Thursday, November 19, 2015

Walt Disney World: A Week's Worth of Food (including Food & Wine Fest 2015)

We recently returned from what has become our annual fall trip to Walt Disney World! The fall typically means lower crowds, temps, and humidity, and it also means Food and Wine Fest!

This year, the whole "lower temps" didn't fly - we experienced record breaking heat all week but we did not face torrential rain or heavy crowds so 2 out of 3 isn't bad!

Our group consisted of my family, including 4 individual family units, and some meals were all together and some were just me and Jason.


Morimoto Asia located at Disney Springs

The restaurant was very full and did not seem to be taking walk-ups that night, though they did have someone outside showing off the menu. We were seated on the 2nd level at a large round table. This was the view from the table:

This restaurant is simply gorgeous. Sleek, modern, and even though we all "cleaned up" for dinner, I felt a bit underdressed! 

Our waiter was AMAZING - the best of the week, really. He was personable, knowledgeable, and very funny. We also noticed lots of suits around, giving instructions to staff and taking care of guests. By far the best service oriented restaurant we dined at all week. I hope they keep it up!

We chose this spot because it was new (I always want to try the newest!) and it was reasonably priced, especially in comparison to other Disney Spring spots. The menu looks delicious, though the sushi offerings were a tad limited and boring. Didn't stop us from trying it!

Shrimp tempura:

Spicy tuna:

It was fresh and tasty, though nothing unique. 

We all ordered different entrees, and I snapped pictures of most but the restaurant was dark and some did not come out post-worthy. 

Duck Ramen (totally wish I had ordered this!):

Thai Basil Fried Rice:

Black Pepper Steak:

Other dishes included Orange Chicken, Dumplings, Miso Soup, and a kid's meal.

Let me talk about this kids meal a bit. First of all, the kids menu is really cool and folds into origami. Also, kids meals come with bubble tea - my niece ordered strawberry flavor. She chose mac and cheese as her meal and it was a generous portion. She finished with about half left and my sister took a bite. Y'all. This mac and cheese is AMAZING. We passed it around the table and fought over who would get to finish it off. This was not the blue box! 

If/when we return, I'll be ordering a side of that mac and cheese to go with my sushi ;)

All in, this was one of the least expensive meals of the week (including counter service!) but the best service, tastiest food, and nicest atmosphere. We are fans of Morimoto Asia! 

Be Our Guest at Magic Kingdom

This breakfast was doomed from the beginning, really, but we tried to give it a fair shot. We ordered online the night before which proves to be a huge time saver. Instead of funneling past the ordering kiosks and waiting impatiently behind people who don't know how to work a computer, we just went straight to a cashier to pay. 

The restaurant itself is very large and cavernous inside. I see why some people refer to it as a big cafeteria  - the ballroom certainly feels that way some. Since there were 8 of us, we ended up finding tables in the Rose Gallery, which is obviously the least desirable spot in the restaurant. 

The walls are lined with large oil paintings and the centerpiece is a music box, of sorts.

Drinks are all self serve so you can collect your drinks + silverware while you wait. Drinks include coffee, hot chocolate, hot tea, soda, OJ, etc. Our food was out very quickly, thanks to the online order. 

All meals come with a pastry tray to share around the table. It included a variety of items like muffins, croissants, etc. Our tables had no issue polishing them off (we received 2 trays for 8 people).

Kids Meal - Fifi's French Toast:

Obviously a small portion but between that and the pastry tray, it was plenty for me. Admittedly, I'm not a huge breakfast eater.

Eggs Florentine:

They said this was pretty good - the bread was flaky and the portion decent. No one seemed to like roasted tomatoes so those went to waste.

Open Faced Bacon and Egg Sandwich:

This had such potential and yet... crashed and burned. The eggs, which are supposed to be poached, were hard boiled. The bread is a bit hard already so the poached egg is supposed to soften it. That doesn't work when it's 2 hard boiled eggs sitting on some hard bread. He sort of ate it in layers.

The real winner in our group was the Croque Madame, which I did not get a picture of. It was amazing! So good, in fact, that my sister and her family made a reservation for a few days later just to enjoy it again. 

Would we dine there again? Maybe, it we didn't rely on Disney bus transportation and got the relaxed Main St pics on the way and out in time for rope drop. I would not pay the prices for a breakfast after park opening.

Cinderella's Royal Table at Magic Kingdom

It had been years since I've eaten at the castle! We usually dine at Akershus (Epcot) but the price difference between the two was so small, we had to go with the castle this trip. 

You start by lining up to meet Cinderella. Once your picture is taken, you hang out until your party is called. Then you climb the spiral staircase (or take the elevator) up the dining room. 

The restaurant is quite small inside and tables are pretty snug. It's very pretty inside!

We had great service here, too, which I know is not always the case. Our waitress was friendly, prompt, and very helpful. After bringing us drinks,they brought out a tasting plate to share. 

It had salad, cheese, flatbreads, and hummus. All delicious! 

The menu is a fixed price meal with about 6 entree options and 3 dessert options.

Salmon served over a jalapeno cornbread cake:

Slow Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Fingerling Potato Confit, Forest Roasted Mushrooms, Minus 8 Crispy Watercress, and Pork Demi:

Slow-braised Beef Short Rib, Parsnip-mashed Potatoes, and Wilted Spinach:

All the entrees were a hit - I thought the food was fantastic and beautifully presented. Even my niece had difficulty getting up from her meal to greet some of the princesses! This ended up being some of the best food we had all week.

Gus and Jaq's Favorites - White Chocolate-Jasmine Tea Mousse, Lemon and Lime Curd with Honey-Oat Crisp:

Our Signature Dessert - Flourless Chocolate Cake with Caramel Hazelnut, Meringue, and Berry Compote:

In addition to Cinderella, we saw Snow White, Aurora, Ariel, and Jasmine while we ate. 

We would definitely dine here again - it was a wonderful experience! 

Flying Fish on Disney's Boardwalk

Flying Fish has been raved about for years by some of my Disney foodie friends so I was so excited to try it! We were seated almost immediately; the decor is whimsical and open, with views of the kitchen. I was also surprised at how small the space really is! They are about to close for a major rehab so it'll be interesting to see what changes. 

The menu is quite limited with an obvious lend to seafood. The menus I found online actually had several dishes that were tempting but the menu we received that night did not look as appealing. Anytime you visit a chef driven restaurant, it's good to know that the menu changes frequently so don't get your heart set on something you see online!

Appetizer: Artisanal Cheese Board - it came with 5 generous samples plus Fig-Almond Torta, Honeycomb, Raisins on the Vine, and a black mission fig, Currant-blasamico, sweet onion Compote Agrodolce. I neglected to steal the accompanying card with the names of the cheeses on it. 

I've never met a cheese I didn't like but the others at the table thought they were all quite strong in flavor, even the mild cheese. In all honesty, I could have eaten this as my meal and been completely content. 

Appetizer: Creamy Crab Bisque 

I did not taste this but the person who ordered it said it was delicious! 

Appetizer: Chef's Special Thunder Appetizer - Heirloom Beets, Fresh Goat Cheese, Spiced Pecans, Citrus Supremes, Pecan Vinaigrette 

This salad was gorgeous! Mom ordered it and said that while delicious, the goat cheese was very strong - and she is usually a big fan of goat cheese. Very tangy! They were generous in the amount but it became overpowering. Otherwise, a delicious salad.

Appetizer: Signature Crab Cake

This got high marks as well! Lots of crab, generous size, and very flavorful. Who doesn't love a crab cake?

Entree: Our Chef's Special Thunder from the Sea - Oak-grilled-Citrus-scented Day-boat Swordfish, Warm Salad of Heirloom Beans, Spicy Radish, Snow Peas, Vidalia Onions, Tiny Tomato, Applewood Bacon-Mustard Dill Vinaigrette

Jason ordered this, and enjoyed it, but said it was not his favorite meal of the week. We all had fun trying to figure out what vegetable was what - I've never tasted a cooked radish and it totally threw me off! 

Entree: Grilled Sea Scallops

This was served over a delicious bed of risotto and topped with crispy prosciutto. I was set on ordering their signature dish but immediately was jealous of this one. I adore scallops and it was perfect paired with creamy risotto! 

Entree: Flying Fish Cafe's Idaho Potato-wrapped Snapper - Creamy Leek Fondue, Veal Glace de Viande-Red Wine-Cassis Butter

I'll be honest... I didn't love this. The sauce was delicious, and the leeks were unique and flavorful, but the fish was dry and nearly tasteless. Though I suppose that's why they serve a rich sauce alongside it, I was hoping for some sort of seasonings or salt or anything going on inside the potato coating. I'm glad I tried it, though! 

We were stuffed and did not partake in dessert. All in all, it was a nice meal. The waitress was a bit slow and somewhat cold but efficient enough. The restaurant is lovely inside and you can't beat the Boardwalk location for entertainment after dinner. That said, I won't be racing back and it doesn't really rank among my favorite signature spots at Disney.

Food and Wine Fest 2015: Epcot

I've shared several years worth of pics and reviews of booth offerings for Food and Wine Fest and this year is no different. While the festival has ended for the year, many of the same items return year after year. There are some dishes that I want each and every year and others that we know to skip. I always try to hit some new options!

All items range from $4-$7 each and are tasting portions. 3-4 bites, typically, which doesn't sound like much but you'll be surprised how full you get! You'll also be surprised how broke you'll be... thank goodness for that Magic Band charging - we just pretended it was monopoly money.

New Zealand: Seared venison loin with wild mushroom marsala sauce and kumara dumpling

This was a decent portion for the price and very tasty! 

Mexico: Chilaquiles de pollo: Corn chips layered with seasoned chicken, queso fresco, sour cream and cilantro

I realize that this is similar to dishes I make at home but in my defense, I was starving and just wanted something tasty to eat. It was actually really good and a generous portion.  

Australia: Grilled sweet and spicy bush berry shrimp with pineapple, peppers, onions, and snap peas

A tad spicy for my mom's taste but very flavorful. It had 3 large shrimp so not a bad deal!

China: Mango Green Tea at Joy of Tea

I know that Joy of Tea is a permanent fixture in the World Showcase but I want to mention that their drinks are SO GOOD and way cheaper than a tasting portion of something at a Food and West Fest booth. I dream about this mango tea... especially on a hot day! A full size drink is around $4. Cheaper than Starbucks!

China: Beijing roasted duck in steamed bun with hoisin sauce

This was SO GOOD. Incredibly flavorful, not fatty, and tender. Between this and our dinner at Morimoto a few days earlier, I've realized we don't eat near enough duck. Several of us grabbed this dish because nobody wanted to share! 

China: Gaoli beef slider 

The sauce on this was very good! Good portion size, too. 

China: Black pepper shrimp with Sichuan noodles

Nothing mind-blowing but tasty!

Africa: Buttered chicken with micro cilantro and naan bread 

I'm fairly obsessed with butter chicken so I had to see how this compared. Must admit, it was good! Quality chicken and a full size piece of naan underneath. I make it at home, so it's obviously not overly unique, but it was a guaranteed hit for me.

Japan: Teriyaki gyoza bun: Steamed bun filled with chicken, vegetables and sweet teriyaki sauce

I did not taste this but my mom said it was a great portion size and very tasty. I'm always fascinated by these steamed buns!

Japan: Miso Udon: steamed shrimp, vegetables, and noodles in a spicy broth

It was way too hot for soup but my mom can't pass up a miso soup! She said it was very good and full of veggies and shrimp.

Brazil: Crispy pork belly with black beans and tomato

The pork belly was well cooked and the black bean puree was very flavorful!

Between the 8 of us, we noshed on a lot more but since you're stopping along the way, standing at different booths, and hovering over trash cans, I wasn't always ready with a camera when others got their dish. 

All in all, it was another great year! We opted to not do any special events this year since we were traveling with others and I really didn't miss them - especially given how pricey they have gotten. 

Capt. Cook's at Polynesian Resort

Following a morning at Magic Kingdom, we stopped into Capt. Cook's for lunch before renting a SeaRaycer. I think Capt. Cooks is one of the best counter service restaurants in all the World!

Their menu is somewhat unique (ie, not just hamburgers and chicken tenders) though their ordering process is quite slow, especially when there is just 1 register. The last time we dined there, they had computer kiosks but those are gone now and you have to wait in line to order behind the people trying to get an in depth explanation on how the refillable mugs work.

You're given a pager and just grab your meal once it's ready. They are very quick!

Pulled Pork Nachos - topped with onions, cheese, spicy mayo, tomatoes and pineapple salsa

This is a huge portion of nachos topped with a generous amount of tender pulled pork. The queso, mayo sauce, and salsa are all delicious, too. The chips are like homemade potato chips, not tortilla chips. And for about $8, it's a good deal!

Big Kahuna Sandwich - turkey, ham, salami, roast beef, Swiss, lettuce, tomato on focaccia with red pepper spread and chips

This is a huge sandwich! Loaded with meat, very flavorful, and a fresh. He was able to swap the chips for fries.

If you're near the Polynesian, you should stop in for a quick bite! you can also get a Dole Whip or Mickey Bar while you're there ;)

'Ohana at Polynesian Resort (dinner)

We came back that night for our last big family meal before everyone headed home. 'Ohana has been a family facoirte over the years and thankfully, we had another great experiecne this year!

We were seated quickly after checking in adn noticed there were lots of empty tables throughout. I had a difficult time finding a reservation so I have to wonder if they've lower seating capacity for some reason. In contrast, Kona was crammed with people!

Our waiter took awhile to get to our table so I was afraid things were going to go down quickly but once he arrived for drink orders, he remained consistent in delivering food and checking in.

'Ohana is a scaled down Brazilian steakhouse.

The host/hostess brings a loaf of pineapple coconut bread to the table when you're seated. We joked that the reason they do this is so during the 10-15 minutes you sit waiting on a waiter to greet you, you fill up on the (cheap) bread and eat less shrimp!

Once the waiter arrives, the food begins to come out. You start with a platter of honey coriander wings & pork fried pot stickers:

These are both very good! Our party quickly finished off the plate and requested more. The pot stickers were my favorite!

Also brought out, mixed green salad and noodles in teriyaki sauce and stir fried veggies:

These are delicious as well! It's hard to not fill up on the noodles - but better stuff is coming!

The waiter then brings around skewers of meat: spicy grilled peel and eat shrimp, sweet and sour chicken, and szechuan sirloin steak. 

I found the chicken quality to be questionable, and really preferred the pork loin they used to have, but that just meant I had more room for shrimp and steak.

Dessert is a sinful bread pudding with banana caramel sauce:

Right before dessert, Wishes went off and we had a clear shot from our table. A lovely way to end a great week! 

There is no secret as to why 'Ohana is a hit - they have entertainment (lady on a ukulele), kids games, view of the fireworks, and all the (delicious) food you can put away. I'm thankful we got a table!

This trip, we also dined at Olivia's (breakfast and lunch), ABC Commissary, Hangar Bar, and Boma (breakfast) so if you have any questions about one of those, feel free to ask! 

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