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Guest Review: Citricos at Disney World’s Grand Floridian Resort

The Grand Floridian Resort is home to several fine dining experiences. Today, guest author Rebecca Dolan reviews the resort’s Citricos restaurant.

I can’t believe I’ve been missing out on Citricos all these years.

My family and I tend to shy away from Disney’s fine dining experiences. Truth be told, we’re often just too tired (read: lazy) to put on “real” clothes after a day at the parks. But, this meal is even worth putting on your nice khakis for.

Atmosphere

Citricos is set on the second floor of Walt Disney World’s Grand Floridian Resort at the back of the main building, where it shares a check-in foyer with Victoria & Albert’s.

A set of iron gates is an artistic touch to delineate the waiting area from the bar and dining room.

The gates to Citricos

Fun gate detail

Past them is the first dining area and bar. This is bordered by large windows overlooking the rest of the hotel and the Seven Seas Lagoon to the right, with a large wine room, bar, and display kitchen to the left. A bit further back is a glass-and-wood enclosed “chef’s domain” — a private dining rom.

The bar

Front part of the dining room, with tons of natural light

Entrance to the glass-enclosed private dining room

The rear part of the dining room is perhaps what Citricos is known for architecturally. The round room is enclosed by what are essentially floor-to-ceiling windows, offering an amazing view of the property, the lagoon, and even part of the Magic Kingdom.

Round dining room, again with no shortage of a view

Looking out over the Grand Floridian

Though it’s a bit obstructed, you can even catch a glimpse of thefireworks show. We were lucky enough to be there on the evening of a holiday fireworks display, so the sky was extra lit up.

Not a bad glimpse of the Magic Kingdom fireworks

The décor can be best described as “contemporary Mediterranean cool” – a point my mother and I spent much time deliberating. One might expect a contemporary restaurant to be stark, but Citricos is quite inviting with its use of design elements like warm colors, lighting, tiled floors, and wooden accents.

A swirl motif was carried throughout the space – in the chairs, curtain rods, floor tiles, carpet – and added a whimsical note that reminded me of the sea. The big cushy chairs at the table did not hurt either!

Eats

The menu continued with the contemporary Mediterranean vibe of the dining room.

Citricos Menu -- click image for larger version

Citricos Menu -- click image for larger version

Our meal kicked off with an amuse bouche — a two-bite morsel of grilled swordfish with fennel pollen and white asparagus.

Swordfish amuse bouche

We were also offered a bread basket filled with multi-grain and black olive breads. Of course, there was Disney’s favorite sea-salted butter on the side.

Bread and butter offering

I’m a sucker for a flavored iced tea, so I was excited to see a lemongrass infused variety here. To make it even better, our waiter gave me one of the Mickey swirly straws. Just goes to show you that everyone’s a kid at heart in Disney World, even in the most “adult” restaurants.

Flavored ice tea

To begin, we ordered the tamarind-grilled Berkshire pork belly, charcuterie plate, arancini, and grilled summer vegetable soup.

The arancini (though it was really only “arancino” as there was only one) was good — about what you would expect a fried risotto ball to be. Creamy on the inside and crispy on the outside.

Arancini

The soup was more like broth with a few flecks of vegetables, and unmemorable.

The charcuterie was good, again no notable breakthroughs in the field of cured meat. Though, I will say that I’m determined to replicate that pickled fennel at home.

The charcuterie plate was more than enough for two

The clear winner of the appetizer round was the delightfully fatty and tender pork belly, with its sweet corn pudding to cut the richness. It was just enough for two without being too heavy.

Berkshire pork belly

Since the amuse was basically the swordfish on the menu that I’d planned on ordering, I switched gears and went for the pan-seared Florida black grouper so I could taste something different. The filet sat nicely atop egg fettuccine in a light tomato water with blistered tomatoes and basil.

Unfortunately this dish fell flat for me. The elements were there – perfectly-cooked fish and al dente homemade pasta with a nice bit of chew – but it would have benefited from a more liberal use of salt. The waiter explained that the chef was aiming for a light summer dish, which it was, but light and flavorful don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

Florida black grouper over homemade fettuccine

The Madeira-braised short ribs, however, were a completely different story. The ribs were so soft, and the braise so rich and dark, photos just did not do this justice. And, whoever thought to mix cheese grits with mashed potatoes is a complete genius as they may have created the ultimate starchy side.

The unctuousness of the meat combined with the generous amount of carbs made this dish almost impossible for one person to finish. Which is good, because when my mom went to the restroom I may or may not have basically polished it off for her. We would go back just for this.

Madeira-braised short ribs

For dessert it was the lemon-scented cheesecake and warm chocolate banana torte.

Desserts Menu -- click image for larger version

After dinner drink menu (with a nice tea selection).

We were pretty excited about this course after watching a pastry chef form chocolate and sugar into garnishes all night. I think she did a pretty good job.

The cheesecake was light, creamy and just slightly lemon kissed. This dessert is a staple at the Grand Floridian, and it was a solid note to end a meal on.

Lemon-scented cheesecake

The chocolate torte is Citricos’ signature dessert and it’s for the true chocoholic — warm, melty, gooey, and way heavy on the dark chocolate.

Death-by-chocolate chocolate torte

I will say that I wish I had ordered the gelato tasting, if only to have the tiny ice cream cones each mini scoop was presented on.

Overall

Sure there were a couple of missteps on my visit, but the good outshone the bad. I would come back to Citricos in a heartbeat, especially if it means getting to dive into those short ribs again. If you’re planning to add a fine dining option to your Disney itinerary, give Citricos a shot.

Have you dined at Citricos? Share your experience with us in the comments below!

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22 Comments

  1. Joni says:

    Really? One rice ball for 12.00 Seriously, you didn’t eat one before you took the picture?
    WOW. At least was it at least baseball size ?
    I don’t mind paying for fine dining but that is really, wow , I’m just shocked.

  2. Deb says:

    We had a wonderful dinner here this summer. We had never eaten at any of Disney’s fine dining establishments before so this was a special treat. The service and food was wonderful and it was so nice to eat in a quiet, relaxed atmosphere after a busy day in the parks. My daughter is a vegetarian so we loved the fact that the all of the signature restaurants had options for her that were as creative and delicious as the rest of the menu:)

  3. SCB says:

    I ate at Citrico’s in February 2013 and was less than impressed. The food was overly salty, and the service was not up to par with signature restaurant standards. I much prefer Narcoosee’s on the GF property in terms of food quality, service, and views. Glad you enjoyed, though! Maybe it has improved since I was there :).

  4. Jeff says:

    One thing I struggle with is trying to get a concept of portion sizes in these reviews. Many times I see the authors are ordering 3 or 4 appetizers, 2 or 3 entrées, and 2 or 3 desserts, plus the bread basket. This is fairly normal for my wife and I to order, but many times I don’t know if these reviewed meals are being shared by more than two people. I think it would be helpful to mention that, so we could be better at estimating how many apps, entrées, and desserts to order for ourselves. As Joni mentions the rice ball, if that was the size of a golf ball, I’d still be ordering 2 other appetizers for myself. If it’s baseball size, then probably just one more. So was this dinner just two of you, or was there someone else stealing some of the food?

  5. Jacky says:

    The pasta with the grouper does not look very appetizing. I have to agree 1 rice ball for $12 is ridiculous.

  6. John says:

    Look, I love to eat and I’m certainly not cheap … but $43.00 for braised short ribs ? Holy moly. I love them, but I’ve never seen them on a menu anywhere for over $30.

  7. Sherri Erwin says:

    I love Citricos. I’m surprised the Gateau of Crab is no longer on the first course menu. To be honest, it wasn’t my favorite-ever crab cake, but it was definitely unique and seemed to be a favorite menu staple for a long time.

    But the short rib looks amazing, and John, I’ve definitely seen them on menus for over $30. Maybe because I’m closer to pricey NYC? But it doesn’t seem out of line to me.

  8. Cheryl Donofrio says:

    Thank you for your review. This has convinced me that I wouldn’t care for Citrico’s. The desserts were the only thing on the menu that appealed to me! The prices were high, and the menu was what I would describe as snooty-yuppy-trendy. Pork belly? Yuck! And after paying all that money for the entree, it was only OK? OMG!

  9. John says:

    I eat all over the country, Sherri – it’s rare to see them that pricey. I don’t even recall them being that high at the better Napa restaurants, though it’s been a few years since I’ve been there. I love them, and I usually go for that over a filet, but $43 for a slow cooked short rib is pretty absurd – and I doubt Citrico’s has Thomas Keller in back whipping them up.

    I’m sure the restaurant loves them, though – that’s one of those great dishes you can make early and in huge quantities and at that price, it’s got to be the biggest profit margin on the list when labor is factored in.

    Does Citrico’s take TiW ? that 20% discount would at least bring the price down to tolerable.

  10. Gloria says:

    I always chuckle when I see pork belly on fine dining menus! Growing up, my parents used pork belly, salt pork, etc. in order to stretch meals or use as seasoning. What once was an inexpensive and less desirable option for protein is now showing up on gourmet menus, slathered with barbecue sauce and served with a side of cream corn.

  11. Miranda midas says:

    I loved eating at Citricos, and had the most incredible pork I have ever tasted there. The one thing I didn’t enjoy was the chocolate banana torte. I love chocolate and love bananas, but this just tasted like espresso coffee to me. I even love super-dark chocolate (I’m happy eating raw cocoa nibs, and 88% cocoa solids chocolate here in the UK), but it just didn’t taste of anything except coffee to me. I swapped desserts with my husband (who hates bananas and only likes milk chocolate), and he agreed it didn’t taste chocolatey to him either, although he ate it. I enjoyed his berry gratin instead, which was divine!

  12. Lynda says:

    Interesting! We have had two bad experiences with food/service at Narcoosee’s and went to Citricos on a Tuesday night last November. Both food and service were so outstanding we went back that Saturday night, canceling a Flying Fish reservation to do so! This grouper dish did not look nearly as good as the one served then. Wonderfully, they are most willing and happy to customize your meal for you…This trip in December we booked Citricos and left Narcoosee’s of our list!

  13. Rebecca Dolan says:

    @ Joni — It wasn’t that big, probably the size of a clementine. I probably would not order it again as it was small and not that exciting.

    @ SCB — That’s funny, because I ate at Narcoose’s about two years ago and was not impressed at all. I thought this was much better. Perhaps I hit Narcoosse’s on an off night.

    @ Jeff — Good point! There were two of us and we were pretty stuffed afterwards. The pork belly and arancini were tapas sized, so you could eat a couple. The charcuterie was from the regular appetizer menu, and I think at least three could have eaten from it. The entrees were also fairly generous for fine dining. My companion only ate half of the short ribs and would have taken some home… if I hadn’t poached them :) The fish was big too, with a mound of pasta, but as I didn’t care for it I didn’t eat much.

    @ Jacky — Unfortunately, it was not. Though I will say that it looked better in person than it did in the photo, and it was cooked perfectly. I just wish it had been more seasoned.

    @ Cheryl — Happy to help, haha. As far as fine dining goes, this was definitely on the least pretentious end of the spectrum, though.

    @ John — That was my reaction, too. But if you are going to splurge, these are some of the best short ribs you will have anywhere. And, yes, we used TiW.

  14. Rebecca Dolan says:

    Haha, and apparently I can’t spell Narcoossee’s!

  15. Joy O says:

    I seem to agree with almost everyone. $12 for one rice ball is a little steep for me – a gauge for the size would be helpful. I am always interested to hear reviews of places I have never visited or haven’t been to in years. I do find the prices to be high but would not scoff at a chance to dine here. Pork belly has my name all over it. While yes – it is widely considered an underused and inexpensive cut – to execute it properly takes a serious amount of time/effort. I like when a restaurant does it for me :) Short ribs also do seem a LITTLE pricey. I’d expect them to run approx. $38 in comparison to the price on the filet. Either way – it’s a tasty option I’d go for anyway. I was most interested to see the charcuterie offering as I always wonder how much food it ACTUALLY is. Pleasantly surprised. Thanks for the review – I’d definitely try Citricos but stay away from that fish dish.

  16. Debbi says:

    Citrico’s has long since been a favorite of my husband and myself for quite a few years. The atmosphere is quiet in comparison to all of the other Signature Restaurants and definitely less traveled. We are Annual PassHolders and participate in Tables of Wonderland – so it especially helps to “offset’ the prices that all of the Signature Restaurants demand. We find their cheese platter falls short in comparison to Californian Grill and Narcoosee’s to name few. We have not really cared for the Charcuterie Plate but the Sauteed Shrimp and Feta appetizer is always fantastic and ordered each time we visit! Both the Braised Veal Shank and Short Ribs are always a favorite. We will definitely do the pork belly on our next visit

  17. Essie says:

    I would not be tempted to eat here. Too fancy for me, although I appreciate good food (Le Cellier is a favorite of mine). Though I’m very anxious to have a nice English afternoon tea at the GF on my next visit. Thanks for the review.

  18. Anna says:

    Very well-written! Thanks for the interesting review.

  19. Michelle says:

    My family and I have a fond appreciation for Citricos and it’s amazing staff. We have a special family dinner there every year. In 2010 we were unable to go to Disney because my father had a stem cell transplant. The staff at Citricos remembered our family and acknowledged my Dad and his “return” to Disney post transplant and celebrate his new lease on life with a special birthday dessert and his favorite meal. Sadly, my Dad passed away a month before our 2012 trip. We rescheduled our trip for February 2013. I re-booked our reservations, and with heavy hearts we decided to start the trip with a meal at Citricos in honor of my Dad. When we arrived they had a special menu printed in his honor and a bottle of prosecco waiting for us. Ciara, a favorite server of my Dad’s was there for us. We reminisced about my Dad, his favorite meal – the short ribs and crab cake – and his love of Disney and taking us there. The night was capped off with a special birthday cake made by the pastry chef who remembered my Dad was not a fan of the banana chocolate torte. They completely turned our somewhat melancholy start to our vacation with a truly memorable and caring experience. We’ll always be grateful to the staff at Citricos! Although I will say I agree about the $12 rice ball ;)

  20. Lynne B. says:

    I live in the Boston area, and the prices are right on par for an upascale restaurant around here.

  21. Rebecca Dolan says:

    Thanks for reading, Anna!

  22. Emily says:

    Great review! Thanks! I have a question that might seem weird. :) Where else at Disney World can you get a swirly Mickey straw? Thank you!!!

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