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?