Chef Interview: New Kids’ Menus Debut in Downtown Disney Orlando

Can healthy kids’ menus also be fun and interesting?

Recently I had the opportunity to speak with Steve Richard, executive chef of Downtown Disney’s Portobello Trattoria in Walt Disney World. Portobello and its sister restaurants, Fulton’s Crab House and Wolfgang Puck Cafe, have debuted some brand new children’s menus that aim for healthy as well as fun.

Since healthier — and more grown-up — kids’ eats is a growing trend among Disney-area restaurants (for example, check out the kids’ menu at the new Be Our Guest Restaurant in Magic Kingdom), I was interested to hear all the new menus and the impetus behind them.

Portobello Trattoria

Portobello continues to offer freshly-prepared rustic Italian fare, with an emphasis on slow cooking and local ingredients. And the family-friendly atmosphere provides a cozy-yet-refined alternative where families with children can relax.

Portobello

Though I’ve seen some negative reviews for Portobello, my experiences here have pretty positive. And the new kids’ menu focuses on freshness and whole foods, without sacrificing kid pleasers, like pizza.

It seems that choice really was the driving motivation for the recent updates to the menus at all three restaurants. “We wanted to offer choices,” said Chef Steve. “People are on vacation and they might be inclined to be indulgent. With all the menus, we feel it’s important to offer healthy choices as well.”

Portobello Dining Room Seating

The choices emphasize a balance between indulgence and smarter eating. “We think the best approach is to offer healthy meals for kids as well as something that mimics the adult dining experience,” he explained.

“We are trying to offer things that are indulgent, like the option to have an ice cream sundae made with locally-made gelato at Portobello. But then we also have grilled meats and fresh fruits, as opposed to things we normally see on children’s menus.”

Chef Steve and his team have also included fresher choices for beverages, like 100% juice options and low-fat milk.

Portobello Kids' Menu -- Click to Enlarge

Fulton’s Crab House

Fulton’s Crab House has retained many of their classic dishes, while offering a new flair featuring sustainably and responsibly harvested [Read more…]

Disney World Crème Brûlée Gallery

I’ve had numerous requests from folks asking for a round-up of where you can get Crème Brûlée in Disney World, and finally we’ve put this gallery together!

Garde Manger Caramelizes Creme Brulee

For those who haven’t indulged before, classic Crème Brûlée is a dessert created from baked and cooled custard topped with (usually) blowtorched sugar forming a candied crust.

Disney pastry chefs have bent over backwards figuring out how to put their own personal touch on this decadent recipe… Let’s take a look at some of the interesting ones!

Please note that Disney dessert menus change all the time, so some of these may no longer be available on your visit.

Be sure to let us know in the comments below about your favorite Crème Brûlée desserts in Disney restaurants!!

White Chocolate Crème Brûlée

Check out Portobello‘s yummy version! The white chocolate shavings really made this dessert!

White Chocolate Crème Brûlée

Pistachio Crème Brûlée

A classic at Tony’s Town Square in the Magic Kingdom is this beloved Pistachio Crème Brûlée. And I fully agree with it’s cult favorite status — it was delicious!

pistachio creme brulee

Pistachio Creme Brulee

Key Lime and Regular Crème Brûlée Duo

Narcoossee’s serves this dessert as a duo — two for one deal!! The true winner is the Key Lime — it’s the perfect dose of tart and tangy with the [Read more…]

“Biramisu” Review and Recipe, Portobello Trattoria

Beer? For Dessert? Yes, indeed.

Despite the fact that I don’t know much about beer and I’m not a fan of tiramisu, I’m extremely glad that I got to try this combo of the two — Biramisu — at Downtown Disney Orlando’s Portobello Trattoria.

I’d known for months (over a year, maybe??) that I needed to get my butt in a chair over at Portobello to try this dessert. It’s pretty innovative, eh? Beer + Tiramisu? And the fact that they make it with a local Orlando Brewing Company porter makes it even more compelling.

Biramisu on the Dessert Menu

The local Organic Blackwater Dry Porter that’s used to make the Biramisu was new to us when we got to the restaurant, but we tried a bottle during lunch to check it out. Liked it!

Orlando Brewing Company Organic Blackwater Dry Porter

But when it was time for dessert, I was still skeptical. (Don’t worry, though; we ordered the white chocolate creme brulee, too, just in case.) I’m just not a big fan of soggy cake, alcohol-soaked anything, or beer in my dessert (as far as I knew). And isn’t that pretty much what this was?

But, if you’re like me and concerned, not to worry. If you take a look at the recipe for this stuff, there’s more [Read more…]

Risotto Around the World

Ah…time to talk about one of my very favorite side dishes EVER!!! Risotto is often overlooked, but the creamy savory goodness that is risotto could easily take center stage in a dish (and does in some of these highlighted below)! Disney chefs have mastered the art of making this slow-cooked yumminess — rice patiently mixed with flavorful broth — and whether it’s mixed with meat, fish, or vegetables, risotto doubles as as a sophisticated recipe and mouth-watering, comfort food.

I was looking through our Disney Food Blog Flickr group and saw so many gorgeous photos of risotto that I simply had to do a post about this dark horse side dish. (Of course, I’ve added a few of my own photos as well…;-D.)

Let’s take a tour around the world…

Butternut Squash Risotto from Artist Point

This butternut squash risotto topped with pork belly is easily in my “top 5″ risottos in Disney World. Offered at Artist Point in the Wilderness Lodge, the hint of sweet from the squash and tartness courtesy of the cranberry drizzle create amazing (and memorable!) flavors. Sigh. I miss it.

butternut squash risotto

Dungeness Crab Risotto with Blood Orange Sauce and Pea Shoots; from Artist Point

This ample portion of risotto is mixed handsomely with crab creating a decadent appetizer. (Looks amazing!!!) Dishes at Artist Point tend to change seasonally, yet Dungeness crab seems to be used in many dishes — like these crab cakes we highlighted earlier this week!
(Photographer: Roger Weeks)

Dungeness Crab Risotto

Mushroom “Risotto” (in reality this is white corn, but I love that they made a “risotto” out of it), served along side Seared Bison with, Turnips, Chestnuts, and Pinot Noir Juniper Emulsion; from California Grill

This striking presentation from the California Grill has a slight [Read more…]

News! Beer Dinner at Downtown Disney’s Portobello Restaurant

Even more beer news on the blog this week!!

Teaming up with Orlando Brewing, Downtown Disney’s Portobello Restaurant has announced a Beer Dinner for February 22, 2012!

Portobello’s Executive Chef Steven Richard has teamed up with Celebrity Chefs Tony Mantuano and Sara Grueneberg to create a four-course, trattoria-inspired menu with perfectly paired brews.

Enjoy interacting with Chef Mantuano (Top Chef Masters, Season two) and Chef Grueneberg (Top Chef-Texas).

We’ve been told that this will book up quickly, so make your reservations soon!

Reception: 6:30 p.m.
Dinner: 7:00 p.m.
Cost: $59.95 per person, plus tax and gratuity.

Menu

ANTIPASTI
Salumi, formaggi, crostini, farmer’s market [Read more…]

Downtown Disney Restaurants Announce Thanksgiving Feasts

Portobello

We are thrilled to announce Thanksgiving meals being offered at the Levy Restaurants in Downtown Disney. Wolfgang Puck Grand Cafe, Portobello, and Fulton’s Crab House will debut prix fixe menus for the holiday.

Also, don’t forget to check out our reader-voted favorites for Best Places for Thanksgiving in Disney World and the fun Raglan Road Thanksgiving menu!

Let’s look at the Downtown Disney menus!

Wolfgang Puck Grand Café Dining Room

Start your meal with Sweet Potato and Duck Confit Tart with melted onions, bitter greens, roasted grapes and pumpkin oil. For the main course, savor Whole Roasted Poussin with butternut puree, charred brussels sprouts and red currant chutney. For dessert, [Read more…]

Disney-Linked Presenters Host Chicago Cooking Demos

Chicago natives will want to join in a day of fun for the family at the “Good Health is Always in Fashion,” event on August 26, 2011, which will highlight good nutrition through cooking demos and seminars!

Culinary demos will be hosted by Pam Smith, the longtime host of the demonstrations at Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival.

Pam Smith Presents at Epcot Food and Wine Festival Culinary Demo

Cooking Demos

Pam Smith, the nationally recognized nutritionist (author of The Energy Edge) and culinary consultant, is scheduled to host the complimentary cooking demonstrations, including Fresh, Innovative, and Tasty (FIT) demos from local and celebrity chefs!

11:00 am Chef Ryan Hutmacher
12:00 pm Chef Tom Douglas
1:00 pm Chef Meg Colleran Sahs
2:00 pm Chef Randy Zweiban
3:30 pm Chef John State

Disney Food fans will recognize one of the presenters — Chef John State! Currently the head chef at Seasons 52 in Schaumburg, Illinois, Chef State oversaw the opening of [Read more…]

Wolfgang Puck Cafe, Fulton’s Crab House, and Portobello in WDW’s Downtown Disney Offer Group Cooking Classes

Group cooking classes are being offered at these Downtown Disney Orlando Restaurants! Gather your crowd and book an adult class at Wolfgang Puck Cafe or Portobello, or let the kids show off their culinary skills (or learn new ones ;-)) at Portobello!

Wolfgang Puck Cafe

Downtown Disney Orlando’s Wolfgang Puck Cafe has announced the availability of group cooking demonstrations. Group demos can be arranged by calling 407-828-8996 for a minimum class size of 30 people. Of course the Cafe won’t let you leave hungry so, you’ll get lunch too!

Live Love Eat!

Each session taught by chefs of Wolfgang Puck Cafe offers a four course meal cooking class. The menu will feature California rolls, Chinois chicken salad, pumpkin ravioli and Bananas Foster. Your group will take home recipes and customized menu cards commemorating all four courses.

The minimum class size is 30 budding chefs! The cost to enjoy this event includes a $300 event fee plus a charge of $40 per person. Optional commemorative cookbooks and aprons will be available for an extra cost.

Cookbooks and aprons to commemorate your event experience are also available at an additional price.

Portobello Restaurant

Portobello is offering cooking classes for groups of 20-40 people!

Adult classes include audience participation, exclusive recipes, personalized menu cards, a chef presentation, and [Read more…]

Best Disney World Restaurants Not on the Disney Dining Plan

As you know, Kim L. is our behind-the-scenes manager here at the Disney Food Blog, a Disney World Moms Panelist, and a blogger! You’ll begin to see her name more and more in that little author line! Learn more about her on our staff and contributors page! Here, she discusses her top choices for Disney World restaurants not on the Disney Dining Plan!

UPDATE 4/2012: The restaurants at the Swan and Dolphin Resort are not yet on the Dining Plan, but the others — T-Rex, Rainforest Cafe, Portobello, Fulton’s, Paradiso 37, Wolfgang Puck Cafe The Dining Room, and House of Blues, should now be on the Dining Plan!

Lots of guests want to know the top restaurants when dining with the Disney Dining Plan, but since those restaurants seem to fill up more and more quickly these days, we’ve also been getting requests for recommendations on restaurants not included in the Dining Plan. Here are my picks for the best table service locations that do not participate in the DDP! ;-)

Top 5 Restaurants Not on the Disney Dining Plan, for Adults

Portobello
For guests craving a casual meal with value, Portobello at Downtown Disney dishes out hearty Italian fare. Choose from a value dinner menu, wood-burning oven pizzas, signature sandwiches plus a meatball and beer bar!

AJ recommends the Bucatini!

House of Blues
Got late night munchies at Downtown Disney? House of Blues is open til 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights! The southern-inspired menu includes a large variety of sandwiches and seafood such as Creole Jambalaya. To soothe your soul, look for [Read more…]

Disney Restaurants Offer Easter Meals in 2011

Many WDW restaurants will have special meals for Easter. If you’ll be dining on more than chocolate eggs, make sure to make an Advance Dining Reservation at one of these locations!

HOPPY EASTER IN THE MAGIC KINGDOM

Captain’s Grille: Easter Brunch Buffet
The menu at Captain’s Grill will include cheese, soups and salads; pork loin, carved roast beef, and glazed ham; and a cold seafood bar. Multiple desserts, including a gelato bar!, will be included. Cost: Adults $28.75, Children $12.77.

Cape May Cafe Easter Dinner:
The menu at Cape May Cafe includes Clam Chowder, a carving station, a spicy seaweed salad with mussels, and barbecue pork ribs! End your meal with the famous Oreo Bon Bons from [Read more…]