Okay….time for a long overdue post. Over this past Easter weekend, we went down to Orlando, Florida as a family for some nice weather, a little golf and a quick trip to Disney World. While we were there, we decided to pay ourselves a little treat. Inside of the Grand Floridian Resort Hotel at Disney is the restaurant Albert and Victoria’s. This restaurant is a 13-year recipient of the AAA Five Diamond award and is renowned for their 6-course prix fixe menu with associated wine pairings for each dish. They label the evening as a “2-2.5 hour dining experience” where no kids under 10 are allowed and the dress code is dinner jackets and dresses. You show up in shorts or jeans and you are refused entrance.
When you walk in, in that typical Disney immersion, you feel like you are entering a traditional Victorian dinner room. Fine crystal and china, ornate wallpaper, long drapes and tablecloths, a harp player in the corner – full credit for creating such a unique restaurant space. The other thing you notice is the attention to detail in the service. Each table has a duo of servers that takes care of you. In our case, we had a lovely elderly couple of New York and Maine that for the life of me I can’t remember their names anymore. Having reserved in advance and requested your name and any dietary restriction, they know your name and throughout the evening, they will address you as such. They also practice absolutely spotless serving etiquette. I was quite amazing to see them work in that manner with such timing and precision. Everything they did was for a reason. A very unique thing to see in today’s restaurant world.
The menu is presented to you as there are different options for each course. Once you have made your selections, a personalized menu will be printed for you to take home as a memento of the evening. I went with the wine pairing option as well to really get the full experience. Once each course arrived, the gentlemen of our serving team recounted the entire description and story of each plate along the associated wine pairing as well as the bread to match. Yes, each course had its own bread pairing. Even for my father with his gluten intolerance. The ability of our waiter to describe everything in great detail and without any pause or mistake was mind boggling and truly a sign of a professional, someone dedicated to his craft. Truly a great thing to experience.
Now then, on with the food. First off, an Amuse-Bouche with a Piper Heidsteck Cuvee 1785 NV Burt. The Amuse-Bouche consisted of a mini roll of crab meat, a piece of fresh salmon with some olive oil and a lavender-mint crudo. All nice and fresh options. Perfect set-ups for a meal such as this.
Second course, I selected the Octopus “a la Plancha” with Black Garlic Aioli. Delicious octopus grilled nicely with some micro-greens, that wonderful aioli as well as some reduced balsamic vinegar for the option of some extra acidity. Great flavour combinations to experience.
Third course, I took the Diver Scallop with Zellwood Corn Ragout. The scallop was perfectly cooked with a nice sear on the outside. The ragout had a wonderful sweetness from the corn. Once again, a perfect combination of ingredients.
Fourth course, I had the Braised Oxtail and Cherry Ravioli with Roasted Red Peppers. The Oxtail was fall apart good and the roasted red peppers provided that right level of sweetness along with the Cherry. Quite good all around.
I also got to try the other option for this course: Long Island Duck Breast and Sausage with Roasted Cauliflower. The duck was just perfect – great flavours and at just the right temperature.
My main was Niman Ranch Lamb with Caramelized Turnips and Swiss Chard. Now, I just love lamb so it wasn’t hard for me to get on-board here. The lamb was rich and tender. The jus was perfect for it and the caramelized vegetables paired nicely here. Amazing dish.
As a palate cleanser before dessert, I got the White Chocolate Gelato with Tableside Shavings and the paired glass of Muscato. Just a wonderfully sweet but light gelato. The shavings added a nice extra-chocolate element as well. The Muscato was a perfect pair to this. And this wasn’t even the actual dessert!
The other option here was a plate of cheese with some port. The cheese provided was Gouda, Stilton, Parmigiano Reggiano and a Sottocenere Al Tartufo. All with very deep and complex flavours. Nice variety of textures as well. The Port created a nice combination from what I could try.
Finally, dessert! The table ended up with 3 different selections: Caramelized Banana Gateau, Tanzanian Chocolate Timbale with Orange scented Milk Chocolate Gelato and a Meyer Lemon and Blood Orange Purse with Blackberry-violet Sherbet. The caramelized gateau was the big favourite – very nice flavour across the board. The chocolate timbale was quite chocolate intensive which I loved but that may not be satisfactory for everyone. The lemon and orange purse really depends on how you like the taste of blood Orange as it pretty much the biggest note that comes out of that dessert.
The overall dining experience was almost certainly the finest I have ever enjoyed. The food was all amazing. Lots of variety throughout the meal, amazing use of great international products in different ways. I will not comment too much on the wine pairings as that is not a particularly strong area for me but from my vantage point, every glass I was served matched perfectly with each plate and added something to the meal. The Muscato with the gelato was a particularly high point for me but I love Muscato so that may cloud my feelings there. The service from top to bottom was superb. The setting was unique and quite enjoyable for a relaxed 2.5 hour service. Now obviously this meal wasn’t cheap – the website clearly states the prices upfront – but you don’t mind spending for a unique refined dining experience, this is absolutely it. There is an option for the chef’s table in the actual kitchen which we visited afterwards but sadly it wasn’t available during our visit. Based on what we saw, it is definitely worth trying to get if you can. That Disney magic continues to work….even when we are talking about Restaurants.
Victoria and Albert’s
4401 Grand Floridian Way
Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830