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Restaurants & Bars 4

Report: 4 days of Disney dining

PekoePeony | Nov 29, 200409:00 PM

My bf and I, who live in the San Francisco area, visited Walt Disney World near Orlando for four days over Thanksgiving week. Since we were staying at a WDW resort (Port Orleans Riverside), we decided to eat at Disney (if you include Downtown Disney) all four days.

Day 1: California Grill
For our 8.20pm priority reservations, were seated in the wine room, which was extremely noisy with one large table full of screaming kids. The other tables had kids as well but they were much better-behaved. Fortunately after 9pm the kids all evacuated and the room was much quieter. For a romantic dinner, I'd avoid the wine room at all costs unless it's after 9pm.

We started with a flatbread of sliced steak and other toppings, which was like a small/medium pizza and would be a reasonable meal for one, or an appetizer for 4-6. For two persons it was too much. We then split a salad with apples and nuts, which was fine.

My main course was a pan-roasted sea bass, which was well-prepared and good (hard to mess up fish). My bf's monkfish was not as successful, being rather bland. We asked the server for recommendations of wine by the glass and went with her suggestions. My cab was fine but not worth the $12.50/glass (I know cab and fish don't match, but I'm a cab drinker), and my bf's Rielsing was way too sweet. After dinner we strolled out to the observation platform for the 10pm Magic Kingdom fireworks, which the restaurant offered a great view.

Day 2: Epcot
Before heading to Epcot, we drove over to the French Quarter resort to try their beignets for breakfast. Trust me, the beignets at Cafe du Monde in New Orleans are *much* better. The FQ beignets were very dry and tasteless. Their Creole breakfast platter was standard cafeteria-quality food.

Lunch was at Restaurant Marrakesh in Morocco. I had the Sultan's Sampler, which included a tasty chicken bastilla, a tasty beef brewat roll, a so-so beef kebab, and good vegetable couscous. My bf had the 3-course lunch special, which included a beef brewat roll, a small but tasty Moroccan salad, a so-so chicken kebab, and disappointing apple crepe. While the food wasn't great, it was decent by theme park standards and I'd eat here again :)

Originally we had dinner reservations at the Rose and Crown but opted to get their fish & chips for takeout. I really liked the fried fish, with its light and crisp crust and flaky interior. The chips (fries) were nothing special, but overall the food was a good takeout meal.

Day 3: Animal Kingdom / Fulton's Crab House

Lunch was at Tusker House in Animal Kingdom. This restaurant specializes in chicken, so if you want anything else don't go here (my bf complained about the selection). The rotisserie chicken was fine with some herbs under the skin, but it was on the dry side compared to other rotisserie chickens I've had. My bf pronounced his chicken sandwich ok. Personally I prefer the food at Flame Tree BBQ, which I had when I visited Animal Kingdom a few years ago.

For dinner we took the ferry from our resort to Downtown Disney and after an hour wait (we didn't have reservations), had dinner at the Fulton Crab House. I guess stupid tourists like me is why this restaurant is so busy :) My Bloody Mary and his Margarita at the bar were pretty boring. The big sign on the building proclaimed it was stone crab season, and since I've never tried them I ordered it as an appetizer, which came with 5 large claws for $17 (a good price since my bf claimed he paid $30 for the same amount at Joe's Stone Crab in Miami). Maybe it's me, maybe it's the preparation, but I don't think stone crab is that special? My bf claimed the ones at Joe's were better but I'm not sure if I buy into it since the crab didn't seem like they had anything wrong with them.

For dinner we had the Alaskan king crab legs and the Maine lobster. This is where my big gripe with Fulton's comes in. For a place that supposedly specialises in shellfish, both the crab and the lobster were VERY dry and tasteless -- I'm not sure if they overcooked them or reheated them, but I've had better shellfish at Red Lobster. I think I can safely say, avoid this place at all costs!

Day 4: Bongo's/Jiko

We tried out Bongo's in Downtown Disney for lunch on Thanksgiving day. When we were seated, I was happy to see several tables of Spanish-speaking guests around us -- when traveling I usually gravitate towards busy restaurants, or ethnic restaurants with lots of diners of that ethnicity. Our service was pretty slow, and I noticed that vacated tables around us would not be cleaned for over half an hour, which was not appetizing.

I ordered the Masitas de Puerco, which were extremely dry cubes of pork. When I complained to my server, all he did was bring out some garlic sauce which didn't help the intrinsic dryness of the meat. If you're a normal person, this sauce would be WAAAY too garlicky for you. I adore garlic, but I'll admit that the raw garlic taste was pretty strong though I ate quite a bit of it to my bf's consternation. My bf's Cuban steak was much more successful but not better than what could be found at a run-of-the-mill Latin restaurant, and the coconut flan was good but overly sweet and overwhelmed by too much grated coconut.

Our final meal was dinner at Jiko at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. We ordered the appetizer platter combo, which came with duck & pork firecracker rolls (yum), crispy cinnamon beef rolls (okay), lentil phyllo rolls (okay), and maize tamales. Now I really like trying new dishes, and you can get things like the first three sampler items at almost any Asian fusion restaurant. However, the maize tamales were quite different! They may be a bit of an acquired taste (I thought they were weird at first), but they were certainly unique and I enjoyed trying them.

Since I was drinking a strong, dry, and tarry (but excellent quality) cab from their decent-sized wine list, I ordered the oak-grilled filet mignon in a wine sauce for dinner. It was cooked perfectly medium rare as I requested but the flavor was just not there. The mac & cheese accompaniment was good but I wasn't convinced that the creaminess matched the beef well. My bf's halibut was fine, but I couldn't stop eating his mixed bean and veggie accompaniment.

The dessert was a trifle with mixed dried fruits on top -- forgettable. We also ordered some mint tea, but the version served here was terrible! It was ridiculously bitter and difficult for me to drink -- perhaps they oversteeped the tea, or used dried mint instead of fresh? The mint tea at the Moroccan restaurant in Epcot was much better. Service at Jiko was okay.

Overall, I'd say that none of the restaurants we tried in the area were great, though there were several which were okay. Maybe I'm spoiled by living in a dining mecca like the San Francisco area, but I didn't think anything was particularly memorable. Perhaps I had too high expectations after reading things on this board about California Grill and Jiko, which were both decent but not top-notch, and need to remember I'm in a tourist area :)

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