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Guest Review: Victoria and Albert’s Chef’s Table

Thanks to Sarah McGovern for this incredibly intimate review of the Chef’s Table at Victoria & Albert’s. Located in Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, this restaurant offers award-winning five-star dining! Savor the review slowly and do not skip ahead to the desserts!! (Well, you can if you want, but then come back to the beginning :-D)

Our first visit to Victoria & Albert’s was during our September 2009 honeymoon. My husband Barry and I are self-proclaimed foodies and this meal was going to be the icing on the cake of our week-long Deluxe Dining Plan extravaganza. It did not disappoint. We were blown away by every aspect of our 2 ½ hour meal. So when planning our next trip to Walt Disney World for our 1 year anniversary, we asked ourselves how we were going to top our last dining experience? The Chef’s Table of course!

My Dad and Step-mom, who share in our passion for food, joined us on this trip, and I was fortunate enough to secure a reservation for the last day of our trip. We arrived just before 5 pm on the day and waited in the atrium outside of the restaurant to be escorted to our table. We were dressed to the nines and ready for our 4 hour meal!

The hostess came out to greet us and led us into the very quiet and formal dining room. We then entered a completely different environment…the kitchen. It was loud and full of excitement. There is so much energy in a professional kitchen. We were shown to our table, which was right there in the center of it all!

Chef's Table with a kitchen view!

Chef Scott Hunnel graciously introduced himself…how exciting! Here is a world-renowned chef preparing and presenting every course of our dinner. Simply amazing. We shared a champagne toast with Chef Hunnel and discussed any dietary restrictions. My Step-mom has a severe mushroom allergy, which they were more than happy to accommodate, but for the most part we put our meal in the hands of the professionals.

Champagne

To accompany our champagne, we were brought the Amuse-Bouche, which consisted of four incredibly flavorful small bites. A Soft Poached Quail Egg with Galilee Caviar that just melted in your mouth. I am not a fan of poached eggs or caviar, but this was phenomenal. A Crispy Buffalo Mozzarella atop a Smoky Tomato Sauce, which if you could imagine the best fried mozzarella ever – this was it. The Popcorn Crusted Diver Scallop was an interesting combination of texture and flavors, and finally Smoked Salmon Panna Cotta with Salmon Caviar, which was one of the most delicious things I have ever tasted. If this was how we were starting the meal, we knew we were in for a real treat!

Amuse-Bouche

The second course was a Caviar Tin of Peeky Toe Crab with DeSietra Caviar and Petit Herbs. Again, I was skeptical of the caviar, but was pleasantly surprised that this was not very fishy. Chef Hunnel explained the sustainable farming techniques of this particular caviar, as well as the difference between the DeSietra and the Galilee from the first course. It was perfectly complemented by the crab and was a light, refreshing dish. This was paired with a crisp Sancerre.

Caviar Tin of Peeky Toe Crab

After the crab we received the first of our three bread courses, a light and simple mini baguette served with unsalted butter from the Vermont Creamery.

mini-baguette

Next came the WOW factor! Our third course was a Cold “Smoked” Niman Ranch Lamb with Fuji Apple and Curry Dressing. After the plates were placed on the table, liquid nitrogen was poured over top to create the cold “smoke” in the dish, which was quite impressive.

Cold “Smoked” Niman Ranch Lamb

Lamb is another thing I am not very fond of, but again was surprised at how much I enjoyed this. The subtle curry dressing over the lamb was a unique flavor combination and the sweet Fuji apple medallions nicely offset the spice of the curry. This was accompanied by a sweet Reisling. I will go as far as to say that this was my favorite dish of the meal and have now become a lamb convert.

Cold “Smoked” Niman Ranch Lamb

Our server then brought a selection of six different salts for us to taste and add to any of our dishes, all with very distinct tastes.

Six different salts

The table was reset with chopsticks and cold Sake was poured. We were a bit curious about what was coming next. A beautiful Sake-Soy-marinated Salmon with Bok Choy and Soy Beans was placed in front of us along with freshly grated wasabi root. This was my first time having fresh wasabi root and it is nothing like the paste you see at your local sushi restaurant. Fresh and bright with a more mild flavor…the perfect accompaniment to the salty soy glaze.

Sake-Soy-marinated Salmon

Our second bread course was a buttery herb brioche with an herb compound butter.

buttery herb brioche

The flavor of sage was predominant, which was a nice complement to the earthy flavors of the next course, a Poulet Rouge with Mushroom-Truffle Ragout and Yellow Chanterelles. Poulet Rouge is a Heritage breed chicken brought to the United States from France and is currently raised in North Carolina. It is rich in flavor and much more tender then the chicken found in a local grocery store. This dish was served with a Pinot Noir to go nicely with the deep woodsy flavor of the truffles. Truffles…simply AMAZING.

Poulet Rouge with Mushroom-Truffle Ragout

Next came the adventurous course…elk. This was a Minnesota Elk Tenderloin with a Braised Red Cabbage Tart. A bit gamier and denser in texture than beef, the elk was cooked to a perfect medium rare and was delicious. The cabbage tart was both tart and sweet and went well with the richness of the sauce for the elk. The wine for this course was a Domaine La Roquete from the Rhone region of France. I would say it is most similar to a Syrah.

Minnesota Elk Tenderloin

We were starting to feel a bit full at this point. The courses may look small, but they begin to add up.

We decided to get up and stretch our legs and try to walk off some of the prior six courses before going forward. We were escorted out of the kitchen and taken to a small balcony off of the second floor of the Grand Floridian. We came out just in time to see the sunset over the Seven Seas Lagoon and the Polynesian. What a beautiful night.

Grand Floridian Sunset

After about a twenty-minute break, we headed back into the kitchen for both our final bread and meat courses. The bread was a hearty multi-grain with salted butter and the meat, Australian “Kobe” Beef Tenderloin with Oxtail Jus. The beef just melted in my mouth. This came with the most buttery, silky mashed potatoes and baby vegetables. I guess you have to get your veggies in, right? Served with a rich Cabernet Sauvignon, this was the perfect culmination to the savory portion of the meal.

Hearty multi-grain bread

Australian “Kobe” Beef Tenderloin

To provide this transition from savory to sweet, we were brought the cheese course – always a crowd-pleaser with my family! The progression of the four cheeses began with a mild Gouda Goat, a sharp Cheddar, a smooth Gouda Reypender, and finished with a strong Stilton. All were served with various accouterments such as a date bar, candied fruit and balsamic syrup, and a delicious Vintage Port gave each cheese a new life. A cheese course to remember!

Cheese Course

At Victoria & Albert’s they have a very unique way of serving coffee. It is brewed table-side in a strange looking contraption that looks like it came out of a chemistry lab. My Dad and I ordered the Kona coffee, my Step-mom got the house blend and Barry had his favorite Mad Hatter’s Tea Party tea. All were very tasty and we received a science lesson along with it!

Coffee Service

Coffee Service

As our coffee was brewing, we noticed that one of the chefs was making some sort of pasta. The fun part about the chef’s table is that the chef’s welcome any questions and are more than happy to tell you about how they prepare certain dishes. This chef was making herbed gnocchi, which we enjoyed with our Poulet Rouge. I have never seen someone move so quickly and so precisely at the same time. These are quite talented chefs in the Victoria & Albert’s kitchen.

Chef making herbed gnocchi

Next was the first of our two dessert courses. Yes I said TWO dessert courses! This was a Tropical Summer Fruit Pave, which they have nicknamed the “Monorail Dessert.” You can see why from the photo. It was a crisp, refreshing dessert with flavors of passion fruit, guava and white chocolate, served with a sweet dessert wine. It was beautifully presented with a colorful sugar display.

Tropical Summer Fruit Pave

Then came the final dessert…Death by Chocolate. This was a Tanzanie Chocolate Mousse and White Chocolate Gelato served with a spiked hot chocolate. This was rich, creamy and sinful…everything a good chocolate dessert should be. We were all so full at this point that sadly I don’t think any of us finished this dessert.

Death by Chocolate Dessert

And if that wasn’t enough, out came the Friandise plate, which is a large assortment of house made chocolates and candies. My jaw just dropped…two desserts now this! Our server was nice enough to package all of these up for us to enjoy when we got back to our hotel room.

Friandise plate

We were stuffed to the gills and probably the happiest four people in all of Walt Disney World. This was inarguably one of the best meals we’ve ever had. And the food didn’t stop there…we were also given an orange-date loaf to enjoy for breakfast the next day. Chef Hunnel came out once again to present us with our personalized menus describing all of the wonderful food we just ate, and my Step-mom and I both received roses. I couldn’t leave without getting a photo with all of the wonderful chefs who made this meal for us and they were happy to oblige.

Chefs at Victoria and Albert's

Was this meal cheap? No. It was incredibly expensive, but in my opinion completely worth it. This is not something we would do on every trip or even every other trip, but an experience saved for a special occasion. This was our first trip together as a family, and what a way to end it. I can’t speak highly enough of Chef Hunnel and his staff. If you have the means, it is not to be missed.

As we left the restaurant, we returned to the balcony where we had watched the sunset earlier that night. We were just in time to see the Electrical Water Pageant in front of the Polynesian as it made its way over to the Grand Floridian…a perfect Disney ending to a truly magical evening.

Electrical Water Pageant from GF Balcony

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14 Comments

  1. My wife and I were married at Disney in 08, and the highlight of our trip was a visit to V&A’s. We resolved then that every other year we would return, and I’m looking forward to visit #3 next year…hopefully at the Chef’s Table. Great review!

  2. Kelly says:

    The tropical fruit summer pave dessert they were serving at the Party for the Senses I went too.

    I went to V&A’s back in ’98…I was 13. I long to go back…

  3. Tricia says:

    Fabulous post! My husband and I got married in 1998 and V & A was part of our wedding package. We then returned for our 10 year anniversary and enjoyed the experience again. Looks like the Chef’s Table will be our next experience – sounds awesome!

  4. Galloping Gourmand says:

    Oh. Oh god. Oh GOD. *sigh*

  5. Brular says:

    WoW! I’ve been able to book V&A’s Chef Table for my upcoming late September Birthday Bash WDW trip and this is making me really really excited!

    Thank you, Sarah, for a very nice post, I guess I have to count the days, now…

  6. Andrew says:

    Continuing what seems to be a developing theme, my wife and I also dined at V&A on our honeymoon last October. We couldn’t get the Chef’s Table, but we were seated in the Queen Victoria Room, and had almost the same menu you did. We agreed that it was one of the finest meals we’d ever had, and my wife is a chef with ten years’ experience in fine dining, so that’s saying something!

    As wonderful as the food was (and it was, indeed, wonderful), the high point of our meal was watching the man at the next table propose to his girlfriend between dinner and dessert. Clearly, V&A is every bit as infused with love as the couple it’s named after!

    Definitely an experience we still talk about, and will treasure forever. And definitely an experience we plan to repeat.

  7. Andrew says:

    Does anyone know how well V&A handles requests for vegetarian meals?

  8. Aurora says:

    You and Barry(kick) Look WONDERFUL!!!! I wish I could eat half of that food lol. Being allergic to cheese has me knocked down a few notches of doing a V&A dinner……. LOVED the Desserts though!!!!!

  9. Mark says:

    Sarah, this is wonderful! I’ve been debating back and forth about the chef’s table for a while and every time I read another review, finally breaking down and going moves further up the priority list. Appreciate the detail you gave, thanks so much!

  10. Andrew says:

    @Aurora: Don’t let a cheese allergy stop you from eating at V&A (or any other restaurant of that caliber, for that matter). When you make your reservation, tell them about your allergy, and they should tailor a menu for your needs. That’s the great thing about true, quality fine dining places: they want you to have an enjoyable experience, even if it means they have to alter things for you.

    When we made our reservation, my wife didn’t enjoy seafood at all. I told V&A this, and they served her a relatively fish-free meal, while I got a bit more of the seafood that was on that evening’s menu. (For that matter, Napa Rose in Disneyland’s Grand Californian did a good job creating a vegetarian Vintner’s Table menu for her, including a separate set of wine pairings.)

    If there’s one thing I’ve learned being married to a former fine-dining chef, the more you’re paying for a meal, the more you can ask for it to be tailored to your tastes and needs.

  11. Amanda says:

    O-M-G! everything looks amazing. I have always wanted to go here but my husband is the worlds pickiest eater. I on the other hand, will eat anything. I might call and just be like “can you guys just make him a big cheeseburger?”

  12. AFoodie says:

    Ha! Amanda, you & your hubby sound EXACTLY like me & mine! I always want the super-foodiest food and he’s like “It’s too gourmet!” :)

  13. CanadiansloveWDW says:

    WOW .. there is not much to say other then that… exept as soon as my oldest daughter is old enough to watch her sister on a trip to WDW.. the wife and I will be doing this.

  14. marci says:

    great review!! My husband and I were eating at V&A the same night as Sarah, only in the main dining room and not at the Chef’s table, so I’ve been wondering how the Chef’s table compared! Sounds wonderful! Thanks for the great review Sarah.. either way I think V&A is definitely worth it!

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