Thursday, February 23, 2017

Review: Lunch at Grand Floridian Cafe!

Helloooooo, Disney Fans! 

     I hope you're having a "grand" week! I got to have a lovely brunch with a friend last week, at the Grand Floridian Cafe, and I wanted to share my experience with you, partially because I know that since you're reading this blog, you'll enjoy hearing about it, and partially because then I can call it "work" and not "being lazy and avoiding cleaning the house".

     To me, the Grand Cafe is one of the rare "hidden gems" of Disney Dining. It's not crazy-popular, but that's probably just because when it comes to The Grand, Narcoossee's, Citricos and Victoria & Albert's tend to steal all the fame, not to mention the character meals at 1900 Park Fare. But this unassuming cafe is worth making the visit for. 

     I have dined here a couple of times before, and had somewhat mixed reviews of it, but more recently, I have found the Grand Floridian Cafe to be more consistent and on point. This visit was no exception, so let's get down to it!

Grand Floridian Cafe Lunch 

Location: First floor, off of the rear of the main lobby of the Grand Floridian


Parking/Transportation Situation: General Resort Parking or Valet Parking available. Monorail service from The Magic Kingdom, The Contemporary, The Polynesian and The Transportation and Ticket Center. (If using Monorail Service, allow approximately 30 minutes transportation time, depending on where you're coming from.) Boat service from The Magic Kingdom or The Polynesian. (If using Boat Service, allow 30-45 minutes transportation time.) Bus service from The Studios, Animal Kingdom and Disney Springs.(If using Disney Bus Transportation, allow 1-1.5 hours transportation time.)

Meals Served: B, L, D

Characters/Entertainment: None

Type of Cuisine: American, highlighting Floridian fare

Type of Menu: A la carte

Pricing/Dining Plan: $/ 1 Table Service Point Per Person

Full Menu: Grand Floridian Cafe Lunch Menu

Atmosphere: Bright, trellised cafe

Dress Code: Theme park casual

Guests Who Would Enjoy This The Most: Couples, those that enjoy a more classy, refined atmosphere, without the stuffiness or the formal attire.

Level of Difficulty of Getting a Reservation: Easy

Fun Stuff for Kids: Coloring pages only.

Rating of Appeal to Kid-Diners: Are we done yet???

Stand out Dishes: Caramelized Onion Soup Gratinee, Lobster Benedict, Steak and Eggs, Dessert Sampler

Best Use of Dining Plan Point: Miso Glazed Salmon ($25) + Dessert Sampler ($12) + Smoothie or Frozen Cappuccino ($5.50) = $42.50




Experience: The Divine Ms. M and I, (no, not that one), made our reservation for the Cafe the night before, with no issues. There was plenty of availability. We booked an 11:05 am reservation, figuring we'd be the first lunch seating, and we were, but what I had NOT realized was the the Grand Floridian Cafe has changed their menu and is now offering a combined breakfast/lunch menu. Awesome surprise! I'm getting ahead of myself though...

     Ms. M and I drove to The Grand separately, and met up inside. She checked us in right at 11am, and by the time I stepped out of the restroom a couple of minutes later, she was being walked to our table. You can't ignore the bright, airy beauty of the Cafe. The windows look out over the main pool and the gorgeous garden areas, and inside, there are lots of cute, ornate and elegant touches.    

     Our delightfully sweet server greeted us quickly and educated us on the new(ish) menu. What's really nice is that you do have the option of ordering a more breakfasty choice like French Toast or Mickey Waffles, or something more suited for lunch, like a Reuben Sandwich or a pasta dish. But I also really enjoy the variety of "add-on" items. It allows those with the "heartier appetite" (ahem) the option to get pancakes with a lobster tail on the side, or a burger, with some cheese blintzes. Ok, maybe not the best combos, but you get the idea. You can really mix it up. 

     I knew before we even made the reservation that I was going to have French Onion Soup. I had ordered it on my last visit here and remembered how awesome it was, so it was a no-brainer. I went ahead and put that order in with our drink orders. Then we turned our attention to the entrees.

     After a quick peruse, and much debate about the merits of breakfast over lunch or vice versa, Ms. M decided on Lobster Benedict and I chose the Kobe Burger. I was disappointed to see that the Surf and Turf Burger, complete with butter poached lobster tail is no longer offered. Now, I could have added lobster as a side and made the burger that way, but I decided that the burger would be great as is. Once we had our orders locked and loaded we could focus on gabbing away, catching up on the details of our lives. (Work, work, work, drama, drama, drama, kids for me, men for her, lots of laughs about both.) Only about five minutes after ordering, out came Ms. M's mimosa, my water, and my dreamy onion soup!

This pic does it no justice, since I order it without the crouton, causing the cheese to sink,
so here is one from the last time, when my husband ordered it...

It looked, and smelled, amazing! And I gotta say, kids, this is STILL the best French onion soup I have ever had. EVER. And I have had French onion soup in France. Real France. Not Epcot. It was not too salty, not too sweet and had a rich, flavorful punch to it. I was doing a happy-food dance in my seat. Ms. M said her mimosa was also very good and she enjoyed sipping it was we waited.

     While we continued to gab, we enjoyed the beautiful view out the large windows, and got ready for some more foodie heaven. Entrees were out about 15 minutes after we ordered them. My burger looked great!



It was served on a brioche bun, with melted Swiss cheese and sweet onion jam. It usually comes with arugula mayonnaise, but I'm not a mayo girl, so I handed the side of it off to Ms. M to have with her side of fries. Oh, and there was also a wire basket, filled with piping hot seasoned fries, too! And not just any fries... STEAK fries! Steak fries are like, the BEST fries known to man. I love the thick cut, and golden crispiness to them. They had a orangey seasoning on them, which turned out to be Old Bay seasoning. When I cut into my burger, I did notice that it was not medium rare, as I had ordered, but more medium well.



I wasn't thrilled with that, but to me, medium well is at least still edible, so I didn't bother saying anything to the server. And it all turned out fine, because the burger was still delicious! It was juicy and flavorful and the onion jam is an awesome, sweet accompaniment. The fries were crispy on the outside and soft in the center, as I had hoped, but the seasoning was overwhelmingly salty to me. There was a LOT of seasoning on them and I was just not digging it. When the server returned to the table, I apologized and said I really wasn't enjoying the fries, and she quickly got me a new, fresh order of unseasoned fries, which were heavenly. 

Mmmmmm.....steak fries!
     Ms. M's Lobster Benedict looked insanely good, even though it's not something I generally would enjoy. Hollandaise is NOT my jam. But the plate was super vibrant and colorful, thanks in part to the Marinated Tomato Salad that came along with the poached eggs, lobster tails and English muffins. 




     There was a good amount of lobster meat on the muffins, but the eggs were a touch over-cooked, making them less "poached" and more like a over-medium egg. That was disappointing to Ms. M, since part of the whole Benedict experience is the runny egg that you can smother everything in. Don't get me wrong... Ms. M still loved her meal and I even caught her doing a bit of her own happy-food dance. She also got a side of the seasoned fries, and she liked the Old Bay seasoning just fine. I'm a wimp when it comes to seasonings though. I'm ok with that.

     After lunch, we did decide that since Grand Floridian Cafe offers their desserts in small, individual sizes, we could each suffer through one. Ms. M picked the Chocolate Mousse and I chose the Mocha Pot de Creme. (For those of you that do not like to choose, you can do the Sampler, giving you a single portion of each dessert, pictured below.)
   

     Our desserts, along with Ms. M's tea, came out within five minutes, and they both looked delicious! My pot de creme was just adorable, served in an espresso cup, with a chocolate straw and a chocolate espresso bean on top. And it was the silkiest, most delicious coffee-flavored cream ever! And it was a perfect serving size. Just about three spoon's worth. As someone who almost NEVER turns down dessert, at ALL Disney restaurants, it'd be nice to have a  taste of something without always filling myself silly. Hear that, Disney restaurants??? I would like all locations to offer mini desserts, please. Hop to it! (At some point, they'll realize that I have good ideas, I swear.) 

     Ms. M was pleased with the mousse, though she didn't find it to be anything too remarkable. I felt the exact same way the last time I had it. Good, but nothing to write home about. Still Instagram-worthy though. 




     After all that yummy goodness, and the fantastic company and conversation, I couldn't help feeling like I had a "grand" afternoon. We paid the bill, and waddled out to our cars. We were both really pleased with our lunches and were so happy that we had gotten together for some good food and lots of fun. 

Nothing like a meal with a view!
Will We Be Back?: Heck yeah! Next time I may try a breakfast item, just to switch it up. Or maybe that burger again with some Mickey Waffles on the side. Yeah..... that sounds about right!
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     And there you have it! Another review and another great meal. Be sure and check out the Grand Floridian Cafe for lunch next time you are on Disney property. Need a reservation? Talk to your friendly travel agent over at Kingdom Konsultant Travel, and they'll be happy to hook you up!

     And if you're a Disney Foodie, like I am, make sure you "Like" and "Share" a brand new, Disney food-centric Facebook page, Dining a la Disney. Created by the owner of Kingdom Konsultant Travel, Pam VanSyckle, the new page will showcase Disney food and drink pictures, reviews and tips, all shared by you, the Disney fan community. So what are you waiting for... come on and join in! Share YOUR favorite Disney food pictures, (aka Disney Food Porn), tips and tricks! 

     As for me, I'll see ya next week, live from the opening of the International Flower and Garden Festival! 

- Jenn aka "Tink"

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