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…]

2013 Epcot Food and Wine Festival Review: The Chocolate Dinner!

How many times have you said to yourself, “I wish I could eat CHOCOLATE for dinner!!!!” I know. TONS, right? Well the dream has finally come true! And it happened at the 2013 Epcot Food and Wine Festival!

This year, a brand new signature dining experience kicked off the festival during opening weekend. The Chocolate Dinner, hosted by Ghirardelli Chocolate, promised to be a sumptuous experience for the discriminating chocolate lover.

The dinner consisted of a reception, followed by six plated courses, presented by the Disney chefs who created them.

Let’s head over to Epcot’s World Showplace Event Pavilion for a look at this decadent event!

Reception

Ever wonder what’s behind those enormous brown doors between the Canada and UK Pavilions within Epcot’s World Showcase? You might, if you’ve never attended an event at the World Showplace Pavilion. But if you look closely at your Epcot map, you’ll see it there.

That was the setting for the evening’s event, and the sign above the beautiful awning announced it in style.

Chocolate Dinner Sign

Pan back a bit, and you can see the main entrance to the building. A reception preceding the plated dinner took place in the World Showplace courtyard, to the left of the main entrance.

World Showplace Entrance to the Chocolate Dinner

As we entered through the massive brown wooden doors, a team of servers greeted us with beverages. Guests could choose from Young’s Double Chocolate Stout, Chocolate Martinis, or Sparkling Wine. The drinks disappeared quickly every time the staff came out with another tray of them!

Young's Double Chocolate Stout

Chocolate Martini

While guests sipped on their cocktails, beer, and wine, teams of cast members passed trays of [Read more…]

Guest Review: Via Napoli’s Arancini Appetizer in Epcot

Welcome guest author Paul Kuconis! Today, he shares the popular Arancini Appetizer at Via Napoli in Epcot’s Italy pavilion. Grazie, Paul!

I always look forward to our Walt Disney World visits; and I look forward to the food! One of our ‘go-to’ Epcot restaurants is Via Napoli Pizzeria E Ristorante, or better known as ‘Via Napoli’.

One of the problems with dining here is that we have to walk almost to the very back of Epcot to get to Italy. But that only heightens the anticipation!

Via Napoli - almost there!

Via Napoli entrance.

Atmosphere

Although we had to change our reservation to a more convenient time, we were given a good table close to the pizza station.

Pizza Ovens!

While we waited, we took in the décor!

Intricate, beamed ceiling.

We enjoyed our seats under the watchful eyes of Stromboli, Vesuvio, and Etna. The three pizza ovens are named after active volcanoes in Italy; Stromboli on the Aeolian Islands, Vesuvius near Naples, and Mount Etna in Sicily.

Being Watched By Stromboli, Vesuvio, and Etna.

It was equally interesting to watch the chefs prepare and cook pizzas. They look like they enjoy their jobs and perform them with military precision.

Eats

I would like to share with DFB readers our favorite Via Napoli appetizer – Arancini.

Arancini means ‘little oranges’, which is exactly what these round/oval, deep-fried rice croquettes look like when they are removed from the hot oil.

They are served as snack food in bars and cafes all over Sicily, and their filling can vary — meat and tomato sauce with peas, chopped vegetables and white sauce-cheese, and prosciutto — depending on the cook.

Aranci Menu Item.

We were served by Luca, who came to Epcot via Turin, Italy. Luca agreed, “Good choice!”, and placed the order for the Arancini. I also ordered a glass of Batasiolo Chardonnay.

Chardonnay Batasiolo Menu Item.

If I planned on more that one glass, Luca suggested the quartino. Good idea! I enjoy a nice Chardonnay, but by no means consider myself a wine connoisseur. I drink what I like whether or not it is appropriately paired. It went well with my meal.

Quartino of Basasiolo Chardonnay.

Finally, after what seemed like hours, (but was, in fact only ten minutes!), Luca delivered [Read more…]

Review: Citricos at Disney World’s Grand Floridian Resort

Come along with us on a great date night destination at Walt Disney World — Citricos at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa!

If you haven’t had the pleasure, there are so many reasons to give this wonderful restaurant a try. It’s a little easier to get an Advance Dining Reservation here than other, more popular spots in the Magic Kingdom area.

But with food that rivals the hottest spots at Disney World — and a quiet, comfortable atmosphere — this has become a restaurant we return to again and again. Does it continue to wow? We shall see…

Atmosphere

Citricos is tucked back behind Victoria & Albert’s (another review we’ll be treating you to soon!) on the Grand Floridian’s second floor. And with that “hidden” location, Citricos is often the overlooked signature dining spot here in the Magic Kingdom resort area. Diners often gravitate to California Grill or Narcoossee’s over Citricos in favor of spectacular fireworks views.

But don’t underestimate this place. While the fireworks viewing potential is pretty small here, sometimes being the “odd man out” can make a restaurant even more compelling. Citricos’ strengths come in the form of warmth, elegance, and a very quiet, comfortable atmosphere. I keep saying “comfortable” over and over again, and I’m pretty sure it’s because these dining chairs are some of the best on property! No kidding!

Seating Area

Warm light, sunny colors, and copper details make this an inviting space. (And did I mention the chairs? They’re comfortable.) A full bank of floor-to-ceiling windows lets in plenty of natural light during daytime hours.

Seating Area Near Windows

I like the whimsical, colorful glass touches on the tables. The candle holder and bread plates really add a pop of color to the formal place settings.

Table Setting

It’s always fun to watch the action in the open kitchen. The setting is beautiful, and the staff is poised and professional as they go about dinner service. (Don’t forget to take a peek as you walk to your table to see what items you might want to try!)

Exhibition Kitchen and Expediting Station

Off to the side of the restaurant — just next to the kitchen — is the Chef’s Domain. I’ve had the pleasure of eating in this private dining room recently for a good friend’s birthday dinner, and it’s very nice. You can order from a specialized menu or stick with the regular offerings. For events ranging from a private dinner party to a more elaborate affair, this is a great spot. This must be booked well ahead of time, and there’s a food and beverage minimum cost.

And as a bonus, you can get a really good view of the pastry specialists working at their craft – yum!

Pastry Chef Preparing Desserts

Now, back to our regular old dining room experience! Just walking to our table was enough to excite us about the meal! We were ready to get started.

Eats

The menu at Citricos focuses on [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…]

Guest Review: Coral Reef Restaurant

We’re welcoming back guest author Melissa Sue Sorrells Galley with a review of the Coral Reef Restaurant — and she gives it high marks! Take it away, Melissa!

My husband, Rob, and I headed to Coral Reef in early December during our first night in Disney World. After a long day of traveling and touring Hollywood Studios, a dark, undersea meal seemed like just what the doctor would have ordered (if the doctor was a fellow Disney fanatic).

We’d made our Advanced Dining Reservation six months in advance like good Disney diners; and we were there celebrating our “honeymooniversary,” which is a completely made up word we’ve been using to justify going to Disney World each December.

Coral Reef’s exterior signage may be hard to find, but it’s worth looking

Atmosphere

Coral Reef may be a bit hard to find, but once you know where to look, it’s as clear as day. As you walk toward the entrance to ride The Seas with Nemo and Friends (one of my favorites), hang a right on the walkway that seems to lead to nowhere. After a few moments, you’ll see the Coral Reef sign and, if you keep walking, the entrance to this undersea adventure in Disney dining.

The entrance is a gateway to the worlds of Ariel and Nemo

Once you enter through the wave-inspired door, using the seahorse pull handle, you’re in a fully-themed underwater atmosphere, complete with [Read more…]

7 Underrated Disney World Appetizers (You’ve Gotta Try These!)

We were chatting in my house about some of our favorite Disney World appetizers and realized that we don’t hear people talk about these seven very often! Are they underrated? Simply unknown? Who knows. Either way, I want YOU to know about them, because they’re quite yummy indeed.

1. Citricos: Arancini-Crispy Risotto
This appetizer, with Italian Sausage, Quattro Formaggi, and White Truffle Aïoli, is different. And that’s what I love about it. Fried risotto. Cheese. Sausage. It’s like a little ball of comfort. I love that this is the way I begin my slow, relaxing meals at Citricos.

Citricos Arancini-Crispy Risotto

Citricos Arancini-Crispy Risotto

2. Beaches and Cream: Chili
Simple. Straightforward. The best chili on property. If you disagree, let me know your favorite!

3. Liberty Tree Tavern: Tavern Fried Cheese with Marinara Sauce
You may think these are just cheese sticks. But you’d be wrong. See those little pudgy ones on the side? Curds. Curds! DeeeLISH! There’s a completely different flavor here than your standard chain restaurant cheese sticks; at least WE think so!

Liberty Tree Tavern Fried Cheese

Liberty Tree Tavern Fried Cheese

4. Le Cellier: Spicy Chicken and Chipotle Sausage with Roasted Corn Polenta and Sweet Onion Jam
While patrons (including me!) rave about Le Cellier’s cheddar cheese soup and trio of breadsticks, we were blown away when we tried this chicken and chipotle sausage. The corn polenta adds just the right texture to compliment the sausage. It’s a meal in itself, but don’t forget you’ve still got steak coming!

Le Cellier Spicy Chicken and Chipotle Sausage with Roasted Corn Polenta

Le Cellier Spicy Chicken and Chipotle Sausage with Roasted Corn Polenta

5. Rose and Crown Pub and Dining Room: Meat and Cheese Selection for Two
All you have to do is take one look at this beautiful board and you know it’s delicious. Black pudding, Stilton baked into a flaky pastry, sharp Cheddar, mushroom-infused Brie, candied walnuts, gherkin, a little pot of onions — it’s a little bit of everything. Truly, the best “cheese plate” I’ve found in Disney World to date. Pair this with a cup of the potato and leek soup, and you have an unforgettable meal. Thanks to WDWforGrownups.com for the photo!

Rose and Crown Dining Room Cheese and Meat Plate

Rose and Crown Dining Room Cheese and Meat Plate

6. ESPN Club: Patriot Clam Chowder
Liberty Tree Tavern has great clam chowder, too, but as they’re already on the list we wanted to mention our runner-up clam chowder at the ESPN Club! Brimming with clams and potatoes, we always order it with LOTS of oyster crackers…

7. California Grill: Potato Celery Soup
Unfortunately, this is seasonal. But I’m hoping it’s back next Winter! We were skeptical about California Grill until we dipped our soup spoons into this rich, flavorful, creamy soup. I wish words could explain how decadent this stuff is, but, alas, we’ll just have to hope we can fit all of the Disney Food Blog readers into a meet-and-greet at Cali Grill next February. For a hint of the recipe, check our California Grill review post.

California Grill Potato Celery Soup

California Grill Potato Celery Soup

There you have it! Our favorites, so far! Clearly we haven’t tried everything on every menu, so if you’ve got a contender, let me know by posting a comment. Thanks in advance!