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Old 11-16-2010, 01:18 AM   #1
uncleleo
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Lonely business traveler’s random resort dining adventure – Day 2, Il Mulino

To better understand what’s going on here, read the “Day Zero” post first: http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=2587491

My first dining adventure, at the Caribbean Beach Resort, is detailed here: http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=2591172

How disappointing that I spent so much of my business trip to Orlando. . . working. I typed most of this during the night after completing the project that brought me to Florida, just before returning home. So, before I again get too busy, I need to get back to detailing the results of my random dining adventure.

On the particular evening to be discussed, I had not expected to be dining randomly. I was returning to Orlando after having been home for a while. Because some colleagues from Denver were scheduled to arrive at MCO around the same time as my flight, I made reservations at Flying Fish Café and invited them to join me. I chose FF above other Disney signature restaurants I haven’t yet tried primarily because it is one of the few that still offers free valet parking to patrons. Unfortunately, the rubber band powering my plane broke and no replacement was available. The switch to another plane – I know, the fact that a spare jet was immediately available demonstrates unusually good fortune – delayed me sufficiently that I missed by Flying Fish ADR.

About 90 minutes later than planned, I drove to WDW to implement Plan B, heading for Downtown Disney instead of the Boardwalk. Immediately after reaching the Pleasure Island bus stop, I boarded a bus to the Boardwalk. Sort of. Of course, the same DTD bus route serves the Boardwalk, Yacht Club, Beach Club, Dolphin, and Swan. This arrangement strikes me as inconvenient for the guests of those deluxe resorts, but perhaps most of them are driving themselves, as I did when I stayed at YC and BC.

Because of the time I had lost to the airline delay, I wanted to make the most time-efficient choice. I would therefore have dinner at the Swan. In hindsight, I realize that any time I gained by dining at the first stop was lost after dinner, when I had to endure the later stops on the bus’s route before returning to DTD. My mistaken assumption did relieve me of the burden of having to choose from among all the Crescent Lake resorts.

Having enjoyed a dinner at Kimonos early this year, I eliminated it from consideration. The choice was actually rather easy. Il Mulino’s bar area powerfully draws attention with its décor and its staff of bartenders, all very attractive young ladies. At least that night, they all were.

After being seated, I began to notice how noise seems amplified in Il Mulino. This acoustical character seems very much at odds with the darkly intimate visual nature of the dining area. The restaurant very much looks the part of an exclusive establishment where couples could enjoy a romantic evening. But the romance can rapidly fizzle if the happy pair feels immersed in the loud babble of families and convention groups.

My servers, Calogero and Howe, very soon after I was sat down with my drink order and delivery of the amuse bouche. Speed would characterize their service throughout the meal. Because the restaurant was half-empty, I can’t imagine they felt any pressure to “turn the table over.” Perhaps they sensed my own desire to keep a quick pace because of my ruined schedule. Or maybe they just wanted to rid themselves of this weirdo eating alone with a brief case (I don’t like leaving my computer in a car in a public lot).

The amuse was a surprisingly substantial bit of eggplant grilled, then chilled and served with grated cheese and 2 little slices of some kind of sausage like pepperoni. Tasty enough to do its job, the tidbit was more filling than I would expect of an opening nouvelle course.

As I do customarily in Italian restaurants, I ordered a glass of chianti, Terrabianca ($12). I can’t remember where I had heard of the label, but that name recognition drove my decision. I do not regret the impulse as this chianti charmed me with it unusual effervescence.

For an appetizer, I selected arancini ($8), because I wanted to see how an overpriced, touristy restaurant handled this staple. In recent years, it seems to me that arancini has become the higher-end Italian restaurants’ equivalent of chicken fingers, a dish that you can order for a fussy child or anyone who feels that antipasto or typical Italian restaurant appetizers like fried calamari are too exotic for their taste. Il Mulino’s fried rice balls came fast and hot, and would probably displease unadventurous diners because of the unusually spicy marinara sauce, which I loved. I soaked up much extra sauce with the white bread provided.

Speaking of the bread bowl, in addition to the standard soft white Italian loaf, it contained a kind of hard flatbread that was absolutely drenched in olive oil or butter or something greasy like that. The oily soaking was rather unappetizing and didn’t even serve to make the hard, chewy flatbread any easier to bite into.

After staring long and hard at the seafood risotto on the menu – I love risotto with scallops and was wondering what “frutti di mare” would adorn the dish – I instead chose to order one of the evening’s specials, halibut with gnocchi. The fish proved to be an outstanding cut, slightly flaky and not quite as large as I would have considered a good value. I can’t remember the price, but my total was $79.50 with tip, so it must have been somewhere close to $40.

The portion size of gnocchi also disappointed, probably not even enough potato dumplings to fill an ice cream scoop. Moreover, it was served with diced potatoes. With the fish, very tasty but not at all spicy, this dish struck me as bland. It could have used one of those little swirls of something tangy, such as balsamic vinegar or some kind of fruit reduction, with which chefs used to decorate plates to show themselves whimsical.

After I had passed on dessert, Howe brought a complimentary shot of limoncello, a very nice gesture that left me feeling good about the meal despite the shortcomings I’ve described. As I said, dinner passed very quickly; I never had to wait more than 5 minutes between courses or check-ups from the two servers. I wonder whether they would have been slower were I accompanied.

Coming next: I return to moderate resort dining for Day 3.

Buon appetito,
Lee in Va.
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Last edited by uncleleo; 11-17-2010 at 01:05 AM.
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Old 11-16-2010, 09:15 PM   #2
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thanks for the post, I was debating if we should eat there when we stay at Swan...
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Old 11-17-2010, 11:57 AM   #3
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Enjoyed the review!
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Old 11-22-2010, 10:21 AM   #4
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Thanks for the review.
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Old 11-22-2010, 03:18 PM   #5
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Somewhere I have not dined before, so nice to have a detailed review.

I liked the sound of your choices until I got to the gnocci - served with potatoes? Strange!

In case it helps in future (yes the bus sharing is a pain at the Epcot resorts!), I highly recommend getting off at the Swan and walking through the back if your destination is the Boardwalk - much quicker

Thanks for the review - interested to see where your next adventure takes you.
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