Magic Happens, and Then You EAT: Our Gluttonous *Year of the Dragon* COMPLETE!!

Discussion in 'Disney Dining Reviews' started by iloveeeyore, May 6, 2012.

  1. iloveeeyore

    iloveeeyore DIS Veteran

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    This would be our last night in WDW, and why not kick it off right with a little relaxation at the Tambu Lounge?!

    Aladdin and I left Belle and Herc to have their last swim in the volcano while we went off in hopes of tropical deliciousness and the promise of maybe meeting some other DISers.

    We had to wait a little while for seats at the bar, as the place was pretty busy (around 5:30?). We didn't mind, because we had the time. Our bar tender was Walter and he is apparently a master mixologist, and also very friendly!

    For our first round, we chose a Pina Colava and a Malibu Macaw:
    [​IMG]
    Aside from the gorgeous presentation, these drinks tasted amazing! Aladdin and I were in tropical paradise with an amazing view of the castle!

    At some point, Dani (disneydreamin247) came over and introduced herself and her little guy. So nice and it was great to meet another DISer in person! She and her family were dining at 'Ohana that night, so sadly they couldn't hang with us for long, but it was a terrific few moments!

    Aladdin and I weren't quite ready to tear ourselves away from Tambu just yet, so we ordered one more drink to split, the Island Sunset:
    [​IMG]
    Delicious! We can't even decide which of these 3 drinks we preferred. They were all truly amazing.

    You see Hula Eeyore in these photos because he was my TR mascot, and we wanted other DISers to be able to ID us when they saw Eeyore at the bar!

    Our total bill came to $29.77 for these 3 drinks, $24.77 + $5 tip. This was $30 well-spent, folks.

    Hands down:
    [​IMG]
    5/5 for Tambu! The only thing wrong with this place is that we ever have to leave!

    After drinks it was time to go back to the room and finish packing and prepare for our last dinner at California Grill!
     
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  3. MainStreetFireman

    MainStreetFireman DIS Veteran

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    ...we were there right now. Seriously though, I could go there every night. Easily! :thumbsup2
     
  4. jmm476

    jmm476 DIS Veteran

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    That's too funny that you named your cats and have never been to their character meal! No, I've never eaten at Kona. It's on the list of places to try, but 'Ohana always seems to win out. Probably because of the "all you can eat" aspect, even though I've never asked for seconds of anything! :rotfl:

    I agree, the noodles are really tasty as well. I could make a meal of the potstickers, noodles and salad and forget everything else.
     
  5. iloveeeyore

    iloveeeyore DIS Veteran

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    Me too!!! Seriously, no matter where we stay, Tambu is worth the trip!

    We have asked for more salad, wings, noodles and shrimp...but not at the same seating ;).
     
  6. iloveeeyore

    iloveeeyore DIS Veteran

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    Sadly, we were packed and ready for our last dinner! :(

    But we had such a magical experience at CG last time we dined here (summer 2010) that we were really excited about this meal, despite all the gluttony of the week leading up to it.

    We were lead to a table to the left of the entry way, around the kitchen counter and in the middle of the room (close to kitchen, not windows). This area had a completely different feel to it than where we had sat before, which was nearer the windows on the MK side of the restaurant. Our table this time made us feel like there was nothing particularly special about the setting or the atmosphere of the restaurant. If we hadn't had such a great table last time, we may not have known the difference.

    As soon as our server came over and introduced himself to us, we explained that we wanted to go outside about 10 minutes before Wishes so we could see it well. We explained that it was our last night and we really wanted to enjoy our last fireworks. He said "Don't worry, I know a secret place where you can watch it and you don't have to leave 10 minutes early...I'll take care of you."

    Let me say, there was something about our server that really put us all off. He was outwardly friendly and smiley, but...we can't quite put our finger on it, he was...edgy? sarcastic? We didn't talk about it when we were there, but when we left, we all shared that we all got the same feeling. Like he was resentful or angry toward us, though we know there's no reason for that, so it doesn't really make any sense. Anyway, I can't really say he was bad or our service was slow or bad in any way...it was just something under the surface of his attitude. Maybe he was fighting with someone else and trying to cover it up?

    Anyway, so the server, combine with the seating, kind of started us off on the wrongish foot. No matter, onto the food!

    Delicious sour dough bread with butter:
    [​IMG]

    Hercules went with the artisan cheeses:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    This was gorgeously presented and a beautiful selection as well. It was our second favorite cheese plate of the trip (after Yachtsman), and I ended up ordering another for dessert!

    Triple Cheese Flatbread:
    [​IMG]
    This was so good! We all love pesto, and this had just the right amount!

    Crispy Rock Shrimp Salad:
    [​IMG]
    This was disappointing. I had read such rave reviews about this salad, but mine was just OK. The shrimp were not that freshly fried, meaning they weren't hot or crispy, and the greens were a little bit soggy.

    Spicy Kazan Roll:
    [​IMG]
    This is was very very good, but we felt it wasn't as magically delicious as last time. It is one of my favorite sushi items on the planet, though I have to say my local sushi place makes some awesome specialty rolls that are about as good.

    Now, our menu says we also had a Goat Cheese Ravioli appetizer, and Hercules says he remembers it and it was delicious, but I don't have any photos. It's possible that this cheese plate was the only one we had and it was dessert...now I'm not too sure. I don't know why I wouldn't have a photo of the ravioli?

    After our appetizers, it was getting really close to 10 PM, and I was getting nervous about our view of Wishes. I flagged down our server to tell him we were going out, and he was like "trust me, you have plenty of time..." He told us where to go, around the elevators and down the long hall "I promise, no one else will be there, you will have a private view, you can wait another few minutes..." Well, good thing we didn't wait until the last minute...we went out at around 5 minutes to 10, and let me tell you, that balcony was CROWDED, and our view was not very good. I felt sad for the people who came out after us, because I doubt they could see the castle at all. We enjoyed Wishes, but were feeling a little duped.

    We went back for our next course, the entrees.

    Belle ordered the Seared Scallops with Risotto:
    [​IMG]
    She really loved these. The scallops were cooked perfectly, so tender and buttery. It wasn't her favorite preparation of scallops ever (this honor goes to Artist Point), but the preparations are always changing seasonally anyway. This was one of her favorite meals of the trip!

    Hercules went with the Veal Chop:
    [​IMG]
    He enjoyed this, but wasn't completely wow-ed. It didn't live up to his expectations based upon his last meal here, which was a seasonal salmon preparation and was heavenly, possibly the best thing he's ever tasted.

    Aladdin chose the Oak-fired Filet of Beef:
    [​IMG]
    He enjoyed this, but it "didn't even come close" in his words, to his meal at Yachtsman. He says the filet was "on par" with the filet part of his Surf & Turf at Narcoossee's.

    I ordered the entree I had been dreaming of for two years, the Grilled Pork Tenderloin:
    [​IMG]
    Again, a delicious dish, but not quite as magical as before...is it because it was prepared slightly differently? Sitting on the counter under a lamp for a few minutes? Or was I jaded from the week of gluttony...the bad table...the weird server...or having had this before? I honestly wish I could answer this question...

    For dessert, we ordered one Banana Caramel:
    [​IMG]
    This was truly delicious!

    Cheesecake:
    [​IMG]
    I don't remember anything about this! Don't know what flavor it was. The menu on Allears says Mango Goat Cheesecake, but I can't imagine anyone in my family ordering this!

    Finally, the amazing Valrhona Chocolate Cake:
    [​IMG]
    This is the best of its kind. Absolutely decadent!

    I had a glass of wine and our tip was $65. OOP we paid $84.17, and it would have been $412.01 without DxDP.

    Even though our meal wan't as magically on par with our first experience here, it still earns a:
    [​IMG]
    4/5!

    Coming up...breakfast at CP!
     
  7. WDWaddictt

    WDWaddictt DIS Veteran

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    I am joining along and all caught up now.

    Sounds like you really had some pluses and failures. Too many to comment on, but I have enjoyed your reviews.

    Thanks for sharing!
     
  8. iloveeeyore

    iloveeeyore DIS Veteran

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    Oh, thank you so much for reading! I'm glad you've enjoyed my report.

    You LUCKY DUCK!! I am so jealous of your ticker!!! Have a magical stay at AKV!! :goodvibes
     
  9. iloveeeyore

    iloveeeyore DIS Veteran

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    This was our departure day, and we were feeling really bitter sweet, happy to have had such a wonderful trip, but so sad to leave! Last time we were in WDW, we talked about the idea of starting our departure day with an early entrance into MK and a nice character meal...hence our ADR at Crystal Palace.

    Our only other experience at CP was a great one in 2001, dinner before MNSSHP. We had been so busy trying out other restaurants for dinner, and very rarely, if ever, find the time to schedule a breakfast ADR, so we just hadn't made it back. But our last few trips we have been noticing how hard it is to find Eeyore in the parks anywhere. We...well...Hula Eeyore and I...really wanted to see Eeyore, so we went for it!

    We entered the park a little before 8 and made our way up an almost empty Main Street to CP. We were seated shortly at a lovely window table.

    Hula Eeyore met Eeyore:
    [​IMG]
    He was not disappointed. The long-awaited meeting was everything he dreamed it would be!


    I only have a few pics of the food here. The sun was streaming through the gorgeous windows, which made for a beautiful setting but made it really tough to take photos! These are the best I've got.

    Sorry, this one is really overexposed:
    [​IMG]
    This is a biscuit with gravy (nothing special but hot and fresh), Mickey waffle, and some kind of pre-made egg concoction that was good.

    The famous puffed french toast, which was so scrumptious, but more like a doughnut than french toast:
    [​IMG]
    Also red grapes, breakfast potato casserole and ham and cheese? fritata.

    Breakfast Lasagna:
    [​IMG]
    When I hear the words "breakfast lasagna" my mind imagines a savory dish with eggs, potatoes, cheese, maybe some veggies. But this is really a fruity bread pudding. Not what I would expect, but being the bread pudding fan that I am, I really enjoyed this. I think I had another spoonful!

    Quite a few servings of the lasagna and puffed french toast were enjoyed by my family, and many more Mickey waffles than necessary for 4 people. But heck...we were nearing the end of our gluttonous adventure, without any return trip in sight. We owed it to ourselves to make the most of this!! Made-to-order eggs and omelettes were available, as well as all kinds of meats and pancakes. We just focused more on the unique items.

    I have to give a shout out to our amazing server Eneida, who made sure our coffee mugs were filled and our plates cleared in a timely manner (we surely put her to work on this tall order ;)), and she even filled our refillable mugs before we left. The coffee was good here, too, we thought, better than typical Disney coffee, so we thought. Maybe it was just the beautiful setting!


    We saw all the characters, ate ourselves puffed-er than the french toast, and when we exited the restaurant at 9:05, we were already at the castle end of mainstreet, pretty much ahead of the throngs.

    Our bill would have been $136.98, but we paid $22 OOP for the tip.

    Rating for Crystal Palace:
    [​IMG]
    4/5! I think if this had been our FIRST morning instead of our last, our spirits might have been just high enough to give it a 5, even! We will happily return to CP again, and we especially loved the breakfast, since it enabled us to enter MK before RD.

    Next up...some snacks in MK and our final meal at Kona Cafe :sad:
     
  10. WDWaddictt

    WDWaddictt DIS Veteran

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    I like CP, but I don't find anything really special here. This will be the first time we are not going there, on our upcoming trip because we are going to try BOG for supper instead.

    Yah! Tomorrow we are surprising the kids and leaving for Disney! Can't wait!

    Thanks for sharing in your review, it has made me look forward to a few. Can't wait to hear about Kona, because we are going there for our first time.
     
  11. emmysmommy

    emmysmommy DIS Veteran

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    Oh no! Sorry your CG dinner was not as spectacular as before. It definitely sounds like from the waiter to the table location to the food something just wasn't right. I agree with you about the pork. I've ordered that the last 2 or 3 times and I'm ready for something different. (I suppose with the restaurant rehab and menu changes there should be some great choices.)

    We've viewed Wishes from the back terrace before and it hasn't been crowded... I suppose the secret it now out and more and more people go there. Darn that waiter for holding you back from going sooner!

    Oh, and I loved the caramel banana dessert - one of the few that I have really enjoyed at CG.

    Glad to see that hula Eeyore met Eeyore at CP!! That is an adorable photo!!

    Now that your TR is winding down I see another trip in your future.... ::yes:: Yes?
     
  12. jude&jonah

    jude&jonah Mouseketeer

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    I loved loved loved your reviews and read each one! Thank you so much!
     
  13. iloveeeyore

    iloveeeyore DIS Veteran

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    Kona coming up today. Sorry it's probably not up in time to help you! Hope your trip is going perfectly!

    Our experience this time at CG wasn't perfect, but certainly not bad by any means, and we will certainly give it another try after the rehab. It just didn't meet our expectations, and our dinners at Yachtsman and Citricos were both better this trip, though it's hard to decide if they were better than our LAST time at CG. I think not.

    The trip won't happen in the near future because we have so many other things going on in our family, but at least we will have a ticker! Stay tuned!

    I'm so glad you loved my report!! Thanks for reading! I can't wait until I can provide another for you. Meantime, please stay tuned for Kona Cafe...
     
  14. iloveeeyore

    iloveeeyore DIS Veteran

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    By our last day, we still had so many snack credits left, we didn't know what to do with them! We weren't hungry after breakfast at CP, and we wanted to save some room for lunch at Kona, but far be it from us to allow perfectly good snack credits to go to waste! We decided instead to let them go to our waists! ;)

    We always go to Aloha Isle for Dole Whips, and we thought perhaps we ought to give Sunshine Tree Terrace a try. We got a lemonade and a Citrus Swirl:
    [​IMG]
    We thought this was very, very good and refreshing, but not as great for us as a Pineapple Dole Whip. It was pretty creamsicle-like. If you like a creamsicle, you should enjoy this!

    Here is the lemonade and a little something extra that Belle went OOP for:
    [​IMG]
    An Orange Bird cup! So retro and adorable! I don't have a receipt, but Aladdin thinks it was around $5. She loves this little thing and it sits on the desk in her dorm now, a lovely souvenir of our trip.

    On our way out of the park, we stopped by the Main Street Confectionary to grab some transportable snacks for the trip home :(. Unfortunately, we only have a photo of one:
    [​IMG]
    This is the Vanilla Mickey Mouse Cake Pop. We loved this! It was so nice and moist! There were many different colored sugar toppings and also I think different chocolate toppings to choose from. This one had milk and white chocolate. We have no pictures of the Mammoth Cashew Patti, Mickey Mouse Gingerbread Cookie, and Mickey Mouse Rice Crispy, all were delicious! We enjoyed these in the airport with tears in our eyes.

    Our rating for this day's MK snacks:
    [​IMG]
    4/5! Yummy!
     
  15. iloveeeyore

    iloveeeyore DIS Veteran

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    Well, it's time for our final meal of the trip, lunch at Kona Cafe! We had eaten lunch here once before several trips ago and were very impressed, so we were excited to try it again!

    We showed up a few minutes early and were seated right away; the place seemed virtually empty. Our server was Pat, who was fabulous, and when she saw me taking photos, she knew right away we were DISers. She was lovely and funny and spent quite a while chatting with us about life in Orlando and working at WDW, which is a lifestyle we imagine trying out at some point in the future. Pat also brought our attention to the harm in writing trip or dining reports that name servers who don't necessarily do a great job. Thank you Pat! I will be very aware and only name the names of those I have nothing but nice things to say about, like you! :)

    The lunch menu at this place is phenomenal, and we had quite a hard time deciding what to order. Pat made some suggestions and they were all wonderful!

    Small Kona Salad:
    [​IMG]
    Delicious! So light and refreshing and packed with flavor!

    Pot Stickers:
    [​IMG]
    Yummy!

    Wings for 2:
    [​IMG]
    Absolutely delicious. We have tried these before at dinner and they did not disappoint. Now we all really, really love 'Ohana, but the pot stickers and wings at Kona are NOT the same...they are even better!!!

    Aladdin's Tuna Sandwich with Sweet Potato Fries:
    [​IMG]
    These sweet potato fries were perfection, and the tuna wasn't overcooked. He loved this. I think this roll is like pineapple bread?

    Belle's Island Chicken Sandwich. Sandwich with Sweet Potato Fries:
    [​IMG]
    She thought this was delicious! It had crispy bacon and just the right amount of cheese (that is to say, a lot) for her!

    Hercules was having a hard time deciding between the between the Fish and Pork Taco, so we got one of each, and he and I split them:

    Pork Taco:
    [​IMG]

    Fish Taco:
    [​IMG]

    They were both delicious! He preferred the pork, and I preferred the fish, but both were greedily devoured. That macaroni salad was just so yummy!

    For dessert, I had the Banana Creme Brulee:
    [​IMG]
    I am a big creme brulee fan, and this is my second favorite ever. My favorite ever is at a small french cafe in NYC, La Bergamot, and it is pistacchio-infused. But Kona's is a VERY close second! There is a chocolate bed on the bottom of this thing, and that banana with the carmelized crust puts this dessert over the top! Excellent!

    Herc ordered the Kilahuea Tort:
    [​IMG]
    This has a liquid center if I remember correctly, his favorite kind of dessert, and he thought this one was really good. He didn't love it as much as Cali Grill's version, but hey, that was a signature dinner.

    Belle went for the Chocolate Fondue:
    [​IMG]
    She enjoyed this.

    Sorry about the blurry pic of Aladdin's Panna Cotta:
    [​IMG]
    I can't find this on any menu, but I'm pretty sure this was a coffee-flavored panna cotta. Honestly, we don't remember too much about it. Maybe that is why it's off the menu.

    Pat brought us a little extra treat, some cookies:
    [​IMG]

    Kona Cafe is really one of our overall favorite restaurants in all of the world, not just WDW. We are big fans of all things Polynesian, so that gives it a little edge for us. The setting is beautiful to us, the service has always been great, the food is delicious, and it really feels like home there. It's even all the more fabulous knowing that we COULD have ordered drinks from Tambu Lounge if we had wanted to. We probably should have...it was one last chance for that trip!

    Our total cost for this feast would have been $151.65, which includes our OOP tip of $24.

    Kona gets a very enthusiastic:
    [​IMG]
    4/5!

    That concludes our dining review! We will be back soon with final thoughts...
     
  16. jmm476

    jmm476 DIS Veteran

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    I love the Kona review! It's definitely on my short list of places to try. Those pot stickers looked so delicious! And the tacos... yum!
     
  17. iloveeeyore

    iloveeeyore DIS Veteran

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    Yes the pot stickers were fabulous and so were the tacos. Those shells are home-made and so special. We will definitely be back. There were so many more things on the menu we want to try!
     
  18. iloveeeyore

    iloveeeyore DIS Veteran

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    Another magical vacation with wonderful dining adventures! We keep hearing how Disney dining is going downhill, but so far, over many trips, we have been lucky not to experience this.

    Overall, our dining experiences met or exceeded our expectations, which could be a function of managing our expectations at a realistic level. With a few oddball exceptions, service was good to excellent, and food was mostly very good to outstanding. Character interaction was tremendous at our few character meals, and we believe this is because we actively engage the characters by making jokes or asking questions, etc.

    And what did we think about the Deluxe Dining Plan? Shockingly, way too much for us! Now, if you have read this and my other reports, you can see that we are people who love dining and have pretty enormous appetites! But this was just too much food, even for us. We rarely felt hungry enough to fully enjoy a three course meal; in fact, we felt overly full most of the time. Yet we would order those 3 courses, because feeling we had paid for it, we had to get it! We won't do deluxe dining again. In the future, I imagine we will just go OOP, unless the promotion is Free Dining. We love the signature restaurants, but probably wouldn't do more than a few per trip, because we felt that signature almost every night made each one a little less special, if that makes sense? Also, we are generally happy sharing a few appies and a few desserts, rather than getting 4 of each. We occasionally enjoy 2 TS per day, but 3 was too much, and we find that CS places in the parks generally fit our needs for a quick bite at times...we actually missed some of our favorite CS places, which we skipped because we felt they weren't a good value on the DxDP. I'm not saying this was a bad experiment, we are really glad we tried it...but now we know it's not for us.

    Here are the prize winners:

    Best breakfast: It's a tie! We LOVED both Kona and Crystal Palace for different reasons, and will absolutely return to both, even though we aren't big breakfast people.

    Best lunch: Via Napoli! This meal was off the charts in every category, and we will be back again and again. Maybe even again. Honorable mentions Kona Cafe and Biergarten, we love these places!

    Best dinner: Yachtsman's Steakhouse! Hands down! This might have been our best dinner on-property ever, or at least tied with our first CG dinner.

    Best snack: Dolewhip swirl float! Honorable mention Carrot Cake Cookie, Mickey Premium Bar.

    Best dish: Truffle Mac & Cheese at Yachtsman Steakhouse. Best. Thing. On. The. Planet. TRUST ME!!

    Worst dish: Poutine at Le Cellier. Dishonorable mention, cupcakes.

    Most pleasantly surprising restaurant: Via Napoli! It totally blew us away! Honorable mention, Liberty Tree Tavern...that's because we weren't expecting much from LTT, and while we weren't blown away, it was a lot better than we thought it would be. I guess Yachtman too. It was fabulous, but it SHOULD be and we pretty much expected it to be.

    Biggest disappointment restaurant: Le Cellier. It was great for the stuff that make it famous, but everything else was pretty bad (see "worst dish"). Dishonorable mention, California Grill, probably because we didn't adequately manage our expectations based on our prior experience, please note, we STILL rate it a 4!

    Biggest Slice-of-Heaven: TAMBU LOUNGE!!!

    Where we WILL DEFINITELY return (someday):
    HDDR
    Via Napoli
    Biergarten
    Kona Cafe (breakfast, lunch or dinner)
    'Ohana (dinner)
    Chef Mickey's (first night tradition)
    Yachtsman Steakhouse
    California Grill
    Crystal Palace 8 am breakfast
    TAMBU!

    This marks the end of my dining report. I'd still be happy to answer any questions! Thanks for reading!
     
  19. MainStreetFireman

    MainStreetFireman DIS Veteran

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    How about Tambu?

    What an unexpected gem that turned out to be! And decent prices to boot!

    More comments from me tomorrow.

    So, where's the new ticker? Summer 2014!
     
  20. jesswindsor

    jesswindsor DIS Veteran

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    Really great report!! I loved following along, I really like your writing style and how you describe what you ate. Not only was your report entertaining but it was also extremly helpful. :)
     
  21. iloveeeyore

    iloveeeyore DIS Veteran

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    See above post where I edited in Tambu. I just didn't know how to include it, but now I think I got it! :goodvibes

    Looking forward to your comments.

    Working on ticker now! :banana::banana::banana::banana:

    Thanks so much! That is very sweet. So glad to have you here! :hippie:
     

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