Saturday, March 4, 2017

Dinner at Victoria & Albert's: A Photo Gallery

Last fall, my wife and I went to Walt Disney World for our sixth anniversary. As we always do, we made a point of dining at Victoria & Albert’s, the highest of high-end restaurants at the resort, located in Disney’s Grand Floridian Hotel.

This marks our third visit to that restaurant. The first time was on our honeymoon, when we dined in the Queen Victoria Dining Room. The second was for my wife’s birthday in 2013, when we were able to dine at the Chef’s Table in the kitchen. This time, we were back in the Queen Victoria Room, which is a small dining room with only four tables in it. We have yet to dine in the main dining room. We are told that it is a unique experience in and of itself, but once you’ve eaten in the Queen Victoria room or at the Chef’s Table, with menus tailored to our tastes, it feels like anything else would be downgrading.

As usual, we were warmly greeted and treated with impeccable, attentive service. At the beginning of dinner, there were only two hiccups: while I had spoken to them on the phone about our food preferences a week before our reservation, I had forgotten to tell them that we preferred to not eat veal. Of course, there was a veal dish on the menu. The second was that they had spelled my wife’s name incorrectly on her personalized menu. Her name, Lura, is frequently misspelled as Laura, and I had made it very clear in that earlier phone call how to spell it properly. Fortunately, in both cases, they were able to adjust the menu, both in terms of what they were serving us and what was printed on it.

Here is our meal, course by course, including wine pairings.

The first wine was a Brut Rose from Champagne Henriot

The amuse-bouche was a cauliflower panna cotta with American caviar. (We did not opt for the $210/oz Galilee Osetra caviar.)

Next, we had a glass of Blueprint Sauvignon Blanc 2014 from Lail Vineyards.

The first bread served was a mini baguette. The butter came with a little salt cylinder carved out of a piece of salt rock.

Our appetizer was King Salmon with cucumber and dill. Grated wasabi was served on the side. This is real wasabi, not the green tile caulk we are used to seeing at sushi restaurants.

The first fish course was Alaskan sablefish with baby bok choy.

The fish was accompanied by a glass of Dr. Loosen “Erdener Treppchen” riesling.

The riesling was followed by a Maison Vincent Girardin Puligny-Montrachet vielles vignes.

For our next course, I had New Zealand langoustine for the first time, with nage crema. My wife does not like lobster or shellfish, so I got to have hers, too. (We could have had them substitute something else, but she thought she would give it a try. It was an experiment that failed, but at least she tried it.)

The next wine was Sojourn Cellars “Ridgetop Vineyard” Pinot Noir, accompanied by the second bread of the evening, a delicious brioche.

The first meat of the evening was smoked Rohan duck with peaches and celery root. The duck was served under a glass cloche to keep the smoke in place until served.

The next wine we drank was the Chateau de Beaucastel Chateauneuf-du-Pape Rouge.

At this point, we were sufficiently wined to allow the servers to take our photograph.

I am a bit uncertain about the next two dishes. These are the dishes that were substituted for our veal course; we each received a different item. However, the menus we received still list the veal dish, so I can’t describe these as thoroughly.

Lura was served a chicken dish.

I received a lamb dish. Look at those gorgeous pieces of meat!

The next bread serving was some kind of whole-grain bread. (I think; just look at how much wine we had been served by this point and tell me if you would remember the details clearly.) What was really cool, however, was the way they sculpted the little curls of butter.

Next came a Clos Canon Grand Cru, which went perfectly with the next meat dish.

That next dish was Australian Kobe-style beef with roasted garlic potatoes. This time, we did spend the extra money for a piece of Miyazaki Japanese beef along with Australian Kobe. The Japanese beef arrived hidden under a silver cloche.

Look at that! Isn’t it gorgeous? And as tender as meat-flavored butter.

Friends on Facebook may recall that the last time we ate at Victoria & Albert’s, I had a crown come off during our beef course, so—irrationally—I got a little tense at this point. However, my teeth emerged unscathed

Next, we had the opportunity to choose whatever cheeses we wanted from the cheese cart. My favorite of the cheeses was one called Sottocenere al Tartufo. And I can’t remember what else we had, which you will believe when I tell you that the cheese was served with a glass of Baltimore Rainwater Madeira from the Rare Wine Co Historic series.

The first (yes, first) dessert was a vanilla bean panna cotta with wild strawberries.

Look at the wee little strawberries!

Then we had a glass of Sandeman port, which is one of my wife’s favorites. (We had taken a cab to the resort, and planned on taking one back to our own hotel.)

Second dessert was a Peruvian chocolate crunch.

Finally came the chocolates, from a gorgeous treasure chest.

We got to choose as many as we wanted, but by the end of dinner, I could only manage four.

And that was our dinner! Writing this blog today, I was a little disappointed to see that our menus were just standard menus, showing the veal instead of our replacement dishes, and listing all the additional options, not just the one that we ordered. In the past, my recollection is that our menus reflected our exact meal. That feels like a cost-cutting option that—considering how expensive the dinner is at V&A—is a little cheap and unnecessary.

We also got to say hello to the restaurant manager, who had been so helpful the night of the broken tooth. He actually said he remembered that night!

Despite my comment about the menu, this visit to Victoria & Albert’s was every bit as fantastic as our previous two dinners there. It is by no means a casual meal, nor is it a minor expense. However, if you have the time, the palate, and the money, and are looking for a romantic evening at Walt Disney World, I can’t think of anything better.

For this week’s Pop of the Week, my choice was inspired by the fact that Dr. Seuss’ birthday was this past Thursday, plus this Pop is completely adorable. It’s Horton, from Horton Hears a Who. (I have two Dr Seuss Pops so far, and Funko has done a great job capturing the feel of Dr Seuss’ artwork while maintaining the Pop aesthetic.)

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