Sunday, December 16, 2012

Olivia's Cafe

So today the family (Mom, Dad, and Nathan) and I went out to eat lunch at Olivia's Café, at Disney's Old Key West Resort.

Olivia's Entrance
As I noted, Olivia's is at Disney's Old Key West Resort, one of the many Disney Vacation Club resorts.  Unlike most other Disney resorts, which is one building with (perhaps) smaller outbuildings, Old Key West is almost like a series of apartment complexes centered around the pool area/registration area.

Old Key West is not on any of the main Disney streets, so while it's easy to get there, its a bit hard to find.  From Downtown Disney, the easiest way to get there is to get onto Buena Vista Drive heading toward the theme parks.  Turn right onto Bonnet Creek Parkway, and then right onto Disney Vacation Club Way (the second stoplight, and the first street you'll be able to turn right onto).  Old Key West is the first resort you'll come to.

Disney's Old Key West Resort

Just past the check-in desk on the left, next to the Conch Flats General Store (a gift shop which shares an entrance with the restaurant, you'll find Olivia's Café.  The place itself has the illusion of being small, but this illusion is mostly caused by the fact that the restaurant has as much outdoor seating (it's Florida, it's summer, and there's a breeze... believe me if you go for lunch during any kind of good weather, you might want to consider eating out on the deck) as it does indoor seating.

The dining room is decorated in what can only be considered "South Florida Kitsch."  There's road signs proclaiming the end of US 1 (the road that runs along the Atlantic Coast from the Mile Marker 0 in Key West, Florida to Mile Marker  2377 in Fort Kent, Maine (on the Canadian border), there's fish of all kinds on the wall.  There's antique plates, antique bottles, a hand-powered coffee grinder, and the neatest antique ceiling fan I've ever seen.
It's a very casual, homey, and above all friendly place to eat.  This was the friendliest restaurant we've encountered on Disney property by a fair stretch.

We were seated pretty quickly, and our waiter, Jerry, arrived pretty quickly to hand out menus, make suggestions, and take drink orders.  Nathan and I went with the sweet iced tea (it's a southern themed restaurant... of course there was sweet iced tea).  Jerry's suggestions were well-received, though he pushed the booze a bit hard, in my opinion.  It worked though, as Mom and Dad tried a fruit-festooned cocktail called the Turtle Krawl (named after one of our favorite Key West restaurants, Turtle Kraals).

For starters, we decided to split an order of the onion rings and an order of the conch fritters, while Mom added a cup of the conch chowder.

The onion rings were tasty and fresh, but the onions were slightly too thin, and all too often you'd end up with a mouthful of batter shell and no onion.  The conch fritters were doughy and delicious, but the real winner was the conch chowder, which was absolutely fantastic.

The onion rings and the fritters were each accompanied by a dipping sauce:  a key lime honey mustard came with both, while remoulade accompanied the fritters and mango ketchup the onion rings.  The remoulade was a bit bland for my taste, and the mango ketchup tasted heavily of cayenne, but the mustard hit the spot and was proclaimed the winner of the condiment competition.

When it came to entrees, Dad, Nathan, and I all chose the same thing:  Olivia's Seafood Pasta.  This was fettucine with rock shrimp, bay scallops, lump crab meat, and chunks of grouper, all sautéed with garlic, olive oil, sun-dried tomato, spinach, and basil.  It wasn't drowning in sauce, as a lot of seafood pasta dishes are when done elsewhere, nor was it over-seasoned (and to tell the truth, Dad and I thought it could have been even more seasoned than it was, though Nathan thought it was fine).  It had a fresh taste that wasn't overpowered by superfluous extras, allowing us to enjoy the fresh taste of the tomato, the spinach, and the seafood.
The other difference between Olivia's seafood pasta entrée and that found in other restaurants was the sheer amount of seafood to be found in it.  There must have been half a pound of various pieces of seafood in my bowl.  I literally could not move my fork without knocking around a chunk of seafood.

Mom's entrée was the pan-seared sea scallops, which arrived on a bed of polenta over braised asparagus.  Added to this was a prosciutto garnish and a tomato vinaigrette (something that I, Mom, and Nathan all declared "tastes just like ketchup").  The scallops were done to a turn and were tender, delicious, and perfect.  The polenta was creamy without being gummy and was seasoned in a way to give it a distinct flavor all by itself.  I just wish I had a picture of it (sorry about that, constant reader).
There were some minor quibbles with the meal.  As mentioned above, I thought the pasta could use just a bit more seasoning.  The remoulade was bland, and the mango ketchup tasted more of cayenne pepper than of mango (and by this I do not mean it was too hot... I mean the biggest component of the taste of the stuff was "peppery", not "burn my mouth").  Jerry, while friendly and polite and nice as could be and a great guy I'd love to have as my waiter was just a bit too pushy with the suggestions, but that's okay.

The food was plentiful and delicious.  I'd say four and a half stars out of five, and would suggest Olivia's to anyone (and have, since arriving home).  I do plan on going back to check out their sandwiches and their key lime pie (we were too stuffed for desert).

Next Up:  The Cape May Café at Disney's Beach Club Resort, by special request of my mother for her birthday.  See you then!


  1. I love Olivia's Cafe.I am so much interested in this cafe and i will definitely come and enjoy your service.

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  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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