Walt Disney World Restaurant Review – Victoria & Albert’s
BY MIKE WARING – JUNE 2011
I actually had to go and look up the correct way to type the name of this restaurant, as I was unsure about it. I get the impression that the restaurant is owned by Albert, as there is no possessive after Victoria’s name. Isn’t that just always the case, men taking over and grabbing everything? Now, Mary will probably tell me this is just the way a name like this is written, and she should know, because she went to college for eleventy-three years, while I’m just an engineer. So be it.
Anyway, review padding aside for the moment (at least until I can sneak some more in a few paragraphs down), we dined at V&A’s on our last visit, which makes a total of four or five visits now. Our most recent meal exceeded expectations, and indeed was a return to form for us, better than the last two or three visits by a considerable margin. If you have the disposable income, and you want to tempt the palate with something that does not come on a bun, on a stick, or in a Fill Up Box, then V&A’s is well worth the visit. And if you go and you’re unhappy with your experience, well, it’s your fault for listening to me.
I was going to detail each course and the presentation, and what wine perfectly paired with each dish, and how long we had to sit around between courses, and whether or not it really is necessary to polish my glasses in between the fish and the soup course, as specified in Larousse’s Gastronomique, and it being the Twenty First Century, whether a biodegradable cleaner is appropriate, as opposed to the traditional cleaner, spit with a bit of polish. But I won’t.
Instead, I’ll offer the low down, especially for those who have never experienced V&A’s or a similar 5-Diamond restaurant. Dinner – because dinner is the only meal available at V&A’s, and no, there’s no supper here, strictly dinner – is served two times a night: 6:30 pm and 8:30 pm. If you have trouble staying awake for Leno, then don’t do the late seating. Basically, set aside a couple of hours. If this might be difficult, try jotting down some conversation starters on 3×5 cards. Or you could both bring your iPhones and play Angry Birds in between courses. It’s your marriage – you know what works best.
The menu is prix fixe, which is a fancy French way of saying, this isn’t Burger King and you can’t have it your way. Okay, you get some choice: each course usually has between two and four selections, but that’s pretty much it. If you sincerely believe that the hamburger is the encapsulation of all that is good and wonderful in the world, then you might find a meal at V&A’s a bit of a struggle.
You will be confronted with six courses, including cheese, plus two other courses that aren’t considered courses, for some reason: an amuse bouche, which is a small pre-appetizer; and either friandise or mignardise (we really don’t know why there are two terms for essentially the same thing), which is little truffles and sweets that come with your vacuum brewed coffee at the end of the meal.
We have, at one time, actually ordered the wine pairing with the meal. It was magnificent. We don’t actually remember much of the meal, however. It became a bit of a blur after the third glass of wine. If you have a prodigious constitution and an ability to consume a case or two of beer in an evening with no ill effects, then go right ahead and get the wine pairing, and I’ll just sit over here and envy you. For the rest of us frail and weak mortals, a glass of champagne at the beginning of the meal and a glass or two of wine throughout the meal is plenty. Maybe, if I’m feeling especially frisky, I might double down on a whole bottle of wine, but then you can always take the remnants back to your room afterwards, if you don’t manage to finish it.
There are a few up-sells. Caviar is offered for a significant price addition. I recommend it only if you have basically unlimited wealth or are trying desperately to impress your significant other or her in-laws. (Of course, if they’re from South Podunk and think spending seventy-five dollars on a little mess of fish eggs is mighty strange, it might not work out as you hope.) There are also a couple of main dishes with a hefty bonus price tag. And of course the previously mentioned and lamented wine pairings, which will tack on roughly another 50% to the cost.
All in all, you will not get out of dinner at V&A’s for less than the cost of our average visit to Costco. (Your yardstick may vary.) Those pesky little details like service, ambiance, noise level and suitability for a romantic dinner destination are of course, very, very good. Oh, and good news for the ladies: they have little ottomans for your handbag. Bad news for the guys: you have to wear a jacket, tie is optional, and baseball caps are pretty much an excuse for a good thrashing by a bunch of guys named Albert.