Wednesday, July 6, 2011

WDW Today Podcast 898 - Victoria and Albert's

On Thursday, Mike Newell of the WDW Today Podcast (at )sent me a chat pop up on Facebook asking me a question about Victoria and Albert's, a fine dining restaurant at Walt Disney World.  Yes, Walt Disney World.  Don't snicker, it's not becoming.   I was trying to tell him that a typical dinner in the main dining room could take roughly 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours.  Maybe closer to 4+ hours if you're doing the Chef's Table or Queen Victoria Room.   Or, if you are me, dining with 5 friends who know how to have a good can be there for 5 hours. (Yikes!)   So he reads that part about my personal 5 hour experience and answers a question that you can be dining there for 5 hours.   Oops.

A few minutes later, Mike asks if I'm willing to talk about my experiences about Victoria and Albert's, since I've done the Chef's Table and the main dining room.  I agree, and the next thing I know, Skype is not cooperating with my headset, and I'm using Skype app on my iPhone.  Whew!   With absolutely no preparation, I chime in the best I can in the time I had.  It figures that I had just recently discarded two personalized menus I came across in a massive clutter disposal. Oh well.  I unfortunately didn't share some important pieces of info, so I planned to post on the show notes page.

And my login on the WDW Today page triggers a meltdown when I try to enter my password.  Crap, I think I broke the site. 

Anyway, some of the points I didn't get to make were:

  • The cast member taking your reservation will ask for the names of each person in your party, and if anyone is celebrating a special occasion.  Ok, Disney Dining will ask that, but in this case, Victoria and Albert's wants it for personalized menus.  I had to spell out the last names of some friends for this reason.
  • While you can mention food allergies and aversions when you make the reservation, someone at the restaurant will call you within a week of your reservation to confirm all that information.  My friend couldn't eat seeds and nuts, and she didn't care to eat mushrooms and olives.  I noted those things, and the servers confirmed when we were seated.
  • In addition to the personalized menus (Happy Birthday! Anniversary! Honeymoon!), each woman is presented with a long-stemmed rose at the end of the meal.  It's in a plastic box, making it easy to carry.
  • Order coffee, even if you don't drink it.  The coffee making apparatus, for lack of a better word, is like a science experiment.  They use a vacuum brewing coffeemaker.  It's very cool.  Blink and you'll miss the moment.
These were just a few things I thought of after we ended the podcast recording.  I mentioned that for the $125 main dining room price, plus $60 wine pairings, you can find some food and wine pairing dinners (special dining events during the Festival) that cost roughly that amount for a similar multi-course dining experience.  What I didn't mention is that you're going to pay somewhere in the $400-500 range for the Food and Wine Festival's event dinner at Victoria and Albert's, which I haven't done.  Others have said it was fabulous, but that price does break my budget.

Instead, what I have done was use the normal dinner at Victoria and Albert's as a substitute for a dinner event elsewhere.   And yes, it was roughly the same price with food and wine at Todd English's bluezoo™ event, but Todd English disappointed.  Not only was there not enough food to soak up the wine, one of the courses came out so over-salted, my friends and I called it the "Dead Sea Pasta".  Other friends dining at the event in another area of the restaurant agreed.   That's a shame because a normal night at Todd's place is really outstanding.   I would tell people to go to the restaurant for a regular meal, and avoid the Food and Wine Festival dining event at all costs.     And it doesn't hurt that Todd English's bluezoo™ also has a chef's tasting menu you can try.

Flying Fish Café has a Chef's Counter tasting menu with wine pairings that costs roughly in the $140+ range.  And the tastings at both Todd's and Flying Fish don't require a jacket dress code for men.

Just for comparison, I am comparing a meat course at a normal dining room visit at Victoria and Albert's with the special Food and Wine Festival dinner at Todd English's bluezoo.™

Seafood course at Victoria and Albert's:

This was some salmon, crab, asparagus and Bearnaise sauce.  Nice, right?

And here's what Todd served:

It's a pretty good scallop.  A couple dots of orange gelatinous goo, and a cube of pork belly next to the scallop.  The clam on the upper right was overshadowed by the scallop playing Slip n' Slide on the plate. I would have liked a little more than this to counter a full glass of wine.

Here's a meat course at Victoria and Albert's:

That's veal topped with sweetbreads (which are not sweet, nor are they bread.  They are the thymus gland of the cow.  It's not attached, so the squeamish need not eat it.  As you can see, there are little veggies around it, and it's a nice portion.

And at Todd English's festival event wine pairing dinner.

The kobe/wagyu combo.  Thin slice of the good stuff on top of a filet.  Nothing with it.   Of course, it doesn't help that they served this on such a ginormous plate. There was a little slice of cauliflower, sitting on the right side.  And you wouldn't believe it, but it was pickled or something. Had a more interesting flavor, and I would have wanted more than a flat sliver of it.  

And the only decent sized portion of the night?

The over-salted "Dead Sea Pasta".

This would have been really good without the salt lick.

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