Victoria & Albert’s May 2012

Being big Disney fans, we have known about Victoria & Albert’s for years.  But – for a long time, we thought it wasn’t for us – too stuffy, not worth the money, who needs their own personal wait staff anyway?  But over the years, we’ve grown to enjoy fine dining more and more, and we kept hearing wonderful things about Victoria & Albert’s from friends.  So we finally took the plunge and made reservations to celebrate my promotion to partner.

Located in the Grand Floridian hotel at Walt Disney World, Victoria & Albert’s has a single room as it’s primary dining room (it also has an exclusive room with a different menu and a Chef’s table) – there are about 12 tables in there.  The lighting is dim and romantic and a harp plays softly in the background.  We were seated promptly and our servers were Allen and Sharon.  Those of you who have dined there in the past probably recall a time when all of the servers had nametags with either Victoria or Albert on them, but they changed that back in 2004 according to Sharon.  I guess patrons who came back wanted to have the same wait staff, but couldn’t identify them by name!

The meal is a 7-course meal and it starts with an amuse bouche.  Yes the portions look tiny – but if you are eating 7 courses, it adds up!  Derek got the wine pairing – but I know I can’t drink that much wine at one dinner – so I just ordered a glass of the Jules Taylor Sauvignon Blanc (Marlborough 2011).

The amuse bouche had four different parts to it:  a cauliflower panna cotta, a lobster crepe, kobe beef, and seared tuna.  All were delicious – but I especially enjoyed the cauliflower panna cotta.

The wine pairing with this was a Piper Heidsick Cuvee 1975 NV Brut

The next course I chose the Roasted Long Island Duck with Pomegranate, Pistachios, and Hearts of Palm.  Derek chose the Chiogga Beet Carpaccio with Pickled Peaches and Burrata Cheese.  His wine pairing was the Jules Taylor.  Both dishes were amazing – and Derek was really amazed by the beets.

Course 3 – we again chose both options – the Diver Scallop and Langoustine Cioppino with Maine Mussel and Fennel Nage, and the Alaskan Halibut with Arugula Pudding.  We were expecting more of a soup for the Cioppino – but it was just a little broth poured over the scallop and mussel.

Sharon said that they think that each course gets more and more delicious – I’m not sure I completely agree – but I definitely agree that all of the food was amazing.  My taste buds were on cloud 9!

Course 4 – Porcini Mushroom Soup with Wild Mushroom Bread Pudding and the Roasted Quail with Asian Pears and Serrano Ham Jus.  Anyone who knows us would know that Derek had the mushroom soup (as I don’t really like mushrooms).

The mushroom soup was paired with a beer (or if you chose, you could have a pinot noir).  Derek chose the beer – Chimay Ale Peres Trappistes, Belgium – and he really enjoyed it, especially with the soup.

I should add – that they also served us three different breads – each came out at a different time in the meal.  The first was a french baguette roll, the second was an herbed bread, and the third (and by far the best) was a multigrain roll – delicious!

Course 5 – see by now, you are really appreciating the small portion sizes, because you are already feeling sated.  I chose the Poulet Rouge “Oscar” with Alaskan King Crab and Spring Asparagus and Derek chose the Niman Ranch Lamb with Baby Tomatoes, Artichokes, and Olive Pesto (paired with Cuvelier Los Andes Malbec, Mendoze 2007).  It was all very tasty – but by far the best thing on both dishes was the sliced chicken thighs in the upper left corner of my dish – unbelievably flavorful.

Course 6 – the cheese course.  But I opted instead for the White Chocolate Gelato with Tableside Shavings – because I am nothing, if not a sucker, for any form of ice cream!  Derek got the cheeses – Colston Bassett Stilton, Parmigiano Reggiano, Gouda Reypenaer XO, and Fiscalini Cheddar (paired with Quinta do Crasto late Bottled Vintage Porto 2006).  I’ll be honest, I delighted in my gelato so much, that I don’t think I asked him how he liked his cheeses and I didn’t ruin the smooth, delicate flavor of my gelato by tasting the cheeses.

For dessert – I had to have the chocolate souffle (Hawaiian Kona Chocolate Souffle).  Allen said that 8 out of 10 Victoria & Albert servers would say that the Caramelized Banana Gateau is the best dessert (and he added that the other 2 are wrong!) – so Derek ordered that.  They were both delicious.  I can see why Allen recommends the Banana Gateau – but as a chocolate fanatic, I still favored my choice.  We didn’t get a great photo of the Banana Gateau – it had a flat candied sheet laid over it that seems to have ruined the photo.

Along with dessert – Derek had coffee and I chose a beautiful jasmine tea.  They offer a diverse and tempting selection of teas – all loose leaf.  And the coffee and tea brewers were beautiful and interesting devices.  Lit from underneath, the water boils up through the neck into the upper chamber where it steeps the tea or brews the coffee.  Once done, the coffee or tea pours back into the lower chamber.

All in all, we savored our fine meal and surroundings for the better part of three hours.  It was a lovely evening in a beautiful, refined, and romantic setting.  The food lived up to its billing as did the service.  It’s clearly an expensive evening out, and not something that would fit into our budget on any regular basis – but for a really special night – it was well worth it.

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