It has taken me several days to sit and collect my thoughts about my recent dining experience at Victoria and Albert’s at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa. Even now, there are aspects of the evening that are hard to put into words. For that reason, I find it truly fitting to start this review with a thank you to the amazing cast members who wear on their sleeves the reputation of this restaurant and make sure you have a culinary adventure worth a lifetime.
Although our reservation was not scheduled until 6:15pm, my wife, Amy, and I arrived at the Grand Floridian around 5:00pm to avoid some weather passing through the area. The last thing we wanted was to arrive looking like drowned rats. After exploring the lobby, we found our way to check-in and were immediately welcomed with a “Good Evening, Mr. & Mrs. Krieger”. With our table not quite ready yet, we were escorted over to the Citrico’s Lounge to enjoy a few cocktails. Amy opted for a cosmopolitan while I chose an old-fashioned.
At approximately 5:45pm, we were informed the chef was ready for us, greeted by Maître d’Hôtel, Israel Pérez, and shown to our table. While we had considered seating at the chef’s table for this evening, looking back I would never choose a different table than the one we were presented with. Our home for the next three plus hours was positioned in the center of the primary dining room and directly in front of the harpist. Amy’s favorite touch was the addition of a tuffet, or what I would call a stool, to place her wristlet for the evening.
Our service staff, including Robyn, Matt, and Malek introduced themselves and began to outline the journey that would be pursued for the evening as designed by Executive Chef Scott Hunnel, Chef de Cuisine Aimée Rivera, and Pastry Chef Kristine Farmer .
As the night went on, a simple thought kept coming to mind: I have never experienced this level of service at a restaurant in my life. Every need was anticipated and every question answered. Robyn and Matt who took the lead on our service were both friendly and on multiple occasions spent time talking like they had been our friends for years while still maintaining a high level of professionalism.
For those unfamiliar with the restaurant, Victoria & Albert’s offers a Chef Degustation Tasting menu that is both Seasonal in design as well as adjusted nightly as needed by the Chef. The menu consists of approximately 8-10 courses at a cost of $235.00 per guest. Additional courses, including an international caviar tasting and Miyazaki Japanese Beef can be added to the meal for an additional cost. An optional wine pairing is also available for $150 per guest and equals approximately three full glasses divided into smaller pours for each course throughout the night. Those with special dietary requests should be comforted by the fact that guests are contacted a week prior to their reservation to discuss any special needs or menu requests for your dinner. Amy and I opted to proceed with the recommended menu for the evening with the addition of the Wild Turbot, as well as the Miyazaki. I also elected to purchase the wine pairing with my meal with Amy sampling each as well along the way.
Rather than outline each dish and make this blog post longer than it already is, I will share a few thoughts I had regarding the meal:
- This menu is carefully designed to crescendo towards the Australian/Japanese beef course. The dinner starts in the sea and progresses towards heartier and richer seafood dishes until you emerge onto the land to enjoy chicken and lamb on your way towards the meal’s peek. It was one thing for them to explain this to us at the beginning of the evening and another to actually realize it was occuring as you enjoy each dish.
- The Black Label Jamon Iberico was served with a 100 year old balsamic from Modena, Italy. Created in 1896, the 100mL bottle brought to our table costs approximately $1,000. Anything found cheaper online according to our server should be questioned in terms of its validity. I wiped my plate clean of the remnants of the four drops I was given with my bread course and kindly asked Matt if the bottle could find its way into my jacket pocket by the end of the evening.
- While the Wild Turbot (fish) is rare and I respect the price increase for that reason, I felt the dish paled in comparison to the prior Glacier 51 Toothfish. Amy loved this dish so much she asked for a spoon to ensure she got every last bit of the sauce.
- The steak course was presented in a way that encouraged you to compare both types as you explored this dish. While both cuts were likely some of the best quality steaks I have ever consumed, I would be lying if I did not say that I expected something more from the Miyazaki Japanese Beef in terms of tenderness.
- We were served two small courses not on the menu, as well as three bread courses throughout the service. This included a ravioli with bacon foam that was absolutely amazing, as well as a rhubarb dessert that was light and refreshing before our primary dessert course.
Overall, there was simply no dish that I significantly disliked or found a major issue with. While I have been known to have a more adventurous palate and will eat just about anything, I believe the chefs at Victoria & Albert’s have created a menu to take foods you would otherwise never try and make them into a dish you dream about at night.
If there was an aspect of dining at Victoria and Albert’s that I was not prepared for this was it. Walking into this room of the Grand Floridian quickly took you away from Walt Disney World. The space is absolutely beautiful and exists in its own world, transporting you and your senses to another place for the evening.
Elizabeth, the resident harpist, stole my heart multiple times throughout the evening engaging even more senses through her renditions of songs such as “For Good” from Wicked, as well as “And So It Goes” by Billy Joel. After inquiring with our server about when her final set would be, Elizabeth came to our table and talked with us for a while before closing out the evening with a request by Amy of “The Rainbow Connection”.
I feel this section needs emphasized because many look at dining at Victoria & Albert’s simply as a dinner. It is truly an adventure or journey of all the senses as I alluded to above, which begins to further justify the price of the evenings experience.
So, if you’ve read this far and were looking for some kind of comparison to other 5-diamond restaurant experiences, I unfortunately have likely disappointed you. For Amy and I, this evening was three years in the making with several reservations secured and cancelled over that period due to our concerns over both price and whether we would enjoy the evening. In hindsight, I wish I had kept them all.
Victoria and Albert’s is not just a dinner and is an experience that I would highly encourage anyone to embark on at least once in their life. The fact that it is located at a Disney Vacation Club property is just another added perk.
Would love to hear your thoughts and reviews in the comments below! Did you love V&A’s? Are you planning a visit in the near future? Is it worth the price?
21 thoughts on “DVC Dining: Victoria & Albert’s”
Just wanted to add a comment about the harpist – we dined there for our 10th anniversary several years ago and she wound up playing our wedding song (I wish I could take credit for planning it but it was completely by coincidence) – which is “The Luckiest” by Ben Folds. My wife started to tear up and our server asked about it and she mentioned it was the song. So later she wound up playing it again and then came by our table and gave us a copy of her CD that had the song on it. Obviously some uniqueness to our situation but she truly is a key part of the experience
Awesome story, Philip. Thanks for sharing!
My husband and I have enjoyed Victoria and Albert’s more than once. It was a BIG decision the first time, but after that time we thought of it as an experience and not just food, so the second time was a bit easier. The prices have gone up quite a bit since our first visit, and is out of our price range now, but we still think about how nice the experience/food was and will never forget it. For me, it is the best restaurant (for food and experience) I have ever been to. So happy to have been able to enjoy it more than once!
If you went on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday and had a short curly haired hostess that would be my daughter, Angela. Someday, I’ll feel comfortable enough to go there. Loved your review!
My sister and I ate there several years ago and remember it as the best dining experience we’ve ever had. Due to the price we could never repeat it, but it’s made us more willing to try food we’d normally be afraid of. Glad you enjoyed it.
This is definitely on our bucket list! Overall, would you say it was worth the price?
Completely! I think the price is justifiable when you factor in the amazing culinary experience you have as well as the atmosphere and overall environment you are in for the evening.
I agree with everything you have said, except to add the magic of the coffee service, and the embodiment of Walt’s philosophy of “plussing.”
We experienced V&A this past December and had a fantastic time. We’re both vegan, so they prepared a special menu for us that included a couple of unlisted surprise courses. My only issue with it was (perhaps unsurprisingly) the price. The stated price is a little hard to swallow when you compare it to “real world” 5 star or top tier restaurants, but after factoring tax and tip, it became – for us – a one-and-done situation. I’m still glad we tried it, though, and I’d recommend anyone who has the means give it a try.
Very nice write-up. Accurate and engaging. The only area I might add is that the bread service alone is an adventure — ideally matched breads and butters spectacularly coordinated with the meal service.
My wife and I have attended V&A’s for our anniversary for the past eight years. The experience is consistently superb in all the areas you covered above. And, like you, having the VGF there for our anniversary weekends is a great plus.
This restaurant used to be part of the DDE, now TIW, program — which made it an incredible value. It was still reasonable without the discount. But I must admit that the price increase this year brought it a break point for us.
Thanks for sharing, Jim!
My wife and I were married on the beach at the Polynesian in November 2013, and we ate at V&A for our 2-person wedding dinner that evening. One of the most wonderful dining experiences of our life. Food and service were outstanding – truly magical. We went back again for our second anniversary, shortly after their 2015 renovation. Food was still good, but overshadowed by terrible service and atmosphere (and after all, that’s what you’re paying for). We were seated next to a table of four corporate-type people (men and women, but not as couples) who were clearly indulging beyond the wine pairing and being inappropriately loud and boisterous. They appeared to know the staff, so I assume they were regular big-spending customers and no one was going to tell them to act like they belonged in a 5 star restaurant. The server was standoffish and pushed the 10-course over the 7-course just a little too much (we upgraded a few things and got the wine pairings for both of us, but got an “I guess the cheaper menu is fine for you guys” attitude – I’m from New York City – I know the move). They also stopped taking Tables in Wonderland, for which I was not prepared. There was no host when we left, so I had no one to mention our displeasure. Tried sending a follow-up criticism through the Disney website, but my comments were too long and it deleted them. Long story short – it could have been a one-off bad night for V&A, but when you’re going for a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and the one night is a bad night, that’s a problem. Sounds like they’ve pulled it back together, but I will likely not be finding out.
If your budget is tight it may not be for you BUT… If a truly wonderful dining experience is what you crave then you could not find a better venue at any price.
We have dined at Victoria and Albert’s several times over the years, sometimes as a couple, sometimes with friends or family. We have also dined at the V&A’s Chef’s Table twice and the Queen Victoria Room once. Each was a unique experience and a superb meal. My husband always does the wine pairing and I just sample his. The service is always superior, the servers very friendly and personable while remaining professional. Israel is a marvelous host and makes us always feel very welcomed! I cannot say enough about the elegance, the carefully planned and executed meal (even more remarkable when you can watch it being prepared from the Chef’s Table), and the overall experience, capped off by a rose for the ladies at the end of the meal. Yes, it’s expensive, but only because Disney never does anything “half way”, and although we typically rarely eat out at home, it is worth every penny as an exceptional experience that we feel just heightens the “magic” of our Disney getaways. We’ve eaten at many fine dining restaurants at Disney, but this is the best of the best!
I really want to try this however, I cannot eat seafood and I am afraid that I would offend the Chef when they call to set up your preferences
I wouldn’t worry about offending the Chef at all, just explain that you can’t eat seafood and they will substitute something else. They certainly have encountered these situations before and are happy to accommodate any needs so that you can share in the experience. Just call and talk to them, I am sure they will be understanding.
They care very much about your dietary needs. I would not be concerned at all about upsetting the chef. You should definitely consider giving it a try.
I urge you to reconsider. They are very accommodating to dietary restrictions.
We have dined there 3 times. The first experience was probably 8-10 years ago, the last two within the year. Frankly, we enjoyed it most the first time. I don’t like the set menu concept from the last 2 visits. Our first time we had 2 or 3 choices per course, which allowed my husband and I to make different choices. Service is very good, but this last visit in the Queen Victoria room I had the distinct impression the servers viewed us as second tier, as 2 other tables had ordered the caviar course(at an extra $295) and many wine upgrades (as opposed to the standard $150 wine pairing (like us).Frankly disappointed in this last visit, especially with 3 courses-the cheese course, the beef course and dessert. The cheese course was our favorite on our 2nd trip, but the selections were soo tame this time, and not up to the accompaniments. The beef course was surprisingly not as tender as expected. The dessert was not good-a banana tort (and I love fruit based dessert). The tomato/iberico ham was unbelievably superb. The price increase, and the lack of choice, with the menu remaining the same/similar throughout the season means we will probably wait a long time before returning. This is a good restaurant, but with tip and 1 of us enjoying the wine pairing, ran close to $800. For that price I want to be blown away.
My husband & I had the remarkable experience of dining at the Chef’s table about 19 years ago. We are not “fancy” food people per se but truly enjoyed every aspect of this evening. It is definitely a bucket list item that I will never forget. While the food was impeccable, the service and ambiance were more than you could ever hope for. I loved your story and it helped to remind me of my amazing time there. Thank you for sharing and sending me down memory lane!
Thanks for this nice reminder. My wife and I had the pleasure of dining here on our Honeymoon and also our tenth anniversary. Both experiences were exquisite. I certainly appreciate that the price is high, but I have found it to be worthwhile. Hopefully we won’t need to wait until our 20th for our return.
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