Deb Tablehops around the World


Feature Article

This article appeared in the December 18, 2001, Issue #117
of ALL EARS® (ISSN: 1533-0753)


Editor's Note: This story/information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all current rates, information and other details before planning your trip.


One of my favorite things to do at Walt Disney World is eat! I know, I know, there are attractions and parades and shows and so very much to do... but for me, dining is an integral part of any trip to anywhere!

I've been lucky enough to visit Disney World several times in the last few months, and thought I'd share some "snapshots" of several of my favorite recent Disney dining experiences:

Lunch at Olivia's, Old Key West Resort -- ALL EARS® regular contributor The Czarina recently reviewed Olivia's, but I just had my first meal there, and wanted to add my thoughts.

I stopped there on my travel day, and I'd been awake since 3:30 a.m. My companion, Linda, and I decided to refuel with lunch at Olivia's. There were many appealing items on the menu so when our server came to take our order, I was still undecided.

Turns out the items I was thinking about were offered as a Soup, Salad and Sandwich ($9.29) combo lunch, so I quickly said yes! For the soup, I chose Olivia's Traditional Conch Chowder (normally $3.29 a cup). Surprisingly, it was tomato-based, tasty, but a bit too spicy for us. The salad I chose was the Caesar Salad with big croutons and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. The lettuce was a bit on the limp side, but the dressing tasty. My sandwich was half a Turkey Club, the winner! Filled with smoked turkey, bacon, lettuce and tomato on a flavorful multi-grain bread, it left me more than satisfied.

Linda relished her BBQ Pork Sandwich ($7.99), too, which she called one of the best she's had. It was topped with marinated slaw (red cabbage) and served with steak fries that had a slightly crunchy exterior and tender potato insides. Another diner who joined us, Zazu, didn't say much during lunch, so I know he enjoyed his Cuban Sandwich. It was a combination of roasted pork loin, smoked ham, Swiss cheese, accompanied with plantain chips ($8.99).

Olivia's has family photos from members of the Disney Vacation Club all over the walls! It was fun to look and see if there was anyone we recognized. It's a casual, comfortable atmosphere with very friendly, albeit a bit slow, service.

Read The Czarina's review of Olivia's at: http://allears.net/din/reviews.htm

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Dinner at Chefs de France, France Pavilion, Epcot -- Our friends Tod and Sue joined Linda and me in purchasing the Candlelight Dinner package, which included dinner at Chefs de France ($39.95 per person, plus beverages). I had been hearing rave reviews about the restaurant and hadn't been in a long time, so decided to give it a try. The package provides an appetizer, entree and dessert, all chosen from the regular menu.

As we ordered cocktails before dinner, we learned that only one brand of each liquor is available (i.e., Beefeater's gin, Absolut vodka, etc.), which was a slight surprise. Within moments of being seated, though, a server provided us with scrumptious, hard-crusted rolls that melted the butter as soon as it was put on!

Linda and Sue chose the Coquilles Saint-Jacques for $8.95 (seared scallops on crispy rice with tomato coulis) as their appetizer. Calling it "done to perfection," they found that the tomato coulis enhanced the flavor of the well-seared scallops. They agreed this dish would be an excellent main course.

Tod was pleased with the Salade Endives ($6.75) with Roquefort cheese and a walnut vinaigrette, while I chose the Feuillette de chevre chaud (baked goat cheese puff pasty) ($6.25), served on a bed of greens with a light vinaigrette. Unfortunately, the greens were the highlight! The pastry was heavy and greasy, not at all how puff pastry should be. Also, the dish was not hot -- it seemed as though it had been sitting for a while before being served.

Each of us sampled a different main entree, all in the meats and poultry section of the menu. Linda's Medaillon de Veau Basquaise, a filet of veal on onions and peppers, served with green beans and roasted potato ($24.25), was moist and tender. The green pepper, however, was so overpowering it almost ruined the flavor of the entree. On the plus side, the potatoes were outstanding -- very crispy on the outside and light and tender on the inside, alas, this entree was not served hot, either.

The Filet de Boeuf Grille ($25.95) was rated outstanding by Tod, who called it as good as any steak he has ever had at WDW. The filet was served with potato gratin and a black pepper sauce. Sue chose the Supreme de Volaille Sauté, a sautéed chicken breast with wild mushrooms on a basil potato puree ($20.25). It was a moist and tender boneless chicken breast with a wonderful mix of mushrooms and gravy.

My Canard a l'Orange ($23.95), roasted breast of duck served with a sweet and sour orange sauce, French green beans and grilled polenta, was tender, but lacked flavor. The orange sauce was akin to warm orange marmalade and I felt it detracted from the dish. The best portion of the meal was the grilled polenta, which had the added surprise of cloves.

The desserts were all very good. The four of us shared an upside-down apple tart a la mode; banana, chocolate and Bavarian creme mousse; and profiteroles with chocolate cream, each $5.75.

Tod and Sue have been to this restaurant several times and still find it a very good dining experience at WDW. Linda and I were both underwhelmed with the food, especially given the price. For the same money, we have had much better meals elsewhere at WDW.

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Jiko, Animal Kingdom Lodge -- In the September 25th edition of ALL EARS®, The Czarina and I reviewed the Animal Kingdom Lodge's premier restaurant, Jiko. Shortly after our visit, we learned that Chef Serge Burckel and Manager Suzanne Bonham, who were so gracious to us, had moved on. Chef Anette Grecchi Gray, previously at Narcoossee's and Artist Point, has now taken over the helm at Jiko. We promised you an updated review once she'd had the chance to settle in, and here it is.

You might recall from that previous review that I had said, "Even if you think 'that kind' of food is not for you, rest assured that Jiko is only a few steps 'outside the box.' You will not be shocked or assaulted by strange flavors." Indeed, this holds true under Chef Grecchi Gray.

While much of the menu has remained the same, Chef Grecchi Gray's influence is clear. She has kept a number of the original Jiko favorites and added a few of her own.

A new item on the Cooking Place portion of the menu is the Kalamata Olive Flatbread with Millet Flour Dough and Five Cheeses for $6.75. This was a taste sensation! The olives, cheese and flatbread blended together and we quickly finished the two breads that were on the table. I was most amazed since I normally don't eat olives! It was fabulous!

The Marinated Ahi Tuna appetizer at $11.25 (a holdover from the original menu) has been modified to include heirloom beans, black barley and "Zough" yogurt sauce. Not your typical sushi with soy sauce, but well worth your time. The flavors melded to create a delicate yet flavorful tuna appetizer that melted in your mouth.

Several new entrees have appeared on the menu, including Wood-Fired Wahoo with crushed root vegetables, sweet braised onions and a carrot-ginger sauce for $23.25, well-liked by our group. The Pan-Roasted Monkfish ($24.25) remains a popular favorite, as does the Oak-Grilled Beef Tenderloin ($28.50). A new entree is called Grains and Veggies ($16.50). Chef Grecchi Gray has often been referred to as the Grain Diva and she is incorporating some wonderful selections into the Jiko menu. I'm not vegetarian, and don't care much for tofu or mushrooms, but for some strange reason was drawn to the Grains and Veggies entree -- am I glad I was!! Two healthy servings of Tandoori-spiced Tofu were atop a dish of kamut, white and black lentils, all mixed together with brick baked mushrooms. The Tandoori gave the dish a refreshing kick and the flavors infused into an outstanding entree. If I could make Tofu taste like this at home, I'd be eating it all the time!

Even ordering items not on the regular menu proved a positive experience. One member of our group who has special dietary needs had contacted Jiko in advance to make arrangements. She was most pleased with the choices Anette presented.

New desserts and a couple twists on the originals appear on the menu, too. The Cardamom Chocolate candies ($6.25), while presented differently, are still an excellent choice for dessert. The Kenyan Coffee Chocolate Mousse with Frangelico whipped cream ($6.50) is a new addition that is light and delicate!

If you haven't tried Jiko yet, by all means head over to the Animal Kingdom Lodge! Make it an evening! Go early to enjoy the animals at the three savannas, stop at Victoria Falls for a before-dinner beverage and then head down to Jiko for an enjoyable and relaxing evening of food and South African wines you won't find anywhere else!

You can read the initial Jiko review at: http://allears.net/din/rev_jiko.htm

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Quick Bites:

Spoodles, Boardwalk -- After IllumiNations one evening, a group of eight went to Spoodles for some late night noshing. I was pleased to learn the restaurant was open after the fireworks. We shared the Spoodles Sampler ($19.99), a platter of roasted red peppers and manchego cheese, lamb cigars, chorizo and the tapas of the day (scallops, mushrooms and polenta); the Mediterranean Dips provided a huge bowl of breads including lavosh and pita, and four dips: Tzsezi, Hitipi, Chermoula, and baba ghanoush ($4.99). Lastly, we had an oak-fired flatbread of chicken, roasted garlic, roasted red peppers, manchego cheese and chives ($6.99). These were exactly the kind of "finger" foods we were looking for and everyone shared and enjoyed the various items.

50's Prime Time Cafe, Disney-MGM Studios -- This is one of my favorite places to dine, both because of the atmosphere and the food. I always order Mom's Golden Fried Chicken with mashed potatoes, chicken gravy and green beans ($12.99) and a Hot Fudge Sundae ($3.99) for dessert. As far as I'm concerned, this is the best fried chicken at WDW and a great Hot Fudge Sundae, second only to Ghirardelli's at Downtown Disney. This particular evening we also tried the Country Club Salad, simple and fresh for $2.99, and the Smoked Trout Dip ($5.99). Light smoky cream cheese blended nicely with the trout and was complemented by the baked tortilla chips. A bit heavy when followed by the fried chicken, but for a light bite, we recommend it!

Big River Grille, Boardwalk -- We stopped here for a snack one day and split a Chicken Quesadilla. It is a large flour tortilla, layered with grilled chicken, melted mozzarella and Asiago cheeses, served with homemade salsa for $7.99. This was a winner and we went back a second time to enjoy a quesadilla as well.

Deb's "Taste of the World" reports can be found at: http://allears.net/din/rest_tt.htm

 


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Editor's Note: This story/information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all current rates, information and other details before planning your trip.