Review: Lunch at Epcot’s Coral Reef Restaurant

We’re dining “Under the Sea” today at Epcot’s Coral Reef Restaurant!

And if you’re wondering if it was all part of my plan to insert that song in your head for the rest of the day, the answer is “Yes.”

(Insert evil laugh here. ;) )

Coral Reef is one of only two Table Service Restaurants in Epcot’s Future World (the other being Garden Grill), and the only one open for lunch, which is the meal we’re having today. But first things first: in order to eat at Coral Reef, you’ve got to find it. Just head to “The Living Seas…” whoops! I mean, “The Seas with Nemo and Friends” Pavilion.

And once you get your fill of the birds chanting “Mine, Mine, Mine,” just hang a right…

The Seas Pavilion

The Seas Pavilion

… and head as far as you can towards the back. (The outdoor sign will help, too.)

Heading to Coral Reef

Heading to Coral Reef

Coral Reef sign

Coral Reef sign

So, now we’ve found it! Let’s head in…

Atmosphere

As per usual with Disney dining, there are some fun details to take in here, starting right at the entrance.

Entrance

Entrance

Seahorse door handle

Seahorse door handle

The dining room is well-concealed for the “big reveal” to come, but touches in the check-in area (which expands into a fairly large hallway) give several indications as to what awaits you once you dine.

Octopus at Check in

Octopus at Check in

Octopus at check-in counter

Octopus at check-in counter

What are those lights, anyway? Jellyfish?

Check-in area hallway

Check-in area hallway

Glass fish behind check-in counter

Glass fish behind check-in counter

But as fun as it always is to check out the little things, the truth of the matter is that everyone is here to see one, single, MAJOR “detail.” The aquarium!

Coral Reef Dining Room

Coral Reef Dining Room

Yep — the dining room has giant picture windows that look right into the massive Living Seas aquarium. It’s like you’re dining in a submarine.

Coral Reef Dining Room

Coral Reef Dining Room

And here’s an interesting thing about Coral Reef: in most restaurants, several of the tables for two are often tucked on the outer perimeters, and sometimes that can lend to a feeling of being a little removed from the atmosphere. At Coral Reef, many of the tables for two receive “front rows seats” for the big show. Our table for two was right next to this table for four.

Coral Reef Seating in front of aquarium

Coral Reef Seating in front of aquarium

Our server presented Fish Guides to us, so we could identify some of the marine life swimming by.

Fish Guide

Fish Guide

Fish Guide

Fish Guide

Being that close contributed just a little extra to an already unique experience. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves…

Aquarium views

Aquarium views

Aquarium views

Aquarium views

Aquarium views

Aquarium views

Though I gotta say, this felt [Read more…]

Review: Victoria and Albert’s Chef’s Table at the Grand Floridian Resort

Today, we travel up the elegant stairway to the pinnacle of fine dining at Walt Disney World, Victoria & Albert’s at the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa.

Join me for an unparalleled experience as I take you behind the opulence to the excitement and camaraderie of the Chef’s Table! And let me tell you… it’s AWESOME!!

Victoria and Albert’s is the crown jewel in Disney’s culinary offerings. And while it is certainly expensive (that might be an understatement), I aim to show you that for the true food lover, the Chef’s Table experience is worth every penny.

By the way, if you read through this review and decide the Chef’s Table is not for you, you can also dine in the Dining Room to the more intimate Queen Victoria Room.

Victoria and Albert's Plate

Reservations for Victoria and Albert’s go quickly. It is recommended that you book as close to 180 days out as possible. As for cost, the menu is prix fixe, meaning that you pay a set price for the meal. Expect your meal to begin at $135 per person for the Dining Room, with an additional charge of $65 for wine pairings. That price includes six courses. Queen Victoria’s Room and the Chef’s Table menus may include up to thirteen courses, and prices start at $210/person for dinner and $105 for wine pairings. Keep in mind that these prices do not reflect tax or gratuity, so be prepared.

While Queen Victoria’s Room offers the height of elegant dining, the Chef’s Table provides interested guests full access to the restaurant’s culinary team in a meal that is as much performance as it is sustenance.

Atmosphere

Once you check in for your reservation at the Chef’s Table, you are escorted through the well appointed (and very quiet!) main dining room. You’ll notice low light, beautiful fresh flowers, and the strains of harp music. The whole effect is quite romantic and very formal. There is a strict dress code here, and men must wear jackets.

Victoria and Albert's Main Dining Room

The Dining Room consists of a mere fourteen tables, beautifully set with spotless crystal and china. Very chi chi.

Victoria and Albert's Seating

We followed the debonaire Maître d’hôtel, Israel Perez, through this space and into the brightly lit kitchen. At that time, we were informed that Chef de Cuisine Scott Hunnel would not be joining us because of a conflicting event. In his place, Sous Chef Aimée Rivera would guide us through our meal.

Maître d'hôtel Israel Perez and Chef Rivera

Both Mr. Perez and Chef Rivera were phenomenal, and it’s clear that their passion and driving force is the comfort and enjoyment of their guests. Chef Rivera invited us to interact at will with the kitchen staff, and suggested that we voice any and all questions that we might have (Mua ha ha ha!!! She didn’t know just how annoying I can be!).

An interesting fact: once you are seated, you can’t [Read more…]