This review of Victoria & Albert's is from one of our visits to the main dining room. If you are considering dining at this incredible restaurant, see my review of the Queen Victoria Room before deciding which is right for you.
The day after my wife and I were married, we dined at the renowned Victoria & Albert's in Disney's Grand Floridian Resort. Our experience was so phenomenal, we decided to try and keep a tradition of every other year returning on our anniversary for dinner. Last weekend we celebrated our 2nd anniversary, and when the time came to plan where we wanted to go, there was little doubt in either of our minds.
Victoria & Albert's is the only 5 Diamond rated restaurant in the Orlando area, and one of only three located in the state of Florida. The restaurant features a 7-course prix fixe menu, which can change on an almost daily basis, depending on season and freshness of certain items. The atmosphere is the definition of romantic, as the dimly lit dining room holds only about a dozen tables, while a harpist helps set the mood.
Since we arrived about a half hour early, we decided to start the evening with a glass of Veuve Clicquot champagne. This too is a bit of tradition, as we enjoyed this same bottle at The Plaza when celebrating our first anniversary. We had elected to do the wine pairing which accompanies each course of dinner, and since the first serving also comes with a glass of champagne, our head waiter Scott suggested we save it to pair with our dessert. After settling in and enjoying some of the harpist, it was time to order...
The first course, or the Amuse Bouche, is the same for everyone and is aptly named "Symphony of Lobster." This was one of only a couple dishes on the menu that were unchanged from our previous visit, but who was I to complain about starting with lobster. The dish featured four different renditions, from a traditional slice of the tail, to a miniature cup of creamy bisque. Without question, this dish set the tone for the entire evening.
My first selected dish was sliced bison, which was prepared three different ways, and accompanied by small pieces of fresh apple, which cleansed the palate in between each version. Following this dish, fresh french baguettes served as the first of three different bread courses throughout the meal.
For our second course, my wife and I both selected the halibut with black char crust, garnished with a miniature crab cake and set atop a corn chowder base. In my opinion, this was the best dish of the evening. First the color contrast between the white fish and the black char was flavor for the eyes, but it was the flavors of all the ingredients combined which presented a party for my taste buds. The photo simply doesn't do the beauty of this dish justice.
When asked what the lasting food related memory of our first visit was, I'm confident both my wife and I would say the black truffle bread. Thankfully, they are in season in mid-December, and to say I was giddy when we were presented with it might be an understatement. It is my firm belief that when asked to create bread to feed the multitude, this is exactly what Jesus had in mind.
For the third course, I selected the duck, which was prepared three different ways; sliced, sausage, and confit. Meanwhile, my wife selected a pasta dish from the vegetarian menu which kept her relationship with truffles in order, as the dish was filled with them. For lack of a better description, the dish was a tiny bit of pasta, and a whole lot of mushroom. It's also worth noting here that the vegetarian menu is a full 7-course experience as well, and one can select dishes off both menus if desired. I was overcome with no such desire...
Finally, it was time for our main course. I opted for the Kobe beef filet, which was paired with a elephant garlic potato puree that was garnished with a bit of short rib. If it sounds awesome, it's because it was. The steak could no doubt have been served without a knife, and the potato was certainly a far cry from your run of the mill whipped mashed. For her main, my wife opted for the veal, which at one point caused her eyes to roll back in her head.
After a small cheese course, it was on to what most regard as the highlight of any great meal...dessert. For me the decision was easy, as the "chocolate pyramid" had my name written all over it. It was incredible, to say the least, and was the perfect end to the perfect meal.My wife opted for the blackberry and lemon sherbert. I must admit, I was considering this in the beginning, as I felt after a meal of extreme indulgence, a light dessert would fit the bill. We couldn't help but find funny how a dish could start off so beautifully.....
And yet end so grotesquely....
Following our meal, our other server Sharon offered to give us a short tour of the kitchen, and to see the Chef's Table, which is another option when dining at V&A's. We spoke briefly with the Sous Chef, Aimee, and got a new appreciation for what goes on behind the scenes to create our wonderful experience.
It's clear that V&A's goes to great lengths to provide the absolute best ingredients. The bison grazed on a farm in Colorado, the halibut was line caught in Portugal and over-nighted in, and the chocolate for my "pyramid" was from Switzerland and Egypt. Even our hometown made an appearance on the menu with an "Ocala Rabbit" dish, although it was news to me that Ocala was known for it's rabbit.While the food is the centerpiece of Victoria & Albert's, it is the service from the amazing staff that really earns their diamonds. Everyone we encountered was over the top in their desire to serve, yet it was done in a warm and friendly way, as opposed to the stuck up stereotype which is common for this sort of restaurant. I truly believe that our head waiter Scott was more excited about each course he was presenting, than we were about eating it. The only hiccup from the entire evening, which was actually more humorous than anything, was the fly who made an ill fated landing in my wife's glass of champagne. The glass was promptly replaced by our thoroughly embarrassed waiter, but the moment provided a good laugh for all of us.
It is my sincere hope that the next two years go by with great speed, so we don't have to wait long for our next visit to Victoria & Albert's. When we return, it's likely we will attempt to land the Chef's Table, or the Victoria Room, which is an even more intimate experience. Those options are a 10-course menu, however, which will certainly present a challenge, but I'm confident we're equal to the task.
So long as they have the truffle bread...
Enjoy Your Stay