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Old 04-30-2013, 02:39 PM   #1
siegal
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Is the restaurant food good/expensive?

We are going for a long weekend soon and since I'm preggars all I think about its food! Haha

I really don't want to sound like a food snob but both my husband and I grew up and work in the restaurant business and we live(d) in metropolitan cities most our lives (NY, etc) so we are a bit picky if we are going to drop $80 on food as money is tight.

We have been to disney in the past and never ate at a sit down nice type of restaurant just all the places throughout the park and food was not so good ( are exceptions of course) which I'm totally ok with as the quick food is reasonable priced.

Anyway, how are the actual sit down restaurants? Are they better than park food? Worth the price? Or are they on par with chain restaurants like Olive Garden? I'm wondering if I should make some reservations this time or if I should just skip it and spend the money on souvenirs instead!

Thanks so much! I'm food obsessed lately
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Old 04-30-2013, 02:45 PM   #2
Lauralooneyfordisney
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IMO the table service food is very good. There are exceptions of course as with the QS. It will depend on what kind of food and experience you want too. There will be lots of opinions I am sure. We have only had 1 bad experience in all the years we have gone so I count myself lucky.
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Old 04-30-2013, 02:45 PM   #3
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I think that the signatures are definately worth it. For the most part, they aren't in the parks but they can be gotten to pretty easily. My favs, in order....

Victoria and Alberts (I know - over the top but I have to put it first, every time)
California Grill
Citricos
Artist Point
Jiko
Flying Fish
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Old 04-30-2013, 02:51 PM   #4
Happyjen27
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My recommendation is to set the bar low. After reading and reading and reading about Disney restaurants, I think my expectations were too high, and they were not met.

Like you, as long as I know the caliber of food ahead of time and the price is commesurate, I am happy. Like at Whispering Canyon Cafe. Was expecting burger joint food, and that's what I got.

I got a little disappointed when I went to places like 'Ohana, and I was expecting some really good brazilian steakhouse type food, and that did not deliver for the price paid.

Even so, I will continue to eat at sit down restaurants because my stomach will not tolerate the QS day in, day out. This time though, I am prepared to be underwhelmed and will enjoy being pleasantly surprised from time to time.

If I were going for just the weekend, maybe I would try one sit down restaurant and see what I thought.
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Old 04-30-2013, 03:08 PM   #5
etail
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In addition to sabcook's list I'd add Sanaa, Kona and usually Boma.

Don't worry about being a "snob". You just have high food standards. For instance as New Yorkers we don't eat Chinese food or Italian outside NYC often. We also don't think the French ones are worth the price (especially compared to NYC).

All Ears dot net has food reviews and you'll find quite a few here. We always read them on the slant since some folks review places they never should have gone (if you hate exotic food why go to Boma or Jiko).

If it is your first trip maybe try small bites frequently (also good for some pregnant women - though my wife hated all smells for two out of three trimesters...). Then you'd have an idea of what would work better for table service.
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Old 04-30-2013, 03:36 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by siegal View Post
We are going for a long weekend soon and since I'm preggars all I think about its food!

I really don't want to sound like a food snob but both my husband and I grew up and work in the restaurant business and we live(d) in metropolitan cities most our lives (NY, etc) so we are a bit picky if we are going to drop $80 on food as money is tight.

Thanks so much! I'm food obsessed lately
Congratulations on being with child!

I am a food snob like you - lived in NYC most of my life and worked at a few world-famous restaurants.

Disney restaurants are fine. Quick Service, fast-food counter style places, are not bad value when compared to any salad or sandwich bought in midtown Manhattan. These places are not cheap, but neither is Manhattan. In my view, most of the simple Table Service restaurants are better than Quick Service, and the added value of service and quality seem to be there.

For us, most days start with a standard over-priced breakfast that is customary the world over at hotels and resorts. And we snack during the balance of the day before heading out for dinner. The only reason we have a reservation for lunch is to meet Characters and/or have a unique experience at Coral Reef, Sci-Fi, etc.

So the real question is - are Signature restaurants worth it? Is $65 for Lobster and/or $50 for Steak ever worth it? Is a $15 salad and $8 side of potatoes ever worth it? The term Signature is applied to better quality restaurants at Disney that serve food at these prices.

Some people chalk-up the expensive cost of food to eating at any world-class resort. Some people justify the price by trying to squeeze a discount from the Disney Dining Plan. Other people are fortunate to qualify for discounts with a AAA card, Disney Vacation Club, Tables in Wonderland, and/or an Annual Pass. Under most circumstances, without a discount, the food at Disney Signatures is expensive - but as expensive as most other world-class resorts and at similar quality.

What's a foodie to-do:

1.) Eat at Swan & Dolphin restaurants (blueZoo, Il Mulino and Shula's) for the best food at Disney.

2.) Dress-up and dine at Victoria & Albert's. The Service is spectacular and the quality & presentation of the cuisine matches the high-end costs. Please note, everyone is not completely satisfied with the tasting menu portions.

3.) The best all-around Signature at Disney is California Grill with both magnificent views of Disney World and food that matches price.

4.) Eat ice cream.

Some of the other Signatures are very good, but if you keep your expectations in line with a resort that needs to accommodate the needs of children and picky eaters alike, then the food at Disney is fine. In my view, what is lost in quality of food at sit-down restaurants is gained in the ability of the kitchen to match the persnickety nature of a family traveling with children and exhausted from running around Parks all day. I've been to other resorts with both bad food and bad service. Even if food at Disney is boring at the high end, the Service could not be more accommodating.

So what can you take away from my diatribe - with a little research, you can select some reasonable food at elevated prices - food at Disney mostly matches quality and should not be too expensive if you are from NY area.
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Akershus (3.0-stars* Food; 5* princess interaction). blueZoo (4.5* - Best (Sea) Food w/o jacket required), Boma (4.0* buffet breakfast*), Bongo's (3*), California Grill (3.5*food; 5*- Best View), Cape May Cafe (4* charcter breakfast w/ Goofy), Captain's Grille (2*), Chef Mickey's (2* food; 5* characters), Cinderella's Royal Table (2.5* food; 4* characters), Citrico's (3.5*), Coral Reef (3.5* food; 4.5* for the view), Crystal Palace (2*), 50's Prime Time Cafe (2.5*), Flying Fish (3.5*), Grand Floridian Cafe (3*), Hollywood Brown Derby (3*), House of Blues (3.5* - BBQ), Il Mulino (4*), Jiko (3.5*), Kouzinna (3.5* dinner; 4* breakfast), Le Cellier (3.5*), Les Chefs de France (3*), Marrakesh (3* - bit noisy; 4* belly dancers), Narcoossee's (3.5*), Rainforest Cafe (2*), Rose & Crown (2.5*), Sanaa (4.0*), Sci-Fi Theatre (2.5*), Shula's Steakhouse (4*), Sleepy Hollow (4* Qwik Serve chicken waffles & coffee drinks), Tamu Tamu (4* - Qwik Serve Hidden Gem) Victoria & Albert (5*- Best Service/Tasting Menu), Wave (3*), Yak & Yeti (1*)

On my 'to dine' list: Artist Point (Nov, 2014), Monsieur Paul (2015?), Ohana (2015?), Yachtman's Steakhouse (2015), & Spice Road (2015?).
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Old 05-01-2013, 07:28 AM   #7
siegal
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Thanks!

Usually bc we go on short trips I never feel like we have enough time to sit and eat for an evening or a nice sit down meal as we are running all over the parks. Maybe this time I will as we may take it slower - I'm going this weekend- do you need advance reservations or can I just call a few hours before and something should be available. Maybe some charachter dining as my toddler likes Mickey
Thanks again!
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Old 05-01-2013, 07:54 AM   #8
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We have had some very good meals at Epcot.... fresh flavorful food and cocktails.
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Old 05-01-2013, 07:58 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by siegal View Post
Thanks!

Usually bc we go on short trips I never feel like we have enough time to sit and eat for an evening or a nice sit down meal as we are running all over the parks. Maybe this time I will as we may take it slower - I'm going this weekend- do you need advance reservations or can I just call a few hours before and something should be available. Maybe some charachter dining as my toddler likes Mickey
Thanks again!
Your only chance for a character meal for this weekend is if there is a cancellation. ADR's (Advanced Dining Reservations) are made 180 days (6 months) in advance. Character meals, and in park restaurants often fill to capacity 6 months or so in advance. They do not hold tables for walkups. and they now require a credit card hold with a $10 no show fee for character meals and Signature restaurants. This results in far fewer no shows. Call Disney Dining now and see if there is anything available and keep trying when you get there.
Good Luck,
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Old 05-01-2013, 08:47 AM   #10
Reese D
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IMO, most of the food in Disney is chain quality and not at all worth the price. There are some notable exceptions, but they are even more of a premium.
That being said, we enjoy most of our dining as more of an experience. The kids love character meals and everything is so overpriced at Disney, you forget how much you are paying for mediocre food.
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Old 05-01-2013, 09:19 AM   #11
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Yes WDW food is expensive I wouldn't pay $10 for a fast food burger anywhere else but to us it's part of the experience & we always use DDP wether we buy it or get it free. The sit down meals are ridiculous sometimes in their prices we would never get those dining experiences here at home so again very grateful for DDP!

Some places that I think are worth it & prices are pretty fair would be. Wolf Gang Puck Express in DTD and Earl of sandwich also in DTD and some of the food courts are ok

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Old 05-01-2013, 10:03 AM   #12
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I am from the NYC area and eat out at nice "foodie" type restaurants (for work or on my own) and overall I feel like most table service restaurants at WDW are pretty good (buffets are more hit or miss).

I will say that you will pay a bit more there vs. a NYC restaurant of comparable quality - so just know that going in.

If you are constantly thinking "well, that was pretty good, but I could have gotten the same meal in NYC for 20% cheaper" or whatever, then you will feel like the meals aren't worth it. Just keep in mind that when you are at an amusement park, stadium, etc. the food will be more expensive
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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
"What contemptible scoundrel stole the cork from my lunch?" - A Dining Review 10/24/09 - 10/31/09
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Old 05-01-2013, 10:05 AM   #13
Donna in NJ
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My husband and I are food snobs. We live an hour out side of NYC and have tried many wonderful places in the City. When I met my husband he was a corporate caterer. We watch PBS food show on Sunday and Food network all the time. I love tring new recipes. We have always been on the Disney Deluxe dining and have tried all of the Signatures. Artist point and California grill were the only 2 I would repeat if I was not on a dining plan. My husband would pick The yachtsman. At the yachtsman they have several large steaks that are good but only the strip steak is prime beef and the difference in taste is huge. Non signatures I would recommend Tuto Italia and the Grand Floridian Cafe.
I have never had a desert I would pay for if we were not on the dining plan. There are alot of good deserts but nothing that I have ever said I need that recipe.
To be honest as someone who considers myself a foodie if I was not on a dining plan I would only order appetizer in most restaurants.The appetizers are almost always the only items we eat I ask for the recipe for. Our favorite is on the lunch menu at Tutto Italia. The Antipasto for 2 is out of this world. The eggplant caponata I tried to make but theirs is so much better.
My other advice if the dish is something that you cook yourself very well I would not order it. When I make french onion soup I cook out the stock all day and caramelized the onions for hours without adding sugar to speed it up. I always hear how great the french onion soup at chefs de france is. To me it tasted watery and over sweet but lacked any deep flavors.
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Old 05-01-2013, 10:07 AM   #14
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Well if you're foodies I recommend:

Bluezoo, Yachtsmen (not the filet, but the NY Strip), Il Mulino, Citricos, Flying Fish

Epcot, Mr. Paul, Via Napoli for casual Italian, Cava ? (Tequila Bar)

Everywhere else it's theme park food, not top notch but some quite acceptable and you have to accept paying higher prices without the better quality! Some places like Sci-Fi, etc. the food is decent enough to enjoy the themed experience!

One thing to remember, you're not on an epicurian expedition, it's theme parks!
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Old 05-01-2013, 10:17 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Donna in NJ View Post
My husband and I are food snobs. We live an hour out side of NYC and have tried many wonderful places in the City. When I met my husband he was a corporate caterer. We watch PBS food show on Sunday and Food network all the time. I love tring new recipes. We have always been on the Disney Deluxe dining and have tried all of the Signatures. Artist point and California grill were the only 2 I would repeat if I was not on a dining plan. My husband would pick The yachtsman. At the yachtsman they have several large steaks that are good but only the strip steak is prime beef and the difference in taste is huge. Non signatures I would recommend Tuto Italia and the Grand Floridian Cafe.
I have never had a desert I would pay for if we were not on the dining plan. There are alot of good deserts but nothing that I have ever said I need that recipe.
To be honest as someone who considers myself a foodie if I was not on a dining plan I would only order appetizer in most restaurants.The appetizers are almost always the only items we eat I ask for the recipe for. Our favorite is on the lunch menu at Tutto Italia. The Antipasto for 2 is out of this world. The eggplant caponata I tried to make but theirs is so much better.
My other advice if the dish is something that you cook yourself very well I would not order it. When I make french onion soup I cook out the stock all day and caramelized the onions for hours without adding sugar to speed it up. I always hear how great the french onion soup at chefs de france is. To me it tasted watery and over sweet but lacked any deep flavors.
just to add, we never do the dining plan and often find ourselves splitting meals

For example, at California grill we will get some sushi then each an appetizer, maybe split an entree and split a dessert

Another non-signatures I would recommend are Ragland Road (we like the Pate and the bread pudding is good). Others are good for the experience (e.g., Rose & Crown is pretty good, but if you go in the evening you get access to their private Illuminations viewing area - that sort of thing)
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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
"What contemptible scoundrel stole the cork from my lunch?" - A Dining Review 10/24/09 - 10/31/09
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