Since we were staying at the Grand Floridian for this trip, and Victoria and Albert’s is located inside thsi hotel, we enjoyed the convenience of being able to walk downstairs without having to slog our way through the slow, lumbering machinery that is the Disney bus sytem. The dress code for this restaurant is jacket required for men, and attire of a similar formality for women. Israel greeted us as we entered the restaurant, and he escorted us through the kitchen and to our table.
We began with three amuse bouches. I had told the staff in advance that I would eat seafood but not meat (pescatarian), and the chef did a wonderful job of accommodating my dietary preferences.
Sous Chef Aimee was our chef for the evening, since Chef Scott was on vacation. This was our first time dining with Aimee; in the past, she had always been on vacation when we dined there. She was very friendly and made the experience enjoyable, and she immediately passed along thanks from Chef Scott for a thank you letter that we had written, commending him for a fantastic dining experience the previous meal. We were happy to see that the thank you letters were indeed passed along to the cast members for which they were intended.
My husband and I had two of the same amuse bouches: a shrimp roll with ginger mignonette, which was cool and crisp, and my favorite, the osetra caviar with crème fraiche and chives. The caviar was delicious as always, those lovely, salty bubbles popping in our mouths. Our third piece was different. I had a galia melon salad, which was cool and sweet, and my husband had the veal sweetbreads, which he said were tender and flavorful. They were just a touch overcooked, but they were salty and tasty, and “just good all around.” His wine with this was a Codorniu Cava Pinot Noir Brut, nonvintage. I also had a glass of this, for the toast with the chef, but I had not ordered the wine pairings.
My Amuse Bouche:
Husband’s Amuse Bouche:
My next course was Ohio tomatoes with Costa Rican hearts of palm and Nicoise olives. This was served with a very smoky flavored cuttlefish, which was surprisingly tender. DH enjoyed the cuttlefish more than I did, as there is something about the texture which is slightly off-putting to me.
My husband’s next course was Long Island duck with Galia melon, grains of paradise, and Minus Eight vinegar. The duck was served two ways: as a prosciutto and as a smoked duck. He enjoyed this very much also. His wine with this course was a 2004 King Estate Pinot Gris.
The next dish was my favorite, and we both had this particular item. It was a tempura crab stuffed squash blossom with Violette mustard. The crab was so sweet and delicious, without a single piece of shell. The mustard added a lovely tanginess that paired so well with the sweetness of the crab, and the tempura style squash blossom brought a nice crispiness to the texture, making each bite complex and flavorful. DH enjoyed the Violette mustard, which was made with red grapes, instead of white wine, to add the violet color. There were chunks of carrots in the crab filling that also added another dimension to the texture of this dish. My husband’s wine with this dish was a 2004 Macon-Lugny “Les Charmes” Chardonnay.
My next course was a Brentwood Corn ream soup with roasted cippoline onion ragout and cherry corn cake. This was so creamy and delicious, though just faintly noticeably salty. I love the Victoria & Albert cream soups, and could drink a gallon of these.
My husband’s next dish was his favorite, the Kurobuta pork tenderloin on a corn cake and a cherry cider reduction. There was also pork belly in this dish, which he said was “probably one of the best things I’ve ever had in my life. I couldn’t get enough of it.” He was surprised that something as simple as pork belly could taste so good, and he spoke for a bit with Chef Aimee about this dish. She said that she came from Puerto Rico, where pig pickings were popular, and my husband, being from Virginia, was also familiar with pig pickings but had never tasted anything in his life like this pork belly. He was overwhelmed and talked about this dish for the rest of our trip. His wine with this course was a 2004 Morgan “Twelve Clones” Pinot Noir.
My next dish was potato gnocchi with summer vegetables. The gnocchi were soft and creamy, but very, very rich. I enjoyed them very much but could not eat very much of this dish, especially knowing how many courses were still to come!
My husband had the Colorado lamb with potato gnocchi and summer vegetables. He liked the gnocchi, and said that the lamb was so tender. He also enjoyed this dish very much. We watched the chefs preparing the summer vegetables for the gnocchi dishes, and they took a very small scooper, like a miniature melon baller, and took chunks out of the yellow squash and zucchini. My husband’s wine for this dish was a 2004 Feudi di San Nicola Negro Amaro.
Next I had a trio of muchrooms: mushroom duxelle pasta roulade with a truffled egg and South African porcini mushroom sauce. The mushroom mousse inside the egg shell was the best of the three, very creamy and flavorful. The mushroom cannelloni was good, but not spectacular. The third dish was a combination of various mushrooms, chopped and sautéed. There were so many mushrooms here that it was a mushroom overkill. I enjoy mushrooms, but I was a bit overwhelmed by the quantity here and didn’t finish this dish.
My husband had pan roasted foie gras and Georgia peach tart with mostarda di cremona. He said that the foie gras was excellent, as always, and the rich creaminess of the foie gras paired so well with the tart fruitiness of the peach tart. His wine with this was a 2000 Royal Tokaji Azsu 5 Puttonyos. This dish was the one I was most tempted to try, because foie gras was the most difficult thing for me to give up when I stopped eating meat. I thought about ducks, though, and was able to restrain myself (barely) from taking a bite.
My next dish was King Salmon with bamboo rice blend and coconut curry sauce. I can honestly say that I did not enjoy this dish. The salmon was beautifully cooked, still moist in the center, but it did not have much flavor, and I had to pull two bones (!) out of the piece I ate. This was shocking to me; bones in fish are my pet peeve, and my husband had just finished assuring me that, since this was Victoria & Albert’s, there would be no bones in my salmon. My own standards for the cuisine here are exceeded only by those of the staff, and I was disappointed by this dish.
My husband had a duet of Australian “Kobe” beef tenderloin and short ribs, paired with a 2003 Provenance Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon. The potatoes were one of my favorite parts of the meal, so incredibly creamy and flavorful. He enjoyed the short ribs more than he enjoyed the tenderloin, but the tenderloin was extremely soft and tender, with a nice reduction around it. He commented that he disliked the use of the inaccurate term “Kobe” to describe this beef; he felt that it was good enough to stand alone, without having to borrow this inaccurate description.
Next was our cheese course, with the Comte Saint Antoine, Shelburne Cheddar, Fourme D’Ambert, and Juliana. The blue cheese was very creamy and nice, though the goat cheese was a bit too crumbly and dry for my liking. My husband liked the last cheese, a very creamy & mild cheese, though it was too mild for me. His wine with this course was an Adriano Ramos Pinto Tawny Port, nonvintage.
Our second-to-last course was the chocolate course, with a miniature chocolate pyramid, warm almond chocolate timbale, and orange chocolate napoleon. I enjoyed the pyramid very much; the mousse here was light and very flavorful. I do not care for dark chocolate, so I did not enjoy the orange chocolate napoleon greatly. Both of us agreed that the flourless chocolate cake was a bit dry.
Finally the dessert course arrived, when we were both full to bursting. I had the Grand Marnier soufflé, which I am given every year. It is nice, but I believe I am ready for a change. My husband had the caramelized banana gateau. By that point, we were both too full to really appreciate these desserts.
There were two things about this dinner that I really enjoyed, besides the various courses. One was the coffee, which is always fun to watch brew & always great to drink. The second was the butter, which is just amazing. It is creamy and light, and everything that butter should be at its best.
As always, this was a superb dining experience overall, one whose equal we have never yet found.