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Old 09-30-2009, 08:11 PM   #1
klacey1
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Turning a Non-Believer into a Believer: Making DBF love WDW and its FOOD!

Welcome to my first (hopefully of many!) dining report! Although I've been to Disney and Universal about 5 times, this was my first “Disney” vacation—staying onsite, only going to Disney parks (instead of a Universal split stay).
My travel partner had never been to Orlando at all-- he had a pretty cynical view of Disney before this trip, but I converted him! He absolutely can't wait to return and wants to be involved with the planning for next time!
Of course, then, this is the first time I was on the Dining Plan. Originally, if it wasn’t free, we weren’t going to do the DDP. We didn’t think we wanted to be tied down to reservations everyday. However, after this trip, we know we’d never do it any other way. It was nice to structure our day around something (except our last day, which I’ll get to later!) We stayed at POR from August 20th-25th and really had the perfect vacation.
My travel party was my boyfriend Zach and I! Neither of us drink and we tend to favor salty or savory foods over sweets. He is a true carnivore—steak and fries is his perfect meal. I enjoy beef, but I’m more likely to branch out and try different fish or vegetables. Neither of us were super adventurous with CS meals, so everyone prepare yourselves for a lot of chicken fingers!
I hope this helps SOMEONE out! I know how much I love reading Lynn’s, and MickeyNicki’s reviews, so I wanted to contribute, too!
In order, the places I will be reviewing are:
Nine Dragons
Columbia Harbor House
Aloha Isle
Main Street Bakery
T-Rex Café
Pizza Planet
Ohana
Liberty Inn
Coral Reef
Wolfgang Puck Express
Yatchsman Steakhouse

Nine Dragons:
We had a 7:15 reservation and showed up at 6:50. After checking in, we were seated immediately. My first impression of the place was that it was beautiful. The dark wood and lanterns were theme-y but not too much.

(Sorry for the poor quality of the picture! I was trying not to freak out the people sitting near me!)


However, the tables were VERY close together. Even when the people beside us were speaking in low voices, we could totally hear their conversations, which was a bit disconcerting. DBF and I both rated the atmosphere at 4/5.

Service: I can’t recall our waitress’s name, but she was fine. Service was fast, and she brought the bill and returned our KTTW very quickly. It’s my biggest pet peeve when my finished plate is sitting in front of me and it takes 15 minutes to get the bill and another 15 to have it returned. So overall, she was fine, not outstanding, but fine. We both gave her a 4/5, also.

Now the good stuff, the Food: DBF and I both ordered the Canton Pepper Beef (sorry we’re so boring!) with white rice. The portion of beef was large compared to the rice—we both wished we had more rice! The rice was perfectly cooked and greatly seasoned with soy sauce, served in a really cute pot. The beef sauce also flavored it well. As far as the beef—the vegetables were crunchy and the sauce really complimented them. I prefer lean, non-fatty beef, which this totally was. The only problem either of us had was that the sauce seemed a little too salty—and if either of us has a problem with saltiness…you know it has to be bad haha. Other than that, though, it was hot, yummy, and a great first meal. We filled up on this and skipped dessert. I know the banana cheesecake rolls are supposed to be excellent, but I hate bananas and Zach hates cheesecake, so that didn’t really seem like something we’d enjoy. Food: 4.5/5


And my Zach and his plate haha
I know Nine Dragons gets a bad rap—but honestly, we’d probably come back here. Not our next trip—there are so many other places we want to try—but we had no major complaints and would definitely return in the future

More to come soon!
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Old 09-30-2009, 08:12 PM   #2
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My gosh! I'm so sorry for the huge size of the pictures! Stupid photobucket!
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Old 09-30-2009, 08:26 PM   #3
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Great review so far!

You can resize the photos in Photobucket. I usually make sure they are in the Large category. 800 x 600 or something similar.
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Old 10-01-2009, 09:30 AM   #5
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I'm in! That beef at Nine Dragons looks delicious! I am kinda sorry I didn't make an ADR there for our upcoming trip!
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Old 10-01-2009, 09:47 AM   #6
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Joining in too
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Old 10-01-2009, 10:06 AM   #7
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joining in...can't wait to read more yummy reviews.
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Old 10-01-2009, 10:46 AM   #8
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Looks yummy. Keep the pictures coming, I am enjoying them.
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Old 10-01-2009, 10:50 AM   #9
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That looks great! I had it on my list to cosider thanks for the help!
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Old 10-01-2009, 11:27 AM   #10
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oooh that food looks lovely
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Old 10-01-2009, 09:34 PM   #11
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Thanks for joining me everyone! I’ve been prolonging starting this because I don’t want to face that my trip is over  As long as free dining is offered next year though, I think I can claim it as my college graduation gift (finally!) and we’ll definitely go!
Without further adieu! Our first counter serve meal was at Columbia Harbor House, around 1:30. Zach got the chicken breast nuggets with fries and I got the fish/chicken combo with fries. We both skipped dessert—don’t worry, we’ll stop doing this pretty soon in the trip haha.


Service: It only took about five minutes to get our food. The guy who gave us the food was sooo funny and called all the women and girls “princesses.” He was certainly a charmer. After we ate, this really nice CM, Adrian, came over to us and took our trays! He also spent 20 minutes telling us about his trip to the Vatican and blessed both of us with his thumb! I guess because we of Italian (Zach) and Irish (me) descent, he figured we were Catholic. He was right, but neither of us are particularly devout in practicing our religion, and if we were non-believers, I can imagine being very offended. A lot of people are very sensitive about religion and their faith (which is totally valid)—just because we are Irish/Italian doesn’t mean we’re serious Catholics! (Or Catholics at all) This man was just so sweet, he couldn’t offend us, though haha. Service gets a 5/5

Atmosphere: We went upstairs to eat. It was fairly quiet and very relaxing. Even at 1:00 pm during Free Dining, there was plenty of upstairs seating! We loved the nautical feel of the restaurant. My military-buff of a boyfriend loved the pictures of the naval uniforms that lined the staircase. He even wanted to ask someone where we could possibly find pictures like those, but the lines were really long and we didn’t know who to ask.

Another one of my terrible pictures (later in the week I stop caring about offending people and take better shots haha!)

Food: Zach and I agreed the fries and chicken were hot and tasty. The chicken was all white meat and had a well season batter. My fish, however, was only lukewarm. I liked the batter, though, so if it had been hot I think I would really have liked it. Zach gave it a 4.75, and I gave it 4.25.
Zach’s chicken!

My fish!

Overall, it was a very nice break out of the heat. Not too sure if we’d return—this was our only CS meal in MK and in the future we want to try Cosmic Rays, El Pirata, and the Diamond Horseshoe. We were definitely on a chicken finger overload that week, and I think in the future, we could avoid that by skipping CHH.
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Old 10-01-2009, 10:01 PM   #12
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Since this next one is a quickie, I figured I could do a second one tonight-- burning a snack credit at Aloha Isle! (And later, at Main Street Bakery!)
I absolutely LOVE pineapple. After months of reading about this delectable creations, I knew that I HAD to have a Dole Whip. I though the juice might get a tad messy, so I skipped the float. My whip was a creamy and delicious pineapple soft serve.

Nothing could be more satisfying on a hot August day, and I know this will be my new Disney tradition. Making a stop at Aloha Isle will be on my to-do list from now on!

I think Zach's new tradition will be stopping at Main Street Bakery! As it was, we were in the MK 4 out of 5 nights of our trip, and we stopped there each of those nights! Here's a sampling of the Bakery items:

And here's what Zach got:

This cookie was heavenly-- soft, chewy, and not at all greasy. (You know how some theme park or mass made cookies can leave a gross film on a napkin?? This did not!)

The hot cup has a black coffee in it, which Zach drank promptly. He drinks about three cups a day (one from Starbucks and two at work!), so I expected him to gag at Disney coffee based on the reviews here. However, he didn't think it was that bad! He enjoyed a couple of cups. He thought the iced coffee was delicious and saved it as a treat for the morning.
Also, I just want to comment here. While we loved Free Dining, we definitely still had to pay for things (besides the tips for TS meals and our night at T-REX). Our snack credits went right out the window for Powerades and waters, so we ended up paying for a lot of actual snacks. I think we paid for cash for the cookie/coffees, but I definitely used a credit for my Dole Whip.
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Old 10-01-2009, 11:06 PM   #13
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Columbia Harbor House is one of our favorite places to stop at the MK for a light lunch - I love their tuna sandwich.

And the Main Street Bakery ... ... love their giant cinammon rolls and those little chocoloate devils food bundt cakes. I wish I was eating them right now.
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Old 10-02-2009, 10:40 PM   #14
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I should add, I know CHH has great reviews for sandwiches. Zach and I are a bit picky with foods—neither of us eat sandwiches or cold cuts of any sorts! I also won’t eat CS hamburgers because I get freaked out if my burger touches any kind of bread. Strange, strange people!
I think the deliciousness of our next meal will surprise a lot of people, but believe me when I say this was one of the best meal experiences of our trip…T-Rex Café!
We had taken the bus from MK to POR, freshened up and headed out to DTD. We killed a little time in the Lego store and made our way over to T-Rex around 6:50, ten minutes before our reservation. The system is slightly confusing—you check in with a host, and then he tells you when you be allowed in this other line that’s partially in the restaurant and partially outside. And THEN someone finally calls your name and you’re brought to your table. The process only took about 15 minutes, though, so we were fine. All the steps were just a bit confusing!
As far as atmosphere goes, this place was an 8 year old’s paradise! Huge, colorful dinosaurs are everywhere. Every twenty minutes there’s an “ice storm;” we were sitting in the forest, right next to the ice cave, so we were in perfect earshot. Besides the slightly deafening sound that I’m pretty sure we heard 3 times, the restaurant had a cool feel. There was definitely no shortage of things to look at. Our waiter even told us to feel free to walk around the restaurant and take pictures, which killed time waiting for our food great.

Here’s the side of the ice cave


Ceiling of the forest room

This baby kept us company during the meal!

Awesome fish tank! (I love cool fish tanks—if I didn’t hate caring for fish so much, I would love to have one of those tanks built into a wall in my house one day. However, I hated caring for a twelve gallon tank with 5 goldfish…so…probably not going to happen haha)

I took plenty more pictures of the restaurant, so if anyone wants to see, let me know! Continued in next post!!
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Old 10-02-2009, 10:44 PM   #15
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I'm sorry about the pictures again! I resized these three times, but for some reason, even after I re-paste the link, they're still too large!
ANYWAY!

Service: Nikolas was great! He refilled our drinks as soon as they were emptied, and our bill was brought promptly. He offered menu suggestions, one of which I took and loved. It also took me about 20 minutes to figure out what I wanted (a rarity for me!), and he was very patient, reassuring me to take my time. Sometimes I feel in the busy Disney restaurants that they really just want you in and out as quick as possible!

Food: We started off with a club soda (me) and Coke (Zach). At this point, I was so starving that I was taking pictures out of pure distraction!!



(You can half see Zach’s un-amused face in this one haha)

Zach ordered a steak that came with mashed potatoes and vegetables. As I remember, this was off some sort of specials menu, so it’s not on the website. We did a terrible job keeping receipts, so I have no idea how much this was, but I’m guessing $25-30.
Before our runner left the table, she asked him to cut the steak along the bone to ensure it was cooked properly. He was very impressed and assured her that it was cooked perfectly medium well. He said that the steak was fantastic—when we were flying home, he said it was even better than his porterhouse at the Yatchsman! I stole a bite from the middle (I always order my steaks medium rare and will only sample middle sections of his meat), and I agreed that it was tasty, juicy, and flavorful. He didn’t touch the vegetables, as he likes them prepared very particularly (When we get married, we agreed that he has to be in charge of cooking, lest I mess up vegetables or potatoes!) He agreed the mashed potatoes were buttery and had the perfect texture. Thank goodness our waiter made the mistake in bringing them—Zach had requested waffle fries instead of the mashed potatoes, and instead, Nikolas bought an extra plate of fries for us to share. I do remember that we were only charged $1 for them, though, and they were a large plate! 5/5 stars for Zach.


Here are those fries! How can you go wrong with a plate of HOT, not too salty/greasy fries? Delicious, of course.

I ordered Nikolas’s recommendation of the Age of Salmon. At first I wondered if he was going for the big ticket items on the menu to ensure a higher tip, but after eating this wonderful piece of fish, I didn’t care! My salmon was topped with a hunk of garlic butter and accompanied with the same vegetables as Zach’s steak. They were crunchy and well seasoned and not overly oiled. I substituted the rice for mashed potatoes and was so glad—I LOVE garlic mashed potatoes and this was a perfect representation of them. (Now that I look at the Allears menu again, I’m not sure it’s accurate. My salmon definitely was not glazed in orange-basil. I hate citrus flavors [besides pineapple—and I only like it on its own, not in sauces] and there’s no way I would have ordered it if I saw that). The salmon…to DIE FOR! I normally don’t order fish in places like T-Rex, but this piece rivaled my halibut at the Coral Reef. It had a nice char crust and was juicy (dry salmon is the worst!)

All in all, it was a perfect meal. 5/5. (Sorry for skipping dessert again—we were stuffed!)
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