Three Ideas For an Unconventional Disney World Date Night

Call us romantics, but we think that Walt Disney World is a GREAT place for a date night!

Watch the Fireworks from the Polynesian Resort Beach!

Do You Love to Watch Magic Kingdom Fireworks From the Polynesian’s Beach During Your Disney Date Night? We Do!

But we like to take a very broad approach to date night here at Disney Food Blog. So we decided that it would be all kinds of funnnz to come up with some radical departures for how to spend your Day o’ Love. I mean sure, chocolate-dipped strawberries and Champagne are awesome, and a fancy meal is sure to impress. But more than anything, we just wanna have fun!

If you’re with us, check out our Top 3 Ideas for Your Unconventional Date Night, Disney World Style!

Swap a Fancy Meal for FastPasses

Fancy meal? Whatevs. Who wants to get dressed up and sit around for hours?? You’re at Disney — get out there and enjoy it!

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

Snuggle Up for a Ride on Disney’s Newest Attraction, the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train!

Instead of dinner at a signature restaurant, skip straight to the fun, and schedule FastPasses for three of your favorite rides together (and make sure at least one of them is a dark ride. ;-) )

Spaceship Earth, How We Love You

Spaceship Earth, How We Lurve You

Getting hungry after all those adventures? Share your favorite savory snacks. The Lucky Combo from Joy of Tea in Epcot’s China Pavilion would be perfect!

Lucky Combo from Joy of Tea in Epcot's China Pavilion

Lucky Combo from Joy of Tea in Epcot’s China Pavilion

Or split a Waffle Sandwich from Sleepy Hollow Refreshments in Magic Kingdom.

Chicken Waffle Sandwich from Magic Kingdom's Sleepy Hollow Refreshments

Chicken Waffle Sandwich from Magic Kingdom’s Sleepy Hollow Refreshments

They’re definitely big enough to share!

Get the Kids Involved!

Spending more time together as a family always figures high on our list of priorities. And kiddos especially love some one on one time with Mom and Dad. So how about taking a different approach to your next evening out. Make a “date” with your littles!

One fun idea would be to split up for fun Mom/Son, Dad/Daughter “dates”. Go on separate dinner dates and let the kids choose the restaurants! ESPN Club at Disney’s BoardWalk is a great choice for your budding baseball or soccer star!

ESPN Club (with a line to get in on Game Day!)

ESPN Club is a Great Place to Take Your Favorite Sports Fan!

But save room, because you can all meet up for some ice cream later and compare notes! How about sharing a No Way Jose from Beaches and Cream four ways?? (Want more ice cream suggestions? Check our our Ice Cream Gallery!)

No Way Jose at Beaches and Cream

Split a No Way Jose from Beaches and Cream!

Top off the evening with an outdoor movie at your resort before tucking in for pleasant dreams.

Play with Your Food

Have you always wanted to [Read more…]

Tips from the DFB Guide: Dining Solo in Disney World

When most people think of Walt Disney World, they automatically think of visiting with friends or family, which is lots of fun.

dfb2015_guide_3d

But there’s another way that I really love to tour Disney World. And that’s solo.

Sure. It’s always awesome to experience the magic with others…to catch their smiles, impressions, opinions. But sometimes out of necessity, and sometimes out of preference, I find myself visiting the ‘World alone.

It may sound lonely, but it doesn’t have to be. After all, what better way to take advantage of that single rider line? ;-) You can also spend as long as you want drinking in every detail of attractions and other surroundings.

But even if you’re totally OK with doing attractions by yourself, dining may feel like another matter altogether. You may be tempted to just stick with a table for one in the counter service spots.

And that’s all good, if that’s what you want. But if you’re looking to enjoy some of the great dining choices Disney has to offer, we have some terrific Tips from the DFB Guide to Walt Disney World Dining for making this an awesome experience. And this is just one of the many unique ways of enjoying the World that we cover in the guide. There’s a chapter for everything, so be sure to check it out!

And if you find this information helpful, then be sure to pick up your copy of the Guide today for $4 off using code “2015” right here!

Dine Overlooking a Great View

There is no shortage of great Disney restaurants with equally great views! Why not choose one of them for your next solo meal?

One of my favorites is Sanaa at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. Request a window seat and enjoy an ever-changing view of the animals that call Sunset Savanna home.

Watch the Wildlife as You Dine at Sanaa

Watch the Wildlife as You Dine at Sanaa

And while you enjoy the live action through the window, the food incredible as well! The menu features East African and Indian-inspired dishes, and I can never pass up the opportunity to enjoy their incredible Butter Chicken.

Slow-cooked in Gravy, Simple and Well-seasoned Butter Chicken and Chicken Vindaloo

Ya Gotta Try the Butter Chicken!

Prefer serenity to scenery? Grab a table at one of Flame Tree Barbecue’s many pavilions. (Flame Tree Barbecue has been closed for refurbishment, but we expect it to re-open very soon.)

Eat at the Counter

Many Disney table service restaurants feature chef’s counters or bars where you can dine while you watch all of the exciting action of the kitchen. Sitting at these high-energy spots was a favorite tip that I received from my friend Gray at SoloFriendly.com. And if I’m choosing some of my favorite bar seating, it has to be [Read more…]

DFB Challenge: The Walt Disney World Beer Crawl

Alrighty, Guys — it’s time for another fun Disney Food Blog Challenge. And this one is definitely for the grown ups!

Everyone’s aware that craft Beer has become increasingly popular. Sure, through the years, you always had the garden variety options…

Lovely Beer!

Lovely Beer!

But these days, Craft Beers and International Selections are where it’s at. So we thought that it was high time we take a closer look at some of the interesting beer that you can get throughout Walt Disney World.

In the interest of interactive fun, we decided to come up with another DFB Food — er, Beverage — Crawl, dedicated to the world of beer, and all that it encompasses.

And we know that there are LOTS of you out there who are serious about your study and research of this important subject. We are in it for the fun. ;-) So we definitely want YOUR comments below on what you think the Can’t Miss Beers of Walt Disney World are!

Because this is a rather weighty subject, we’ll spread it out over a 3 day visit. But feel free to consolidate as your tolerance level allows.

Grab some beer nuts, and let’s go!

Day One: Explore Epcot

We’ll start our 3-day Beer Crawl in the best place for sampling a wide variety of food and drink — Epcot!

When beer is the main attraction of the day, it’s a good idea to get some sustenance first thing. We love to enter Epcot via the International Gateway Entrance and start our day with a stop in Les Halles Boulangerie Patisserie in the France Pavilion for a petit déjeuner of French Pastries and Coffee or Chocolat Chaud.

We especially love the Frangipane Triangles!

Frangipane -- Cross Section

Frangipane — Cross Section

If you’d like a full-on breakfast platter-type situation, head to Sunshine Seasons (although the Croissant Berry Bread Pudding gets our vote).

Fueled up and ready to go, it’s time to hit World Showcase!

Moosehead in the Canada Pavilion

We all have our traditions, and one that we love to embrace is the First Beer of the Day in Epcot. And that honor almost always goes to Moosehead as we begin our Drinking Journey around the World! Find it at the Canada Beer Stand located near the entrance to Le Cellier Steakhouse.

The beer offerings in Canada

Stroll the area, making time to check out the Totem Poles before you head to your next stop.

Rose and Crown Pub and Dining Room in the UK Pavilion

With a small breakfast and your first brew under your belt, it’s time to stop for lunch and more beer in one of our favorite Epcot dining spots.

The Rose and Crown Pub and Dining Room in the UK Pavilion offers a wide array of beer and cider from the British Isles. Make your advance dining reservation ahead of time for a sit down meal, or take a gamble with finding a spot in the pub (it can get pretty crowded in there). Note that you can also get beers at a counter outside the restaurant and pub.

Sampling British beers is your goal here, so we recommend the Imperial Sampler, which normally includes pours of Bass, Harp, Strongbow, Boddington’s, and Guinness.

Imperial Sampler

Alternatively, you can choose from a long list of Pub Blends, which are half-and-half mixes of some of the beer on tap. You’ll never go wrong with a Black and Tan — half Bass Ale and half Guinness.

Of course, if you have a favorite beer among those on tap, enjoy a pint of that one instead. We especially love to order a Guinness, served with its famous Shamrock Head!

Shamrock Design on Top of Guinness

And if you visit on a weekday, don’t forget to say “hello” to Carl the Bartender!

Japan

With a little lunch under your belt, it’s time to hit up the Japan Pavilion for another unique stop on your beer tour. Kirin Frozen Beer comes with a fluffy, semi-frozen head that keeps your beer cold a little longer in that warm Florida sun.

While the picture below is from Tokyo Dining, you can also get a portable version in a plastic cup at Kabuki Cafe.

Frozen Kirin Beer in Epcot's Japan

Frozen Kirin Beer in Epcot’s Japan

Take in some time listening to the drummers or checking out the [Read more…]

News: “Frozen Fever” Sweet Treats at Disneyland and Disney World

So… Frozen Fun ends in Disneyland on May 15th, and Frozen Summer Fun LIVE won’t return to Disney’s Hollywood Studios until June 17th. That’s one full Frozen-free month… What’s an Anna, Elsa, Kristoff and Olaf fan to do?!?

What will we do when there's no Frozen Fun?!

What will we do when there’s no Frozen Fun?!

Fret not, Frozen fans! In the downtime between the two events, Disney is releasing a few treats in honor of “Frozen Fever,” the film short that can currently be seen on the big screen prior to showings of the live-action “Cinderella” film.

As in the film short, these treats go about the task of celebrating Anna’s birthday… and what’s a birthday celebration without a little cake? Anna’s Happy Birthday Cupcake is a vanilla cupcake with blue buttercream frosting, topped with marshmallows, snowflake candies, and a white chocolate Olaf.

Anna's Happy Birthday Cupcake

Anna’s Happy Birthday Cupcake ©Disney

At Disneyland, you’ll want to check spots like the Jolly Holiday Bakery, Market House, Pacific Wharf Cafe, Fiddler, Fifer & Practical Cafe, and The Coffee House.

Jolly Holiday Bakery Cafe

Jolly Holiday Bakery Cafe

While the cupcakes are already available at Disneyland, starting April 8th, Disney World guests can check various eateries scattered across property, in parks and resorts alike. Altogether, twelve restaurants will carry the cupcakes in WDW, including Main Street Bakery and Gaston’s Tavern in the Magic Kingdom, Starring Rolls Cafe and ABC Commissary in Hollywood Studios, and Sunshine Seasons and Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe in Epcot.

Resort restaurants  that will carry the cupcake include BoardWalk Bakery, Beach Club Marketplace, Contempo Cafe, Gasparilla Island Grill, Landscape of Flavors and The Mara.

BoardWalk Bakery

BoardWalk Bakery

Looking for something a little more frozen to celebrate the cast of Frozen? Olaf’s Perfect Sundae Day features birthday-cake flavored ice cream topped with hot fudge, mint marshmallows, brownie pieces (!), whipped cream, and sprinkles.

Olaf's Perfect Sundae Day ©Disney

Olaf’s Perfect Sundae Day ©Disney

Those mint marshmallows look a lot like the ones currently available to enjoy with your Warm Hugs Hot White Hot Cocoa over at Olaf’s Snow Fest in Disneyland!

At Disneyland, the Sundae is available at Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor and Clarabelle’s.

Clarabelle's in Disney California Adventure

Clarabelle’s in Disney California Adventure

 

And again, starting April 8th, Disney World guests will find it at the Plaza Ice Cream Parlor, Hollywood Scoops, and Beaches & Cream.

Beaches and Cream at Disney's Beach Club Resort

Beaches and Cream at Disney’s Beach Club Resort

In a new twist, even a few Table Service restaurants are [Read more…]

Disney Lounge Classic Cocktail: The Shadow at Belle Vue Lounge in Disney’s BoardWalk Inn

Belle Vue Lounge is one of those Disney spots.

Yep — it’s a hideaway…that only the cool kids know about.

True, I love Disney Bars and Lounges. A lot. They’re some of my favorite spots on property, and they’re awesome for some many reasons. Whether you’re looking for a place to relax after a long day, meeting friends, or even grabbing a bite to eat without an Advance Dining Reservation.

Well, Belle Vue is a bit different than some of my other favorites, like Territory Lounge or Tambu Lounge. Belle Vue doesn’t serve food, except at breakfast, when they offer light continental options, coffee, and a few other beverages.

So you won’t find signature Pub Grub like Fondue or Pulled Pork Nachos here. But you will find loads of relaxing, beautiful atmosphere.

The Belle Vue Lounge in Disney's BoardWalk Inn

The Belle Vue Lounge in Disney’s BoardWalk Inn

And if you happen to encounter a helpful bartender (and the long-time bartender here is always helpful), you may be able to enjoy a Belle Vue classic.

The Shadow at Belle Vue Lounge

You’ll mostly find the Standard Disney Bar Menu here. It’s a little sad…because this place could be even more awesome with an inspired drink menu. But there is one bright spot. And oddly, it’s called The Shadow. :-)

This drink is Belle Vue’s claim to fame, even though it’s not officially on the menu anymore.

A mixture of Chambord, Godiva Chocolate Liqueur, Vanilla Vodka, and Heavy Cream, it’s as much dessert as it is a cocktail.

The Shadow at Belle Vue Lounge

The Shadow at Belle Vue Lounge

It’s not really my kind of drink. I don’t usually go in for [Read more…]

News! Enjoy “Eat Local Week” in Disney World

Fun news for those of you visiting Disney World this week!

EatLocalWeek Orlando Logo

Slow Food Orlando is sponsoring Eat Local Week in The City Beautiful — and it’s happening right now!

While the event showcases eating, drinking, and shopping local throughout the Central Florida Region, there are opportunities to celebrate local growers and producers by dining in some of our favorite Disney Restaurants.

Enjoy menus featuring locally-sourced ingredients all this week, showcasing ingredients from Florida farms, ranches, and fisheries.

And the list of participating Disney restaurants includes some of our tried and true favorites. Choose from The Wave…of American Flavors or California Grill in Disney’s Contemporary Resort. We’ve enjoyed delicious seasonal dishes in both.

California Grill view

A Beautiful View and the Season’s Best Flavors at California Grill

At Disney’s Grand Floridian, dine slow-food style at the beautiful Citricos. Or hop over to Disney’s BoardWalk for dinner at Flying Fish Cafe — hands down, one of my absolute favorite spots! (Read our latest review of Flying Fish here.)

Crab Cake

The Flying Fish Cafe is Always an Excellent Choice, Especially for Seafood, Like Their Killer Crabcakes

But we aren’t finished! Yachtsman Steakhouse, known for perfectly prepared steaks and seasonally-inspired sides, will also be participating. Finally, end your Eat Local tour at [Read more…]

News: Disney Valentine’s Day Treats Make the Celebration Extra Sweet

Nothing says “I love you!” like a giant pile of frosting.  And some of our favorite spots throughout Disney World are featuring extra special love-themed desserts this weekend.

Cupcake lovers have lots of options. We think the Chocolate Raspberry Cupcake at Magic Kingdom’s Main Street Bakery should top the list. After all, what goes better with your favorite Starbucks beverage than a big chocolatey cupcake??

Chocolate Raspberry Cupcake at Magic Kingdom's Main Street Bakery

Chocolate Raspberry Cupcake at Magic Kingdom’s Main Street Bakery

But the Raspberry Panna Cotta Cupcake from BoardWalk Bakery also has us intrigued. It’s like two desserts in one, and reminds me a bit of the Master’s Cupcake at Be Our Guest Restaurant, which features Grey Stuff — Cookies and Cream Panna Cotta.

Raspberry Panna Cotta Cupcake from BoardWalk Bakery

Raspberry Panna Cotta Cupcake from BoardWalk Bakery

If you like to have your cupcakes and eat them too (plus you’d like a couple other things), then head to the Beach Club Marketplace for the Sweetheart Dessert. It includes Cupcakes, Chocolate Covered Strawberries, and Chocolate Truffles. Best of all — there’s two of everything, so no sharing required. :-)

Sweetheart Dessert from Beach Club Marketplace

Sweetheart Dessert from Beach Club Marketplace

If we had a vote right now for Disney’s cutest couple, I’m pretty sure that Lady and the Tramp would probably score in the top 3. So it’s fitting that they’re the face of amore on a cupcake at Disney’s Hollywood Studios right now.

Lady and the Tramp Cupcake

Lady and the Tramp Cupcake

We had a chance to try this one for ourselves the other day, and it’s pretty adorable. Featuring Red Velvet Cake and whipped Chocolate Ganache Frosting, it’s also delicious. You’ll find it at The Trolley Car Café, Starring Rolls Cafe, ABC Commissary, Pizza Planet, Backlot Express, Studio Catering Co., Rosie’s All American Café, and Fairfax Fare.

Lady and the Tramp Cupcake -- Inside

Lady and the Tramp Cupcake — Inside

However, I personally want to drive to Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge right now for some of these [Read more…]

Guest Review: Flying Fish Cafe at Disney’s BoardWalk Inn Resort

With an open kitchen and whimsical decor, Flying Fish Café boasts an impressive menu where diners enjoy a relaxing, “seaside” setting at the BoardWalk Resort in Walt Disney World.

Join us in welcoming back Guest Author Paul Kuconis! His latest review features a steak dinner (that’s right, landlubbers!!) at this restaurant.

The Epcot Resorts provide a very nice respite from the hustle and bustle of Future World and World Showcase, not to mention awesome restaurants and watering holes.

My travel agent’s favorite restaurant is Flying Fish Café. Every time they visit Walt Disney World they book an Advance Dining Reservation (ADR). So, I figured, why not, let’s try it. This trip we decided to give it a whirl!

Using the My Disney Experience app I made a 4:30PM dinner reservation for two. Rather early, but given the temperature, humidity, and heat index, it turned out be a good move.

The Long, Hot Walk

The Long, Hot Walk

We decided to walk over rather than take the boat. Either way, both involved no air conditioning!

We Hit the Boardwalk

We Hit the Boardwalk

We reached the Boardwalk and stepped back in time. After a quick stop at the ESPN Club for a soft drink, to cool off, and to kill some time, we ventured on.

Flying Fish

Flying Fish

Atmosphere

There it is! Nicely tucked away. The setback pulls the restaurant away from the hustle and bustle of the Boardwalk and provides a little quiet. Depending on your approach, the Café can be easily missed. After checking the posted menu we headed inside.

Flying Fish Door Pulls

Flying Fish Door Pulls

The flying fish theme begins right at the front door.

But, before we head inside, a question; why the name ‘Flying Fish’? It fits with the Boardwalk theme and evokes the roller coaster ride of yesteryear at Coney Island called Flying Turns.

While we waited to be seated I took in the décor.

Ferris Wheel

Ferris Wheel

Fish Hook Light Fixture

Fish Hook Light Fixture

Murals of Yesteryear Fun

Murals of Yesteryear Fun

Roller Coaster Motif

Roller Coaster Motif

Seating Area

Seating Area

The Bar

The Bar

Flying Fish Light Fixture

Flying Fish Light Fixture

It was at this point I started to think of the name ‘café’ and how it contrasted to the structure itself (I don’t want to call it a ‘restaurant’). Dictionary.com defines café as: 1) a restaurant, often with an enclosed or outdoor section extending onto the sidewalk (nope, didn’t see that), 2) a restaurant, usually small and unpretentious (not from my view), and 3) a barroom, cabaret, or nightclub (not really). Maybe more of an oxymoron? Or just a play on words? Something to ponder.

As we waited by the reception desk I scoped out the seating area and determined where I wanted to sit.

Kitchen

Kitchen

This spot looks good to me. Now, can I convince the Cast Member to seat us here?

Reception Desk

Reception Desk

I asked, and was granted, seating at the Chef’s Counter, the closest thing to the Chef’s Table you can get. (Editor’s Note: Flying Fish does do a “Chef’s Counter” meal, but outside of that seating, other guests are able to have their meals here at the Chef’s Counter.)

My View From the Chef's Counter

My View From the Chef’s Counter

My Place Setting

My Place Setting

Disney does it up well. Granite counter top and linen napkin with the Flying Fish motif embroidered. Nice touch!

Eats

First off, we looked over the wine list.

Black Stallion Chardonnay Menu Item

Black Stallion Chardonnay Menu Item

We selected the Black Stallion Chardonnay.

Black Stallion 2012 Chardonnay

Black Stallion 2012 Chardonnay

We enjoyed it very much, noting a lovely nose of green apple, lemon zest, and vanilla followed by flavors of citrus, brown butter, pear, and flint. The 2012 Chardonnay is soft and round on the palate with bright fruit and creamy notes that lead into a long, elegant finish.

Now we get down to the business of the menu and what to order.

The Menu

The Menu

During my visits to Walt Disney World, I always check out Cast Member name tags. I want to know their name and am curious as to where they moved from. Tim, our server for the evening, grew up in the city next to where we live. In fact, he is familiar with our neighborhood. How cool is that!

Potato Bread

Potato Bread

Tim brought us Potato Bread to munch on while we perused the menu. A very interesting bread with a nice, airy texture with pieces of potato throughout. That’s the cool thing with many Disney restaurants. They do not serve just ‘bread’ or ‘rolls’; at least at the restaurants I have visited.

Choosing the appetizer was rather easy. I like to try different offerings where possible to enjoy the Chef’s take and development of the ingredients. So I selected the crab cake.

Flying Fish Café Crispy Crab Cake Menu Item

Flying Fish Café Crispy Crab Cake Menu Item

Wow! Look at the plating! We eat with our eyes as we ‘see’ the food before we taste it. If it is visually appealing it enhances the experience.

My Crab Cake Appetizer

My Crab Cake Appetizer

Almost too pretty to eat. Nah! Because of the extreme heat, humidity, and heat index I wanted to eat light tonight. This was not a heavy appetizer.

No Filler Here

No Filler Here

The slaw was made with cabbage, red and yellow peppers, carrots, and finely shredded cucumber and the light vinaigrette provided a nice amount of acidity to balance the crab cake. Mix that with the dots of roasted tomato coulis (adding a little sweetness) along with the slight hint of heat from the ancho chile remoulade (WOW!), that makes for a nice, balanced bite, with no single flavor overpowering the other — especially the crab cake — the star of the dish. Topped with micro basil, it brings the whole thing together. Nicely done! Oh, and there was more crab than filler in the cake — can’t beat that!

Now for the entrée. A tough choice. All offerings looked sooooo good. What they need to do is offer a ‘menu sampler’. Tiny bites of everything. Why not, they do it with beer! Where is the suggestion box?

Char-Crusted Angus New York Strip Steak Menu Item and more!

Char-Crusted Angus New York Strip Steak Menu Item and more!

Well, this is a first! This was supposed to be a picture of the daily quote. I neglected to take a full, clean shot of my menu item. But you can get the general idea of the entree. I settled on the steak over Panzanella Salad.

One of Those Steaks is Mine

One of Those Steaks is Mine

One of the advantages of sitting at the Chef’s Counter is [Read more…]

Review: Dinner at the Flying Fish Cafe on Disney’s BoardWalk

Welcome back to the Flying Fish Cafe!

While all the dining talk on Disney’s BoardWalk has centered around the opening of the brand new Trattoria al Forno as of late, I wanted to bring you back to the Flying Fish, which is not only my favorite restaurant on BoardWalk, but also one of my very favorites in all of Disney World. Period.

During the interim between the closing of Kouzzina and the opening of Trattoria al Forno, the Flying Fish served a stint as a breakfast location, previewing some of the dishes that are now on the breakfast menu at Trattoria al Forno.

But this signature restaurant is now back to its regular dinner-only schedule, and if you haven’t enjoyed dinner at Flying Fish before, I’ve gotta say it: it’s practically a must-do.

Flying Fish

Flying Fish

Come see what I mean…

Atmosphere

The decor of the Flying Fish pays tribute to two things: first, the atmosphere honors its place on Disney’s BoardWalk through some insanely fun murals depicting things like turn-of-the-century roller coasters, those old school parachute swing rides, and other carnival-style attractions.

Boardwalk murals

Boardwalk murals

Boardwalk murals

Boardwalk murals

The theme is continued as you move further into the restaurant with a gorgeous backlit ferris wheel, and the most enviable seating space of all right underneath the circus tent.

Backlit Ferris Wheel

Backlit Ferris Wheel

Circus Tent seating

Circus Tent seating

The second design element plays on the star of the culinary scene here: seafood. And nowhere is that theme more evident than in the parachuting fish “flying” above as you dine!

Flying Fish!

Flying Fish!

Notice the bait hooks mixed in with some of the underwater themed lighting fixtures.

Lighting fixtures

Lighting fixtures

With everything going on, you may not notice the open kitchen (unless you’re seated at the Chef’s Counter directly in front of the show), but try to take a moment to observe, since what happens in this kitchen is some of the best of Disney culinary feats in action.

Bar seating in front of the kitchen

Chef’s Counter in front of the kitchen

Of course, if you’re just looking for a quick dinner, the bar area is very comfortable, too.

Bar seating in front of the kitchen

Bar area

I have no idea if “upscale-whimsy” is an interior design term, but if it is, that pretty much sums up the Flying Fish. It manages to be both sophisticated and super fun at the same time.

Eats

The name of this restaurant gives guests an idea that there is a focus on seafood at the Flying Fish, but don’t let that scare you or anyone in your party off who isn’t a seafood fan. Remember, I said this was one of my favorite restaurants, and seafood isn’t exactly my ultimate choice in cuisine. There’s plenty of meat and pasta to go around, too.

But I’m getting ahead of myself… let’s start with the complimentary bread served with butter, which was hard to hold back on thanks to the unique touches of herbs and cheese tucked inside the nooks of the rustic bread.

Bread

Bread

My friends and I enjoyed some the bread while scoping out the [Read more…]

Dinner Review: The NEW Trattoria al Forno at Disney World’s BoardWalk Inn

We’ve been waiting and the day is finally here! We have had our first dinner at the brand new Trattoria al Forno, and we’re excited to share it with you!

Trattoria Stone Medallion at the Hostess Station

Trattoria Stone Medallion at the Hostess Station

Trattoria al Forno replaces Kouzzina by Cat Cora, which closed in September after a 5-year run on the BoardWalk. While we have heard from some readers that they’ll miss the Greek restaurant, we are interested in seeing just how Disney goes forward bringing an Italian offering to this space.

It is true that there are many Italian restaurants on Disney World property — several within walking distance of Trattoria al Forno. So it will be interesting to see how this one compares. Speaking of, let’s head in and explore a bit before we turn our attention to the food.

Atmosphere

We gave you the full tour of the new restaurant last week, but we’ll show you around just a little here as well. You’ll find Trattoria al Forno tucked into Disney’s BoarkWalk, right between Seashore Sweets and the BoardWalk Pizza Window.

Trattoria Entrance

Trattoria Entrance

Step inside, and rich, earthy finishes of stone and wood greet you. Directly ahead, the bank of wine coolers hints to you the large role that vino plays in the menu.

Entrata

Entrata

As was the case in the restaurant’s previous lives — before it was Kouzzina, the Mediterranean-leaning Spoodles occupied the spot — the exhibition kitchen has always been the main focus of the dining room. That continues with Trattoria al Forno.

Wide Shot of the Trattoria Kitchen

Wide Shot of the Trattoria Kitchen

And it is this detail that makes the backstory of the space a little thin. As it goes, Trattoria al Forno is a family-owned restaurant that has been on the BoardWalk for years. Originally, the family owned a boardinghouse and a restaurant, but over time, the restaurant has grown.

Kitchen

Kitchen

With its growth, it has expanded down the BoardWalk, taking in one room after another — but they all face the beautiful exhibition kitchen. Perhaps the kitchen grew, too. :-)

This is one of the most extensive “on stage” kitchens that you’ll find at Disney World. It seems that just about everything takes place in front of guests, and finishes and equipment are part of the decor. Check out the bright red meat slicer, which will be used to slice some paper-thin charcuterie a little later on in our story.

(By the way, in the background of this picture you’ll see Chef Dee Foundoukis, who arrived here to head the kitchen for Cat Cora at Kouzzina and has apparently stayed on with Trattoria al Forno. So for those who are chef-watchers at Disney World, that may be an interesting tidbit.)

Meat Slicer and Chef Dee!

Meat Slicer and Chef Dee!

But let’s get back to the theme. To convey the progression, you see slight changes throughout the space from “room” to “room.” The restaurant’s original dining room is the Cucina, a warm, casual spot that has the feel of an eat-in kitchen.

Kitchen from the Cucina, the Restaurant's First Dining Room

Kitchen from the Cucina, the Restaurant’s First Dining Room

At some point, the family must have decided to glam things up a bit and build a more upscale dining room, and the Sala de Pranzo came into being. You know you’ve arrived in the formal dining room from cues like the crystal chandeliers overhead and the large display of silver and glassware along the back wall.

Sala da Pranzo

Sala da Pranzo

Still, business continued to boom, so a living room area, the Salotto, was converted to the restaurant’s third dining room.

Seating in the Salotto

Seating in the Salotto

Finally, guests may also find themselves in the Taverna. According to the story, this secluded area represents the restaurant’s origins and still retains the feel of a cozy inn restaurant. (Guests who dined at Kouzzina will recognize this as the former “Coranation” Room, an area used for Chef’s Table dining.)

The Taverna

The Taverna

Throughout the space, the seating is comfortable, and finishes are rich and refined. There is a mismatched sense to the furnishings, but it doesn’t really intrude on your consciousness. Overall, the theme here is conveyed in subtle fashion.

Seating -- Looking Back Across the Rooms

Seating — Looking Back Across the Rooms

We had dinner at Trattoria al Forno on opening night, and the restaurant was full throughout our time there. Even at capacity, however, it never seemed loud or uncomfortable. Shocking, since the previous restaurants in this space — Kouzzina and Spoodles — were well known for sound carrying and bouncing off the walls.

A Full House on Opening Night!

A Full House on Opening Night!

Speaking of dinner, let’s get to it.

Eats

When we sat down to order at Trattoria al Forno, we found the menu to be a curious mix. Based on pricing alone, you quickly understand that [Read more…]