired by incredible food and beautiful surroundings. Fresh fish is cooked to perfection and accompanied by wilted spinach, creamy mashed potatoes and piquant sauces. The finest Aberdeen Angus beef is also a favourite and comes with a tasty Béarnaise sauce, roast potatoes and fresh beans. This is often followed by a dessert of profiteroles, fruit salad or the Scottish favourite, Cranachan (a cream, oats and whisky concoction). As if this wasn't enough, guests are then offered a selection of four different artisanal British cheeses with oatcakes. When the boat is in Loch Spelve, the bosun takes the tender to the local mussel farm and brings back the fresh shellfish, which is served a couple of hours later in a savoury sauce.
Menus are created daily by Chef Michael Grahl, depending on the availability of fresh produce, and he writes each one on a blackboard beside the bar. It is no understatement that he choreographs the production of the cuisine like a well-rehearsed ballet. The culinary cornucopia is not dictated by a corporate food and beverage supremo, and is all the better for it. The tender beef comes from Millers of Speyside, and other quality-assured meat is sourced from Letterfinlay of Fort William. Monk fish, sea bass, sea bream, halibut, cod and shellfish come from Watts of Oban, while langoustines are often purchased from a passing fishing boat. Special dietary requests such as gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian can be accommodated, but need to be advised at the time of booking.
Wines to accompany these lavish meals are all French from the Bellefontaine range and include a Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon.