Grand Floridian Cafe
Today we head over to the beautiful Grand Floridian Resort to dine at one of Disney World’s most underrated restaurants, in my opinion. And if it’s not underrated, it’s at least a hidden gem.
The Grand Floridian Cafe is located in the main building of the resort, tucked back off the lobby to your left. You’ll pass it when heading out side toward the marina, Narcoossee’s, and Gasparilla Grill, but you might not even take notice it’s there.
Decorated in muted shades of pink, mauve, and sea green, the Grand Floridian Cafe is the resort’s requisite “moderately priced restaurant.” There are no characters here, no signature dining qualification, and no 5-diamond rating. But it functions quite well, offers most walk-up guests a seat with no wait, and actually has some pretty darn good food!
The dining room is pleasing — even if it does seem a bit dated — and I can tell you from experience that when you find a decent restaurant in Disney World where you can get a walk-up table without an Advance Dining Reservation during Spring Break, it’s like you’ve won a little lottery.
Light woods and massive windows make the dining room light and airy.
And beautiful, if nondescript, food-themed watercolors can be found throughout the restaurant.
Overall, it’s a pleasing, and usually quite quiet, atmosphere to have a meal, and a great place to escape to from the Magic Kingdom via monorail or boat.
I’d heard all kinds of reviews of the Grand Floridian Cafe, running the gamut from “the best food we’ve ever eaten,” to “we really didn’t like it at all.” So I was eager to sample some of the dishes I’d heard about.
I started out with a “Red Grape Sensation,” one of the newer drinks on the standard Disney World bar and lounge menu. Ingredients included: Rain Organics Red Grape Hibiscus Vodka, Cranberry juice, Agave Nectar, and freshly squeezed Lime juice topped with Soda Water. It wasn’t bad, but nothing all that memorable. Sigh.
The husband started out with a Heineken — not normal for him, but it sure did look frosty and yummy!
If you have kiddos, you can get these fun drinks (usually a fruit punch or lemonade) with clip-on character lights!
Bread was quickly delivered to the table with salted butter (yay!), and we dove in. Definitely freshly baked — delicious. I always love when there’s a bit of sweetness in the bread, so the mini-loaves with raisins were a fun treat.
The Caesar Salad, ordered by guess who (not me), was acceptable. As usual, the croutons were the best part!
And I begged the server to stop by our table to let me snap a shot of a Strawberry Salad ordered by another patron! This is a particularly beloved dish at Grand Floridian Cafe, and I wanted you to see it even if we didn’t order it…
My appetizer was INCREDIBLE. It was: Gorgonzola Onion Soup with Pear and Bacon Garnish. I do not kid. It had an almost smokey, savory flavor to it, and the pear and bacon garnish gave the perfect accents of crunchy sweetness and salty tang to the dish. A truly amazing soup. I mean — look at those thick chunks of bacon and those little pearl onions. Stunning.
Next up — entrees! We ordered the penne pasta with Asiago cream sauce and peas, substituting chicken for shrimp; and the grilled rib-eye with Parmesan frites and red wine sauce.
The pasta was decent. I would have enjoyed a bit more sauce, but the addition of fresh, crisp peas and the sharp Asiago cheese was great. I did need to add salt, but that’s not saying much. I add salt to everything.
The rib-eye was delicious and cooked exactly as we’d requested. But I found it odd to have SO much red wine sauce on it. It was thick — like a gravy — and was poured with a heavy hand. It felt a bit too “Salisbury Steak”-ish to me, if you know what I mean. The Parmesan frites were lovely! We could definitely have done with another order of those! The veggies were slightly bitter, but I still ate ‘em all.
For dessert, there are lots of options, but overall I’d suggest you get either the Dessert Sampler, which has Tiramisu, Chocolate-Hazelnut Mousse Cake, Lemon Cheesecake, and the Key Lime Tart; or the dessert fondue. We ordered the Key Lime Tart and the Lemon Cheesecake thinking we’d get larger portions of each than we would on the sampler. This is not the case, and we ended up spending $7 on two desserts instead of getting four for $10. PLUS, you get a chocolate Mickey. Not fair.
So, yes, the cheesecake and key lime tart were very small, but for just $3.29, that’s an acceptable size — and just enough sweet, really. If you’re one of those folks who dislikes the ginormous desserts served at most restaurants, this will be just right for you.
And we really did enjoy each dessert. My husband is a huge fan of the lemon cheesecake, and I loved the key lime tart, which had a chocolate crust!!!. Yummo.
But I think my winner of the evening was the chocolate dessert fondue. I’m a big fan of interactive desserts, AND I think any dessert with chunks of fresh fruit means it must be healthy. So I had a ball with this one. The chocolate was truly outstanding — just delicious. The only thing I’d do to change this one would be to toast those marshmallows a bit before plating them…
Really, this restaurant is a hidden gem. If you haven’t been here, find a day when you need a quiet lunch, a yummy breakfast, or an escape from anywhere, and pop in.
The service for us was excellent — top notch — and you can tell that the chefs in the kitchen are playing with new and fun ideas (read: Gorgonzola Onion Soup!!!) while keeping the favorites on the menu (Grand Floridian Cafe Burger, complete with Lobster and Hollandaise!!).
Next time — we’re going for breakfast. Then we’re having the burger after that!
How about you? Let us know what you think about the Grand Floridian Cafe in the comments section below!