Pros: Wonderful, elegant atmosphere, lots of quality food for many different tastes, great service
Cons: Price is high (but worth it)
On my last trip to Disney World Resort, I was lucky enough to stay at the Grand Floridian Resort. Normally, my family bustles from park to park too much to really engage in very many formal meals at the many on-site restaurants. However, on a rainy evening, we were able to get in to Victoria and Alberts at the last minute because they had one opening at the late seating. This fabulous meal actually turned out to be my very favorite part of our trip.
This isnt cheap!
Victoria and Alberts is the only AAA Five Diamond restaurant in Central Florida. This means it is a very high quality restaurant not just by Disney standards, but by anybodys standards. However, such quality comes at a price. The fixed menu price for dinner was $95 per person, tax and gratuity not included. This includes non-alcoholic beverages, but not alcohol. For wine pairing, the price is $145 per person. In our group of four, only my father got the wine pairing with his meal. However, it seemed to be really a pretty good deal. He received a glass of champagne to start and a glass of a different type of wine with each course, and these were filled well over halfway. Note that when making reservations at this restaurant, you have to give a credit number at the time of making your reservation.
I felt as though I was truly entering another world after leaving the bustle of the hotel lobby. The restaurant is operated on the second floor of the Grand Floridian, but once you enter you forget you are even in a hotel. The main dining room is small and elegant. There is a lovely and elegant painting on the ceiling, and a fireplace. A harpist played music throughout or meal. We recognized some of the lovely songs as from musicals such as Phantom of the Opera and Le Miserables. The music in the background is soothing and elegant, but unobtrusive. The lighting is low, and the tables are impeccably arranged. As soon as you are seated, you are presented with a menu engraved with your own name, which you can keep as a souvenir.
In terms of formality, this restaurant is definitely well above any other restaurant on the Disney property. There is actually a dress code, which requires jackets for men (ties are optional) and dinner attire for women. Most ladies were wearing skirts, dresses, or suits. The majority of diners were couples, and we were the only party of four. My sister, at age 17, was by far the youngest person in the restaurant. With such a quiet, elegant setting and a two-hour meal length, this is probably the restaurant that is least child-friendly at Disney World.
Now this is Service!
You are waited on by a man and a lady. I know that in the past, the servers referred to themselves as Victoria and Albert, but ours did not do this on our visit. Perhaps they have done away with this tradition on the idea that the restaurant is too formal, or maybe it is up to the personal preference of the servers whether they wish to go by their real names. In any case, this was probably the best service I have ever received. Everyone who works here is friendly and generally concerned that you are enjoying your meal. They are constantly watchful that you have everything you need without interrupting or getting in the way of your meal. We never had a drink run low, or a dirty plate sit on the table more than a short time. I really enjoyed the fact that the meal was very well timed according to how fast we finished our courses and my dad finished the wine that accompanied each course. This is not a restaurant that rushes you out the door, our whole experience was about two hours long and we enjoyed every minute of it!
Lets Talk About Food!
Please, come with me on a culinary journey through our menu Keep in mind, however, that the menu changes daily.
First Course (Cold Appetizer) This first course offered a choice of Timbale of Jumbo Lump Crab and Dungeness Crab with Black Pearl Caviar, Applewood Smoked Buffalo Waldorf, or Iranian Osetra Cavier. Oh yeah, the Iranian Cavier was $70.00 extra for ? ounce! Obviously we passed on that, although I did see one gentleman enjoying it. (At least, I hope he was enjoying it!) I had the buffalo, and it was better cold than I would have thought, although admittedly this was my least favorite course. The rest of my family enjoyed the crab selection with its tiny bit of caviar.
Second Course (Hot Appetizer) - Here the choices were Kurobuta Pork Tenderloin and Belly with Serrano Ham or Nantucket Scallops. I selected the Pork, while the rest of my family opted for the scallops. This may have been my favorite course! The pork was unbelievably tender and flavorful. I wished the small portions were pork-chop sized! Everyone else was pleased with the scallops as well.
Third Course (Seafood) - The options this time were Virginia Black Bass with South Carolina Grit Cake or Carrot Ginger Cream with Saki Glazed Shrimp. Although I am not generally a seafood person, I couldnt pass up a course. so I opted for the Black Bass, and I really liked it! It was tender and not at all fishy, and the grit cake was fabulous and crunchy. The presentation of the little dish was beautiful.
Fourth Course (Entree) - What a choice! The entree list provided four options, with something suitable for any picky eater. These were (1) Petit Poulet with Black Truffles, (2)Medallions of Marcho Farm Veal with Laura Chenel Goat Cheese Gnocchi and Sweetbreads, (3)Grilled Prime Filet with Celery Root-Potato Puree, Braised Short Ribs and Oxtail Jus, and (4) Australian Kobe Beef Tenderloin. For my family, this choice was not as difficult as it appeared, as we all selected the Grilled Prime Filet, medium rare. The filet was, in my sisters words, the best steak Ive ever had in my life. The meat was tender and the portion size substantial. The potato puree was fabulous. The short ribs were not what I expected, and were served in a little tube, but they were tender and well-seasoned. Even after all the courses which came before, everyone in our group was a member of the clean plate club on this course.
Fifth Course (Pre-Dessert) - Dont worry, we arent done yet! Our palates were cleansed with Plant City Strawberry Sorbet with Micro Mint, which was deliciously fruity and very refreshing. Baked Seckle Pear with Gorgonzola Dolce was also an option. At this time, coffee is also brewed right at the table using a rather strange contraption.
6th Course (DESSERT!) - Here it is, what Ive been waiting for all night. There were SIX choices for dessert. These included Pyramid of Tanzanian Chocolate Mousse, Mango Charlotte, Hawaiian Kona Chocolate Souffle, Carmalized Banana Gateau, Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee, and Grand Marnier Souffle. My sister and I went with the obvious choice of the chocolate mousse, on the theory that pyramid sounded pretty substantial. My parents opted for the chocolate souffle. The pyramid of chocolate mousse came served with a crown behind it, made out of some type of very light wafer cookie that you could break and dip in the chocolate. There was a lovely edible gold leaf on top of the pyramid. The chocolate was delicious and not too sweet. The souffle was warm and fudgy with just a small hint of chocolate. Again, all plates were cleaned. Our waiter was very impressed with us, I think, especially since he had seemed concerned at how many rolls we were eating earlier in the evening.
Stop bringing food! - As if that wasnt enough, we were brought a small tray of truffles and jelly candies at the end of our meal, which we couldnt help but keep nibbling on. Finally, we were going to explode, so we stopped. A rose was given to each lady at the table, which was a nice touch. The staff was kind enough to help us out with taking photos in front of the balcony outside the restaurant, and we departed at 11:30, very happy with our experience.
For an even more unique experience, Victoria and Alberts offers reservations at their chefs table, which is actually located in the kitchen. This special table allows guests to see their food being specially prepared, and to receive an even more elaborate and personalized menu with up to thirteen courses. This experience costs $125 per person, and $185 with wine pairing. Personally, I enjoyed the quiet, elegant dining room so much I am not sure this would be my cup of tea, but it would certainly be a unique experience for food lovers.
Victoria and Alberts will not disappoint for a special occasion or romantic evening out. There is a wide variety of food to suit almost any type of picky eater or special diet. It would be very easy to avoid red meat, for example, and chefs are very open to requests and suggestions. We were lucky enough to score a reservation at the very last minute, but generally this reservation fills up far in advance, so plan ahead. Reservations can be obtained at 407-824-1893 up to 120 days in advance.
This is an expensive, but memorable, experience. After all the food and attention, we did not walk away feeling as though we had been overcharged. The wonderful service and beautifully presented food turned this into an experience instead of just a meal, and I would recommend a meal here to anyone who loves good quality dining.
Still hungry? Check out my Top Ten Places to Eat at Disney World!
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