I have got some gorgeous pics to share with you today (if I do say so myself)! Let’s head over to the beautiful new Waldorf Astoria Orlando resort (home of the Bull and Bear Steakhouse and my close encounter with very hot hot sauce, which I still have to tell you about!) smack dab in the middle of Walt Disney World property… Today, we’re not having steak. Nope — instead, we’re having small plates. LOTS of small plates! And dessert! Four of ‘em! If you ask me, this is one of the best ways to eat: many different kinds of food all at once.
When we were at the Waldorf, our friends treated us to a selection from the menus of two dining locations: Oscar’s and Peacock Alley (you can see details and menus here). Oscar’s serves breakfast and lunch on the ground floor of the Waldorf (right by the pool if you’re interested in al fresco dining), and Peacock Alley is a beautiful lounge just off the lobby. (Trivia: the original Peacock Alley in New York’s Waldorf Astoria Hotel was named such for the striking peacock feather adornments on so many of the hats of the ladies who lunched there!)
We started our tour of the menus with Preserved Tomato Soup garnished with crème fraiche, accompanied by a small serving of the original Oscar’s Waldorf Salad, including julienned Granny Smith and red Gala apples, celery, tossed with buttermilk dressing with red grapes, herbs and candied walnuts. I’m usually not a big salad eater, but I really enjoyed the sweetness of this historic dish!
Next up — we tried the Grilled Artichoke and Four-Cheese Fondue from Peacock Alley. Included in the fondue were Chèvre, Pecorino, Taleggio, and Gruyere, and oh my goodness — what an incredibly rich appetizer! The presentation is lovely, and the dish combines familiar and exotic flavors very well.
Then it was time to sample the Polenta Fries with Cilantro Aioli, also from Peacock Alley. These were fascinating! What an interesting dish! This one was fun and inventive, and was great for sharing.
From here, we sampled two trios — the Certified Angus Beef Sliders with Applewood Smoked Bacon & Maui Onion Confiture, and Tomato; and some Lobster Popovers/Puffs. Both gorgeous dishes, I was particularly impressed with the Angus sliders. Great taste, and the addition of the bacon and onion was perfect.
At this point, we got to my very favorite dish of the day — Pan-Fried Small Chicken with creamy gravy and spicy sauce on the side from Oscar’s. It’s brilliant. Crispy with just the right amount of spice, not oily — but extremely juicy and tender. Plus — dipping sauces! Gravy! I loved this dish. It would make a great entree if you didn’t have a group to share it with.
And then — my next favorite of the day. Mac and Cheese from Oscar’s. You know I love this stuff, and I really appreciate what so many chefs are doing to re-introduce the dish into culinary high society. This version — officially called Kettle Macaroni and Cheese with Farmstead cheddar and cured pork belly — was served in a sweet little cast-iron pan, complete with creamy cheese and breadcrumbs. And you know pork belly is the new bacon.
The final savory item of the day was a caramelized onion tart with crème fraiche. The crust on this one was very flaky and extremely thin; this is nothing like a flatbread or pizza. Think: savory pastry. It was delicious, and would be perfect for the vegetarians at your table!
On to dessert — and we had a few! Let’s start with my favorite, the Apple Cranberry Pie. Oh my heaven — this was delicious. Apple crumbles, in my book, can be either horrible (made with canned fruit, served cold) or wonderful (made by hand from fresh fruit, served warm and a la mode). This surpassed wonderful. It was like the very best fruit cobbler you’ve ever eaten… plus 7 extra points.
Now here’s the most interesting dessert we tried, and a guest favorite at Oscar’s — the Toasted Angel Food Cake! A light, sweet dessert that brings something entirely new to the palate. We really enjoyed it, especially with the ice cream.
Then — for the chocoholics in the crowd — we tried something called the Chocolate IV, which features four different kinds of chocolate along with peanut butter crust and chocolate mousse! Looks heavenly, doesn’t it? (Quick note: when I first saw this on the menu, I thought it was referring to a chocolate IV — as in intravenous feed. Sadly, this has yet to be developed… )
And, finally, we tried the classic creme brulee with Scottish shortbread. Guys — the shortbread took the cake here! I could have eaten a whole box of them.
Once again, the Waldorf Astroria wowed us with its ability to take classic dishes and re-create them in a fresh and inviting way. Also, I’m always glad to note that some of the brand new dishes show off the hotel’s ability to experiment with new tastes, textures, and ideas, while honoring the long history of the Waldorf name.
If you have the chance, pop over to Oscar’s for a breakfast or lunch; the dining is casual and relaxed, and the menu keeps getting better and better. Peacock Alley is the perfect place to have a drink or enjoy a small plate after a round of golf or a visit to the parks — and they just introduced a brand new dessert — cheesecake pops!! — that I can’t wait to tell you about! That’s for another post and another day, though… stay tuned!
Thanks to our friends at the Waldorf Astoria team for treating us to this meal. While the accommodations and meal at the Waldorf Astoria were complimentary, I was not obligated or compensated to write this review, and my opinions in it are 100% my own.