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Old 10-24-2009, 12:41 PM   #1
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Disney Dining Deluxe Doesn't Do Us In -- a week in heaven with photos

Hello!

I had been thinking maybe I waited too long to get a relevant dining review done, but I decided today that a mere two month delay wasn't enough to stop me! We celebrated DH's 50th birthday with a mid-August trip; in time to take advantage of a 4/3 offer, and *just* ahead of free dining (that started two days before we checked out).

We are myself, DH, and DS 11, and we love to eat at WDW!

I'll review:
Yorkshire County Fish Shop, lunch (page 1)
Teppan Edo, dinner (page 1)
Kona Cafe, breakfast (page 1)
Tony's Town Square, lunch (page 1)
Restaurant Marrakesh, dinner (page 1)
Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater, lunch (page 1)
Yachtsman Steakhouse, dinner (page 1)
Yak & Yeti, lunch (twice!) (both on page 2)
Royal Anandapur Tea Company (page 2)
Jiko, dinner (page 3)
Coral Reef, lunch (page 3)
Citricos, dinner (page 3)
Le Cellier, dinner (page 4)
Les Chefs de France, dinner (page 4)
Crystal Palace, breakfast (page 4)
Captain's Grille, lunch (and notes about breakfast) (page 5)

To begin, then, "fish and chips in England!", as soon as we arrived in Epcot on our first day:


Food: A
Fresh, perfectly fried fish in a very generous portion and great fries -- can't go wrong! A family sitting near us was visiting from England and also gave the meal the thumb's up.
Service: CS, just fine
Atmosphere: oh, dear, but it was hot (the story of the whole trip -- we thought we knew what hot, humid, and August meant before we left, but we learned. Oh, we learned!). The little umbrella area was splendid (just to the right of the restaurant, and we just had to acclimate to the heat.
Value: $37
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Old 10-24-2009, 12:44 PM   #2
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Next, Teppan Edo for dinner:
This place is another one of our standards for every trip. While it is possible to have less than stellar experiences depending on the group you get seated with, we generally manage to overlook screaming children and arguing adults as best we can and just enjoy the show.
For appetizers:
I had the garden salad with ginger dressing, which couldn't have been more perfect -- crisp greens, lovely dressing, great combination of flavors

DS had miso soup, which he always loves, and this wasn't as salty as some can be so he especially enjoyed it

DH had peel n eat edamame, which is one of his favorites (you can't really do anything to steamed soybeans to mess them up)

Our chef was very engaging (again, this is a big variable and it makes a difference in how your meal goes)

Entrees were:
Scallops for DH (which he apparently gobbled down so quickly that I didn't get a photo!),
and filet mignon for me and DS (which I barely managed to capture before it was gone)


I keep forgetting (b/c I forgot to take a photo) that DH and I both had the green tea pudding for dessert -- out of this world!!! DO try it, no matter what; it is heavenly.

Food: A+
Service: Outstanding: both the chef and the cm who took care of the table were both wonderful
Atmosphere: B
The family sharing the table with us was nice enough, but the other table in the room was filled with drunken adults and screaming, screaming children. Even so, we did manage to ignore them pretty well and we like the new rooms/set-up since this place was recently renovated.
Value: $122, plus we spent $24 on some incredible sake
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Old 10-24-2009, 12:50 PM   #3
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Love the report so far ... great pics! Can't wait to read the rest; thanks for posting!
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Old 10-24-2009, 12:52 PM   #4
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Kona Cafe for breakfast

This is another one of our perennial favorites, and we have breakfast here every trip. This time, I treated myself to the press pot of kona coffee, and since the DxDDP gives you two beverages for breakfast, this was included on the plan. I'm not posting a photo since I figure you know what coffee looks like; this was fabulous, and if it ever isn't included on the dining plan I'd pay for it OOP. The cm who waited on us was nice enough to offer me a to-go cup for the leftovers, but I passed since I'd had my daily quota by that point.

Now on to the food!
I had the Samoan, which is poached eggs with Hollandaise served over smoked pulled pork hash. Oh, makes me want to go back tomorrow!

DH went for his traditional favorite of a ham and cheese omelette:

DS had pancakes


Food: A
This remains my favorite breakfast on property, and we love getting there right when they open so we have the place to ourselves for a while.
Service: A
Great cm (Jackie) -- knew exactly how to take care of breakfast guests (why do some not seem to understand that I want. my. coffee. now.?)
Atmosphere: A
Love the dark, understated colors and the open-air feeling
Value: $47
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Old 10-24-2009, 01:09 PM   #5
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Tony's Town Square

We'd given up on Tony's for a while; after a good first experience in 2003, a subsequent visit was so disappointing that we took it out of rotation for a while. But we decided it was time to try again, and we were delighted!

First off, getting there just before they opened for lunch turned out to earn us an extra delight -- the barbershop quartet that entertains around Main Street was there to do a few numbers. Since I took eleventymillion pictures of everything else on this trip, I'm not sure why I didn't take any of them, but it was just a delightful way to wait for the place to open.

DS and DH shared the antipasto platter, and managed to dig into it so quickly that I missed getting a picture. I also managed to forget to take a photo of my mixed green salad. We all were in the mood for some cold, crispy veggies and everything really hit the spot.

I had the "blanco flatbread", basically a white pizza (no sauce, just cheese and basil)

DS went for spaghetti and sausage

DH had baked eggplant ziti, and once again somehow I managed to miss the photo before he'd eaten so much that, trust me, you didn't want to see what it looked like.

DH and I had dessert, and DS passed (he did that a lot on this trip -- I don't know how I managed to raise a child who fills up on his meals and then says 'no thanks' to dessert!).
DH had the apple sorbet which he felt was a little odd -- just too tart for him: [edited to say: DH read this and said that the flavor itself was great -- the problem was that the apples (granny smiths) hadn't been peeled first, and that the presence of the bits of peel in the sorbet gave it an unpleasant texture]

and I had the chocolate gelato which was so, so incredibly good


Food: A
We weren't expecting a whole lot from this place, but we all so enjoyed our meals -- DH just says you might want to think twice about the apple sorbet
Service: A
Atmosphere: B-
The only slightly funky thing about this place is that we are all pretty tall, and still the seats are so low that you feel like a 5-year-old at the Thanksgiving table, barely able to sit up tall enough to get your elbows up above plate level. It's pretty enough inside, and we were seated near the fountain.
Value: $85 (we kept being grateful we were on the dining plan; meal prices do seem to have gone up to the point where you wonder how people who are not on the plan manage it)
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Old 10-24-2009, 01:30 PM   #6
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Restaurant Marrakesh

If you've ever even considered it, I highly recommend you try this place! We'd been meaning to get here for a while, but our list of favorites is so long that it can be hard to work in new places. This time, though, I was determined and we're all so glad we made it.

DS was captivated by the musicians that play both on their own and then in accompaniment to the belly dancer. He wanted his picture with them when their set was finished and they seemed genuinely happy to comply

One even asked DS what instrument he played -- didn't ask "if" he played, but rightly just assumed he did -- and DS was proud to say "piano!"

For appetizers, DS had Beef Brewat Rolls (layers of thin pastry stuffed with seasoned minced beef, fried and sprinkled with cinnamon and powdered sugar), while DH and I shared the Combination Appetizer for Two (Beef Brewat Rolls, Chicken Bastilla, and Jasmin Salad)
Here's the Jasmin Salad, with slight views to the other items in the background:

Another case where it all got attacked so quickly that I wasn't fast enough with the camera. I know people wonder about those beef brewat rolls, and question something with beef having powdered sugar on top, but they were SO delicious and we all just loved them. I loved the salad more than the guys did, so they ate more of the chicken bastilla.
For entrees, DH got the chicken couscous

DS got the shish kabob

And I went for lamb shank couscous

In case you're not familiar with it, couscous is a tiny pasta -- small like little grains of rice (only smaller!) and very tasty as it picks up all the juices and flavors of the foods served on top of it. DH felt that the chicken couscous was good but very basic (keep that in mind if you think you have to be adventurous to eat here -- because you really don't!), I very much enjoyed the lamb shank (not something I would ever make at home), but the shish kabob was THE hit of the night!

The best move of the evening I made was to ask the waiter for a wine recommendation to go with my lamb. I failed to write it down, but he recommended an African red wine that was the perfect match. Sometimes it really does pay -- if you feel as though you have a good rapport with your server -- to ask for advice on things. I've certainly never regretted it, and have been steered to some things I never would have tried otherwise.

We were so stuffed that we all passed on dessert. We did feel the offerings were just a little too similar to the textures of the start of the meal (pastry layers), and both DH and DS can't deal with the smell of mint (the fresh fruit option is mint-laden).

Food: A+
(although keep in mind that the chicken dinner is a chicken dinner -- not the thing to go for if you're looking to branch out)
Service: A+
We find that in the World Showcase places, if you chat a little and show some genuine interest in the cuisine and the country, you can make some wonderful connections with the cm
Atmosphere: A+
The place is beautiful. I'll let you discover for yourself how much fun the belly dancer is....
Value: $137
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Old 10-24-2009, 01:46 PM   #7
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Sci-Fi Dine In Theater

We tried this place back when DS was 6, and he hated it! He'd been traumatized by the funky black and white clips of old horror/sci-fi films. He'd talk about the experience as one of the really awful things we'd "done" to him (that and the first time on Snow White's Scary Adventures -- took him years to forgive us for that!)

Anyway, DS decided fairly last-minute that he'd be willing to give this another shot, and DH was thrilled (he loves those awful old movies).

There's a reason this place is famous for onion rings:


DH and I both started with mixed greens salads with ranch dressing


While we enjoy using DxDDP, we aren't a shakes-with-the-meal kind of family. That's why you haven't seen me posting beverage photos; we usually go for water, or iced tea -- sometimes a coke -- and DS almost always has white milk.

DS had a burger, and he did a great job eating nearly the whole thing:


I had the turkey club, and it was my most disappointing meal of the trip -- it looked fine, but it just did not taste like anything:


DH had the shrimp pasta, and I let him use the camera to take the photo and it, um, just didn't come out. He said his dish was ok but not great.

We made a mistake on dessert. We'd decided we were full and didn't want a thing, but the cm insisted -- just absolutely insisted -- that she would wrap up 3 peanut-butter chocolate cakes to go "because you've already paid for them with the plan and everyone loves them!" We carted the very warm bag around with us that afternoon -- it had to be almost 100 degrees out. We were so full and so hot that the last thing we wanted to contemplate was oozy chocolate desserts, and we realized by that point that given how long we'd been walking around with them, they probably weren't safe to eat anymore anyway. With heavy hearts, we trashed them.

We realized afterwards that the cm's motivation was a bigger bill on which her tip would be calculated. It's so hard with the whole tips issue and the dining plans; we remember lots of mediocre service when the tips were included, and now it's tough when you've got some cms pushing food to get the bill up and the tips really do add up to a significant amount of money over the course of the trip. I guess our vote, sigh, would be to go back to including the tips in the plan -- but no option is perfect.

Food: C
DS loved those onion rings and his burger, but overall this was the weakest meal of the trip. The cars are cute, but I don't like sitting in a seat behind my family (only 2 to a row).
Service: C
No, thank you, we do NOT want dessert.
Atmosphere: B
It's cute, it's worth doing once, but I don't think we'll go back
Value: $109 ()
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Old 10-24-2009, 01:47 PM   #8
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Great review so far! Can't wait to hear more!
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Old 10-24-2009, 02:47 PM   #9
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I realized that in my typical haste to get this job done, I wasn't saying very much about us as a family, about our overall approach to Disney, or about our feelings about the dining plans (other than the tipping thing). So here's a little catch-up!

We made our first visit to WDW to celebrate DS' 5th birthday. I honestly believed that would be our one-and-only Disney vacation. We all so totally fell in love with the place that we started planning our return trip on the plane ride home. We live in the Boston area.

I would like to think that we have appropriate levels of expectations for our Disney trips, and I think that makes a difference in the kinds of dining reviews we're providing. We keep in mind that we are eating these most of these meals in a theme park -- and it's not all burgers and fries! -- but it's still theme park food! We expect food to be fresh, hot (or cold), and tasty. We are not picky eaters (I think you've already had a little bit of a sense of how adventurous DS is at 11; I believe WDW is partly to thank for that, given that he became an 'adult' diner at 10 and started to think about things other than chicken nuggets for dinner!).

Anyway, we don't start any experience with the intent of being critical. We start every experience believing that it's going to be good, that we're going to enjoy ourselves, and that we understand the big picture (yup -- eating meals in theme parks!). If we don't like something we'll say so. Our expectations are higher for the signature meals, and we'll get to those.

We go with the deluxe dining plan because (1) we like to have appetizers and desserts at least available to us, (2) we like going more table service than counter service, so we like that it's up to us and we don't have to hoard TS credits, (3) we LOVE having the vacation, including meals, paid for in advance and (4) for me, anyway, I like being able to just look at a menu and order what appeals to me (rather than my 'real life' habit of picking something less expensive to save money).
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Old 10-24-2009, 07:19 PM   #10
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On, then, to dinner at Yachtsman Steakhouse.

Yacht Club is our most favorite resort, and we stayed there again this trip. We love the short walk to Epcot, SAB pool, and the overall quiet atmosphere. We make pretty good use of the resort -- this trip, we swam every day, and actually used the refillable mugs that came with the package. Breakfasts were often morning beverages in the mugs, and we used snack credits for things like muffins, bagels, and yogurt.

But on to dinner!

We've eaten at Yachtsman's before and loved it. I think being able to have a nice, big meal, with some lovely wine, and then being able to walk up to your own room is just such a treat. One weird thing, though, about WDW menus overall is how repetitious they are -- we encountered filet mignon at *just* about every meal, it seemed.

First, though, the appetizers!
Chilled Seafood Salad - Lobster, Shrimp and Jumbo Crab with Lemon Creme Fraiche and Avocado Cream for me -- this was excellent, with the seafood perfectly cooked (sometimes when it's cold, in a salad, it can get a little rubbery, but that was definitely not the case)

Cheese plate for DS

and tomato salad stack for DH -- this kind of salad absolutely depends on perfectly fresh, flavorful ingredients and this one did not disappoint!

All were fantastic -- fresh, beautifully presented. DS loves a cheese plate and enjoyed each of these tastes.

Filet mignon all around:

Side of mac 'n' cheese

Somehow, we missed the fact that the steaks came with potatoes (so many high end steak houses these days make all the sides ala carte!). Too much food, but all juicy, tender, and delicious.

DH ordered his filet medium, while DS and I both went medium-rare. These steaks were beautiful -- tender, very flavorful, and perfectly cooked. I wish I'd registered the name of our cm who served us -- he was so professional and engaging, without being overly in-your-face or anything. [edited to add: Mana -- his name was Mana -- I found the receipt that always has the cm's name on it.] He was very kind to and complimentary about DS (telling him he was making very grown-up choices, doing a good job on his meal, etc.). The one slight issue I have with all the restaurants at WDW these days -- even the signatures -- is that they are so booked up that they do need to move you in and out pretty swiftly. This cm did a better job than some others we had during the week of pacing the meal, but for the most part our appetizers would arrive just moments after we had our drinks, entrees would come when we were still working on appetizers, and the offer to take the dessert order would come when we were still working on our meals (with the desserts then served basically right on top of the entrees). I understand the dynamics here -- WDW has got to get as many guests in and served as possible and they are booked for the entire meal service every day, but we would have liked basically every meal we had to be just a bit less rushed, if that were possible.

My dessert was the trio of Valrhona Chocolate - peanut, espresso, and salted caramel -- perfectly sized for each of us to have a taste of each one

DH had Sorbet Trio -- passion fruit, plant city strawberry, and lemon basil -- he wasn't sure if he'd like the lemon basil but found it refreshing and delicious

DS didn't see anything on the menu that caught his eye, so the cm offered to bring him a treat from the children's menu -- the mickey and minnie white chocolate dessert puzzle


That gives me a good opportunity to say that all the cms during the week were really good about, after confirming that DS was on the plan as an 'adult,' offering him any flexibility to his entrees or desserts that he wanted. At this meal, aside from offering him an alternate dessert, the cm also offered him fries instead of potatoes with his steak which DS was all over (as flexible and adventurous as he is, he may be one of the only kids out there who turns his nose up at mashed potatoes).

Food: A+
Everything was so good, and so beautifully prepared! I failed to write down the wine we had (DH and I each had a glass), but again I highly recommend talking with your server and letting him or her make suggestions. DH knows a lot about wine, but that doesn't mean he's going to be familiar with every vineyard or every year that's represented on a menu.
Service: A+
Again, although he did a great job, I understand that the pacing of this and every meal is being dictated by the management and by the number of guests who need to be served at every meal -- so I don't fault our cm on that front.
Value:
$294 -- although looking at this, in DH's handwriting, I realize that he must have written the entire total, with wine and the extra side dishes. Sorry about that.

We skipped Yachtsman on our previous trip because we just couldn't fit it in, but we all agreed that whenever we're staying at YC -- especially -- we have to eat here!
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Old 10-24-2009, 07:29 PM   #11
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Great reviews so far!

It seems Sci-Fi fails for anything but the burgers which is sad as it used to be awesome. I remember the multipage menus and the popcorn though.

The deluxe worked well for us also our last trip. We also weren't afraid about ordering side dishes in addition to our meals or the adult beverages.
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Old 10-24-2009, 08:42 PM   #12
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Loving your reviews thus far and can't wait for the rest.
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Old 10-24-2009, 08:53 PM   #13
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Great reviews
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Old 10-24-2009, 09:16 PM   #14
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I think its great that your son is so adventurous in his eating! My son is more of a standard fare type (he's 12) and trying to get him to try something new is like pulling teeth!
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Old 10-24-2009, 11:44 PM   #15
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Great reviews! How is the mac and cheese from Yachtsman? It looks sooooo good!
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