Even though it seats four times more people, getting a reservation at Curtis Stone’s new restaurant, Share, might be even trickier than snagging a table at 25-seat Maude. What’s all the hype about? Are they doing a tasting menu using even less than one ingredient? Nope. The allure of Share is all in the location: deck 16, aft end of the Ruby Princess cruise ship, floating somewhere in the Pacific ocean, specifically.
Provided you have a ticket to come aboard the Ruby or Emerald Princess (the Sun Princess will soon be included too), you can get yourself some Curtis Stone grub for $39 per person—far less than you’d pay for any meal at Maude. Share will be nautical neighbors with The Salty Dog, a burger-forward gastropub from Plan Check chef Ernesto Uchimura.
The idea of Stone’s new restaurant is in its name: you’re encouraged to share food with your family, friends, even fellow passengers. There are plenty of traditional dining tables at Share, but one of the centerpieces is a stretched communal table which rests in front of the restaurant’s sign. Communal dining has been around for years in L.A.—and may be overstaying its welcome—but this is a new thing for cruise ships.
Taking a hard left turn from endless trays of old crab legs and overpriced shrimp cocktail, the food at Share reflects a keen focus on ingredients; specialty items like jamon Iberico and turbot are menu standouts. The house made pasta is something that Stone is particularly proud of—in this case, deep yellow ribbons of tagliatelle entwining flakes of Alaskan king crab.
Stone also hopes guests will expand their horizon while simultaneously cruising towards it, and as he put it, “to have them step out of their comfort zones ever so slightly,” which may mean sharing food with a stranger or trying something new such as the beef cheek pie.
The Aussie chef revealed that putting a fine-ish dining restaurant into a cruise ship has its challenges, especially when it comes to sourcing and staffing. Since Share is a moving restaurant—think of it as a food truck that weighs 113,000 tons—it needs to be re-supplied whenever it reaches its next port of call. In addition, cruise ship employees are generally on contract, and once the agreement is up, a new worker must be trained. For a tight ship like Stone’s Share, and with a prestigious rep on the line, this is no easy task.
Uchimura’s menu feels familiar if you’re a Plan Check regular. Gastropub favorites like lobster mac and cheese, beef short rib poutine, and pale ale pork cheek dot the list, but the headliner is undoubtedly the “Ernesto Burger”. The patty is fashioned from a rib eye and short rib blend and it gets topped with grilled pork belly, cave-aged gruyere, caramelized kimchi, beer battered jalapeños, and charred onion aioli before being crowned with a brioche bun. But for Uchimura it’s less about a burger with his name on it, and more about getting that burger into diverse mouths. “I’ve had lots of local exposure, even nationally,” he said. “I’m really excited about people from all over the world tasting my food. People who go on cruises are from everywhere.”
It’s full steam (and grills) ahead on the high seas for two of L.A.’s hottest chefs.