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Old 01-07-2011, 04:43 PM   #1
somethingblue
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As Crush Says, "Go With The Flow!" A Half-Vegetarian December 2010 Dining Report

Hello Dissers and welcome to my dining report!

This December myself, my boyfriend Matt, my mom (who I call Ma), and my sister Maggie embarked on a trip to Orlando to check out Universal Studios and Disney World. I arranged everything, from our resorts to our dining, and I was really looking forward to sitting down together as a group, laughing about the events of the day, and getting to see my picky family members branch out and try something new.

Yeah. That didn't happen.
The trip unfolded like a comedy of errors and even the dining wasn't left unaffected. In fact none of our original ADRs were used. Still, Matt and I managed to enjoy some delicious meals on this trip. This will be a review of those meals, and a few notes about what my mom and sister decided to do instead.

But first, introductions!


Here we have Ma and Maggie. Both of them have been to Disney World once before on a family trip we took a couple of years ago. My mom's only request as far as dining went on this trip was that she didn't want anything fancy. My sister expressed interest in trying new things, but she's a picky eater. When I planned our original ADRs I tried to keep a balance between the exotic and the traditional, but in the end my mom and my sister made their own dining decisions different from those planned.


This is my boyfriend Matt and myself. Matt and I went to Disney just a few months ago in May (I wrote a dining report for that trip too). We hardly expected to get to go on another vacation so soon, but since my mom and sister wanted to see the Wizarding World of Harry Potter we ended up getting the opportunity. This was Matt's second time at Disney, the first being the May trip with me, and my fifth. Matt is a vegetarian so that greatly influenced my ADR making. I am a fairly adventurous eater, interested in researching and trying new things. The two of us ended up having many great meals despite last-minute ADR changes and our culinary experiences will be the focus of this report.

Here we have the original ADR list...

Raglan Road
Kouzzina
Whispering Canyon Cafe
50s Prime Time Cafe
Ohana

And what Matt and I actually ended up doing...

Jiko
Kona Cafe
Sanaa
Trails End

Plus counter service and snacks at...

Sunshine Seasons
Boulangerie Patisserie
Roaring Fork
Wolfgang Puck Express
Gasparilla Grill and Games
Pretzel Cart in Animal Kingdom
Chip & Dale's Campfire Sing-a-long

So how did I manage to eat sit down meals during Free Dining, a week before Christmas, with completely different ADRs? What did we eat? What did we think? You'll have to stick around to find out!

Last edited by somethingblue; 01-09-2011 at 07:08 PM.
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Old 01-07-2011, 06:29 PM   #2
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I'm in for anything that "unfold[s] like a comedy of errors"

Hope you still enjoyed your time though!
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**In Progress** Wait, weren't you just at Disney World? An August '14 Pre-Trip Report - A Pre-Trip Report: 8/25 - 8/29
Ooh-de-lally! A dining heavy October '13 Trip Report - A Trip Report: 10/11-10/18/13
Faint hearts never won fair lady - or got all the ADRs you wanted. - A Dining Review 10/8/11 - 10/15/11
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Old 01-08-2011, 04:00 PM   #3
somethingblue
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The first meal of the trip (at least the Disney portion, I didn't photograph the food we ate during the Universal days) was supposed to be a dinner at Raglan Road. I picked this place because I knew my mom would enjoy the live music and thought there would be something for everyone there. The first change of plans was that I called and made our Raglan Road reservation later to ensure we could get all the rides done that night we wanted. Unfortunately we didn't end up making the reservation because I started having some issues at Epcot. I'll spare you the details, but let's just say my bladder seemed to think that a good time to start acting up was in the middle of our vacation.

I was disappointed to miss Raglan Road, and even more disappointed to think a signature might go to waste. The next day at Animal Kingdom Matt said, "It's a shame that it's too late to make a signature reservation. I'd love to go to Jiko again." At that suggestion I decided to see what Jiko had available, and sure enough they had a late dinner reservation for that same night!

The lighting at Jiko is very dim, so my photos didn't come out quite the way I wanted as I had to use flash.

Jiko



When we arrived at Jiko we were given a buzzer. The last time we'd eaten there we'd gone out to the Flamingo pond, but this time we sat down in the lounge area by the bar. Here Matt got a gin and tonic, his drink of choice, and he had just gotten the drink when we were seated at a table. I had an iced tea for my beverage. Our waitress was really nice and asked if we'd eaten there before. When we said we had she pointed out that while the filet was still on the menu it was no longer served with macaroni and cheese, but if we wanted to order that item we still could. I thought that was funny considering how I'd read about that change here on the boards.

Since Matt is a vegetarian he didn't have much choice as far as entrees went, but he was more than happy to try the new option on the Jiko menu. It was listed as Aleecha, Shimbra Asa, and Inguday Tibs with goat cheese cream sauce. Of course we had no idea what that meant. The waitress explained that each of those names was a location, and that it would be a small tasting dish of each one's cuisine. (At least I think that's what she said...it was a month ago!) The dish that came out was beautiful, unexpected, and delicious.



The dish on the far left was a fairly pedestrian vegetable stack. While tasty, that was Matt's least favourite component simply because he'd had something similar before. The dish in the middle he was very uncertain about because it consisted of spinach and mushroom canolis; those are two ingredients Matt is rarely fond of, but it ended up being awesome. It wasn't too mushroom-y, and the goat cheese cream sauce really complimented it. The dish on the far right was a chickpea cake, which was something different to try and was tied with the canolis for the best component of the dish. Matt totally cleaned his plate and was just as pleased with this visit to Jiko as he was with the first one.

For my dish I decided to try something new, despite the fact that the beef short ribs were calling my name. I had just tried duck for the first time a couple of nights before and thought that it tasted very mild, almost like chicken. The waitress recommended the Seared duck breast with potato and spinach masala, chanterelles, bruleed fig and port emulsion to me so I decided to try it. The dish came out looking beautiful, and I was eager to take a bite.



I took my first bite and it was very, very chewy. I knew duck fat was supposed to be really good, so I kept chewing...but I just couldn't stomach it. I tried a less fatty bite and still it was very chewy. I began disassembling the stack and realized that the duck toward the middle looked very rare. Now I don't know anything about duck, but this was a very deep red, almost purple hue. It really looked underdone, but again I didn't know what duck was supposed to look like. I tried a few more bites but I couldn't enjoy the dish. I then tried the potato and spinach masala; it was tasteless. I was so disappointed with this dish, I didn't know what to do. Matt felt guilty that his dish had been so delicious while I couldn't eat mine. The waitress had disappeared and so we sat there with one plate empty, one plate near full for quite a while before she came back and I told her that I didn't like the dish. I asked if it looked undercooked and she said that was how it was supposed to look. I apologized profusely but explained that I just couldn't eat it and didn't like it. She offered to bring me another dish and recommended the vegetarian one, but I asked if she would be willing to bring me the short rib boxed up to take with me. I was really appreciative that she offered me something else, but I didn't appreciate the fact that she acted so offended that I didn't like the duck.

We went ahead and ordered desserts. Matt decided on the holiday themed dessert, a peppermint cheesecake with eggnog ganache. He also ordered a cup of coffee to go with it. I went for the Walnut Torte, which was a no sugar added option that sounded light and simple, just what I wanted after my disappointing entree.



This dessert was almost too pretty to eat, but Matt managed to get over it and eat it anyway. It was a "fantastic minty dessert" according to my notes. The eggnog flavour was much more subtle than that of the peppermint, but the minty cheesecake was creamy enough to not give me that toothpaste taste I sometimes get with mint desserts. It was very rich and Matt loved it.



Matt's cup of coffee a long with cream. It was also served with sugar cubes in a little caddy. It was nice that he was able to use the drink credit from the Dining Plan to have a drink with dessert after sipping his cocktail throughout the meal.



This dessert might not look as exquisite or complicated as Matt's, but it was just what I wanted. The walnut cake had a chocolate top and was filled with and surrounded by cranberries. Matt pointed out when he had a bite that the natural flavours were really prominent, likely due to the lack of extra sugars. The simple flavours worked well together and it was exactly what I wanted. I think I even finished it!

Though that completed our meal at Jiko it wasn't the end of my Jiko experience because the next day I heated up some of my leftover beef short rib. Even from the microwave it was still fork tender and delicious. Here's a picture of my leftover meal; about half of the short ribs, potatoes, and carrots that came in my to-go dinner.



And that was Jiko! Even though I didn't like the duck it was still a great dinner, and I was happy that our waitress offered me another entree. Matt was totally pleased with his meal, and we both had a great time. I would highly recommend Jiko after two dinners there, but next time I will stick with foods I am a little more familiar with!

Last edited by somethingblue; 01-15-2011 at 04:27 PM.
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Old 01-09-2011, 07:46 AM   #4
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I'm in! I'm definitely impressed with how different your lineup turned out, especially during that week (we were there the 12th - 18th, a lot of the TS restaurants seemed difficult to get into without ADR's).

I'm sorry to hear you didn't enjoy the duck, it was my BF's favorite dish (admittedly, I didn't even try it, I'm a bit picky when it comes to deviating from my usual protein lineup ... I did have boar for the first time there though!).

Can't wait to hear more!
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Old 01-09-2011, 07:15 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stringbean&Wingnut View Post
I'm in! I'm definitely impressed with how different your lineup turned out, especially during that week (we were there the 12th - 18th, a lot of the TS restaurants seemed difficult to get into without ADR's).

I'm sorry to hear you didn't enjoy the duck, it was my BF's favorite dish (admittedly, I didn't even try it, I'm a bit picky when it comes to deviating from my usual protein lineup ... I did have boar for the first time there though!).

Can't wait to hear more!
We were there from the 18th to the 23rd. It was honestly pretty easy to book resort dining, which as you can see is all that I did. There was one day I tried to book lunch for my mom in Epcot and all they had available was the German restaurant Beirgarten (I probably misspelled that!), but I think part of that had to do with the fact that I was trying to book for one. It's usually harder to book for odd numbers it seems.

Thanks for joining me! I'll be updating soon.
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Old 01-09-2011, 07:24 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by somethingblue View Post
We were there from the 18th to the 23rd. It was honestly pretty easy to book resort dining, which as you can see is all that I did. There was one day I tried to book lunch for my mom in Epcot and all they had available was the German restaurant Beirgarten (I probably misspelled that!), but I think part of that had to do with the fact that I was trying to book for one. It's usually harder to book for odd numbers it seems.

Thanks for joining me! I'll be updating soon.
As a frequent solo diner, I find that if I can't make a reservation for 1, I can find one for 2. It's the same size table. Anyhow I just explain when I check in that I lost someone and I will dining solo. Never had an issue.

Love your report so far.

Jill in CO
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Old 01-11-2011, 07:22 PM   #7
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Great reviews! You and Matt are such a cute couple

Terri
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Old 01-14-2011, 01:12 AM   #8
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Wolfgang Puck Express

Before the trip my mom requested a rest day, so I planned a day where we wouldn't go to any parks during the day and instead would hit up the late extra magic hours in Magic Kingdom. We had ADRs at Whispering Canyon Cafe for lunch, a restaurant my mom enjoyed last trip. Things changed when my mom decided to rest on other days of the trip and went to Epcot that day. At first Matt, Maggie, and I were going to go to Whispering Canyon Cafe without her, but poor time management on our part meant we were running late for our reservation. We decided instead to take the bus to Downtown Disney and find a place to eat there. I tried to make a reservation for a sit down lunch, asking the cast member who answered my phone call which places accepted the dining plan and served lunch. It took a long time to get a response, and when I did the person suggested Bongos. I knew that restaurant wasn't on the dining plan and mentioned that to the cast member, but at this point I was frustrated. Instead of trying to find a sit down meal we headed to Wolfgang Puck Express.

All of us had eaten at WPE on previous trips and decided to try something new. Maggie ordered the macaroni and cheese with a sugar cookie, Matt ordered the salad and soup combo with frozen yogurt, and I ordered the pennette chicken Alfredo with frozen yogurt. Let's start off with Maggie's choice.



Matt pointed out that this dish wasn't really "macaroni" and cheese because it wasn't made with macaroni pasta. The concept was the same though, lots of cheesy pasta. There seemed to be a few different types of cheese, bits of bacon, and breadcrumbs in the dish. Maggie wasn't very impressed with it; I think she was hoping for a more traditional mac and cheese. She also didn't like the texture the breadcrumbs gave the pasta. I really enjoyed the bite that I had. It reminded me of the macaroni at Luby's, which is my favourite. This might not be the best choice for picky eaters, but if you're craving comfort food I think it would hit the spot.



Soup sounded good to Matt so we asked if you could get it as a counter service credit. Turns out that you can get a soup and salad combo as a counter service meal, an option that isn't on the menu. He chose a Caesar salad and the bean soup. The portions were plentiful; it could have been split between two people for a light lunch. It was certainly a healthier option on the menu and Matt enjoyed it.



The pennette chicken Alfredo was lacking a little in the chicken department, but that was fine for me because I'd planned on eating around the chicken anyway and there was plenty of bacon, Parmesan cheese, and peas mixed in. It was a really big portion of pasta. I easily could have split this with another person. I enjoyed this meal, but after trying Maggie's macaroni and cheese I felt my pasta dish was a tad inferior.

I didn't take a picture of Maggie's sugar cookie, though you can see a bit of it in the picture of her macaroni, but I did take pictures of Matt and I's frozen yogurt. I love frozen yogurt so I thought this would be a great light dessert choice and was hoping they would have some fruit available to top it with. Unfortunately they didn't; Matt and I chose between chocolate chips, cookie dough, and cookie pieces. I went with chocolate chips while Matt went with cookie pieces.



Don't order the frozen yogurt expecting it to taste yogurty. In fact don't order it expecting to taste like anything. It was incredibly icy and bland. After a few bites I decided I didn't want to waste the calories on such a disappointing dessert. Get a cookie instead!



Matt's yogurt practically had a whole cookie crumbled on top of it. He felt the same way I did about the frozen yogurt, commenting that it seemed like it wasn't even made of dairy. He ate a bit more of his than mine since it had the cookie on it, but he wasn't impressed.

Wolfgang Puck Express is a great place to grab a quick bite, especially if you're looking for higher quality food than your typical counter service place. The only thing that disappointed me was the frozen yogurt, but I was full from my pasta at that point so it was hardly an issue. All in all a very enjoyable counter service experience.

Next up, Kona Cafe!
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Old 01-14-2011, 01:15 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jedijill View Post
As a frequent solo diner, I find that if I can't make a reservation for 1, I can find one for 2. It's the same size table. Anyhow I just explain when I check in that I lost someone and I will dining solo. Never had an issue.

Love your report so far.

Jill in CO
I've read that on the boards before. What a hassle for solo diners. Thanks for reading!

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Great reviews! You and Matt are such a cute couple

Terri
Aw thank you! And thank you for reading too!
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Old 01-14-2011, 02:10 AM   #10
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I'm so sorry to hear your Jiko entree wasn't good. It looks fabulous and I'm not a huge fan of duck.

WPE looks good too. I love that Caesar salad of theirs. Too bad the froyo isn't up to par.
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Old 01-16-2011, 05:00 PM   #11
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I'm so sorry to hear your Jiko entree wasn't good. It looks fabulous and I'm not a huge fan of duck.

WPE looks good too. I love that Caesar salad of theirs. Too bad the froyo isn't up to par.

I guess I'm not a big fan either! It did look really great, which made it all the more disappointing when I couldn't eat it. The short ribs really made up for it though. WPE was still great even with the crappy frozen yogurt.

Thanks to everyone who's reading!
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Old 01-16-2011, 05:20 PM   #12
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I love your reviews! Keep 'em coming!
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Old 01-16-2011, 07:26 PM   #13
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Your meals at WPE look great - I'm now definitely craving some mac and cheese!! Too bad the frozen yogurt was a bit of a disappointment though!
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Old 01-21-2011, 08:52 AM   #15
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Okay...have to ask because of the picture in your first post...does your boyfriend go to Beloit College? I ask because I am an alum from the mid 90's. I loved it there...a very special place. Because it's a small school, it's always exciting to see other Beloiters.
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