Adventures in Dining

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Victoria & Albert’s Restaurant, August 4, 2009 May 21, 2011

Filed under: Disney Restaurants — hpandaw @ 8:15 pm

We were delighted, as always, to have the opportunity of dining at the Chef’s Table at Victoria & Albert’s.  This experience is always the highlight of our anniversaries.
We were seated and began with a series of amuses bouches. 

The deviled quail egg with American caviar was excellent, very light, fluffy, and refreshing.  The tomato carpaccio with charred octopus was my least favorite, not because the octopus wasn’t good, but because I should have told them that I’d prefer not to eat octopus.  This was completely my fault; I said pescatarian, and I didn’t qualify.  The tomato with this was delicious and very flavorful, while the octopus had a smoky flavor.  Next was the heirloom tomato sorbet with olive oil powder.  This was interesting: a savory sorbet with a tartness to it.  We then moved on to Italian buffalo mozzarella with pine nuts, which was also very light and delicious.  Our final amuse bouche was tomato fennel custard baked in the shell.  This was lovely, so creamy and rich.  I scraped every last bit out of the egg shell!  The wine pairing with this dish was the Pommery Royale Brut NV, which was dry and quite enjoyable.
Our next course was a sesame crusted Big Eye tuna with tat soi salad and tamari honey foam.  The sesame-crusted tuna was excellent; it had a lot of flavor, and the tamari honey foam was a wonderful complement.  My favorite part of this, though, was the tuna carpaccio.  This was melt-in-your-mouth tender and delicious.  My husband’s wine with this was the Marcel Deiss Pinot Blanc Bergheim, Alsace 2005.
The next dish had an interesting presentation.  It was “cold smoked” Maine lobster with apple-relish salad and curry.  The lobster itself was covered in a curry yogurt that was light and added flavor without overwhelming the subtle taste of the lobster.  The small plate with holes in it was served on top of a larger plate of dried ice, producing the icy “smoke” that flowed around the lobster.  The wine was Caymus Conundrum, California 2001, which is one of our favorite whites.
We moved on to two small bites on one plate: Florida grouper with Zellwood corn and bamboo rice ragout and Monterey abalone with toasted capers and Meyer lemon.  The grouper was my favorite of the two dishes.  It was light and flaky and flavorful: just what a fish should be.  The Zellwood corn was excellent, so creamy and smooth, and it complemented the grouper beautifully.  My husband preferred the abalone.  I don’t see the big appeal with this; I thought it was pretty good, but not wonderful.  The Meyer lemon butter sauce was superb, though; I wanted to tilt the plate up and lick every last drop. The wine paired with this was a Langtry Sauvignon Blanc Guenoc Valley Estate 2007.
My husband and I parted ways with our next course, since he was moving on to meatier things, and I was sticking with the pescatarian route.  He had duck breast, sausage and confit with salsify, cherry sauce.  The breast was very tender, and barely required a knife.  The most flavorful of the three was the confit.  The cherry sauce was a nice, tart accompaniment.  His wine pairing was a Toad Hall “Lavendar Hill” Pinot Noir, Carneros 2006.  This was a good wine, quite light and fruity.  My dish was a Gulf shrimp with rhubarb and cherries.  The shrimp was plump and quite good, but my favorite was the salsify.  It turns out that I am a huge fan of salsify!  Who knew?
My husband then moved on to the Niman Ranch lamb with spring vegetables and celery root.  The lamb was seasoned wonderfully, and lacked the typical over-gamey-ness of many lamb dishes.  The celery root puree was great, and the turned vegetables were very pretty in their colorfulness, if not terribly tasty.  Paired with this was a Castillo Perelada La Garriga Samso, Catalonia 2005.  I had a wild mushroom tortellini with yellow chanterelles, black truffles and vegetable consommé.  I enjoyed the depth of flavor in this dish very much, though I am ashamed to say that I am not a fan of black truffles.  They don’t detract from the dish for me, but they don’t seem to add much.  The yellow chanterelles were excellent, though, and the consommé was so flavorful that this dish was quite hearty.
My husband’s next dish was a tasting of Australian “Kobe” beef tenderloin and Japanese Wagyu strip loin with oxtail jus.  Ah, the beef course- the sirloin won on pure taste.  The tenderloin won on texture, but even the sirloin was a picture of tenderness.  Both had a great sprinkling of large salt crystals that added to the perfect sear.  Oxtail jus accompanied as always, but was provided on the side in its own mini-pitcher.  This touch was much appreciated since he prefers the natural flavor of the beef sans jus.  The third portion was a roasted/braised beef done in the style of their usual pork course.  The beef worked just as well as the pork, with all the savoriness concentrated in a small shredded mound.  He thought the pork couldn’t be beat, but this gave it stiff competition.  The wine served with this was my favorite: the Benziger “Tribute,” Sonoma Mountain 2005.  This wine was high in alcohol, but had a very complex, enjoyable flavor.  My dish was Coho salmon with California asparagus, crab and sauce béarnaise.  The Coho salmon was wonderful.  It was cooked so that the bottom was well-done, but the top of the filet was rare, making for a beautifully tender piece of salmon.  The crab and tarragon balls were light and mild in flavor, but because they were fried, it was a bit difficult for me to eat them at this stage of our dinner!  I felt that I was too full to do justice to this dish.
We then moved on to the cheese course: Coach farm’s goat, Gouda Beemster XO, 36 month aged Parmigiano-Reggiano, Thomasville Tomme, and Colston Bassett Stilton and cheesecake.  The Gouda did not appear on the cheese plate, but Chef Scott brought us out a piece to taste, since he’d used this cheese earlier in the Zellwood corn ragout.  My favorite of the cheeses was the Coach Farm’s goat, which was light and creamy and not as tart as some goat cheeses I’ve had.  The cheesecake was excellent, very smooth and faintly sweet.  The wine paired with this was a Quinto do Crasto late bottled vintage Porto 2002.
Our first dessert course consisted of blackberry sorbet, vanilla bean crème brulee and caramelized banana gateau.  Of these, the crème brulee was my least favorite.  It was good, but it was a fairly standard crème brulee.  The banana gateau was very light and fluffy, and it reminded me of a really good version of the banana pudding that I used to enjoy as a child.  The blackberry sorbet with the crystallized violet was excellent; it was very refreshing and enjoyable.
The second dessert course was the chocolate course, to which we are always too full to do justice.  This was a Tanzanian chocolate pyramid, Hawaiian Kona chocolate soufflé, and Peruvian chocolate ice cream and puff pastry.  I’m not a huge fan of the Peruvian chocolate ice cream, just because it’s not quite sweet enough for me.  The chocolate pyramid was very creamy and delicious, though, and the Kona chocolate soufflé was incredibly rich and decadent.  At this stage of the game, though, I’m always too full to really enjoy something so rich and decadent.  After dinner, we rolled out of the restaurant and upstairs, just in time for our view of the fireworks from our bedroom window!

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Hall of Shame: Yak & Yeti, December 25, 2007 December 29, 2007

Filed under: Disney Restaurants — hpandaw @ 4:35 pm

We have always been impressed with the way all of Disney’s restaurants accommodate a variety of diners’ preferences, particularly our own.  If you have been following our dining adventures, then you are aware that we are pescatarians, so the only living animals that we eat are those which fall under the category of seafood.

Being that Disney is El-Cheapo, they only allow us to enter certain parks on December 25, Animal Kingdom being one of them.  Last year, we happily lunched on salmon at the Tusker House, but a year of change brought an end to our Tusker House counter service, replacing it with a character buffet.  We chose not to spend our time lunching with 200 cranky toddlers on Christmas day, so instead elected to make reservations at the new Animal Kingdom table service restaurant: Yak & Yeti.

Our first mistake here was not to read the menu in advance, since it was, frankly, uninspiring (or uninspired?).  We were caught up in the excitement of a NEW restaurant in a park that, even before the downfall of Tusker House, has always sorely lacked dining options.

We entered the restaurant just before 12:00 noon, the time of our reservations.  It was much less crowded than we’d expected it to be on Christmas day: only about 20% occupied.   Despite this fact, it took our server a full 10 minutes to greet us.  In our 10 minutes of wait time, we had ample opportunity to peruse the dining menu, and I thought there must be an error somewhere, since nowhere on the menu was a single vegetarian entree listed.  There were two fish entrees, but neither one sounded appealing, so we hoped that this restaurant might do what San Angel Inn does and have a vegetarian menu available on request.  When the server arrived, I asked her about vegetarian options.  And here the hilarity began.

She first said, “Well, I can tell them to leave the chicken and shrimp off the lo mein noodles.”

I replied, “That might be okay.”

She responded, “But the noodles are made with beef broth.”

“Then that’s not really a vegetarian option, is it?” I pointed out to her.  “Since they’re made with beef.”

“That’s why I mentioned it,” our server responded.

Um…  Why suggest it as a vegetarian option at all, if it’s made with beef?  Yak & Yeti is a Landry-owned restaurant; surely we can’t be the first non-meat-eaters they’ve encountered.

Her next suggestion was equally unacceptable.  “Well, I could have them serve you the side dishes of plain rice, with some steamed vegetables.”  Yum.  No, really,  yum.  Plain rice and some steamed vegetables.  That’s EXACTLY why we chose to go out for Christmas lunch.  We stared at each other in astonishment, realizing that these were the Yak & Yeti options for vegetarians: beef noodles or plain rice and steamed vegetables. It was at this point that we told our server thanks, but no thanks, and left Yak & Yeti in disgust.  And, seeing that it was Christmas day, and we were in the Animal Kingdom park, our only other options were soggy Pizzafari pizza or Rainforest Cafe, which ended up being what we chose.

Before we left the park, we went to guest services to register a complaint at the lack of vegetarian options at Yak & Yeti.  We realize this isn’t a Disney-owned restaurant, but come on!  It’s on Disney property, which has historically proven to be wonderfully accommodating to those with diverse dietary needs.  I don’t think we’ve ever just walked out of a restaurant before, but there’s always a first time for everything.  Yak & Yeti goes into our Hall of Shame, and from now on, we will read the menu before making a reservation somewhere!

 

Raglan Road, September 20, 2007 November 8, 2007

Filed under: Disney Restaurants — hpandaw @ 4:47 pm

We had reservations for a 6:30 dinner here, with my sister-in-law and her friend, so this time we were a party of 4.  Of the four of us, my sister-in-law and her friend both ate meat, while my husband and I are still pescatarians!  When we got to the restaurant, we were seated promptly.  I asked to be seated in a quieter room, since we weren’t interested in loud entertainment or louder drunks, and they accommodated us by seating us in one of the side rooms.

SmokeyCityMy husband and I began with our old favorite, the Smokie City.  For those not in the know about this appetizer, it’s described as “Oven-baked layers of smoked pollock with mature Wexford cheddar and double cream, served with crusty bread.”  At $11.95 for a two-person appetizer, it’s not a great bargain, but is Disney-reasonable.  When my parents-in-law first suggested this appetizer to us, we were iffy on the whole concept of fish mixed with cheese and cream.  But it is really, really good!  The smokiness of the fish is a great foil for the milder potatoes, tomatoes, and cream, while the melted cheese is great with this dish.  We are both big fans of it, and we order this appetizer every time we go to this restaurant.

My sister-in-law ordered the Dalkey Duo, which turned out to be pigs in blankets on forks.  They’d really been excited about this one, but said that the taste was disappointing.
DalkeyDuo

Husband’s entree was the standard fish and chips, with a request to “overcook” the chips. They typically come out of the kitchen in the British-style, which is softer than we Yanks prefer. We were tipped off to this on a previous visit so didn’t make the same mistake twice. The fish was not greasy, but had a slightly off-taste. Wasn’t fishy or bleachy, but a distinct chemical that wasn’t cut by adding lemon. FishChips

I was debating between the Scallop Forest, which I’d had before, and the Goats Town, which I’d not yet tried for my entree (I find two appetizers are more than sufficient for me).  I asked our server which he recommended, and he was strongly against the scallops.  Hmmm…  He was so vehement that I didn’t question whether it was a matter of quality that night, or a matter of personal preference.  Regardless, I went with his suggestion and ordered the Goats Town.  This was described on the menu as “Irish goats cheese terrine made with sauteed garlic, shallots, shiitake mushrooms,” so I was expecting more of a terrine.  Instead, I got a round piece of goat cheese.  It was good, mild, but still goaty enough for me, but just not what I expected.  I didn’t care to eat a huge amount of plain goat cheese for dinner, so I quit about halfway through.

My sister-in-law had the Pie in the Sky, a chicken and wild mushroom pie, served with rocket, though not, in her case – she has something against rocket, apparently.  The server was more than willing to substitute.  She enjoyed this, but didn’t seem to be wowed by it.ChickenPotPie

My sister-in-law’s friend had the Serious Sirloin Steak, served medium well.  Aaack!  But she enjoyed it that way, and actually said it was the best steak she’d had in a long time.Steak

For dessert, my husband and I split the Ger’s Bread and Butter Pudding, about which I’d read so much. BreadPudding It was exactly like eating warm, spongy butter.  This was the most buttery-tasting dish I think I’ve ever tried, with the exception of an actual stick of butter.  It was warm, moist, buttery, and essentially delicious, though it was so rich that we only ate about a third of it.  My sister-in-law and friend had recently been to ‘Ohana and had the bread pudding there, and they said this bread pudding was very similar.  My sister-in-law, to be different, got the Dunbrody Kiss, which was a chocolate dessert.  DunbrodyKissShe seemed to enjoy it except for the rice krispies inside, but I was glad that we got the bread pudding, since it was really an outstanding version of bread pudding.

Overall, we enjoyed our dinner at Raglan Road very much.  My sister-in-law reported that it was their best dinner on their trip to WDW.  We always find the food to be exceptional, better than that of most of the Disney-owned restaurants, and, as locals, we appreciate the availability of reservations at Raglan Road!

 

California Grill, August 7, 2007 August 16, 2007

Filed under: Disney Restaurants — hpandaw @ 8:47 pm

When we arrived at the check-in desk downstairs in the Contemporary, we asked the hostess whether it would be possible to wait for a window seat. She said that she would see what she could do, and she radioed upstairs to let them know that a couple at Disney for their anniversary was requesting a window seat. She then warned us that it might be a bit of a wait and sent us up on the elevator.

When we arrived on the 15th floor, we wandered out to the outside walkway, fully expecting to spend quite a while out there. The walkway had a good amount of people on it, waiting for a table, so we assumed that it would take a bit of time to get a table. Wrong! Within 5 minutes our pager was buzzing, and we were off, to be seated at the most glorious table in all of Christendom. Coincidentally enough, this was the same table we were given last year, so perhaps it’s now a tradition for us?

To show you just how magnificent this table was, I’ll post two photos of our view:

And this:

Both of these photos were taken from the table. Fantabulous, hmm?

Now, I have to give a disclaimer about the photos that will accompany this review. They kind of stink. My husband said that the ISO was set wrong (?), and so they look extremely funky. But you will get the idea, at least, of the presentation & the quantity of the portions.

For our appetizer, we began with Yoshi’s Deluxe Sushi Platter. We both love sushi! And we both really love the California Grill sushi, which is always inventive and always fresh. For example, one of the items on the sushi platter was a roll with fried shrimp inside. My husband’s fried shrimp roll had a piece of strawberry in it, which we’ve had before, and we both love. The tart, juicy strawberry contrasts so nicely with the warm, crispy-coated shrimp. Heavenly… My fried shrimp roll had pieces of melon inside it, which was a nice surprise. Again, the crispness of the melon went very well with the tempura fried shrimp.

The rest of the items were fairly standard rolls & nigiri, some with slight twists like the fish with lemon zest over it. All of the pieces of fish were tender, soft, and very, very delicious. We enjoyed this dish was much as we usually do.

For his entree, my husband elected to go with the BLT flatbread. He was saving room for the cheese platter here! He really liked the bacon on it; it was good quality bacon and was quite thick. He wished that the cheese had had a little more flavor to it, but the crust was nice; crispy and well-seasoned. The lettuce was interesting, because he wasn’t used to lettuce on a pizza, but he liked it. He thought that the tomatoes were a bit juicy, and he wished that they’d been drained a little better. Overall, he enjoyed this selection, though he couldn’t finish it. By the end, the richness of the cheese & the heaviness of the bacon were too much for him.

My entree was another sushi platter: the Yellowfin Tuna Three Ways, poki, tataki, and tartare. The poki was just large-ish, competely raw chunks of tuna, topped with something that was funky looking and bright green. I don’t know what it was, but I enjoyed it! Each of the three items was topped with a different color caviar. The poki had red caviar; the tataki had green caviar; the tartare had yellow caviar.

The tataki was very nice, though I have to give the edge to the Flying Fish’s version of this. The outside was lightly seared, and the inside was nice and rare, but I had been really wowed by the Flying Fish chef’s use of interesting spices on the crust of their tuna tataki. In comparison, this one was a bit bland.

I saved the tuna tartare for last, because it’s usually my favorite, but this one, while good, was actually a touch too spicy for my taste. As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t tolerate heat well, so a normal person may find the level of heat to be just right. The small cubes of mango mixed in with the tuna were quite nice, and I enjoyed their fruitiness. It complemented the tuna very well.

For dessert, we couldn’t wait for the cheese plate! The cheeses were, from first to last:

  • Coulommiers- a bit mroe flavor than a brie; liked
  • Lionza- mild
  • Flixer- good to see you, old friend!  Thanks for the Flying Fish memories
  • Clochette- good, not too goaty
  • Hubbardston Blue- not memorable, at least at this point

We took our time eating these cheeses, savoring each one; I liked them all. The cheese plate at the California Grill costs $2 more than the one at the Flying Fish, and we didn’t know why that was, except possibly because the California Grill serves larger portions of cheese. We were quite pleased with the size of the cheese wedges here.

Our server was so kind as to bring us out a slice of possibly the richest chocolate cake I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating. We couldn’t quite finish it, but we made a good effort! It was lovely, with a thick, cold, extremely rich chocolate ganache layered between the slices of soft, moist chocolate cake.

For those interested in dining at the California Grill, the dress code is business casual. Shorts and tank tops are out of place here. Sushi platters average $20, and entrees range from $23-35. The flatbreads are a relatively affordable entree alternative with a $10-$14 price tag.

Many people come solely for the view, which is a mistake. Odds are against ever being given a window seat, especially around fireworks time. For as many times as we’ve been to the California Grill, we’ve only gotten a window seat twice: our past two visits. If you don’t have a window seat, forget about trying to view from within the restaurant. People at the bar will shout at you to move and crouch down, even if you happen to be barely 5 feet tall (I know this from experience!). And people on the viewing walkway will shove you around. Apparently fireworks at Disney are the equivalent of a shipment of food to the Sudan. People are ready to hurt you, just to get a better fireworks view. It’s a scary thing.

But the food alone is worth visiting for. In many ways, I wish they’d move Chef Mickey’s up here and just create a Lord of the Flies-esque pandemonium on Floor 15, while letting those of us who enjoy good cuisine quietly eat our California Grill meals, sans shoving or yelling, in a less view-centered arena.

 

Victoria & Albert’s Chef’s Table, August 4, 2007 August 13, 2007

Filed under: Disney Restaurants — hpandaw @ 11:41 pm

Since we had our wedding reception at Victoria & Albert’s Restaurant, we return here every year for our anniversary. We prefer to eat at the Chef’s Table, even if we can’t get it on quite the right date, which happened to be the case this year.

Even though the Chef’s Table is in the kitchen, the dress code is still formal, with jacket required for men and a similar level of formality for women. Once seated at the Chef’s Table, though, men can remove their jackets, which is a big no-no in the main room. The primary advantage of the Chef’s Table is twofold: 1. You get to sample EVERYTHING and 2. You get to interact with the chefs and watch them at work.

On this particular evening, Chef Scott was off, so Sous Chef Aimee was our chef for the evening. My husband selected to go with the wine pairings, but we all started off with a champagne toast: Hiedsieck Monopole Blue Top Brut Champagne, NV.

Our amuse bouche course was incredible, so we began the meal with exuberance. The Cream of Cashew soup was sweet and incredibly creamy, and the candied cashews added an interesting crunchy texture that contrasted nicely with the thick creaminess of the soup. There were small pieces of squash in the soup that my husband could have done without; he felt that they didn’t add anything to either the flavor or the texture.

The next amuse was Lobster en Crepe with Vanilla Aioli. In contrast to the soup, this was very light and delicate. We wished that it had a bit more flavor; the strongest taste came from the vanilla. I wished that there had been more caviar, because there is usually a caviar-based amuse bouche.

Our final amuse was Monterey Abalone with Preserved Lemon. Neither of us had ever had abalone before, so this was a new taste for us. In my husband’s words, it tasted like “an awesome fried clam.” It was clean and tender, with a bright taste, and was fried delicately, so that it wasn’t greasy at all. This dish and the cashew soup both had that “wow” factor.

My husband’s first course was Seared Colorado Buffalo Tenderloin, Braised Fennel, Radishes and Blood Orange Vinaigrette. He could only taste the outside of the tenderloin: the sear and the seasoning. The inside wasn’t as flavorful, so it got lost in the stronger flavor of the crust, which tasted almost like beef jerky. The blood oranges had an exotic taste, like oranges with an interesting twist. The wine paired with this was the Cantina Del Taburno Falanghina, Campania 2005.

My first course was upsetting to me, mainly because it included *gasp!* prosciutto. As I’d specifically told them that I didn’t eat meat, and as Chef Aimee had confirmed this with me prior to the start of the meal, I was surprised that they’d made this glaring omission to their usually dietary vigilance. I peeled the prosciutto off and gave it to my husband, and then proceeded to eat the (no longer) Prosciutto Wrapped Gulf Shrimp with Melon Coulis and Pickled Watermelon.

This dish was very good, nice and light; the melon coulis gave a faintly sweet, fresh taste to the shrimp. Except for the pig, I enjoyed it very much.

Our next dishes were similar, yet different: two variations on one theme. My husband had the Crab Stuffed Tempura Squash Bloom with Grape Must Mustard. The tempura batter was light, not greasy, and the crab was sweet, which provided a nice foil for the fried batter. This dish was great. The mustard was creamy, not too pungent or strong, and it was light enough to pair with the crab without overpowering it. Every ingredient was beautifully matched. It was the kind of dish that, if we tried to make it at home, the mustard would be too strong, or the crab would be too tasteless, or the batter would be too greasy, but somehow the chefs at Victoria & Albert’s harmonized these ingredients beautifully. He ate it all, even the stem! His wine with this was one of our favorites, Caymus Conundrum, California, 2001.

My dish was a Vegetable Ratatouille Stuffed Tempura Squash Bloom with Tomato Broth. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this dish. I’d had the crab stuffed squash blossom before and had been a big fan, so I was at first disappointed to get a different version. I’m not the world’s biggest fan of tomato broth, but, again, every ingredient worked so well together. The faintly tart tomato cut through the light, fluffy, crispy tempura batter, while the bits of vegetable added an interest to the texture. My husband offered to half his squash blossom with me, but after tasting mine, I said that I’d prefer to stick with my own dish, though I did taste his.

My husband’s next course was a Pondichery Peppered Quail with a Four Grain Pancake, Georgia Peaches and Corn. He said that this was so nice. The best part was the cracked pepper on top of the quail egg; it tasted like no other cracked pepper he’d ever had, and it worked well with the quail. The theme was pancakes and eggs, and the pancake was okay. It was a nice background but didn’t really add anything to the dish. The quail was juicy, tender, and extremely flavorful. The egg was too small; he wanted more of it. It was cooked sunny side up just perfectly: a little past soft, so that it didn’t run everywhere, but still had a nice liquidity to it. The wine paired with this was a Grans-Fassian Auslese Trittenheimer Apotheke, Pfalz 2002, and it was off-dry. He liked this wine very much.

My next dish was a Vegetarian Consommee with Potato Gnocchi and Morels Mushrooms. I thought that this was the weakest of all of my dishes. The vegetable broth was very light, and, though it had some flavor, it was still lacking oomph. I was underwhelmed. The potato gnocchi was very light and fluffy, but, again, wasn’t as interesting as it could have been.

My husband’s next dish was a Ballotine of Poulet Rouge with Duck Consomme and Morels. This was his weakest dish. The duck and the consomme were both rich and flavorful, but the chicken didn’t go very well with the mushrooms. The chicken was too mild tasting, and didn’t pair well with the earthiness of the mushrooms. He thought it was a weak match. Boiled chicken by itself has a wimpy taste anyway, so there probably wasn’t much they could have done to make this dish interesting or exotic. The wine with this was a Newton Red Label Chardonnay, Napa 2005.

I had the Seared Wild Turbot with Brown Butter Sauce and Toasted Capers. Chef Aimee said that Turbot was her favorite fish, and I agreed that it tasted wonderful. The fish was deliciously flavorful, and the rich, creamy brown butter sauce contrasted beautifully with the tartness of the capers. Despite the rich sauce, this dish was not too heavy at all.

My husband then had the Duo of Pan Roasted and Chilled Terrine of Foie Gras. The foie gras had a great taste, but it was a bit greasy and weighed heavier than it normally would have, given how full he was. It was slightly over-salted, as well. In comparison with the foie gras he’d recently had at Per Se, this was a disappointment. It still had a great taste, but he’s had better foie gras there. This was paired with Royal Tokaji Azsu 5 Puttonyos, Mad Tokaj-Hegyalja 2000, which we’ve had before. We always enjoy this dessert wine.

The terrine was rich, and it tasted very much like a richer, gamier version of a chicken liver pate. It was heavier than the seared foie gras, and he wished that they’d just served him the foie gras, not the duo.

My next course was Virginia Beach Striped Bass with Oyster Sauce and Asian Vegetables. The bass was good, and the oyster sauce added a nice flavor to the mild taste of the fish. The sauce was enjoyable, but not outstanding; it tasted like standard oyster sauce.

My husband’s main course was a Tasting of Japanese “Wagyu” and Australian “Kobe” Beef Tenderloin with Oxtail Jus. This was paired with a Chateau Cantemerle, Haut-Medoc 2003.

The Australian “kobe” was tender like butter. He didn’t really need to use the knife with this. The flavor, also, was mild. He’s had this several times before, at just about every meal. The jus had an anise, licorice flavor to it and was very rich.

The Japanese Wagyu, in comparison, was like night and day. It had so much more beef flavor. It was extremely well seasoned and had more marbling, which is probably why it had so much more flavor. He definitely preferred the wagyu to the “kobe.”

The shortribs that accompanied this dish were the one of the richest things he’s ever eaten. They were nicely shredded, not fatty, but a bit greasy. They felt heavy in his mouth, and he could barely finish this dish, not because of the way it tasted, but because of where it was placed in the meal. The shortribs tasted great, though he has to give the preference to the pork shortribs that Chef Aimee does also.

My next dish was an Alaskan King Salmon with Bamboo Rice Blend,Coconut Broth. The salmon was great. It had a lot of flavor, and there were crispy, very salted pieces of salmon that tasted almost like bacon. I enjoyed it very much, especially since I’m a big salmon fan but don’t often get salmon of this quality.

The bamboo rice was flavorful. Again, it was very salty, but it tasted more like something that I could get in a good Chinese restaurant, instead of something truly special and unique.

We then each had a cheese course next: a Comte Saint Antoine, Pierre Robert, Monte Enebro and Fourme D’Ambert. Unfortunately, we don’t remember much about these! The Comte Saint Antoine was rather mild, as the first cheese, and the Pierre Robert had more flavor than the triple creme cheeses usually do. The Monte Enebro was a goat’s cheese that was very good, and the Fourme D’Ambert was quite mild for a blue cheese. My husband’s final wine was a Cockburn’s 10 year old Tawny Porto. I prefer a 20 year tawny port, since the flavor is just much richer, but this one was quite good also.

We then had a course of fruity desserts: Wild Strawberry Sorbet, Mango-Yogurt Panna Cotta and Miniature Banana Gateau. The sorbet was a nice palate cleanser, and we preferred this course of fruit-based desserts followed by a chocolate dessert to the meals from years past when we had a chocolate course followed by another heavy or rich dessert. The Mango-Yogurt Panna Cotta was also light and refreshing, and the banana gateau was very sweet and creamy, but still fairly light.

Our final course was the chocolate course: Tanzanian Chocolate Pyramid, Hawaiian Kona Chocolate Souffle and Peruvian Chocolate Ice Cream and Puff Pastry. Of these three items, we’d had two before: the souffle and the pyramid. The ice cream and puff pastry was new to us on this trip, and I didn’t like the way it looked. It reminded me of a small, spiky animal. It wasn’t enough to keep me from tasting it, but I just didn’t find the presentation to be very appealing.

Of the three chocolate dishes, my least favorite was the Peruvian Chocolate Ice Cream. My husband agreed that it was nothing special, but he thought that it was the best of the three! He said this was probably because it was cold and at that point, he was so full that he wanted something a bit more refreshing. The chocolate pyramid was a deliciously rich mousse, though the Kona chocolate souffle was too heavy for me to eat at this point in the meal! Each time we eat at the Chef’s Table, we come with empty stomachs and try to do justice to all of the courses, but we never quite make it. Still, I’d prefer having too much fantastic food at Victoria & Albert’s than a few good courses and stingy portions at Per Se.

And, as always, we finished with a delicious cup of coffee, brewed in the Cona coffee maker:

Overall, this was an immensely enjoyable experience. We always appreciate the care and attention to detail that go into our meals at Victoria & Albert’s. The service was very smooth, and the only glitch was the prosciutto that found its way into my shrimp dish. This was disappointing, but not enough to prevent us from returning, and neither are the rapidly rising dinner prices 🙂

 

Sunshine Seasons Food Fair, August 5 & 7

Filed under: Disney Restaurants — hpandaw @ 9:20 pm

We visited this counter service restaurant twice, only getting a soup on our first trip.  The reason for this was that we’d eaten lunch earlier that day at the Kringla Bakeri Og Cafe, and then we went off to do the Aqua Tour.  All the swimming left me hungry after a relatively light lunch, so I suggested that we stop by the Sunshine Seasons for a quick snack.  Hence not one, but two days of reviews rolled together.

Our first meal consisted of a bowl of creamy tomato soup and the accompanying giganto cracker.  It pretty much tasted like creamy tomato soup with an immensely large cracker.  The soup was about mid-range creamy, not rich and luscious, but definitely not pure tomato juice.  This dish was a great comfort food, and I think they should offer it during the winter time for guests facing down the blizzards of Central Florida.

One of the reasons why we like this place is that it has a variety of stations, so there’s pretty much something for everyone.  There is a salad bar, for those attempting to stay on a diet while at Disney World (good luck with that).  There is an Asian bar, which I never try, since it seems to consist mostly of meat offerings.  There is a sandwich bar, a dessert bar, and, finally, there is my favorite bar: the warm foods bar.  At this bar, you can choose from salmon or chicken, and you get to pick two vegetable sides.

I chose the salmon with mashed potatoes and carrots as my sides.  Since Tusker House has fallen victim to the notorious Disney Dining Plan, the salmon here at Sunshine Seasons has become my favorite counter-service salmon.  It’s got flavorful char marks on it, and it served warm with a cold kalamata olive sauce.  The mashed potatoes were also pretty good.  They weren’t extremely creamy, but they weren’t dry at all.  There were big pieces of red potato skin in this item.

My husband’s sandwich was a Turkey and Muenster sandwich, which was far too dry.  It needed more chipotle mayonnaise to make it palatable.  The turkey and cheese here were just standard, grocery store deli counter fare, and the chipotle mayonnaise was nice, but  they’d skimped on this necessary ingredient.

Overall, we would return, though my husband would probably order something different.  I continue to order the same salmon dish every time we eat here, because it is decent quality counter service food.  My only complaint is that they don’t accept the Disney Dining Experience discount here.

 

Kringla Bakeri Og Cafe, August 5, 2007

Filed under: Disney Restaurants — hpandaw @ 9:06 pm

This was just a quick counter service meal for us, so we decided to split the Daily Chef’s Selection, which came with an open-faced ham sandwich, a cup of Jarlsberg and Leek soup, and a Veiled Maiden.

Since we were on vacation, my husband was eating meat, though I was remaining a pescatarian, so he took the ham sandwich.  He said that this was okay, but nothing great.  The ham was just deli counter ham that we could purchase at any grocery store.  It also didn’t have mayonnaise on the sandwich, so he had to add this.

I was expecting the Jarlsberg and Leek soup to be creamy, but it wasn’t.  If anything, it was quite watery, and it badly needed salt.  Fortunately, they had little salt packets at the condiment table, so I was able to amend this need.

Our dessert was a Veiled Maiden, which turned out to be sweet baked apples layered in between whipped cream.  It was okay, but, again, was quite bland.  Since I just had the bland soup and the bland dessert, my general impression was one of excrutiating mediocrity.  An ingredient with a more interesting texture would have added to this dish, raising it from a mushy mediocrity to something even faintly memorable.  Oh, well…

We probably would not return here for lunch, since there are other, better counter service choices available in the Epcot park.  Our general consensus was, “Eh.”