NY Foodie heading to Disney needing opinions on the below:
I'm heading to Disney with my DH for our 2nd Anniversary last week of October...We are staying at the Grand Floridian and aren't renting a car. I'm a big time foodie but my hubby not so much. He will go along with my choices but I want to make this fun for both of us. I've narrowed my choices down to the following below...Am I missing anything? We are staying for 6 nights and I think we will do the wine and food festival at Epcot one night...Also opinions on the Not so Scary Halloween Parade (if any hounders have been)...we are thinking of skipping it, as it seems corny and WAAAYYY over priced for what they offer but I just want to make sure I'm not missing out.
Ok here are my tentative thoughts
Victoria and Alberts (for Anniversary dinner)
California Grill (to see the fireworks)
Bongo (DH is Puerto Rican and I wanted to do something familiar, plus on the website they advertise Disco/Freestyle Friday night and I figured Late dinner and then dancing, or should we eat somewhere else and just go for drinks and partying?)
Tokyo Dining - Lunch Maybe?
Raglan Road - Also Lunch?
Any suggestions would be VERY appreciated
Bongo's is better for dancing than eating, so beware. Maybe grab a bite at the Wolfgang Puck Cafe next door first. Also, add Sanaa to your list. It's a new restaurant at the Animal Kingdom Lodge's Kidani Village. African-Asian hybrid with fabulous flavors, but it's Disney so I'm sure they'll have simpler foods for your husband too. The food is really incredible. And you can see many, many animals--we're talking zebras, giraffes, etc.--right out the window.
re: Rona Gindin
Thanks Rona! I will take a look at Sanaa...Hubby is pretty adventurous (he loves Indian, Thai, Ethiopian etc), but Victoria and Alberts (the super high end/small portions type of spots are definitely not his thing). Thx for the suggestion regarding Bongo's. I looked at reviews of it and was beginning to get suspicious, and we are well aware of what really good Cuban food tastes like. Disney is so hard because in NYC we have so many great ethnic (and non ethnic) spots and Disney can get really "theme park" in their food.
re: Rona Gindin
It has really authentic elements and very bold flavors, but it's not authentic in that it mixes and matches flavors from Africa and India. So, a meat itself might be prepared in an African style yet the condiment served with it may be an Indian pickle. Sounds bizarre, I know, but it works. I won't be surprised if the menu is dummied down for tourists eventually, but the place is new so right now that's not the case. I don't remember anything being super spicy, more super flavorful, so you might be disappointed--but ask; most restaurants are happy to adjust spice levels for guests.
re: Rona Gindin
I have the Sanaa menu here at my desk. If anyone wants, I can scan it in and e-mail it so you can get a better idea of what's cookin'. (Think: pulled duck wth red curry sauce. Tandoori lamb chops. Spice-crusted cornish game hen with turnips and cherries.) Write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I'd skip the Not-So-Scary parade. You pay an additional admission & a lot of the park attractions are closed while it's going on. In general, we try to avoid eating in the Magic Kingdom whenever possible, as I think it has the worst food choices of the 4 parks.
We always enjoy the food, drinks & atmoshere of Raglan Road.
You can check menus & reviews of all Disney restaurants at:
re: Rona Gindin
Love Space Mountain...too bad it's under construction until Nov 21st...I'm praying that for once constuction is finished ahead of time instead of after the anticipated date...Maybe Disney gave an incentive to have it done by Halloween instead of Thanksgiving...Wishful thinking on my part I think!
Avoid Bongo for food,, Paradiso 37 is a neat atmosphere for having drinks (they have about 40 different tequila's and entertainment), the food (mid scale mexican) is pretty poor though. Raglan is decent for both atmosphere and food.. JIko, V and A, California Grill, Boma, and Flying Fish all have excallent food. Think about putting Emeril's Tchoup Tchoup and Primo on your list as well.
BTW For locals reading this, Primo is offering some lower priced entree's this week only as Citron being refurbished.
i haven't been for a couple years but California Grill has had excellent food and an incredible view of the fireworks over the magic kingdom. During the show they dim the lights and pipe in the music. Make sure to book a reservation asap during the show. I strongly recommend it.
It's definitely a must do at least once event. The only real complaint that I ever hear about California Grill is that it can have have a lot of kids running around so it is a noisy restaurant and the dress code could be enforced more rigorously (they have people coming straight from the parks to dine). But it's excellent food and a unique experience with the fireworks.
I've been reading reviews on California Grill (recent reviews) and people are saying that the food has gone WAAAY downhill because they got a new chef...Anyone out there been recently? I'd love to hear a comment or two about it. I was worried about Paradiso 37 but Bongo seems terrible, and we will want some Latin American/Puerto Rican/Cuban food at some point during the week, and we don't think we will be renting a car (not worth it because we want to really take advantage of everything Disney)...I will take a look at Flying Fish. Any other Latin American options? Is Paradiso worse than Bongo? How about the Dining Room Wolfgang Puck?
Tokyo Dining is okay. It's B/C grade sushi that is okay priced. You mentioned that you were from NYC, I'd imagine that you have much better sushi place in your neck of the woods. The main entrees are okay, if slightly over-priced for lunch even for Disney's standards(lunch menu is the same as dinner).
As another poster mentioned, Morocco is very good, almost a hidden gem because you can even get into this restaurant on busy days. Also this restaurant is owned by the same operating participant as the new Paradiso 37(which subsequently owns some restaurants off disney property as well).
Recently I've had some good dinners at Yachtman's Steakhouse at the Yacht Club. Then afterwards you can always wander to Jellyrolls(piano bar) or the Atlantic City Dance Hall at the Boardwalk(i've always seen jellyrolls to be more popular than the dance hall).
California Grill has a very nice view that cant be missed but the last time I was there(October 2008), I didn't enjoy the meal, and the service kind of sucked. You can always grab a drink at the bar, just remember you can only get to the restaurant/bar by the 2nd floor.
The Wave(Contemporary) is also a less popular but still good restaurant. I've gone a handful of times and it's gotten much better than when it first opened.
You didn't mention any "fun" restaurants, and I'm not sure on your "disneyness" but I wouldn't skip 50's primetime diner at Hollywood Studios(not for the food, but for the snarky and fun servers).
I find Mickey's not so scary halloween party to be pretty fun, it's been a family tradition for the last few years. The parade is cool, and the fireworks are neat(they use some of the perimeter firing stations). You also get "free" candy, and they have characters who you never see out during the rest of the year(Snow White & The Seven Dwarves, the ugly step-sisters from Cinderella, white rabbit, mad hatter, queen of hearts)
The biggest issue is, we always go during the first few weeks, the week leading up to halloween, especially on Halloween is packed and becomes unfun. One year we went on the last day that it was going on, it was pretty empty and we walked home with about 10 full bags(supermarket bags) of candy, that included check-out counter packages of Hershey Kissables(they no longer give out full size candies).
re: Lucky Sven
I'd pass on Tokyo in EPCOT, too. It's not any better -- and likely worse -- than your local Benihana's. The Morroco suggestion is a good one. My two favorites are France and Canada.
Canada's Le Cellier may seem like an unlikely choice but it's one of the first EPCOT eateries to book solid (by the way, don't forget to phone ahead for priority reservations, since even during the low season of October, some restaurants do fill up). Canada's Le Cellier is a steakhouse, but the signature dishes are a beer and cheddar soup and the pretzel bread appetizers.
And I'll be the fifth person to give Boma a thumbs up. I've taken the "I hate buffet" people and they walk away wowed. There are some pretty unexpected flavors to be experienced. And if your husband isn't a foodie, at least he knows he can get something else if he doesn't like what he's eating. Jiko next door will give you a more conventional fine dining experience, but don't dismiss Boma.
Point taken on Boma...I will look into it (the hounders on this board have me convinced). I will skip Tokyo Dining, I'm part Japanese and I have a feeling that I will be HUGELY disappointed by the experience and food. We love disney and the magic that it brings, but don't want to eat somewhere for the "fun" factor...we definitely are into quality food...Thx for the heads up on the halloween parade. It seems like fun, but we really don't want to deal with a really big crowd, that takes the fun away. I guess we can decide last minute if we want to go at the beginning of our trip. I will take a look at Morocco as well. I still would love to hear about the Dining Room (Wolfgang Puck) if anyone on this board has ventured there.
Went to Le Cellier for lunch today and it was as good as I remember. I want to reiterate what another poster mentioned earlier, you need to make sure that you make this reservation as soon as possible.
Don't quote me on it but I think you can make your reservations starting 90 days from the start of your trip.
As an FYI: You can usually purchase a small cup of the chedder cheese soup at the Canada food & wine pavilion(or you could in the previous years)
I ate at the Moroccan restaurant in EPCOT in April and I was disappointed. Some of the food was very tasty (like the jasmina salad) but my entree was dry and the flavor wasn't really there. I also had a hard time with the music. The repetitive pounding gave me a raging headache and I had to leave about half way through my meal while the rest of my group finished up. I'm not usually that sensitive (I've been to many rock concerts with no problems), but this really got to me.
Next time I go to EPCOT I will eat at the Canadian restaurant. I LOVE the cheddar cheese soup, and I've heard many good reviews about the rest of the menu.
I ate at Jiko about a year ago and absolutley loved it. I would return in a heartbeat. I had a berber lamb shank that was excellent. Nice wine list too. I have always recommended California Grill for the food and fireworks, but it's been about 5 years since I've been there and I've seen the recent reviews that say it's gone downhill. I really hope that was a brief phase.
The day or days you're planning to go to Epcot for the Food & Wine festival, you might want to rethink making dinner reservations for those days. We live about an hour from WDW & usually spend a day or two at the Festival each year. There's 2-3 dozen kiosks set up around the World Showcase selling small plates of food, plus wines, beers & other beverages. Most years, it takes us 2 days to try everything we want to taste. With all this grazing going on, we've never felt the need for a sit down meal when we visit during the Festival.
Cavandre has a good point. Or, you can take an entirely different tact: Plan one day around either one of the Festival's special wine tasting dinners, or a Saturday evening at what I think is called Festival for the Senses. About 15 restaurants and 15 wine vendors set up shop giving away unlimited incredible appetizer-size portions of food. There's live entertainment, good wines flow freely and ... it's just a delicious and fun evening.
Good point. I'd forgotten this is the time period for the Food & Wine Festival. There's so much good food to choose from that I don't plan on dinner at a restaurant if I'm going. And, the Canadian booth has the cheddar cheese soup. I'd love to do one one of the special dinners some time.
Thank you Cavandre and Rona! We will be heading to the F&W festival, we thought that 1 day would suffice but the more I read I think you are correct we need 2 days. We will be at that Canadian booth for the soup! I didn't see the line up yet on the WD site for the events at the F&W for this year...I guess I will keep checking, the Festival of the Senses sounds right up our alley. Well so far it looks like Jiko, Blue Zoo, Victoria and Alberts, and the Dining room Wolfgang Puck for Dinner...Sanaa, Ranglan Road and Earl of Sandwich for lunches...Paradiso 37 for maybe a late night snack and drinks and live music and the F&W festival. Thank you to everyone who has helped me decide! I appreciate it more than you know, and if anyone on this board heads to NYC don't hesitate to email me with any questions...I'd love to assist!
Just to confirm: You only need one day to do the food kiosks at the F&W Festival. I prefer to do them for lunch because the lines are very long for dinner. Then, do the Festival for the Senses (or whatever they call it this year) a different night. That is only held on Saturdays. If that doesn't work with your schedule, consider a different F&W Festival dinner instead.
re: Rona Gindin
I've never finished the kiosks in one day eating with one of two other people. I think it really depends on how much you can eat, but typically we can't even get half way around before being full. The most I think I've gotten through on my own for one meal was 5 dishes, and that included walking about halfway around the circle.
My husband might be able to get thru the F&W kiosks in 1 day...I think if there are 30-40 booths I will need 2 days. I'd love to try one of the F&W signature dinners...if they aren't too pricey. On Allears a person posted that the dinners or paid events last year were very disorganized and crowded. Hope that won't be the case this year.
Just returned from eating at Jiko and also sampled Wolfgang Puck: WP: don't bother, really. This is a step up from chain food, but not by all that much.
Jiko is quite good. Went for the boerwur flatbread which is extremely well done and very 'African' tasting. Also the ostrich appetizer is very good, like filet mignon, but served spicy. Small portion. Cooking here can be quite spicy in general, not as tame as you'd think, all things considered.
Main courses were the Chermoula Chicken, good stuff, but maybe a tad dry, Swahili Shrimp, also good but maybe the shrimp is overcooked (the shrimp needs to be grilled separate from the curry), and the seared tuna, which is served in two rather enormous pyramids (too large IMO), so you get a lot of really raw tuna. Ask for this cooked more like medium, believe me, it will still come out VERY red. This was probably the best of the main courses we tried. Tuna starts off with a spicy crust and you can make it even spicier by dipping it into a very delicious sweet/spicy sauce. All three main courses were much spicier than I would have thought. Given how good the flatbread was, you might consider ordering a few appetizers, though I'm guessing from your post that you are not 'grazers'? Most Jiko fans seem to go crazy over the filet mignon and the short ribs, though the menu descriptions make them seem relatively dull.
F&W is a terrific event. Absolutely the best time of year to visit World Showcase.
Morocco: go for the lamb shank, and the seafood b'stilla is pretty good. This is too big an operation for good kebabs, which are better at smaller places/ dives. One of the main reasons to eat here is the gorgeous interior. Don''t bother with the Japan restaurant as others have said.
You will love V&A-even my beer drinking jusband enjoyed it-can't go wrong with Jiko, California Grill & Ragland road. IF you want a good Japenese steakhouse, it's worth a cab ride to the Marriott World Center right outside of Disney property-Mikado is really nice. And if you are willing to venture out for good cuban food-Padrino's in Hunter's creek area would also be worth the cab ride-way better than Bongo's!!
AH....I have a beer drinking husband too! He has no problems with my desire to go to V&A though, it's our anniversary and I really want to go so he's fine. Our compromise will be lunch at Ranglan Road LOL! He will love the kiosks at the F&W festival as well so we will be fine. Thx for the heads up on Padrino's, if we need a fix we will head there...other than that I think we will just stay around Disney for this visit and get Cuban when we are back in NY.
I was just at a tasting menu dinner in Miami where Chef Chris Windus from BlueZoo was a collaborating guest chef, and from what I sampled of his cooking, the place is first on my list next time I'm in Orlando. More info on the meal here ->
We have been to WDW many times and have repeatedly chose Oct. for the Epcot Food and Wine Festival. There are many kisoks set up around World Showcase with tapas size portions from many different countries. Eating around the world is a great thing to do for lunch or dinner. On Saturday nights the EFWF has an added ($) Party of the Senses which we have been to 3 times. It is costly but there is more food and wine there than you can possibly eat. I hear reservation will start being taken on Aug 11 but this is unconfirmed.
We have been to Artist Point, Bluezoo, and Jiko and have enjoyed all of them. California Grill is also great and not to be missed for the view of MK especially to view the fireworks. We have been there twice 2 and 3 years ago and had a wonderful meal at that time. We will be going again this Oct. and hope it will be just as enjoyable.
Hope this helps and don't forget to make your reservation the 90 days out as this will increase your chances of getting the dates and times you prefer. You can make reservation s online now on the WDW site
If you go to Raglan Road, skip the traditional appetizer, Dalkey Duo. It's a huge portion and gets boring. But don't miss the bread and butter pudding! It's big enough to share and melts in your mouth!
They were out of the ham entree when I went, so I was very disappointed, as I had heard a lot about it.
BTW, here is a run down on this years' F&W event.
• Greek Salad with Pita Bread
• Spanakopita (Savory Spinach and Cheese Pastry)
• Chicken Souvlaki with Tzatziki *NEW*
• Baklava *NEW*
BANGKOK, THAILAND *NEW*
• Chicken and Coconut Soup, with Mushrooms, Lemongrass & Ginger *NEW*
• Green Papaya Salad with Shrimp *NEW*
• Taste of Spain (Serrano Ham, Chorizo, Manchego, Olives, Tomato Bread) *NEW*
• Red Snapper Escabeche *NEW*
• Crema Catalana *NEW*
• Cannelloni *NEW*
• Polpetti (Italian Meatballs with traditional tomato sauce) *NEW*
BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA
• Beef Empanada with Tomato Salsa *NEW*
• Grilled Beef Skewer with Chimichurri Sauce and Boniato Pureé
CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA
• Mealie Soup with Crabmeat and Chili Oil *NEW*
• Seared Beef Tenderloin with Sweet Potato Purée, Mango Barbecue Sauce *NEW*
• Lobster & Scallop Fisherman's Pie *NEW*
• Kerrygold® Cheese Selection: Aged-Irish Cheddar, Dubliner and Ivernia Cheese with Apple Chutney and Brown Bread
• Warm Chocolate Lava Cake with Bailey's Ganache *NEW*
• Kielbasa and Potato Pierogie with Caramelized Onions and Sour Cream
• Braised Pork Shank with Cabbage and Fresh Herbs *NEW*
• Kefta (Ground seasoned beef in a pita pocket)
• Falafel Pita Pocket *NEW*
• Seared Barramundi with Blistered Cherry Tomatoes, Arugula and Lemon Oil
• Grilled Lamb Chop, Red Wine Sauce, Murray River Sea Salt *NEW*
• Lamington *NEW*
MEXICO CITY, MEXICO
• Taco de Cochinita Pibil (Corn Tortilla filled with Shredded Pork and Purple Onions) *NEW*
• Quesadilla con Chorizo
• Mousse de Piña y Coco *NEW*
• Chilaquiles (Baked Tortillas Layered with Chicken and Cheese)
• Canadian Cheddar Cheese Soup
• Maple Glazed Salmon with Lentil Salad
• Spicy Chicken Sausage with Sweet Corn Polenta *NEW*
• Maple Sugar Candy *NEW*
• Späetzle Gratin with Ham and Cheese *NEW*
• Nuernberger Sausage on a Pretzel Roll
• Apple Strudel with Vanilla Sauce
NEW DELHI, INDIA
• Mango Lassi (Chilled Mango Yogurt Drink) *NEW*
• Rava Masala Dosa, Sambal (Potato and Onion filled Pastry, Sambal) *NEW*
• Gulab Jamun (Fried Dough in Rose Syrup with Pistachio) *NEW*
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA
• Crawfish Étouffée (Spicy Cajun Crawfish and Vegetable Stew, White Rice)
• Chicken and Andouille Gumbo *NEW*
• Praline Bread Pudding, Bourbon Caramel Sauce
• Escargot Persillade en Brioche
• Cabernet Short Ribs with Mashed Potatoes *NEW*
• Chocolate Milk Creme Brûlée
RIO DE JANIERO, BRAZIL *NEW*
• Shrimp Stew with Coconut and Lime *NEW*
• Grilled Pork Skewer with Farofa *NEW*
SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO
• Ham Croquette/Croquettas de Jamon *NEW*
• Arroz con Pollo (Chicken with Rice) *NEW*
• Guava Cookie (Panatela Masa Real ) *NEW*
• Rock Shrimp Ceviche *NEW*
• Corn and Cheese Arepa *NEW*
• Alfajores (Dulce de Leche Cookie) *NEW*
• Chicken Ürümqi *NEW*
• Shrimp or Beef Rice Pancake *NEW*
• Pork Pot Stickers
• Caramel Ginger Ice Cream
• Spicy Tuna Roll
• Sukiyaki Beef Roll *NEW*
• California Sushi Roll (Crabmeat and Cucumber rolled in Rice)
• Tuna Sensation *NEW*
• Goulash mit Servietten Knoedel (Paprika Beef Stew, Bacon Dumpling)
• Mushroom Soup with Chive Dumplings *NEW*
• Sachertorte *NEW*
WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND
• Seared Sea Scallop with Vegetable Slaw, Lemon Oil *NEW*
• Lamb Slider with Tomato Chutney
THE BREWER'S COLLECTION
• Warm Pretzel Bread Stick with Cheese Dip *NEW*
• Landjäeger *NEW*
DESSERTS & CHAMPAGNE *NEW*
• Austrian Gugelhupf (Austrian Bundt Cake) *NEW*
• Strawberry Shortcake
• Frozen Grand Marnier Parfait, Orange Coulis *NEW*
THE FLAVORHOOD *NEW*
A great way to celebrate the day with your family, neighbors and new friends — Pay a visit to the Rose Walk where you can purchase ice cream from the "Flavorhood". Test your "flavorology" and learn your ice cream personality among other fun activities.
HOPS & BARLEY
• Boston-style Crab Cake with Cabbage Slaw and Remoulade
• New England Lobster Roll
THE MOUSE CATCH
• Dorothea — Dutch Cheese
• Piave — Italian Cheese *NEW*
• Mahon — Spanish Cheese *NEW*
Went to EFWF yesterday, it was great. Some really nice options this year for food, but the "freebies" are fewer and fewer each year (guest chefs, demonstrations, etc...). If you go to V&A's be prepared for a big tab, friends went last year and it was $500 for the 2 of them for dinner; also be prepared for needing fancy clothes - men need a jacket and women a nice dress or pantsuit. Don't bother eating at Bongo's - never heard anything good and have a few friends who have had horrible experiences there.
Blue Zoo is amazing, also a bit pricey, but worth every penny.
Agreed on BOMA, I'm not a fan of buffets either, but the food is amazing and you'll find things you'd never find anywhere else. If you can't get over your "hate buffets", then definitely try Jiko, also delicious.
Artist Point is delicious, CG is a great viewing location, but agreed that there are too many children running around, people in their "we just left the park" clothes and the service was mediocre. Definitely plan a drink for the fireworks, and maybe an app or dessert in the bar.
Raglan Road is fun for a casual dinner, if you like Irish food.
If you're looking for amazing Cuban food, take a short cab to Havana's - it's located outside of Hotel Plaza Blvd, off of Palm Parkway. Owned and operated by a Cuban family and I've never had a bad meal there - brought some Cuban friends and they loved it and then brought their own family there the next time.
If you're looking for a fun night (not dinner) head to RIX at Coronado Springs - they've just redone it and it's a super cool vibe - nice place to have drinks and lounge.
Don't waste your time at Mickey's Halloween party unless you have children, want an excuse to wear a costume or really need candy - it's overpriced.
Hope this helps and you have a wonderful time! Happy Anniversary!
As a NY Foodie you will really like Victoria and Alberts. Think of it as an economy version of Per Se or Jean George.
California Grill was once great. Many changes have happened. Try to get a table by the window for the fireworks. You have to get there very early for that.
Blue Zoo was very good. But, I have not been there for 3 years.