Guest Review: Victoria & Albert’s at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort

While an exclusive meal at the Chef’s Table at Victoria & Albert’s is a unique experience, the main dining room exudes romance. This week, guest author Michelle Buchecker reviews this table service restaurant at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort.

Located on the second floor in the main building of the Grand Floridian Resort, Victoria and Albert’s puts the “fine” in “fine dining”.

This table-service restaurant has won many awards and accolades for its fine food and superb service. The restaurant is divided into three seating areas: Main Dining room, Queen Victoria’s room, and Chefs Table. The Chefs table is in the kitchen. There is only 1 table and it often books well in advance. The Queen Victoria room seats 8 people and has only 1 seating a night. The 8 people may be all 1 party or 4 parties of 2 people or whatever ends up being reserved. But once they hit 8 people they close reservations.

Victoria and Albert's Entrance

Victoria and Albert’s Entrance

The main dining room (where we dined) has about 20 tables and has 2 seatings per night. This is a prix fixe meal for $135. A wine pairing is an extra $65. In addition, the menu will have “upcharge” items, which I will mention in the details below.

Victoria and Albert's Seating

Victoria and Albert’s Seating

The dress code is jacket and dress pants for men, and nice dress or pants for women. Ties are optional. We did see 1 family where the 2 men were dressed in tuxes and the woman was in a long cocktail dress. Most women were in nice dresses or skirts, but I did see one lady who was more casually dressed.

Our reservation was for 5:15PM on a Friday night. We arrived about 5:00PM and the doors were still locked. There were several other couples seated in the lounge area that is shared by Victoria and Albert’s and Citricos. Shortly after, a hostess came and asked people their names and escorted them into the restaurant based on their reservation time. Reservations are staggered, my guess is to not overwhelm the staff all at once. At about 5:10 we were escorted in and shown our table.

Atmosphere

As you enter the restaurant there is a table with several bottles of expensive liqueurs and a huge pink “rock” of Himalayan sea salt.

Victoria and Albert's Main Dining Room

Victoria and Albert’s Main Dining Room

A nice way to greet guests

A nice way to greet guests

A harp and harpist are just beyond this. The center of the main dining room has a table with a large flower centerpiece.

Our table had a small lamp lit with a candle.

Victoria and Albert's Table Setting

Victoria and Albert’s Table Setting

Other tables had a single candlestick with a long, tapered candle. Charger plates on the table were adorned with the restaurant logo. Adding to the ambiance, the lighting was soft and romantic but not too dark. I could read the menu without my iPhone flashlight which says something!

victoria and alberts plate

victoria and alberts plate

Each table gets two servers. These servers are responsible for multiple tables, but it is clear that they don’t have too many to get overwhelmed. The servers are attentive but not hovering.

One of our two servers

One of our two servers

The waitstaff are very professional and will remain so unless you start asking questions that allow them to open up and even crack a joke or two. For instance, we asked our server what the dress code was for the Queen Victoria room in case we opted to dine there in the future (my husband made it clear if he had to wear a tie it wasn’t going to happen). Our server responded that men had to wear tuxes and women had to wear ballerina costumes. ;) That broke the ice quite a bit. He then explained it was the same dress code as the main dining room.

No children under 10 are allowed to dine in the restaurant. This certainly keeps the noise down and the restaurant was almost library quiet until most of the tables filled in.

The restrooms are near the entrance. You go down a hallway past payphones! I think that may be in keeping with creating an atmosphere of yesteryear. ;) The women’s restroom has a nice large common sink area and 2 stalls. Each stall is really its own separate room with walls and a door that goes all the way to the floor. Each stall also has its own sink as well. No paper towels here; not good enough. Instead there are washcloths to dry your hands.

classy -- all the way

classy — all the way

You dispose of the washcloths in a wicker basket, which is lined with fabric that has Mickey Mouse and Pluto. This was the only instance of any Disney characters I saw.

Mickey and Donald!

Mickey and Donald!

Eats

A few days before your reservation, the restaurant will call you to discuss any dietary restrictions. This is the second time we dined at Victoria and Albert’s; the first was several years ago. On our first visit I had a long, lengthy discussion with the cast member about my likes (small list) and dislikes (long list). I was trepidatious about dining but everything turned out great, which made me feel confident about making the second reservation.

However, when I was talking about dietary items with the cast member for this second reservation she said “Do you have any allergies or dietary restrictions? Or are they just preferences?” I explained they were preferences, but strong preferences. I don’t eat seafood or any meat that is not chicken, turkey, or beef. Not that I haven’t tried eating different things, but I believe I am a supertaster, which means I have more taste buds than average. This makes things taste much stronger than most people taste. She said that she would make a note.

I was back to being anxious again and almost canceled the reservation. Spending that kind of money and maybe still being hungry afterward is not something I want to repeat (I’m looking at you Spiaggia in Chicago!). But I decided to go through with it and hope for the best.

Our server asked if we wanted tap or sparkling water, or if we wanted to see the menu of waters from around the world. Tap water is just fine with us after she assured us it was super filtered (ie: didn’t taste like icky Orlando water). The tap water was indeed just fine.

For our drink order, my husband went with the wine pairing and I opted for the pomegranate lemonade. There was never a point during the course of the meal where either my lemonade glass or water glass were close to empty. My father always said you can tell the mark of a good restaurant by never having to ask for a refill of water.

We received our menus and our server went over my husband’s menu and all the different selections he could have for the different courses. She then went over my custom menu and I could finally relax that there would be plenty for me to eat! Yay! In addition our server has a sister who is a supertaster, so could understand my needs.

For starters, there is an Amuse-Bouche. French for mouth amusement. Usually this is a small 1 or 2 bite tasting of some item the chef wants to create. My husband’s amuse-bouche was something seafood related. I remember it had caviar on top. Mine wasn’t seafood and had 8 year old balsamic vinegar sprinkling and butternut squash puree and a little beef tenderloin. Sadly I didn’t think to take a picture at this point. But it was good and tasty. Brad also was served his first glass of wine. My guess was it was a 3 or 4 oz pour.

Brad had an optional upcharge course of Imperial Osetra Cavier with Traditional Garnishes. $105 for ½ oz, or $210 for 1 oz. He passed on that.

The next course was a salad, or salad-like, dish. Brad had his choice of Pintade Fermiere Verrine with Fuji Apples and Walnuts, or Octopus “A La Plancha” with Black Garlic Aioli. He opted for the octopus.

Octopus starter

Octopus starter

I wasn’t given a choice for this course and had the Miniature Greens with White Balsamic Vinaigrette.

Starter salad

Starter salad

Both dishes were met with approval.

Next course: Brad was given the choice between Maine Diver Scallop with Cauliflower and Glace de Viande, or Lock Duart Salmon with Mushrooms and Porcini Sauce, or Wild Turbot with Toasted Capers and Preserved Lemon. There was a $30 upcharge for the Turbot. He opted for the Scallop.

Tender scallops

Tender scallops

No choice for me, so I had the Vegetable Consommé.

Vegetable Consomme with Butternut Squash

Vegetable Consomme with Butternut Squash

When the server brought the consommé out, there were 3 small balls of butternut squash in the bottom of an otherwise empty soup bowl. On top of each ball, was a microgreen (basil?). Our server then poured the consommé into the bowl over the butternut squash. Very elegant!

For our next dishes, Brad’s choices were Palmetto Farms Quail with Asian Pears, Serrano Ham Jus, or Berkshire Pork with Corn and Stone Ground Grits. Brad had the quail.

Quail

Quail

Once again no choice for me so I had the House Made Gnocchi with Corn.

Gnocchi with foam topping

Gnocchi with foam topping

This may have been my favorite dish of the evening. I was expecting Gnocchi dumplings with a little side of corn. Instead the gnocchi were underneath a corn foam, and swimming in a broth that was a cross between a corn chowder and chicken broth. There were kernels of the sweetest corn I’ve had as well as something black that I could not identify but had a wonderful taste.

On to the main course! Brad had a choice of Marcho Farms Veal “Cassoulet”, or Roasted Duck with Fennel and Leeks “A l’Orange”, or Niman Ranch Lamb with Butternut Squash Agnolotti, or Australian Kobe-Style Beef Tenderloin with Oxtail Ravioli ($35 upcharge), or True Japanese Kobe Beef ($110 upcharge). Our server mentioned that if he got one of the 1st 3 items, he could add a 2 oz tasting portion of the beef. The tasting portion of the Australian tenderloin would be $22 and the tasting portion of the Japanese Kobe would be $55. He got the lamb and the tasting portion of the Australian tenderloin.

Lamb and Tenderloin

Lamb and Tenderloin

We wondered, but did not ask, if the wine pairing would include an extra wine with the tasting portion. And if it did would it be extra. Lo and behold he did get 2 wines, 1 for the regular entrée and one that paired with the tenderloin and there was no additional charge. So that was probably a decent deal.

I finally had a choice on my menu! I could get either the Poulet Rouge with Butternut Squash Agnolotti, or either of the aforementioned upcharge beef items. I could also get the upcharge beef tastings. Since Brad was already getting the tasting of the Australian beef, I knew I’d get to taste that. So I went with the chicken.

Thank you Victoria and Alberta's for my chicken accommodation!

Thank you Victoria and Alberta’s for my chicken accommodation!

The chicken was tender and relatively moist. It was cut into small medallions and served with the skin on. I was getting pretty full by this time and I did not finish the chicken. Both entrees came with what was called winter squash. But to me they tasted more like overcooked summer squashes. I love most winter squashes (butternut, acorn, pumpkin, etc.), but not summer. And these had a summer squash taste to them.

The Australian Kobe-Style Beef Tenderloin was the most devoid of fat piece of beef I have seen in my life. Cooked medium-rare (but you can have it cooked to your liking), I found it flavorful but surprisingly chewy. Brad’s entrée came with a sauce in the smallest, cutest pitcher I have ever seen.

Pitcher and a Nickel!

Pitcher and a Nickel!

That’s not even a quarter in that picture, but a nickel.

Wait! There’s another course before dessert? Yes. We both had the same choices of Parmigiano Reggioan, Fiscalini Cheddar, Sottocenere Al Tartufo, Roquefort (basically 4 cheeses), or Roasted White Chocolate Gelato with Balsamic Glaze. Brad got the cheeses, I got the gelato.

An assortment of cheeses after the main entrée course

An assortment of cheeses after the main entrée course

White Chocolate Gelato

White Chocolate Gelato

Normally I am not a white chocolate fan. To me it’s not really chocolate. But this had a nice subtle taste and was a perfect palette cleanser. I didn’t feel the balsamic glaze really added to it, and was a little bit of a taste distraction.

Dessert! Our choices were Tanzanian Chocolate Timbale with Orange Scented Milk Chocolate Gelato, Apple Quark Panna Cotta, Caramelized Banana Gateau, Vanilla Bean Crème Brulee, Grand Marnier Soufflé, or Hawaiian Kona Chocolate Soufflé. Hmm, Chocolate and Kona? Yes please! We both ordered the chocolate soufflé.

The unadorned soufflé

The unadorned soufflé

The soufflés came out on a small plate and then the server inserted a hole into the middle and poured the hot Kona liquid in.

molten liquid

molten liquid

It made for quite a steamy presentation. The size of the soufflé was about the size of our entrees. Not small, or petite by any measure. As such, I only finished about half of it because I was so full. I had also ordered a glass of Muscato to accompany the dessert. It complemented it very nicely. It was one of the sweetest Muscato’s I’ve had, which I loved but may not be to everyone’s taste. The soufflé was accompanied by a chocolate gelato and a ginger crisp. The gelato was not very chocolatety but the ginger crisp woke up my taste buds after a long meal.

For our post meal beverage, I continued sipping my Muscato and Brad had the coffee. But this isn’t just any old coffee, no, this is Victoria and Albert’s. They must do something special to the coffee; so they use a German engineered coffee maker called Cona (not to be confused with Kona’s!). This engineering marvel has a bowl where the coffee grounds are that sits over a separate bowl of water that in turn sits over a flame.

Coffee -- initial state

Coffee — initial state

A tube connects the water bowl to the coffee grounds bowl. The water heats and as it does so, some water and steam flow up the tube into the top bowl.

Coffee as it's almost complete

Coffee as it’s almost complete

Once the water is boiling for a while the server extinguishes the flame. Within a minute some vacuum pressurization magic happens and the coffee streams into the bottom bowl (which is really the coffee pot) and is all perfectly brewed. I think there is an upcharge for this, but it’s so cool!

Finally, the bill. Boo! And more food?? What??? Yes, because in case all of the above courses aren’t enough they bring you small additional desserts on a plate. 4 per person. 1 was mango jelly bite and was an extremely intense mango flavor. There also a chocolate caramel with sea salt, a pecan nut thing, and a fourth item (shortbread with some kind of filling).

This put us over the edge to completely full

This put us over the edge to completely full

And so you don’t leave hungry…. Each table gets a bag with their personal menus in it, and a loaf of date nut bread that is about 4” long and 2”high.

Date nut bread to take away. We had it for breakfast later.

Date nut bread to take away. We had it for breakfast later.

And each woman at the table receives a long stemmed rose with the thorns removed.

A thoughtful touch

A thoughtful touch

Overall

Victoria and Albert’s Main Dining room is what differentiates “eating” from “dining”. This is a special occasion meal with memories that will last a lifetime. It is not cheap by any means. Our total bill for the above, including tip, was $467 for two people. That’s a lot of Boma meals we could have had instead. But if you save in other ways (maybe go moderate hotel instead of deluxe, or value instead of moderate), it will be a meal long remembered. We look forward to trying the Queen Victoria room next time… in about 5-10 years!

Is Victoria and Albert’s on your bucket list? Have you been? Let us know in the comments below!

Comments

  1. Lisa C. says

    My husband and I dined there for our anniversary this year. It was absolutely the best meal either of us had ever had. At the end of it, we were full–but without that queasy feeling that I usually get if I’m full. Everything we had was superb. Is it expensive? Yes! Is it worth every penny? Absolutely!

  2. Wendy Snelgrove says

    I am so glad you told me about the lengths they went to in order to accommodate your strong eating preferences. I have a lot of foods I don’t enjoy, and always thought there were just too many of them to eat at Victoria and Albert’s, even though there are many foods I do like. You’ve given me hope that I could eat here if that were ever a realistic possibility in the future.

  3. Lori says

    I’ve always been nervous about trying V&A given that there are certain types of food that I’m not allergic to but despise. It’s good to know they call you and discuss it before you even get there. The salad, chicken, gnocchi, and gelato look spectacular and right up my alley.

  4. Keith says

    So we now have yet another subset of “restricted” eaters?…cool. I can understand why many of the finest chefs are choosing not to work in the US. This comment has been edited by the administrator to adhere to blog commenting policies. We request that commenters not be directly rude or hurtful to guest reviewers or other commenters.

  5. Sally-Ann says

    I was lucky enough to eat at Chef’s table last year and it was the best meal I have ever eaten. I think it is great that there’s the option to say what you would prefer to not eat. I dislike lamb, goat products and mussels which they accommodated for. You pay a lot of money for the meal and to know that you will be eating something you will enjoy is worth it. Chefs would prefer to know their food is not going to be wasted. If you haven’t eaten there save up and do it worth every cent

  6. DebC says

    I may sound coarse or ill-mannered, but it all sounds so pretentious to me. I guess I’m not a foodie.

  7. Janelliz says

    I will make it here one day!
    But the bathroom right outside of Yachtsman Steakhouse has cloth rags instead of paper towels. The are nice and warm too.

  8. says

    DebC — I’m so glad you left this comment. I think a foodie is simply someone who loves food. :-D Your taste in restaurants is kind of like your taste in movies or books — some people like thrillers, some people like chick flicks, some people like sci-fi; very few people like EVERYTHING. Same with restaurants. V&A is just a type of restaurant that some people enjoy and some don’t (kinda like Chef Mickey’s ;-D). If V&A isn’t up your alley, that doesn’t mean you’re not knowledgeable about good food. It just means you have $500 to spend at someplace you do enjoy :-D Thanks for your comment!

  9. Jackie says

    I think it sounds WONDERFUL!

    @Keith What happened to, if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all? This comment has been edited by the administrator to adhere to blog commenting policies. We request that commenters not be directly rude or hurtful to guest reviewers or other commenters. I know you were trying to help, Jackie, but had to edit slightly. Thanks for your comment.

    AS A CHEF, I want to know what people will and will not eat. Whether it be as DANGEROUS as an allergy or a personal preference. Sometimes, as studies show, people have a strong aversions to scents or they had spoiled food and end up with a significant aversion to a specific food. It’s THEIR money and helps me to perfect my craft. Almost like Iron Chef- “xyz” ingredients for $200+/pp, dazzle me! And yes, I am classically trained have cooked for a president and been in the food service industry for 25 years.

    Please people, eat what you like, that’s what I do!

  10. Sarah says

    One day I am going to be able to try Victoria and Albert’s. As much as I wanted to try it on our last trip, it was just too expensive a proposition. Sounds amazing though. I for one am happy to hear that they do take your likes and dislikes to heart. I’m not allergic to anything or supremely picky, but there are a few things that I really don’t care for. Considering the very limited options you get with most of these courses as well as the price you’re paying, it’s nice to know that the options I’m given aren’t going to feature items I detest as a main ingredient.

  11. Mark says

    Yes, l’ve been to the V&A. Took my wife there for her 50th birthday. It was an excellent meal, but once is enough. This place is worthy of a Disney bucket list, but at $500 plus for dinner for two you need to have money to burn to go regularly. Honestly we thought the service was overbearing. We spent 18 years in Europe and had many fabulous meals in Italy and France. Our dinner at the V&A was our record bill, but l would not say the meal was even close to our top ten. So go once and enjoy. That will be enough.

  12. Maureen says

    We have been to V&A twice-and we have really loved our experiences. I was surprised to hear that a tie is no longer required for men, I feel like it was a requirement when we went. If my husband didn’t have to wear a tie, I am sure he wouldn’t have :)

    Our servers were extremely friendly, and we felt very comfortable there. The food is AMAZING-things we would never have gotten to try other places. I agree with AJ, I feel like foodies are people who like food-and this restaurant gives us an experience we would never have anywhere near where we live.

  13. kristin says

    I absolutely love that they asked about your preferences, not just dietary restrictions. I am a carnivore, but there are certain meats I have a hard time stomaching. Your review really makes me appreciate the level of service V&A takes with each customer. I have been fortunate to dine with V&A once before in the main dining area, and it was the best meal and experience I have ever had!

  14. CJ says

    AJ – well said, and so true.

    We have dined at Victoria & Albert several times and we are NEVER disappointed. We also did the Chef’s Table in the kitchen, just the two of us for our 10 year anniversary and our very high bill was worth every penny. Our only request was no chicken, white fish, and strip steak. Chef Hammel did ask if filet-magnon, buffalo, and Chilean sea bass was okay and we said yes. So they do ask questions to gear your liking for the Chef’s Table and the dining room.

    All of the sit down restaurants will assist you with food allergies and recommendations to stay away from foods you dislike. I like how they ask if it is an actual allergy or dislike. I can’t eat pollack which is found in a lot of seafood salads so they gave me a ceviche instead – yummy!

    We have also done many grand-prix meals throughout the years and loved them all.

  15. says

    We have eaten at V&A’s twice. We ate in the Queen Victoria Room on our honeymoon in October 2010 (and saw another young couple get engaged while we were there) and ate at the Chef’s Table in January 2013. Both times, the meals were fantastic, and the service was even better. Next time, we plan on trying the regular dining room, so we can say we’ve tried every experience there is at that restaurant.

    When we were at the Chef’s Table, a crown on my tooth cracked and fell off. Fortunately, I didn’t experience any pain, and we got through the dinner without any additional incident, although I was worried we’d have to leave, so that stressed me out a bit. While we were eating, the maitre d’ printed off maps to three or four different dentists, plus the nearest Walgreens, from Google for me. He also printed up all their phone numbers on a little notecard, and put that into a little envelope with my name printed on it. So even that was handled elegantly!

    My wife and I are probably foodies–she used to work as a chef in various fine-dining restaurants–and when I read Kim’s description of her own restrictions, and how that limited her options at V&A’s, I first cringed a little. But as I read her review, I felt that it was written perfectly for the sort of visitors who might need to learn more about V&A: people who are interested in this sort of high-level fine-dining experience, for whom is isn’t a regular, everyday experience. People who may want to be sure that they are getting what they consider to be value for their money, which would not include a bunch of expensive foods that they aren’t going to necessarily enjoy. So I think it’s great that she was able to communicate–both to V&A’s and the reader–what she considered to be an excellent meal, and to see that V&A’s were able to deliver an experience that she appreciated.

  16. TiffanyS says

    What a fantastic and thorough review. Great to hear about and see most of the dishes. Thanks so much for taking the time to share with us. It may not be for everyone but at least this review helps us decide.

  17. Carter says

    It’s nice to get a glimpse of how the “others” live. $500 for one meal just boggles the mind. I do wish Disney would extend the pleasure of “no children” to people who can’t afford a small fortune for dining. I’ve given up on most sit down meals at Disney. Every meal inevitably is interrupted with screaming and crying at a table close by. Has anyone ever tried to petition Disney for “kid free” sections of their nicer restaurants?

  18. JP says

    I’m sort of confused why someone that doesn’t like food would write a restaurant review, or why a food blog would publish it.

    Maybe that’s just me.

  19. says

    JP — We’re not a regular food blog. The difference is that my goal is to help EVERYONE going to Disney Parks/Resorts/Cruises to find restaurants that will best suit them AND their food restrictions/likes/dislikes. Certain folks can’t eat certain things — whether that’s due to personal preference, allergies, lifestyle, etc, and we like to cover options for those people as well as readers who are able to (and love to!) eat anything and everything. It’s a fine balance to hit, but we do the best we can.

    You can see from the other comments here how many other readers were helped and/or encouraged by this review. That’s why we try to offer a variety of viewpoints and perspectives here on DFB.

  20. JP says

    Fair enough. I normally really enjoy the blog, something about the tone of this review rubbed me the wrong way.

  21. Andrew says

    “Supereater”? Honey we call that picky. Comment edited slightly by administrator. We respectfully request that commenters not personally attack reviewers or other commenters.

  22. Michelle B. says

    JP and Andrew, sorry that the review rubbed you the wrong way or came off as pretentious. I’m not a professional writer or blogger, which is why this is a “guest” blog article. And it’s not “supereater” it’s “supertaster” which is a biological condition which means one has more taste buds than average. Before the internet and the ability to look up those things, yes I was labeled “picky”. But for some people that just means certain foods taste so bad/disgusting/intense that it is not worth eating. If you are an average taster, or a non-taster (fewer taste buds than average), it is hard to understand.

    Why did I go to V&A’s then? Because my husband does like to try new and adventurous food and I love my husband.

    I am glad to see others are “picky” like me and I’m glad the review helped them know that V&A’s can accommodate.

  23. says

    JP — Thank you for responding to my comment; that’s awesome!! I thought I’d lost ya. Thanks for reading.

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