News! Mother’s Day Meals at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotel

Looking to treat Mom to an extra special meal this Mother’s Day? We have a few great options for you at Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Restaurants!

Garden Grove Cafe

You’ll feel like you’re in a garden, with all the comforts of being in the a/c! Garden Grove Cafe at the Walt Disney World Swan Resort is the perfect spot to spoil Mom this Mother’s Day.

Feel Like You're Outdoors with the Comfort of Indoors!

Feel Like You’re Outdoors with the Comfort of Indoors!

And with two different options, there’s something for early risers as well as those who plan to let her sleep in a little. If it’s breakfast you’re after, enjoy Garden Grove’s special Mother’s Day Breakfast Menu.

When: Sunday, May 10, 7:00 — 10:00AM

Where: Garden Grove Cafe, Walt Disney World Swan Resort

Cost: $35.99 for Adults, $19.99 for children ages 3-9, children under three eat for free

Garden Grove Mothers Day Breakfast Menu

Garden Grove Mothers Day Breakfast Menu

Garden Grove Mothers Day Breakfast Menu

Garden Grove Mothers Day Breakfast Menu

Menu highlights include [Read more…]

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…]

News! Shades of Green Resort April Food Events

Shades of Green located at Walt Disney World is an Armed Forces Recreation Center (AFRC) for United States Military Members and their families!

This month, Shades of Green is offering a Food, Wine, and Music event along with discounted meals, and an Easter Basket delivery service. Check out these great happenings at Shades of Green!

Shades of Music: A Food, Wine, and Music Experience

Enjoy the second annual Shades of Music on April 4 and 5th featuring a World Cuisine Buffet with live music.

Shades of Music

Shades of Music

Time: 5PM-10PM
Cost: $16.95 adults; $7.95 kids

Reserve your spot now by calling 407-824-6466.

Discounted Meals

Kids 6 and under eat eat free at Mangino’s and The Garden Gallery with a paying adult!

Steak and Seafood Specials

Mangino’s is open 5PM-9:30PM and offering Steak and Seafood Specials on Monday nights in April. Enjoy Surf and Turf or Prime Rib!

Enjoy April specials on steak and seafood!

Enjoy April specials on steak and seafood!

No landlubbers? Fridays in April feature [Read more…]

Guest Review: Holiday Island Dinner Buffet at Magic Kingdom’s Tortuga Tavern

During the busy holiday season, Walt Disney World accommodates famished guests with unique dining experiences. Guest reviewer @MealTrip, takes us to Tortuga Tavern’s Island Dinner Buffet in the Magic Kingdom! Book your meal online or at 407-WDW-DINE.

Island-Dinner-_0000_001

During the holiday season, through January 4th, the dining area that is normally utilized for Tortuga Tavern counter service dining is trying out something new. From 5pm until 9pm they’re hosting a dining event called the “Island Dinner Buffet.”

Atmosphere

Tortuga Tavern is normally a walk-up, counter service Mexican food location, just across the street from the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction. I was curious as to how they would frame out the rather open, free-seating area so passers by would not inadvertently sit down and join the buffet. The solution… planted palm trees.

Potted palm trees keep the area private

Potted palm trees keep the area private

Many, many planted palm trees tucked into every nook and cranny, between every garbage can and bench, which all added to the Island theme quite nicely — and surprisingly, did provide separation from the main walk way.

The entrance to the event is over by what is usually the walk-up counter. Because this is not the normal configuration of the space, payment for your meal happens at one of the restaurant’s normal registers before you are seated. This is a bit different for a Disney restaurant, but not unusual for a buffet.

Covered registers

Covered registers

There appears to be seating for around 350 guests at any given time, and before we get into the food, I picked up a great tip from one of the managers. There are at least 50 seats that are kept out of the booking system every day… until 24 hours before the next day’s meal. This is because some of the seating can be considered “not covered.” If they’re expecting inclement weather (i.e. rain or cold), they will not release those seats to the booking system.

Outdoor tables and tables with umbrellas

Outdoor tables and tables with umbrellas

So if you would like to go to the Island Dinner Buffet, and it looks like it’s completely booked up… fear not… unless it’s raining or exceptionally cold out, they may just have a bunch of extra seats that won’t hit the booking system until the day before you want to go. Because that’s pretty short notice in Disney-Speak, that may also mean there’s a chance that you can score a seat without any reservations at all.

Seating at Tortuga

Seating at Tortuga

This is great news for Disney Dining Plan guests with one table service dining credit and no [Read more…]

Epcot Food and Wine Festival Recipe: Clam Chowder from the Hops & Barley Marketplace Booth

We have another delicious dish for you today from the 2013 Epcot Food and Wine Festival! It’s time for some CHOWDAH!!!

One of our favorite creamy soups is featured at the Hops & Barley Marketplace Booth in Epcot’s America Pavilion. Traditional New England Clam Chowder, with its creamy, potato-based goodness, is the perfect meal for sweater weather.

Hops & Barley Booth

And since sweaters probably aren’t what you’ll be wearing if you have this dish at Walt Disney World, we’re giving you the recipe today so you can make it once you get home!

New England Clam Chowder

And don’t forget — today’s the LAST DAY to enter our Epcot Food and Wine Festival Cook Book Package contest! All you have to do is subscribe to the DFB Newsletter and you’re entered to win a 2012 and 2013 Epcot International Food and Wine Festival Cook Book package! Click here to enter!

New England Clam Chowder

Makes Approximately 8 Cups

Ingredients: [Read more…]

Full Review: The NEW California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort

Update: Scroll to the end of the Eats section (yep, waaayyy down there!) for a mini-review of opening night, courtesy of one of our favorite DFB guest writers, Julie B!

We are headed back to the fifteenth floor of Disney’s Contemporary Resort today, as we take a closer look at the brand new California Grill!

The outpouring of Disney food fan love has just been astounding throughout the last eight months as we’ve continued to watch the newly re-imagined California Grill take shape. Folks who love the restaurant and its amazing menu have been anxious for news. Would it retain its panache? Would beloved dishes from the old menu make the cut? How would we survive with no Yoshie??

We are happy to report that, if possible, California Grill is even more spectacular than before. We were happy to show you a first look at all that was new after last Thursday’s media event. Today, we’re unveiling more details. If you haven’t already, get ready to make those advance dining reservations. I think you’re going to like what you see.

Menus

Settle in. This is going to be a long one!

Atmosphere

Immediately, as you step out of the elevator onto the fifteenth floor, you are enveloped by the cool vibe of California Grill. You know at once that you’re in for a special experience.

If you weren’t aware of it already, now you know: wine matters in this restaurant. A lot. Wine coolers aren’t dressed up to be anything else; they’re unapologetically part of the decor here. This makes sense, as the restaurant now boasts 1,600 bottles of wine in the state-of-the-art wine display.

You’ll find around 250 wines on the list, with 80 available by the glass. And with more than 20 sommeliers on staff, you are literally enveloped in a wealth of wine knowledge.

Wine, Anyone?

Straight ahead, you’ll find the trademark view of Seven Seas Lagoon. With any luck there will be a spectacular sunset over the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa during your visit like there was for ours.

This area continues to serve as the lounge for the restaurant. You can still score a table here with no advance dining reservation, and the full restaurant menu is available for ordering.

Entrance and Bank of Wine Fridges

The bar area continues to be highlighted by the ceiling’s circular cutout. While the shape is the same, the whole bar has been overhauled with new finishes. Comfortable seating beckons you to relax and have a cocktail or two.

Bar

To quote one of my Disney friends, nothing here is the same as it was! The lights are wonderfully whimsical. While modern, there’s still a retro feel here. In fact, the lights remind me a lot of old pictures I’ve seen of the Contemporary from the 1970s.

Seating Area is Ready for Guests

Tables are set for service. I was glad to see that the [Read more…]

Guest Review: Dinner at La Hacienda de San Angel in Epcot

Guest Author Katie Roth returns this week with a review of La Hacienda de San Angel in Epcot’s Mexico pavilion. Go ahead and grab a margarita!

La Hacienda de San Angel is special to both my husband and I for sentimental reasons, because this was one of the first restaurants we dined in for our honeymoon. While I wasn’t too impressed with this restaurant during that reservation, I was willing to give it another shot.

The views out of the windows are breathtaking, and if nothing else, I could get a great margarita.

Orange Mango Fire Margarita at Epcot's La Hacienda de San Angel

Atmosphere

La Hacienda is located directly across from the temple pyramid that is the focal point of the Mexican pavilion. The entryway can be somewhat hard to miss, especially if you are in the throngs of a major crowd with strollers!

Just look for the sign in the picture below. There is a hostess stand underneath the sign where check-in is required to gain access to the restaurant.

The check-in podium is underneath this sign!

We arrived at the restaurant over 30 minutes before our reservation time just to check in, and to our wonderful surprise they seated us early! We were directed to the foyer/lobby area that contains beautiful blue lanterns. Another hostess in the foyer directed us to our seats.

Lobby area.

The restaurant atmosphere is relaxed with an afternoon siesta feeling and is elegant without being stuffy. The decorations are subtle – at least much less subtle than stereotypical Mexican restaurants – with patterned ceilings, clean walls, star lanterns dangling from the ceiling, and wrought-iron accents.

Booth and Artwork

While it’s not as scenic as a volcano or Mayan river with a Mariachi band playing in the background (San Angel Inn) – it did set a pleasant atmosphere for a meal.

Dining Room at La Hacienda.

The wall of windows overlooks the lagoon and the rest of World Showcase. If you’re able to get a window seat during IllumiNations, it is a great place to watch the show!

A wall of windows provides a great IllumiNations Fireworks view

When we arrived at 5:30 PM, there were hardly any other diners there; but by 6:00 PM the restaurant was packed. After our meal, my husband said “They don’t need a volcano here! The food is the main attraction!” Needless to say, our meal this time around was OUTSTANDING!

Eats

I’m not a margarita person (tequila – bad experiences – won’t go there), but I made a promise to myself to be adventurous on this trip, so I went with [Read more…]

UPDATE: New California Grill Menu with Photos

As we mentioned in our update on the California Grill renovation, this popular restaurant at Disney’s Contemporary Resort will be unveiling new dishes when it reopens.

California Grill is expected to start taking reservations within the next few weeks for its end of August opening. But right now, in an off-site kitchen, California Grill Chef Brian Piasecki is creating delicious new dishes!

In our earlier post, I reviewed the three-meat meatballs — a new addition to the appetizer menu at the restaurant. They were delicious…

Oak-Fired Three Meat Meatball.

“We’re really trying to think of creative new ways to use our wood-fired oven,” says Piasecki. Those meatballs are one way, with pork, lamb, and veal spiced with house-made harissa.

An oaky, crispy crust makes them perfect for dredging in Meyer-lemon-scented chimichurri with a side of marinated picholine olives and a little orzo. “Perfect for sharing,” says Piasecki.

Three Meatball Appetizer.

Sourcing as much as possible locally is a priority for Piasecki. The Cape Canaveral prawns are a great example. He roasts them head on in the wood-fired oven and serves with oven-roasted tomatoes, charred lemon, and a handful of peppery baby arugula. (And he’s using the shells to make prawn oil.)

Prawns.

He’s also creating house-made duck charcuterie – prosciutto, sausage, rillettes, butter, and mousse, all made with duck and served with [Read more…]

Guest Review: Seafood Dine-Around at Walt Disney World

Join us in welcoming guest author KJ Simpson with a Walt Disney World Seafood Adventure!

Crab Cakes at Narcoossee's

A recent trip to Walt Disney World opened up a whole new world of culinary delights for me: seafood!

In my many previous visits, I had never tried any seafood dishes. This year, for a variety of reasons, I began incorporating seafood into my diet. As part of this new culinary adventure, I decided to sample some of the many dishes from the sea that are available throughout the parks and resorts.

If you’re curious about some of the offerings that can be found throughout Walt Disney World, read on as I embark on this seafood adventure…

And don’t forget to share your favorite Disney seafood dishes in the comments below!

Yorkshire County Fish Shop

No seafood tour would be complete without a stop at the very popular Yorkshire County Fish Shop, in the United Kingdom area of Epcot’s World Showcase, for an order of Fish & Chips.

There’s often a line at the Yorkshire County Fish Shoppe- this is a popular spot!

It’s a classic — two pieces of battered fish, served in a quick-service style over chips (also known as fries, here on this side of the pond). It’s even wrapped in faux-newspaper to give it a whimsically authentic appearance.

While not the healthiest of seafood meals, it was certainly one of the tastiest! There’s not a lot to go wrong here, and this was a perfect afternoon snack to share. The malt vinegar — a traditional accompaniment to the English fish fry — added the perfect tang and gave a whole different taste dimension to the fish.

The classic - Fish & Chips.

Sharing this while sitting in the seating area off to the side overlooking World Showcase Lagoon was a splendid afternoon respite! If you eat outside here, be forewarned: enjoy the view, but beware of the aggressive birds, ducks, and squirrels. They apparently love the food here as much as we do, and are not shy about wanting you to share.

Les Halles Boulangerie Patisserie

Next was a visit to the newly-refurbished bakery in the France pavilion, Les Halles Boulangerie & Patisserie.

The expanded menu has a new seafood offering: Bisque de Homard, or Lobster Bisque.

Les Halles

This was a satisfying soup, smooth and creamy without being too heavy. Tomato was the more dominant flavor here, but the seafood added a richness and [Read more…]

The Most Expensive Meals in the “World”

On the Walt Disney World Moms Panel, we field several questions every day from guests looking for ways to economize on their Disney food budget. These are meaningful and important questions, and we’re happy to help.

But every once in a while I find myself wishing that someone would send in a question like, “My rich uncle has died and left me a gazillion dollars. What’s the most expensive meal I can buy at Walt Disney World?” (Or maybe I’m just wishing that I had rich uncle in poor health :-).)

V&A's caviar. Yummy (and expensive).

The quick answer to the expensive meal question is Victoria & Albert’s at the Grand Floridian. This posh-beyond-posh restaurant will set you back at least $125 in the main dining room, or at least $200 in the even-more-posh-beyond-posh Queen Victoria Room or Chef’s Table.

And that’s not including tax, tip, booze, and supplementary extra caviar. I’m sure Uncle Moneybags would approve.

Disney World’s Priciest Meals

But I found myself wondering if there were any “regular” restaurant meals that would inflict nearly this much damage to my shiny red Disney Visa. I decided to figure out the most expensive non-V&A’s meal you could find at Walt Disney World (not counting special event or private event meals).

And as an added bonus, I realized that this would be a good tool for a guest on the Disney Dining Plan who was REEEEALLY looking to get his money’s worth.

So in order to compare apples to apples, or more accurately steak to steak, I decided to construct the most expensive standard three course meal at each Disney World signature restaurant: one appetizer/starter course, one single-serving entree, and one dessert.

Flying Fish, Boardwalk (DDP = Yes)

  • Chardonnay-steamed Mussels, $18
  • Black Angus New York Strip Steak, $42
  • Trio of Concession Sweets, $9

TOTAL: $69

Bistro de Paris, Epcot (DDP = Yes)