One of the things my wife and I enjoy when taking solo trips (sans kiddos) like this is bar/restaurant hopping around the resorts. We’ve stayed at nearly all of the resorts, except the Deluxes, but when resort hopping that is typically where we gravitate, so I’ve eaten, or at least drank, at nearly every hotel, though, admittedly, not at every restaurant or bar. My goal for this was simple, put out 1 food item, 1 drink item, and 1 dessert item from an eatery, be it quick or table service. I tried to choose dishes unique to that Resort that either best represented the theme and feel of the resort, or that I thought was their best. Some of the food items can be kind of abstract, and not necessarily available for sole purchase (items listed on a buffet only, as part of a meal combo, etc.) Obviously, a lot of this will be subjective, so feel free to comment with your own thoughts, list, rebuttals, etc. I decided to go with the Resorts that are available to be booked on Disney’s website, so that left out the Swan and Dolphin and Four Seasons. Anyway, here goes:
Grand Floridian – Ok, so, I tried to attack this as I would with the real Food and Wine Festival. I thought about starting small, with the Value resorts and saving the high end stuff for last but then I thought about my typical trek around World Showcase during the Festival. By the time I get to Canada, or Mexico depending on where my wife tells me to start, I’ve kind of petered out. I’m not as adventurous and, well, kind of full. Not wanting you to suffer the same fate and miss out on the gourmet fare in favor of early All-Star favorites, I went with the Magic Kingdom Resorts to start, and what better place than the Grand Flo.
Food – Butter-poached lobster tail, Narcoossee’s – Right of the bat, this is one of the abstract menu items I was talking about. The lobster tail at Narcoossee’s is generally part of a larger meal, either paired with a steak, or added to any other meal as a side. Of course, you can always get a whole, two pound Maine lobster and, by default, end up with the tail as well. This lobster tail is tender and sweet, with the right amount of buttery, salty flavor. I’m a big fan of lobster, and this is the best lobster tail I’ve ever eaten. Though some would argue a fancy, signature menu item from Victoria and Albert’s would have represented the Grand Floridian better, I felt this simple, yet delicious, lobster tail was a good choice.
Drink – Wild Strawberry Green Tea, Garden View – Boom! That’s right, the first twist of the Festival. Now, hear me out on this one. I was deciding between fancy wines and stuffy Manhattans, and I came across the Garden View drink menu. Now, I’ve never been to the Garden View, and for those who don’t know, it is the location of the tea parties, both for adults and for children. It’s a unique event that is only found at the Grand Flo, and while the theming of the Resort is generally regarded as Old Florida, it certainly has quite a bit of Victorian, almost English, feel to it. The Wild Strawberry Green Tea is also a play on another popular and iconic item found at the Grand Floridian, the Strawberry Soup at 1900 Park Fare, except it’s tea and the other item is…you know…soup. But both have strawberries, so there’s that.
Dessert – Grand Marnier Souffle, Victoria and Albert’s – I don’t think I could have moved on from the Grand Floridian booth if I did not include an item from Walt Disney World’s most renowned Resort dining establishment. The Grand Marnier Souffle is perfectly elegant and delicate, an exact microcosm of the Resort itself. It’s delicious and upscale.
Polynesian Village Resort –
Food – Tonga Toast, Kona Café – The Poly was fairly easy as it has several iconic food and drink items, and Tonga Toast is probably the most noteworthy. The banana stuffed sourdough French toast rolled in cinnamon sugar served with strawberry compote dish is perfect for our Festival.
Drink – Lapu Lapu, Tambu Lounge – The rum drink served in a pineapple is possibly the most iconic alcoholic beverage on all of Walt Disney World property. It was a must.
Dessert – Banana Foster Bread Pudding, ‘Ohana – Another very easy choice. This is probably my favorite dessert in all of Walt Disney World. I did consider a Dole Whip here as they are now sold at the Pineapple Lanai, but I felt like that is more indicative of Adventureland than the Polynesian Village Resort.
Contemporary Resort –
Food – Bacon and Eggs, The Wave – I love the California Grill, mostly for setting and atmosphere, but the food is also quite good. However, I feel like the place that best represents the Contemporary is The Wave, and the dish that seems the most appetizing/unique is the Bacon and Eggs. Believe it or not, this is an item on the Dinner menu. It pits maple-lacquered pork belly with a Lake Meadow Naturals Perfect egg and Tillamook smoked cheddar grits.
Drink – Corsendonk Pater Belgian Dubbel, California Grill – Kind of an odd choice from a restaurant known for its wine list, I’ll admit, but this Belgian beer is my favorite in all of Walt Disney World. It’s crisp, a little fruity, effervescent, and very smooth. And beer had to make an appearance sooner rather than later.
Dessert – Warm Homemade Fritters, California Grill – These fritters are stuffed with banana, dusted in cinnamon, and served with various chocolate or caramel-ish dipping sauces. Delish.
Wilderness Lodge –
Food – Aged Buffalo Strip Loin, Artist Point – This was the perfect choice for the rustic feel and atmosphere of the Wilderness Lodge. That pretty much sums it up.
Drink – Pa’s Maple Shake, Whispering Canyon Café – Another obvious, and delicious, choice for our Wilderness Lodge booth. 357 maple rye whisky blended with vanilla ice cream? Perfect.
Dessert – Whispering Canyon Campfire-style Chocolate Gooey Cake – Another perfect choice for the Lodge, though the “campfire style” really doesn’t add much flavor. Can’t go wrong with a chocolate, gooey mess though.
Fort Wilderness –
Food – Fried Chicken, Trail’s End – We finally made it. Some Fort talk. This one wasn’t even close for me. In my opinion, not only is the fried chicken the most iconic and representative of the Fort, it is by far the best dish they serve. I’ve said it before, and I stand by it, it is some of the best friend chicken I’ve ever had. It was a Festival must.
Drink – Smoky Mountain Apple, Crockett’s Tavern – This one was harder for me. In truth, I’ve never had the moonshine they serve at Crockett’s and Trail’s End. I typically grab a beer, mojito, or mai tai from Crockett’s. For the first time this Festival, I went with the choice that seemed the best fit. Maybe I’m wrong, but the combination of Ole Smoky Mountain Apple Pie Moonshine, Ole Smoky White Lightnin’ apple juice, and cranberry juice seems like a good combo. Couple that with the fact that there is nothing more American than the Fort and Apple Pie…moonshine, and this seemed like the best choice.
Dessert – S’mores, The Chuck Wagon – Now this one is a stretch, I know, but it encompasses what makes the Fort great. A campfire, toasting marshmallows, making your own gooey sandwich, it’s one of the best experiences at the Fort. Since s’mores are technically sold at the Chuck Wagon (the ingredients, anyway) I figured that would be the best option for a Fort dessert. Honorable mention goes to the Strawberry Shortcake from Hoop-dee-doo.
Beach Club Resort –
Food – Snow Crab Legs, Cape May Café – This one was tough, kind of. If we are thinking of the traditional Food and Wine Festival fare and presentation, this obviously wouldn’t work at all. Luckily as inventor/chairman of this inaugural Festival I can stretch things a bit, so adding something like crab legs to the menu is acceptable. The crab legs at the Beach Club are a staple of the Cape May dinner buffet and are excellent, though I am also very partial to the strip loin from the buffet.
Drink – Chocolate Ice Cream Soda, Beaches & Cream – No explanation necessary.
Dessert – Kitchen Sink, Beaches & Cream – The paper serving containers for our Festival are much bigger than the ones at Epcot. This is another one of those dishes that are synonymous with the Resort they hail from.
Yacht Club Resort –
Food – Prime Rib of Beef, Yachtsman Steakhouse – How can you go wrong with Prime Rib?
Drink – Villa Rosa Moscato d’Asti, Ale & Compass – Had to get a wine on here at some point, and this one is outstanding.
Dessert – Chocolate-Peanut Cake, Yachtsman Steakhouse – Chocolate cake with pretzels, salted caramel gelato, and liquid ganache.
Boardwalk Resort –
Food – Idaho Potato-wrapped Red Snapper, Flying Fish – Ok, moment of truth, I have never had this dish but it is probably the one I’m most desperate for. Desperate.
Drink – Seasonal Beer, Big River Brewworks – So this could by anything, really. Last time I was there was the fall and it was a delicious Octoberfest. You can’t beat beer straight from a brewery.
Dessert – Strawberry Shortcake Cupcake, Boardwalk Bakery – Again, I could have gone with anything from the Bakery here, but the Strawberry Shortcake Cupcake is always a great choice.
Animal Kingdom Lodge –
Food – Bread Service, Sanaa – A very popular dish among Animal Kingdom fans, it includes your choice of traditional naan, garlic-ginger naan, spiced naan, onion kulcha, and paneer paratha. What makes this dish, however, is the 9 accompanying sauces of various flavors.
Drink – Zebratini, Jiko – A bit kitschy, perhaps, but still good. Captain Morgan Rum, Godiva White Chocolate Liqueur, Frangelico, Amarula, and a shot of espresso.
Dessert – Zebra Domes, Boma, The Marra – Another trademark of the Animal Kingdom. White and dark chocolate-glazed amarula mousse.
Saratoga Springs –
Food – Breakfast Flatbread, Artist’s Palette – Maybe an odd choice, but this is one of the better flatbreads on Walt Disney World property. Scrambled eggs, crumbled bacon, sausage gravy, and cheese. Trust me, it all works.
Drink – Mint Julep, Turf Club – Not a lot of selection here but, seriously, could there be a better choice?
Dessert – Chocolate Espresso Torte, Turf Club – This torte comes with raspberry sauce and vanilla-port wine ice cream. You may remember it from the brief time it adorned the Walt Disney World homepage.
Old Key West –
Food – Conch Fritters, Olivia’s – A Florida Keys staple. This version is served with a key lime mustard dipping sauce.
Drink – Key West Sunset Ale – Had to get another beer in here, and this is a nice, refreshing ale.
Dessert – Banana Bread Pudding Sundae, Olivia’s – You thought I was going to go with Key Lime Pie, didn’t you? In truth, this dish—served with warm Bananas Foster and vanilla bean ice cream—is just better.
Alright, with the Deluxe and DVC resorts done, this looks like a good place to stop for now. The rest of our Festival will feature the fine cuisine of the Moderate and Value resorts. Stay tuned!