That's right, constant readers. In this installment, we're going to the Grand Floridian Cafe, at the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa.
|The Grand Floridian Cafe|
Turns out, I shouldn't have worried. At all.
As I've mentioned, my companions for this trip were my mother (Cheryl Butler) and father (Jack Butler, Sr.) and my younger brother Aaron (who accompanied me on my last trip, to Chef Mickey's. The day started out bright and shiny, but by the time we'd reached the hotel, it had begun to cloud up. While we ate lunch it started to rain lightly, but to tell you the truth, the rain just added to the view we had from our window-side table.
The Grand Floridian Cafe is, as I've already said, located at the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa. The Grand Floridian is one of the "Magic Kingdom Resorts", located on the shores of the Seven Seas Lagoon. To get there, pass through the Magic Kingdom gate, sticking Seven Seas Drive
|The Grand Floridian Resort and Spa.|
The Contemporary Resort in the distance to the right, and the Magic Kingdom center
|The gardens on the right side of the hotel's entrance.|
|And on the left side.|
|A guest's initial view of the hotel's lobby.|
|The lobby proper. The far end...|
|... and right above the entrance.|
|And we're here!|
|Mom at our table, with my good friend (and our greeter) Karen.|
|The French Onion Soup|
|The Seasonal Green Salad|
|Corn Crab Chowder|
|I wasn't kidding about that, by the way.|
red onion marmalade, and arugula on a brioche bun) and pickled cucumber salad. Dad went with the Orange-Glazed Salmon salad (salmon on arugula, tossed with bacon and an herb vinaigrette). Aaron ordered the Roast Beef Sandwich (roast beef, arugula and tomato served on ciabatta bread) with the house-made potato chips. I had the Grand Sandwich (an open faced hot sandwich with turkey, ham, bacon, and tomato with a boursin cream sauce, topped with fried onion straws).
|The Grand Sandwich|
|The Grand Burger|
|Orange-Glazed Salmon Salad|
|Roast Beef Sandwich|
Aaron was, at first, a little disappointed by his roast beef sandwich. It was, in his words "too dry", especially when combined with the potato chips. That said, the moment he mentioned it to Guillermo, our trusty waiter was off to the kitchen. Within minutes, Guillermo had brought Aaron a dish of a tomato-pesto mayonnaise, a dish of the same boursin sauce that came on my sandwich, and a dish of the same onion marmalade that Mom had on her burger, thus allowing Aaron his choice of some very special condiments.
Aaron hates onions. Hates them. To the point that he often tells people at restaurants that he's allergic to them just so he won't have to put up with them. To his credit, Aaron tried the onion marmalade, and found it delicious. (He shrugged when I commented on it and said that all rules have exceptions, and this was an exception... he also liked the French onion soup, for that matter.)
The additions of the condiments turned a dry, bland sandwich into an appetizing, filling meal for him.
And then came the dessert...
But before I get to that, let me tell you about Sarah and Brad. Sarah is one of the front-of-the-house managers at the Cafe. She is, using a phrase from the internal slang common among Disney cast members, a "sparkly". "Sparklies" are those people who are so upbeat and cheerful and happy to help and friendly that sometimes they go so far into sweetness that they taste like diabetes. Don't get me wrong, Sarah is a sweetheart to work with and a wonderful person. She's bubbly, in other words.
Brad, on the other hand, is a chef in the Future Leaders program, an internship which trains new chefs and prepares themselves for future leadership jobs in Disney kitchens. Working at the Grand is actually one of Brad's first jobs in the culinary industry, and he is eager to make a go of it. In my opinion, as a veteran chef who has, in the past, run my own kitchen, I have to say that Brad is going to do well. He's knowledgeable, capable, and knows that you can learn from anyone you work with. I like him a lot. He's a nice guy.
So... back to the dessert. Yesterday (4 August 2012), while I was working, I had mentioned that I was coming in with my folks for lunch. Word got to Sarah and Brad, and they both decided to do something special for my Mom and Dad.
Anyway, this is the Dessert Sampler for Two:
|The Dessert Sampler for Two|
From the left, clockwise: lemon cheesecake, key lime tart, Boston cream tart, and berry tart.
In the center, Chocolate Mickey Mouse.
The desserts in this sampler are the perfect size, giving a couple of bites of sweet to each person without being heavy or over-filling or cloying. They have great flavor, and everything tasted so very fresh. My favorite was the lemon cheesecake, mainly because I am a huge fan of lemon flavor, and a huge fan of cheesecake, so naturally the combination of the two was great for me. My family agreed with me. The dessert offerings were swiftly devoured and all was right with the world.
But what made it even better was the presentation. Knowing that I wanted to impress my parents and my brother, and wanting to give my family an extra-special memorable dining experience, Sarah and Chef Brad conspired to make our dessert sampler something special.
|The special, personalized Dessert Sampler.|
That's very carefully applied chocolate syrup, done in beautiful style by the people on the Pantry line (the part of the kitchen that creates salads and desserts). And I love the hidden mickey they placed on the plate.
The chocolate Mickey is now in the refrigerator at home, awaiting some time in the future when someone wants a piece of chocolate.
Everyone was happy with lunch, and even the minor problems were forgotten by the end of the meal. I have to give the Grand Floridian Cafe five out of five stars. It is a hidden gem that is overshadowed by the more popular 1900 Park Fare, the flashier Citricos, and the much more resplendent Victoria and Alberts, and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a quiet meal featuring skillfully prepared food.
With four individual appetizers, drinks, entrees, and a dessert plate, the bill came to $119. That's $29.75 apiece for four adults, which is not bad at all for a Disney restaurant.
Fulton's Crab House, at Downtown Disney.