Review: Artist Point at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge

Time to head on over to Artist Point in Disney’s Wilderness Lodge!

OK, so I’ve had a couple of really good meals here in the past couple of years, and they almost made up for the less-than-stellar meals I’d had at this Signature Restaurant in the years prior.

But, based on my last visit, Artist Point may be on the way back down the ladder when it comes to my recommended fancy dining spots in Disney World. Let’s take a look… .

Atmosphere

If you’ve ever visited Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, then you are familiar with the decor here. Enter into the lobby of the hotel, and you are transported to Pacific Northwest hideaway. Lots of Arts and Crafts touches echo that sentiment, and Artist Point refines the aesthetic.

artist point wilderness lodge

Glass Sign at the Entrance

Where natural wood and stone and warm hues dominate most of the resort, here, you see a lighter touch. Walls are painted a warm white, and woodwork has been whitewashed. The overall feel is much less “lodge-y” and rustic than the rest of the resort — more of a “wide open spaces” kind of vibe.

artist point

Seating

Seating is comfortable, with high-backed, generously padded chairs. The views here are normally quite lovely, as the windows look out over the grounds and the lake.

Beautiful View

Beautiful View

I say “normally” because the evening I visited, all of the windows were blocked by a frosted film, presumably to block the view of the construction taking place below. While I understand that it was necessary, it was kind of a bummer to be seated by a window with no view. (But I still wanted you to see the view, so I’m sharing pics from a previous visit.)

View

View

Murals reside high above the dining room, and depict sweeping panoramas of national parklands. They are the work of celebrated artist Thomas Moran, well known for his “larger-than-life interpretations of the West during the late 1800s.”

Mural

Mural

The colors are gorgeous!

Mural

Mural

Smaller paintings also cover the walls, and are inspired by the work of Albert Bierstadt, who sketched landscapes of the Shoshone Indian country in 1859.

Overall, the restaurant is subdued and understated under its soaring ceilings, and I absolutely love the expansive view of Bay Lake (when you can see them).

Eats

Because Artist Point is a signature restaurant at Disney, you can expect that the menu will change here frequently — sometimes daily or weekly. I checked, and several of the items that we ordered aren’t on the menu right now. Still, you may see them again in the future, and they certainly still give you an idea of the type of food served here.

Appetizers Menu -- Click to Enlarge

Appetizers Menu — Click to Enlarge

The menu theme is Pacific Northwest, so you usually see a mix of seafood and some interesting game meats. There’s normally a buffalo and/or venison option, and you’re likely to encounter some Pan-Asian influences.

Entrees Menu -- Click to Enlarge

Entrees Menu — Click to Enlarge

We began the evening with a customary Bread Basket, served with Butter sprinkled with Black Salt. These were standard, but quite good.

Bread and Butter

Bread and Butter

I decided to begin my dinner my customary bowl of [Read more…]

2015 Epcot Food and Wine Festival News: Menu for Mexico Tequila Tasting Lunch

We have some exciting news today for you about the 2015 Epcot Food and Wine Festival! We’ve confirmed that Tequila Pairing Lunches in the Mexico Pavilion are back as part of the Special Events line up!

Screen Shot 2015-05-29 at 2.14.45 PM

I had the chance to attend the luncheon a while back. It was a great way to spend the afternoon — sampling tequila, and learning how this versatile spirit can pair beautifully with different menu items.

In anticipation of this year’s lineup, our friends from the Mexico Pavilion recently held a tasting to determine just what would make the menu cut.

We’re excited to share some menu descriptions straight from La Cava del Tequila! Let’s take a closer look.

Menu Planned for the Tequila Pairing Lunch at the 2015 Epcot Food and Wine Festival

When I attended the Tequila Pairing Lunch, we enjoyed four courses, paired with three different tequilas as well as Agovera Liqueur. (This event is not for the faint of heart. :-) )

Display Table at Entry of Luncheon

Display Table at Entry of Luncheon

As of the writing of this post, the lunch will include four courses paired with tequilas. But please keep in mind, the dishes are subject to change! Anything is possible between now and Festival Go-Time on September 25!

Your journey through the world of tequila will start with a Flautas de Carnitas — a mini crispy Flauta filled with Pork Carnitas and accompanied by Avocado, Cream, Queso Foam, Roasted Serrano Pepper, and Tomato.

Crispy Carnitas

Flautas de Carnitas

The next course, Sopa de Chile Poblano y Calabaza, will be prepared with Roasted Poblano Pepper, Zucchini, Cilantro, Queso Fresco, and Guajillo Pepper Oil.

The Main Entrée will be a combination of Mar y TierraPan-Seared Snapper and New York Strip — served with a creamy [Read more…]

Review: California Grill in Disney’s Contemporary Resort

Time to check in on one of Walt Disney World’s most popular signature dining spots — California Grill.

Located atop Disney’s Contemporary Resort, the Grill has become nearly as well known for its stellar views as its market-inspired food. And those two factors can make this a tough table to book.

My last visit here, however, when the restaurant had just reopened after an in-depth refurbishment, was somewhat disappointing. At the time, I chalked it up to the kitchen having an off night; after all, I had enjoyed incredible dining here many times before.

I decided it was time to check in again. So we booked an early Advance Dining Reservation (ADR) on a recent visit, and up we went.

Atmosphere

If you’ve never visited California Grill, then there’s one thing you should know: you don’t just head to the 15th floor. Your journey actually starts on the 2nd floor of the Contemporary where you check in. Even if you’re just heading to the first-come, first-served Lounge, this is your first stop.

Second Floor Check In Desk for California Grill

Second Floor Check In Desk for California Grill

You’ll then be escorted via a private elevator to the 15th floor. In this way, staff act as gatekeepers for the popular spot. If left unattended, it would get pretty busy up there, especially around Wishes-at-Magic-Kingdom time.

Once you make your way upstairs, a bank of Wine Fridges greets you straight ahead.

Entrance and Wine Fridges

Entrance and Wine Fridges

You walk through the Lounge and Bar to get to the restaurant’s main seating area. That sounds as though these are different spaces; they aren’t. Basically, with the exception of a few private dining rooms, the restaurant features an open floor plan, accentuating the sweeping views and retro-meets-modern vibe.

California Grill Bar

California Grill Bar

If you find yourself without an ADR, there’s still hope. You can sit in the Grill’s Lounge and order from the menu, or just enjoy Drinks, Sushi, and Appetizers. Be forewarned, though: it’s not uncommon for this area to reach capacity as the night goes on. Here at 5PM, though, it was pretty bare.

California Grill Lounge

California Grill Lounge

Wrap around to the main seating area, and you see that nearly every table commands an excellent view of the surrounding landscape, including Magic Kingdom and the Resorts situated around Seven Seas Lagoon.

Seating varies here and includes both tables and chairs and booths.

Seating

Seating

There are also a selection of tables that mix banquette and chair seating. Note that white tablecloths and cloth napkins are the norm here, lending to the upscale air of sophistication.

Table for Two

Table for Two

Booths are somewhat unique in that they are located in the middle of the floor. That means that you can enter from either side, and there will be traffic on both sides of your table, similar to what you find at Jiko. While this isn’t necessarily bad, it does mean that your booth won’t be as secluded as you might like.

But the view outside of the windows isn’t the only thing you have to look at.

California Grill Kitchen

California Grill Kitchen

The well-orchestrated, professional hustle and bustle that’s happening behind the counter in the on-stage kitchen can be fascinating as well.

Prepping for Dinner Service

Prepping for Dinner Service

Although we will focus today on the food here, the sweeping, panoramic vistas certainly bear mentioning. You can see for miles!

The View

The View

And that’s one of the biggest draws of California Grill — this view, especially when it comes to [Read more…]

Review: The Boathouse at Disney World’s Disney Springs

We’ve been waiting, and it’s finally here! The Boathouse is now open!

The restaurant is located in what will be The Landing Area of Disney Springs (still officially Downtown Disney, but it seems to be getting closer to the changeover everyday.)

The Boathouse opened its doors on Monday, but don’t rush out to get an Advance Dining Reservation just yet. While we’ve had success booking through the Open Table website for May 15th and after, Disney still isn’t offering ADRs — a signal that this is clearly a soft opening period, and a time for the staff and kitchen to work out the kinks.

There’s been a ton of hullabaloo over what we can expect, food and price-wise. We have lots of information and pics to share with you — as well as some information to clarify! So let’s get started.

Atmosphere

I’ve been dying to get a peek behind those walls forever — and now they’re down! And the new restaurant is pretty beautiful.

As You Approach the Boathouse

As You Approach the Boathouse

You’ll see the entrance to the restaurant to the left. The big green tower that we’ve all been watching for a while now is the entrance to the Ship’s Store, the Boathouse’s gift shop.

Entrance

Entrance to Ship’s Store

Between the two entrances on the day we visited, there was this tiny little boat right by the front door. I’m thinkin’ it would be pretty fun to take it for a spin. :-)

Another Tiny Boat

A Tiny Boat By the Front Entrance

Here’s a shot from across the water. This is a great way to sort of get your bearings if you’re still wondering where in the grand scheme of Downtown Disney that The Boathouse is located. This also gives you a glimpse of how The Boathouse has “grown” rather organically. I’m looking forward to hearing the story here. Because we all know — this is Disney. There’s always a story.

The Boathouse as Seen from the Water View

The Boathouse as Seen from the Water View

But The Boathouse will be more than just a place to eat. It will also be home to several boat-themed attractions. In other words, it really is a boathouse.

We gave you a glimpse of Amphicar dress rehearsals taking place the other day ahead of Monday’s soft opening. And today, we have a few more pics to show you! You’ll find the Amphicar Launch around the side of restaurant, to the left of the main entrance.

Amphicar Launch

Amphicar Launch

So you think they just hop in the car and drive it into the water, right? Well, of course, it’s not quite that simple.

See this Amphicar Captain? That wheel behind him is more than just a fancy prop. The captain’s wheel has many gears just behind and under it. When a member of the staff turns the wheel, it actually rotates the turntable that the Amphicars are parked on. When they come in from the lake, they are facing the street. The car wheels are locked down, and the captain turns this wheel, which rotates the car 180 degrees, so that it’s facing the water again. Pretty swift, eh?

Amphicar Captain Stands at the Ready

Amphicar Captain Stands at the Ready

And in case you aren’t tired of looking at these cute little overachievers, here’s another shot. The teal one may just be my favorite.

One of the Amphicars on the Ramp

One of the Amphicars on the Ramp

And…off he goes! Super fun.

One of the Captains Taking an Amphicar for a Spin

One of the Captains Taking an Amphicar for a Spin

But the amphicars aren’t the only game in town. While we haven’t yet seen the 40-foot Italian Water Taxis that are touted as another Boathouse draw, there are plenty of interesting watercraft to check out.

Like this gorgeous option. I wouldn’t mind cruising the harbor in one of these.

Another Beautiful Boat

Another Beautiful Boat

And then, there’s the U-22 Alter Ego, a vintage racing boat. This thing is [Read more…]

News! Star Wars Weekends “Feel the Force” Package Reservations Now Available!

Star Wars Weekends continue to grow in popularity with the release of Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens later this year. And Disney is answering the call by providing lots of premium experiences for guests to enjoy.

Feel the Force

Wanna hang out with this guy?

But the coolest Star Wars Weekends events in our opinion? The ones that involve food, of course!

We saw the introduction of Star Wars Dining Opportunities last year, as Disney introduced Star Wars Character Dining Experiences. Guests can choose from Jedi Mickey’s Star Wars Dine at Hollywood and Vine (see our review here) or Star Wars Dine-In Galactic Breakfast at Sci-Fi (see a guest review here).

But today, we have news of another returning event. Set your cruisers to lightspeed and get ready to dial: Feel the Force Premium Packages are returning in 2015, and you can start booking them today!

The packages, which debuted in 2014, get you up close to all the action happening during Star Wars Weekends at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. They are available Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays during Star Wars Weekends, which take place this year from May 15 until June 14.

There are two different packages to choose from. Let’s check out what you get with each of them.

Feel the Force Premium Package

The Feel the Force Premium Package includes all of the following:

  • 11:00AM — Noon: Reserved viewing for the Legends of the Force: Star Wars Celebrity Motorcade. Guests will also enjoy a selection of Soft Drinks, Water, and a Snack.
  • Reserved seating for ONE of the Celebrity Talk Shows in Theater of the Stars. Show time will be selected at check-in. Please Note: there are a limited amount of seats per show and times are distributed on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • 9:00PM: “Symphony in the Stars” Fireworks Dessert Party, which includes Star Wars-themed desserts (think Yoda and Darth Vader Cupcakes — read our review of them here!) as well as Alcoholic and Non-Alcoholic Beverages. Guests also enjoy a reserved viewing location for the nightly “Symphony in the Stars” fireworks show.
Darth Vader and Yoda Cupcakes

Enjoy Darth Vader and Yoda Cupcakes to Your Heart’s Content!

The price for the Feel the Force Premium Packages is [Read more…]

News! Tickets Now on Sale for Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin’s Food and Wine Classic

Back by popular demand, the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin will once again be hosting its popular Food and Wine Classic!

fw-Logo

Mark your calendars for Friday and Saturday, October 30 and 31, as the Classic celebrates its sixth year! Once again in 2015, the Food and Wine Classic will take place during the Epcot Food and Wine Festival — offering you two wonderful ways to enjoy the food of Disney!

There’s so much to enjoy at this event. Let’s take a closer look at all it has to offer.

The Causeway

Stroll the beautiful Causeway connecting the Swan and Dolphin as you enjoy tapas-sized plates from the resort’s restaurants.

The Causeway at the Swan and Dolphin Food and Wine Classic

The Causeway at the Swan and Dolphin Food and Wine Classic

In addition, you’ll have the opportunity to sample wine and beer from all around the world. The menu is diverse, celebrating the wide array of food that the Swan and Dolphin has to offer.

Shula's Prime Rib with Mashed Potatoes

Shula’s Prime Rib with Mashed Potatoes

We can’t wait to see what spots like Todd English’s bluezoo and Shula’s Steak House offer in 2015!

And there are always a few fun surprises, like Chef Cib’s Smokehouse. Live music plays as evening falls, so bring your dancing shoes. :-)

Food and Beverage Seminars

The 6th Annual Food and Wine Classic will also play host to several Seminars. Choose from [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…]

Guest Review: Disney Cruise Line’s Remy

Join us in welcoming back Victoria Kabakian! She’s treating us to a review of the ultra-posh Remy — a Disney Cruise Line fine-dining restaurant.

Welcome to Remy

Welcome to Remy

The crème de la crème of Disney Cruise Line dining is without a doubt Remy, the Ratatouille inspired restaurant on the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy. On a recent cruise on the Disney Fantasy, I finally got to check out the “other” adults-only dining option from Disney Cruise Line.

The classic ships (Disney Magic and Disney Wonder) only feature Palo, a wonderful Italian restaurant inspired by Venice, but the two newer ships have also added this French culinary experience deriving half its menu from Chef Scott Hunnel from Walt Disney World’s Victoria & Albert’s and half from Chef Arnaud Lallement from L’Assiette Champenoise, a Michelin three-star restaurant in Tinqueux, France, to create a gastronomic collaboration that is worth every penny (and calorie).

Atmosphere

Located on deck 12 aft (that’s the ship’s rear end for you land-lubbers), Remy is the ultimate tribute to the most perfect “little chef” there ever was. Even before entering the main dining room, two of the wines that are featured in the film Ratatouille are displayed in the wine case: a 1961 Château Latour (featured in the scene where Chef Skinner and Linguini are drinking in the office) and a 1947 Cheval Blanc (featured in the restaurant review scene with Anton Ego). And by the way, you can actually purchase these wines at Remy from their wine vault if you’d like. They cost $13,000 and $25,000 respectively.

1961 Château Latour

1961 Château Latour

1947 Cheval Blanc

1947 Cheval Blanc

Wine vault

Wine vault

Past the wine display is the intimate and elegant dining room, with windows stretching from end to end. This is truly the perfect setting for enjoying a view of the sunset during your meal. In fact we did, and trust me, it was stunning.

The view from our table

The view from our table

Sunset

Sunset

Details featuring Remy and his brother Emile can be found throughout the main dining room. Remy is found hidden in glass atop one of the vibrant chandeliers. He is carved in wood on the backs of chairs. Remy and Emile are stitched into the fabric of the booths and their figures frame every mirror in the space.

Remy atop one of the lighting chandeliers

Remy atop one of the lighting chandeliers

Rat detail on the back of a chair

Rat detail on the back of a chair

Part of the gorgeous dining room

Part of the gorgeous dining room

Rats stitched onto a booth

Rats stitched onto a booth

Remy on one side of a mirror

Remy on one side of a mirror

And his brother Emile on the other side

And his brother Emile on the other side

Upon further exploration, there are two additional dining rooms: a small wine room and of course the beloved Gusteau room, which is a replica of Gusteau’s restaurant in Ratatouille and even features a painting depicting the kitchen at Gusteau’s. A hand-woven carpet (one of three on the ship — the others are found in the atrium and the bridge where the ship is navigated). We’re told it took several months to create.

The Gusteau Room

The Gusteau Room

The hand-woven carpet is a focal point

The hand-woven carpet is a focal point

The painting of Gusteau’s kitchen

The painting of Gusteau’s kitchen

Eats

Although Remy also offers a Champagne brunch (at a $50 surcharge) on sea days, on this recent cruise we decided to splurge on dinner (a $75 surcharge plus $99 more if you add the wine experience, which we did not). First and foremost, the meal begins with a very special Champagne cocktail inspired by a very special character in the film, Colette.

 

The Colette

The Colette

The Colette is prepared tableside and includes a bit of strawberry, a mint leaf, some Absolut Pears, and Taittinger Champagne. By mixing the Champagne with a spirit, the bubbles dissipate, but by adding a small bit of dried apricot at the end, it creates an effervescent effect that mimics the natural bubbles in Champagne. It’s like a fun magic trick that you get to drink. Cheers.

Tableside preparation of the Colette cocktail

Tableside preparation of the Colette cocktail

After the strawberry and mint, they add the Absolut Pears

After the strawberry and mint, they add the Absolut Pears

Taittinger Champagne

Taittinger Champagne

Adding the bubbly

Adding the bubbly

The dried apricot replaces the lost bubbles

The dried apricot replaces the lost bubbles

The finished product

The finished product

Even before menus are presented, another taste of apparent magic hits your plates. The amuse bouche is a small sphere of deep-fried tomato soup. How is it made, you ask? Well after guessing that it’s prepared similarly to the way Chinese soup dumplings are made (using gelatinized broth in the filling, which then essentially melts when its heated), our amazing server Guiseppe confirmed that my suspicions were on the right track. How does it taste? Like deep-fried tomato soup, and oh so good.

Deep Fried Tomato Soup

Deep Fried Tomato Soup

A selection of fresh breads including tiny baguettes, multi-grain, and caramelized onion brioche are offered up next along with creamy butter from Vermont and sea salt from Bordeaux in France. The baguettes feature the perfect sound that Colette describes in the film as being a sign of great French bread. It has that crackle and that perfect taste and texture. The brioche is delicate and rich, another classic French creation. The multi-grain is the only bread I didn’t try.

The rat-detailed bread plate

The rat-detailed bread plate

Bread Selection

Bread Selection

Butter and Sea Salt

Butter and Sea Salt

The menu is divided in half with two tasting menus (with a la carte options as well so you can easily mix and match). The Saveur menu (meaning “flavor” in French) is created by Lallement, while the Goût menu (meaning “taste”) is created by Hunnel. Both are exquisite options, and while my sister opted to stick to the Goût side of the menu, I tried a little bit of each.

Dinner Menu

Dinner Menu

Our next treat from the chef before starting our official first course is langoustine with lobster bisque and lettuce reduction. The bite of langoustine is perfectly tender and succulent atop the super flavorful mound of bisque. The flavor of the sea really shines through here, creating a lovely start to this very special meal.

Langoustine with lobster bisque and lettuce reduction

Langoustine with lobster bisque and lettuce reduction

For our first course, we both selected the Wagyu carpaccio with ratatouille, basil coulis, 8 year aged Modena balsamic, and Parmesan crisps. The cold ratatouille is actually hidden underneath paper-thin layers of one of the world’s most famous beefs. The soft textures of the beef and ratatouille are offset by the Parmesan crisps, while the basil coulis and aged balsamic each provide contrasting nuances of herbaceous freshness and sweetness.

Wagyu Carpaccio

Wagyu Carpaccio

Ratatouille hidden underneath

Ratatouille hidden underneath

For our second course we tried the scallop crusted with masago (Japanese pearl rice) and served with a curried coconut broth, shiitake mushrooms, and bok choy. The scallop itself is the largest scallop I’ve ever seen in my life. It is perfectly cooked, still soft and slightly under in the center, with a lovely crisp texture on the exterior from the masago. The curried broth is so full of flavor, I wanted to tip the edge of the bowl directly into my mouth and slurp. Don’t worry, I didn’t. Anton Ego wouldn’t approve of that behavior!

Scallop with curried coconut broth

Scallop with curried coconut broth

Our third course is a polenta and chicken egg yolk stuffed ravioli served over a mixture of corn, black barley and poulet rouge topped with a sweet corn emulsion. This course truly encompasses the chicken AND the egg. I love the sweetness in this dish from the three different uses of corn (polenta in the filling, and corn in the base and in the emulsion). The chewiness from the black barley adds a great textural element, and of course the oozing yolk is the highlight of the dish.

Ravioli

Ravioli

Mmmmm, runny yolk!

Mmmmm, runny yolk!

My sister’s entrée from the Goût side of the menu is onion ash and black Hawaiian salt dusted lamb medallions, asparagus, marble potatoes, and pickled onions. The meat is succulent with a very unique flavor from that onion ash dusting. My sister only spared me one bite (but it was a wonderful bite) and she couldn’t stop swooning about her choice. It really is a lovely dish.

Lamb

Lamb

My entrée from the Saveur side of the menu is cold smoked and pan-roasted Wagyu beef with carrot puree, baby carrots, an orb (thanks, molecular gastronomy) filled with more carrot puree and braised short rib, spinach coulis, and served with a tableside drizzle of Bourguignon sauce. The beef is cooked perfectly and is so utterly tender. The bit of carrot puree and braised short rib that is encapsulated on the dish (not too visible in the picture, unfortunately) is a really neat surprise. It almost bursts in your mouth with sweet carrot puree and then that delicious meatiness that is short ribs. Oh yes. No regrets.

Wagyu Beef

Wagyu Beef

At this point because we were here for my birthday (belated, but still worth celebrating!) the chef actually came out and took a photo with us and then signed personalized menus for us. What a great treat!

Personalized signed menu

Personalized signed menu

Next it’s time for the famous Remy cheese [Read more…]

Best Disneyland Restaurants for First Timers

Okay. So I tried to come up with the Top Three Disneyland Restaurants for First Timers. But there was no way I could limit my picks to just three. So then, I said, hey, let’s try for the Top Five.

Even still.

So in the end, I cut myself off at Eight. :-)

Disneyland's Matterhorn

Matterhorn!

There is so much good food in Disneyland. Really, it was super hard not to just give you a list of pretty much every restaurant there, and call it a day.

But if you must narrow it down, these are the restaurants that I love. These are the spots that I’d go to every single time if I could. (And mostly, I do.)

Heading to Disneyland, or just dreaming about a pilgrimage there? Check out my picks for the places you have to visit during your very first trip. Whether you’re looking for a meal or a snack, you can’t go wrong with putting these spots on your list.

Cafe Orleans

If I could only eat at one spot in Disneyland for the rest of my life, I’m fairly sure that spot would be Cafe Orleans. Located on New Orleans Square, it’s offers some of the beautiful patio seating that Disneyland is known for.

Outdoor Patio at Cafe Orleans

Outdoor Patio at Cafe Orleans

But I’m going to be honest — Cafe Orleans claims the distinction of offering not just one or two, but three of my favorite Disneyland dishes. (And that’s pretty much all I ever eat there.) First, when you visit here, I insist you order the Pommes Frites. Tossed with Garlic and Parmesan, they’re served with a Cajun Remoulade ramekin. I also insist you order TWO remoulades. At least. Per person.

Cafe Orleans Pommes Frites

Cafe Orleans Pommes Frites

While I love their gumbo here as well, it’s the Monte Cristo Sandwich that I can’t live without. Pockets of bread layered with Ham, Turkey, and Swiss Cheese are lightly battered and deep-fried. Served with Berry Puree for dipping, this is pretty much something everyone should eat at least once in life.

Disneyland's Famous Monte Cristo

Monte Cristo at Cafe Orleans

Not a meat-eater? There’s also an All-Cheese Version. No. Seriously. There is.

Behold. The Three-Cheese Monte Cristo. Did I mention the Double Creme Brie?

Three-Cheese Monte Cristo at Disneyland's Cafe New Orleans

Three-Cheese Monte Cristo at Disneyland’s Cafe New Orleans

But save room for dessert — because you can’t pass on the Mickey Beignets served with Dipping Sauces.

Mickey Beignets with Sauces

Mickey Beignets with Sauces

Have this meal just once, and you can say “I’ve been to Disneyland” properly as far as I’m concerned.

Blue Bayou

But Cafe Orleans has an older, slightly more posh sister — Blue Bayou. And while I usually skip it in favor of Cafe Orleans, if you’re visiting the ‘Land for the first time, you really need to experience this place.

Because more than anything, Blue Bayou is an experience; it’s as much an attraction as a restaurant.

Blue Bayou Atmosphere

Blue Bayou Atmosphere

Because the restaurant is fashioned to look like a verandah on a river’s edge. Look below you into the water, and you see travelers, en route to explore the mysteries of the Pirates of the Caribbean.

Honestly, the food is less important here to me than the “view.” I have enjoyed the New Orleans Signature Gumbo. And in this setting, it’s even better.

New Orleans Signature Gumbo

New Orleans Signature Gumbo

And yep, to be honest, I like to order the Monte Cristo here, too!

Le Special de  Monte Cristo Sandwich

Le Special de Monte Cristo Sandwich

It’s a little fancier (and more expensive), but just as delicious.

Napa Rose

Some of my Disneyland dining choices are obviously sentimental; either I love the restaurant, the food, or both. But it’s not like they’re the tip-top of the culinary pyramid or anything. But then, there’s Napa Rose.

I Love the Napa Rose Outdoor Lounge Area

Start Your Napa Rose Adventure With a Glass of Wine on the Outside Patio

Nestled inside Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and Spa, Napa Rose stands as a testament to fine California fusion cuisine, inspired by fresh farm-to-market ingredients.

Chef Sutton's Chili Base

Chef Sutton’s Chili Base — Even Base Ingredients are Created in House From Scratch

Chef Andrew Sutton is in charge here, and his menus make use of the freshest items. Prepare to be [Read more…]

News! Dates for the 2015 Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Food and Wine Classic Announced

We have more exciting news for you today about upcoming Fall events in Walt Disney World!

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The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort has announced the dates for their 6th Annual Food and Wine Classic.

Circle Friday, October 30 and Saturday, October 31, 2015 on your calendars!

For the second year in a row, the Swan and Dolphin will hold the popular event on Halloween weekend.

The Food and Wine Classic also coincides with the 2015 Epcot Food and Wine Festival, which will take place September 25 – November 16, 2015.

The Causeway on a Beautiful Fall Evening During the 2014 Swan and Dolphin Food and Wine Classic!

The Causeway on a Beautiful Fall Evening During the 2014 Swan and Dolphin Food and Wine Classic!

The Beer Garden, which was first introduced in 2014, is returning, and will offer a wide range of beers from all over the world as well as local brews! In addition, guests can enjoy more than 40 tasting stations featuring dishes from the resort’s 17 restaurants and lounges as well as more than 30 wineries!

I know it seems so far away right now, but it will be here before you know it! And since this is the 20th year for the Epcot Food and Wine Festival, we expect there to be some super big doin’s happening around Disney at that time! (Remember when you used to go to Disney World and schedule a wake-up call and Mickey would call you and say “Big Doin’s Going On!” Yeah. That was awesome.)

Preparing Scallops Perfectly for a Crowd

Preparing Scallops Perfectly for a Crowd

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