DFB Reader Questions Answered: Best Restaurants to Celebrate a Grown-Up Birthday at Walt Disney World

Today, we’re pulling another great question out the Disney Food Blog mailbag. You guys ask some great ones, and lots of times, we’ll get several emails and inquiries about the same subject.

Spontaneous Birthday Treat at Citricos

Spontaneous Birthday Treat at Citricos

Today, we’re going to delve into the wonderful world of birthday celebrations for grown-ups!

Celebrating Grown Up Birthdays in Walt Disney World

Our DFB reader asks:

We will be vacationing at WDW in May. My 25-year old son will have a birthday while we are there. We would like to have a special meal to celebrate, something fun but also really good!

I love this question! Disney brands itself a great place for all kinds of celebrations. And when it comes to birthdays, why should kiddos have all the fun?

When planning a special meal to celebrate a birthday at Walt Disney World, the most basic advice is probably a great starting point: what does the birthday boy or girl enjoy?

Birthday Dessert

Birthday Dessert

Does he like fine dining, or would he prefer a great night out at a sports bar? Does she like a quiet, elegant setting, or a spot with intricate themeing? Or are they a kid at heart who can Celebrate Mickey with the best of them?

Fantastic ideas abound for fun birthday celebrations at Disney World, but let’s go with my three favorite ideas. At the very least, it might lead to some good brainstorming when it comes time to plan your own special dinner party!

Signature Dining

For the Disney fan who enjoys a fine dining experience, there would be no other place to celebrate a birthday than where these two things meet — Disney’s signature dining restaurants.

If you’re looking for the pinnacle of fine dining, consider booking a table at Victoria and Albert’s at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa.

Victoria and Albert's Main Dining Room

Victoria and Albert’s Main Dining Room

The ultimate in Disney fine dining, this relaxed, refined restaurant has won countless awards for its upscale take on modern American fare and its stellar wine menu. To make it an even more special experience, book the Chef’s Table!

Another great option is California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. The restaurant sits atop the hotel, and boasts panoramic views. It’s a great spot for viewing Wishes, Magic Kingdom’s fireworks spectacular!

Sonoma Goat Cheese Ravioli is as Good as Ever

Sonoma Goat Cheese Ravioli at California Grill

Food here is always fresh and inventive, celebrating the farm to table movement and the Asian fusion style that placed California on the culinary map.

For something a little off the beaten path but no less delicious, check out Jiko at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge.

Jiko at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge

In a relaxing atmosphere that mimics the [Read more…]

Review: The Crew’s Cup Lounge at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort

We are stopping into The Crew’s Cup Lounge for a light bite!

Located in Disney’s Yacht Club Resort, The Crew’s Cup Lounge is a wonderful little spot to take a breather and beat the heat for a bit. In fact, if you’re ever looking for me and I’m not wandering the parks with my camera, I’ll most likely be in a Disney resort lounge somewhere hiding in the blessed coolness.

This spot has a surprisingly awesome menu (dinner’s pretty darn fancy, even), a great staff, and a relaxed atmosphere. I headed in for lunch on a recent trip after arriving from the airport famished!

 

Atmosphere

The Crew’s Cup Lounge is tucked into the hallway between Disney’s Yacht Club and Beach Club Resorts. It’s easy to miss if you aren’t paying attention.

Crew's Cup Lounge Sign

Crew’s Cup Lounge Sign

See what I mean? There’s no flash here, folks. It almost feels like a private club. And that definitely enhances the relaxing atmosphere.

Entrance

Entrance

Step inside and you’re surrounded by the same decor you see elsewhere in the resort — lots of light-stained wood everywhere, from floor to ceiling.

You’ll find comfortable seating throughout the fairly small space. The wooden chairs are generous and cushioned, making them perfect for lingering.

More Seating

More Seating

The bar is tucked into one corner of the room.

Bar Seating

Bar Seating

Since there’s no outside light here, surroundings are a bit more dim than they are in lobby area; but it’s by no means dark. You’ll have no trouble reading your menus. :-)

But while you’re looking up at the lights, check out the brass surround depicting — what else? — rowing. The rowers are sculling along a smooth river, their perfect reflections mirrored in the water below. Don’t you love the detail? Well, we aren’t finished yet!

Lighting and Decor Detail

Lighting and Decor Detail

Check out the racing shell suspended from the ceiling! That big “window” is a view of the Yachtsman Steakhouse meat cutting room; the Crew’s Cup is often a waiting area for those awaiting their table at the restaurant.

Atmosphere

A Comfortable Place to Relax

Rain slickers hang from [Read more…]

New Entrees Debut at Yachtsman Steakhouse at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort

Carnivores — we’ve got some news to sink your teeth into from Yachtsman Steakhouse at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort in Walt Disney World.

Within the last few months, New Dry Age steaks debuted at Yachtsman Steakhouse and have already become quite popular at this signature restaurant.

First up: The Porterhouse for two is 32 ounces of steak! It boasts a 21 day dry age.

Served with Gruyere Potato Gratin and a Trio of Classic Steakhouse sides, this entree is sure to curb your hunger! Check out this picture sent in by a DFB Reader!

Porterhouse for Two!

Porterhouse for Two!

Chef Daniel Sicilia at Yachtsman Steakhouse also introduced a [Read more…]

Walt Disney World Steak Gallery

It’s time for another fun addition to our Disney Food Galleries!

disney world steak gallery

We just love to share photos of all of our favorite foods — and collect them into galleries for easy viewing! Whether your craving is for popcorn, ice cream, or a cupcake, there’s a gallery for you!

And today, we’re introducing a brand new gallery for all of you red meat lovers out there! Yep, we’ve gathered a whole buncha steaks from around Disney World to help you make your choices on your next visit.

Remember, some of these may drop off menus from time to time or have side dishes or preparation changed, but hopefully this will give you a good overview of what’s available! Here we go!

Yachtsman Steakhouse

Yachtsman Steakhouse at Disney’s Yacht Club is one of my top picks when it comes to steak at Walt Disney World. After all, they decorate with meat — the first thing you pass en route to your seat is the Steak Trimming Room!

Chefs here pride themselves not only on the very best cuts of meat, but appetizers, side dishes, and desserts inspired by market fresh ingredients. Yachtsman combines the very best of seasonal flavors with the traditional steak experience.

My absolute favorite pick at Yachtsman is the 16-ounce Boneless Ribeye. It is always a melt-in-your-mouth choice.

Ribeye with Herb Fries at Yachtsman Steakhouse

Ribeye with Herb Fries at Yachtsman Steakhouse

But we are also big fans of the 12-ounce Prime New York Strip Steak, served here with a rich potato gratin stack.

Strip Steak

12-ounce Prime New York Strip Steak

Shula’s

Shula’s at Walt Disney World’s Swan and Dolphin is the kind of place that you think of when you envision an upscale steakhouse. As your eyes adjust to the dim lighting and you check out the menu — printed on a football! — you’ll settle into the refined elegance of your surroundings.

When I have the chance to dine here, I almost always go for my favorite, the 22-ounce Cowboy Ribeye (are you sensing a theme?). The Bone-in Steak has been excellent on every visit. The flavor is unbelievable!

Cowboy Ribeye

22-ounce Cowboy Ribeye

Looking for a lighter approach to soothe your carnivore cravings? We’ve also enjoyed the Steak Mary Anne. Delicate by steakhouse standards, the 5-ounce medallions are served with a simple demi glace in this case. It’s the perfect plate for the guest who prefers all the flavor of prime, aged beef in a smaller serving.

Steak Mary Anne

Steak Mary Anne

Flying Fish

If you’re a landlubber like me, then finding a great steak at a restaurant known for fabulous seafood is a dream come true. But it’s not impossible if you’re dining at Flying Fish Cafe.

When I visit, I always order the Char-Crusted Black Angus New York Strip. The creamy Sauce Foyot is such a great accent — and they’re never chintzy with it!

Char Crusted Black Angus New York Strip

Char-Crusted Black Angus New York Strip

Can’t decide between surf and turf? You don’t have to! Try the two house specialities side by side with the Entree Duo, which features the Char-Crusted Angus New York Strip Steak and the restaurant’s most famous fish dish, the Potato-wrapped Red Snapper.

Entree Duo of Red Snapper and Strip Steak

Entree Duo of Red Snapper and Strip Steak

Jiko

Jiko offers some of the most interesting food at Walt Disney World.

And while I enjoy the fusion of African, Indian, and Meditteranean flavors when it comes to appetizers and desserts, I rarely deviate from my favorite entree: the Oak-Grilled Filet.

Oak Grilled Filet with Mac and Cheese

Oak-Grilled Filet with Mac and Cheese

And even when their delicious Mac and Cheese isn’t featured as the dish’s side, you can usually score it as a special request (and I totally recommend that you do). :-)

Liberty Inn

In the mood for steak with no Advance Dining Reservation? Then head to Epcot’s Liberty Inn. Their New York Strip Steak, served with Red Wine Butter, Roasted Potatoes, and Steamed Broccoli, is surprisingly good.

New York Strip Steak Meal

New York Strip Steak Meal

Sci-Fi Dine-In Restaurant

Even though most of my favorite steaks at Disney World are featured at signature restaurants, that doesn’t mean you can’t find a good option at moderately priced restaurants, too, like Sci-Fi Dine-In.

Recently, I was pleasantly surprised by [Read more…]

The Worst Ketchup in All of Walt Disney World

Ketchup. I personally love the stuff. I dip fries into it. It goes onto my burgers and hot dogs. I’ve been known to put it on steak. All incarnations of chicken — when not slathered in Buffalo wing sauce — get ketchupped.

But recently, I requested ketchup at Crew’s Cup Lounge in Disney World’s Yacht Club Resort when having a little lunch there. And I met with the Worst. Ketchup. In. Disney World.

If I’ve piqued your interest, here’s a pic of the offending condiment: Dickinson’s Ketchup. In one of those teeny tiny room service jars, no less. (Apparently the Crew’s Cup kitchen is the same one that manages room service. Sigh. Double sigh.)

Dickinson's Ketchup in a Jar

Dickinson’s Ketchup in a Jar

As I see it, there are three major problems here. Shall we?

Problem #1: getting the ketchup out. Um…it’s impossible. There’s ketchup in there, all right, but it’s uber thick and pretty much just stays in there no matter how long you tip the thing upside down. So you have to get your knife involved in scraping the stuff out, which not only provides a nails-on-a-chalkboard (or, knife-on-glass, as it may be) irritation, but also dirties your knife.

Problem #2: the taste. I know that most ketchup starts with concentrated tomatoes — like tomato paste, I’m thinking — but this seems, well, entirely too tomato-y to me. It’s, like, mega-tomato. There is such a thing as too much tomato.

Dickinson's Ketchup Ingredients -- Click to Enlarge

Dickinson’s Ketchup Ingredients — Click to Enlarge

But THEN there’s Problem #3: the texture.

Once you wrestle it out of the jar — and really, you should have a tiny rubber spatula for this feat — you see that it really is the consistency of tomato paste. You could probably make a little ketchup sculpture out of it. And that’s just wrong.

Out of the Jar

Out of the Jar

So I have made a mental note to myself: when staying at Walt Disney World, I’ll squirrel away a packet or two (or 6) of good, old fashioned Heinz if and when I see them. It may be tough, what with all those ketchup dispensers at condiment bars. But I’m gonna try.

Gloppy ketchup. Gross. Sorry Dickinson Family.

Are you opinionated when it comes to condiments? Tell us about your most — and least — favorite dips and toppings in Walt Disney World!

What’s New Around Walt Disney World: June 24, 2014

For this round of “What’s New,” we’re heading to three Disney World parks and five Resorts to check out candy apples, menu changes,  comfort foods, and oodles of cold drinks to help you cool down in hot temperatures! Welcome back to “What’s New!”

MAGIC KINGDOM

Character-inspired Treats

Magic Kingdom rang in the summer with the 24-Hour Rock Your Disney Side event. Several treats debuted that day, which were originally intended to be around just for those 24 hours; but a few made the cut to stick around a little longer, including these eye-catching Maleficent Krispy Treats and cake pops found in the Main Street Confectionery and Big Top Treats.

Maleficent Cake Pops and Krispy Treats

Maleficent Cake Pops and Krispy Treats

If you followed our coverage that day, you may have seen the Sunshine Tree Terrace’s Orange Bird join the candy apple ranks as well, but just in case you missed it, here he is!

Orange Bird Candy Apples

Orange Bird Candy Apples

He’s too cute to not show twice ;) !

Orange Bird Caramel Apple

Orange Bird Caramel Apple

And at Main Street Bakery, the Olaf the Snowman Carrot Cake Cupcake remains, alongside a Frozen-themed one as well.

Olaf Cupcake

Olaf Cupcake

Frozen Cupcake

Frozen Cupcake

Columbia Harbour House

In Liberty Square, Columbia Harbour House is offering two new dinner-only comfort foods: Seafood Macaroni & Cheese and Chicken Pot Pie. You can read our review here!

Columbia Harbour House

Columbia Harbour House

Seafood Macaroni and Cheese

Seafood Macaroni and Cheese

Full entree

Full entree

The Plaza Restaurant

The Plaza Restaurant added a great-sounding choice to their list of entrees: a Beef Brisket Onion Burger.

Plaza sign

Plaza sign

Plaza Entrees

Plaza Entrees

Tony’s Town Square

At Tony’s Town Square, guests can now choose a Seasonal and Sustainable Fresh Catch Salad. And at lunch, a Meatball Trio has replaced the Meatball Sliders.

Tony's Sign

Tony’s Sign

Tony's Town Square Menu

Tony’s Town Square Lunch Menu

Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe

Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe is serving up a new Cherry Slush topped with Lemon-Lime Fomz.

Cherry Slush at Cosmic Ray's

Cherry Slush at Cosmic Ray’s

Cherry Slush topped with Lemon Lime Fomz

Cherry Slush topped with Lemon Lime Fomz

Read more about it (and the mystery that is “Fomz”) by clicking here!

EPCOT

The Refreshment Cool Post (found in the Africa Outpost as you stroll around World Showcase) is offering a few summer treats: Pineapple and Coconut Frozen Yogurt (served solo or swirled together) and a Mango Rum Smoothie featuring African Starr Rum. Check out our review of the new Frozen Yogurt flavors here!

Refreshment Cool Post

Refreshment Cool Post

Pineapple Coconut Swirl Frozen Yogurt

Pineapple Coconut Swirl Frozen Yogurt

ANIMAL KINGDOM

A couple of really fun new adult beverages have arrived in Animal Kingdom!

Drinkwallah

Head over to Asia’s Drinkwallah for a Coconut-Lychee Lemonade with Parrot Bay Coconut Rum. We’ll have a review on the blog soon!

Drinkwallah

Drinkwallah

Drinkwallah Menu

Drinkwallah Menu

Corn-Ivores

Or if you’ve really got to tame your sweet tooth, try [Read more…]

Happy Hour: The Pineapple Caipirinha at The Crew’s Cup Lounge in Disney’s Yacht Club Resort

On a very quick trip recently to Walt Disney World, I stayed at one of my favorite resorts, Disney’s Yacht Club.

It’s beautiful here, and I love the easy access to Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. But another big draw is that I’m really close to one of my favorite Disney watering holes — the Crew’s Cup Lounge!

You’ll find the Crew’s Cup tucked into a quiet corner right next to Yachtsman Steakhouse.

Crew's Cup Lounge Sign

Crew’s Cup Lounge Sign

One of my favorite things about this spot is that it’s rarely crowded. In fact, I consider it to be a best kept secret for those of you who like a little respite now and then from the busyness of the parks.

Entrance

Entrance

Like the rest of the Yacht Club, you’ll find classy wood paneling and warm colors and lighting. And I love the brass panels above the bar, which add an understated visual interest to the themeing.

Crews Cup Bar

Crew’s Cup Bar

Tables and chairs are comfortable, and invite you to relax and linger a while.

Crew's Cup Lounge Atmosphere

Crew’s Cup Lounge Atmosphere

While I love to stop in here for any excuse — it’s Thursday? I’m wearing black? — I also wanted to see if there was [Read more…]

News: Cosmetic Changes and a Menu Refresh for Captain’s Grille at Disney’s Yacht Club

At Disney Food Blog, we have long regarded Captain’s Grille at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort as one of the Walt Disney World’s best kept secrets!

Rarely crowded, especially during the day, it’s a fantastic place to take in a serene lunch if you find yourself advance dining reservation-less.

So we were excited to find out that this favorite spot of ours has recently undergone a bit of a refresh. While it’s not a complete refurbishment, the restaurant has added new tables and chairs, and walls have been brightened with new wallpaper and paint. (I’m hoping that means the cool moving shadow boxes made the cut!)

But the real story is the addition of more than three dozen new dishes across the breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus. And Chef David Hutnik promises there will be more added to the list in 2014! So be sure to keep on the look out!

We had the chance to sample the New England Clam Chowder with Bacon and Chive Biscuits on a recent lunch date at Captain’s Grille.

New England Clam Chowder Served with Bacon and Chive Biscuits

New England Clam Chowder Served with Bacon and Chive Biscuits

With clams in the shell and rich biscuits floating on top, this rich soup is [Read more…]

The Weirdest Burgers in Disney World

Yesterday we featured an awesome, interesting Disney burger, and we figured today would be a good day to delve into a few more of these finds!

Over the past few years, it seems like the culinary staff throughout the resort has made it a mission to reinvent the humble hamburger.

Once upon a time, there were rows and rows of nondescript fast food hamburgers. Now, you can find all manner of interesting flavor combos.

Whether you’re planning a vacation as you read, or you’re just looking for some serious burger inspiration, check out our list of some of the most unusual burgers we’ve had at Walt Disney World!

PB&J Burger

Sports fans who love Disney know that the BEST place to catch a game while you’re at the resort is the ESPN Club at Disney’s BoardWalk Inn.

But just as impressive as the myriad of televisions (even in the bathroom!) is the innovative menu of upscale sports bar food. One of the most interesting entrees is the PB&J Burger.

Inside the PB&J Burger at ESPN Club

Yep, that’s correct. Two of the world’s most comforting foods — peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and burgers — create a fusion of flavors like nothing you’ve ever had. And with the salty flavors of Bacon and spicy notes from sliced Jalapenos to add even more interest, there’s a lot going on here!

You’ve got to try it at least once (that’s about all I could take). And be sure to ask for extra napkins!

Battered Burger

Another burger that you’re not likely to see replicated in too many places is the Battered Burger at Cookes of Dublin in Downtown Disney.

Battered Burger and Chips from Cookes of Dublin

This small counter service spot shares a

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Guest Review: Yachtsman Steakhouse at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort

Guest author Paul Kuconis returns with a review of Yachtsman Steakhouse at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort in Walt Disney World. Take it away, Paul!

For years, friends of mine (also Disney Freaks) told me to go to Yachtsman Steakhouse; and for years I never went. No particular reason.

Finally I did and this is now my second visit in three months. Why did I wait so long?!

Atmosphere

A hidden gem!

Up four steps to an inviting entrance of hardwood and glass and we are in!

Yachtsman Steakhouse Signage

Entrance.

Once inside we are greeted with the Aging Room. Our server told us the meat is dry aged 6-7 days. This is well short of the normal 15-28 days, but the results are still awesome!

First View of the Aging Room

Aging tenderizes and intensifies the flavor and draws out some of the moisture.

Beef Aging

While waiting for our table we looked at today’s cuts. Yum! Can’t wait!

Today’s Cuts

We asked if Thomas was working – he was, and we were seated in his section, at the same table as our previous visit. Clearly my daughter has already gotten down to business!

Our Table By The Window

Our table was in the middle of a huge bay window with a nice view of the pool area and across the way to the ESPN Club.

The View Outside

The view of the restaurant’s interior from our table was equally impressive; very open with the glass and hardwood theme carried throughout.

Notice the portholes (the yacht theme) and the bay windows above, mirroring the bay window we sat near.

Into The Restaurant From Our Table

The chandelier and ceiling structure (along with what I would call a ‘widow’s walk’ skylight) is immense and breathtaking and fits the size of the room. The attention to detail is unbelievable!

Chandelier

After catching up with Thomas we got down to business!

Eats

First stop [Read more…]