As I mentioned in my previous post, there is just something richly amusing about the fact that the highest rated restaurant in Florida is located in Disneyworld. (Perhaps it’s picturing the reaction of all those folks who turn their noses up at the thought of visiting The Happiest Place on Earth. I once had a friend who told me, “I can’t believe you like Disneyworld! You come across as such a sophisticated person!”) 🙂
Anyway, Victoria & Albert’s is on the 2nd floor of the Grand Floridian hotel, the nicest hotel (in our opinion) in Disneyworld. (Mind you, half the family still prefers the Polynesian over the Grand Floridian, mainly due to the theme, but the Grand Floridian is still the nicest of the Disney hotels.) The minimum age for diners is 10 years. Jackets are required, but ties are optional. We sat in the Queen Victoria Room and had the tasting menu.
We started out with the requisite amuse bouche, which consisted of a soft poached quail egg with Galilee caviar, chicken liver terrine, cauliflower panna cotta, and porcini mushroom cappuccino. I’m not sure whether you can tell from the photo, but the porcini mushroom cappuccino had mushroom powder sprinkled on it to make it look like cinnamon. Oh, and it was divine. There was a division of opinion as to whether the chicken liver terrine or the cappuccino were the best dishes in the amuse bouche, but you couldn’t go wrong with either.
Next, for the adults, was an Alaskan king crab with herb aioli and miniature greens. We asked the restaurant not to serve the kids seafood, on the theory that they would have a better experience as a result (it proved to be a brilliant thought on Jim’s part to make that request). So, the kids were served seared bison with jicama and hearts of palm salad. There were homemade croutons seasoned and served tableside. You could choose from French olive oil (a mild oil), Spanish olive oil (a stronger olive taste) or walnut oil. For the salt, you had your choice of fleur de sel, a fennel-flavored sea salt, and a British flake sea salt.
One of our favorite dishes came next: a “cold smoked” Niman ranch lamb with Fuji apple and curry dressing. The lamb was unbelievably tender, and the Indian spices brought out the terrific flavor of the lamb. It was a family hit.
Another bifurcated course—the adults were served Alaskan salmon with bamboo rice and soybeans, and the kids had sake-soy marinated Kurobuta pork with bok choy and soybeans. I am not a huge fan of salmon (other than as sushi), but this dish was terrific. The salmon is wild, not farm-raised (it makes a surprisingly big difference in taste), and it was cooked perfectly, just a bit underdone, and with just a bit of miso glaze. While the pork in the kids’ version did not go as well with the seasonings as the salmon, the pork itself was marvelous—tender and juicy and full of flavor.
The salmon and pork were served with real grated wasabi served on a sharkskin board.
The least impressive (but still delicious) dish was the poulet rouge with calamarata pasta, forest mushrooms and black truffles. Okay, so by definition, the black truffles made it a very yummy dish, and the homemade calamarata pasta was made to look like calamari (hence, the name) and was delicious as well. The chicken actually tasted like chicken (it’s amazing that we now have chicken that is sold in grocery stores that doesn’t taste like chicken at all, but I digress). Under normal circumstances, I would be impressed with this dish, but given the parade of really amazing courses, this one did not stand out.
The next dish was Minnesota elk tenderloin with a braised red cabbage tart. The elk was perfect—not too gamey, but full of flavor and tender. The tart crust was made by the pastry chef (who grew up in Austria), so it was all that a crust should be.
The last non-dessert course was Australian Kobe-style beef with a garlic-potato puree. The beef was delicately marbled the way Kobe beef should be. Evidently, the farmer who raises these delectable beef cattle interviews each chef who is interested in getting the beef, and only sells the beef if he determines the chef has the necessary qualifications or skills.
Before I describe the desserts, I can’t forget the bread. There was a French baguette served with whipped butter from Vermont, a black truffle brioche served with black truffle-flecked butter, and an Austrian brown bread served with salted butter. The overwhelming family favorite was the black truffle brioche.
Next up was the cheese course (you can see a photo of the cart). For the ¾ of the family who opted out of the cheese course, we had either white chocolate gelato or spiced apple, red currant, and peach sorbet.
A slight tangent about the coffee maker. It was invented by two medical folks, and it is a great science experiment for the family. Not to mention that it brews delicious coffee!
The first official dessert was green apple baba with sour cream ice cream. We were a little skeptical about the ice cream, but it was quite delicious, and the slight acidity matched up well with the sweetness of the apple baba.
The final course was a Peruvian chocolate cylinder with elderflower sauce accompanied by a chocolate and navan bubble. The chocolate bubble was an El Bulli-style dish, which popped in your mouth, filling it with chocolate flavor. The dish was also served with a similar style of caramel “poppers.” Yum! The chocolate cylinder and chocolate ribbon weren’t exactly shabby either.
Overall, the restaurant was an amazing experience. Mike and Beth were our servers, and they were skilled and friendly and were great, not only with us, but our kids. Definitely a grade A dining experience!