Christmas Week Reviews

Discussion in 'Disney Dining Reviews' started by Mainemama, Jan 2, 2017.

  1. Mainemama

    Mainemama DIS Veteran

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    i just returned from a short and sweet Christmas Week trip. I want to share a no picture review for those interested. We booked this trip last minute, and booked our restaurants within 19 days of eating. Obviously, that limited availability and steered us to a few more counter service meals than we normally would eat (we tend to like 2 sit down meals a day), but we were very happy with all our experiences. We split up for some meals.
    12/26 breakfast Garden Grill
    12/26 dinner holiday booths in Epcot and Bongos quick service
    12/27 lunch Grand Floridian Cafe
    12/27 dinner Flying Fish
    12/28 breakfast Les Halle's pastries
    12/28 lunch Lottawatta Lodge and hot dog stand at Blizzard Beach
    12/28 dinner Mama Melrose
    12/29 lunch Sanaa
    12/29 dinner holiday booths in Epcot
    12/30 breakfast repeat of Les Halle's pastries
    12/30 lunch Grand Floridian Cafe (this was an intentional, not desperation 2nd meal)
    12/30 dinner Beach Club Marketplace
    I will begin the review shortly!

    ETA: My family has several food allergies. DH is gluten intolerant and avoids dairy and beans. ODD has multiple food allergies: peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, chicken, turkey, sesame, sunflower, buckwheat, and lentil. Interesting to note that this was the only trip that her Epi-pen was pulled out during a bag check and the bag checker questioned who needed the Epi-pen. They also opened my glasses case each time. Very thorough!
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2017
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  2. Mainemama

    Mainemama DIS Veteran

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    12/26 Garden Grill Breakfast
    We first enjoyed GG breakfast last year, shortly after they reintroduced breakfast as a meal offering. It immediately became our favorite character breakfast. We used to prioritize 'Ohana, but now would choose GG. 'Ohana is great if staying at the Poly, but we were happier with the service and experience at GG if comparing them to each other. GG works out great for a rope drop of Epcot, time to do TT, SE, and Soaring with a FP before enjoying a late breakfast. This is what we did on 12/26 for our 3rd visit to GG breakfast. We like a later breakfast time, as so far we have ended up with an emptying restaurant, lots of character interaction and great service. We ended up seeing all the characters except for Dale twice (he came by once), and Chip in particular spent lots of time with my 4 year old. Our service was very quick and attentive on this visit.

    As for food...
    My family ordered a range of drinks from coffee to pomegranate lemonade. I was perplexed that none of them wanted POG juice, which is my reason for going to Disney breakfasts. I went ahead and drank 2 Mason jars full to make up for their deficiency. Our server brought new drinks without us requesting them. This was a trend this trip.

    The meal starts with a sticky bun bake and fruit. Our server brought 2 bowls of fruit immediately for our table of 5, which was appreciated as we usually eat a whole bowl in short order. This was a nice mix with ample raspberries and strawberries, pineapple, red grapes, and cantaloupe and honeydew. The sticky bun bake was less appealing. It was a smaller skillet and different flavor than our last two visits. It was not very sweet and was kind of dry and flavorless. In the past, this was my favorite part of the meal, but we just picked at it this trip. I am wondering if they changed the recipe, or if it was just a bad batch. I think we got a skillet for 3, as 2 of my family members have allergies that prohibit this dish. In the past, though, we were served a large skillet of buns for the 3 of us that can eat it. My DH was brought an allergy friendly blueberry muffin. He picked at this, as it was also dry.

    Almost immediately after our "first course" was served, we got the family style platter. We also got an allergy friendly platter with the allergy waffles and no eggs. This comes with scrambled eggs (flavorless, but outstanding when topped with the in house made salsa provided), Mickey Waffles with hazelnut chocolate sauce (delicious, of course), bacon (this was crispy for once!), sausage (very good), and potato barrels (aka tater tots). These potato barrels are actually what my ODD looks forward to more than anything else on our Disney trips. We surprised our kids with this trip on Christmas Day (and left 2 hours later for the airport.) Literally, her response was "We are going to Disney today? Potato Barrels!!!!! Clearly, I do not feed my kids tater tots at home. Anyway, I finally understood her joy this meal, as they ended up being my favorite part of the meal, too, now that the Cinnamon Bake was not so great. We requested refills of a couple items and they came quickly.

    We paid and headed out before the restaurant made one full rotation. This is a great easy character meal for those that like family style!
     
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  4. Shanti

    Shanti Momketeer

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    How was crowding on the 27th and 28th? Thinking of going on those days next year prior to our DCL cruise.

    Also, I see you went to Blizzard Beach. How were the weather and crowds there?
     
  5. kastoney

    kastoney Disney foodie served with a side of sarcasm

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    Hi there! How fun to take a last minute surprise Christmas trip. Sounds amazing! Glad GG was a good start to the trip. We had the same issue with the sticky bun bake it was exceedingly dry. I've read a few other similar reviews. My guess is they are premaking them and then just reheating and that is drying them out.
     
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  6. Mainemama

    Mainemama DIS Veteran

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    We have been in the parks on the 27th and 28th in 2016 and 2015. Very different crowd experiences. Super busy in 2015, reasonably busy this year. We are used to peak crowds, but our resort was at 50% capacity, and the crowds and lines were noticeably smaller this year. There isn't much predicting what will be true next December. I enjoyed both trips equally. I say go for it, but familiarize yourself with the most extreme crowd possibilities, and have a (simple) game plan for high crowds. Blizzard Beach was awesome! It was our first try. We lucked out with wether in the mid 80s. (And last year the same week was above 90, actually too hot.) Those temps are unusual, though. The crowds weren't bad. There were a lot of people (chairs and lounges mostly full after 11), but the lines for big slides maxed out at about 10 minutes. And sometimes were walk on. The wave pool was very crowded. Bus transportation both to and from BB was on an empty bus! (Arrived at 10:15 and left at 3:30). That was a theme this trip, we never had to stand!

    Hi @kastoney! Welcome! Sorry my reports are picture free, unlike your gorgeous ones. The family is not into pics or posting them, so you will have to use your imagination.
     
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  7. Mainemama

    Mainemama DIS Veteran

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    12/26 Holiday Booths in Epcot

    The boys and girls split up this evening. The boys went to see Rogue 1 in Disney Springs. Our YDD, though indoctrinated in Star Wars, is still too young for this. I opted for an Epcot World showcase evening, as it is my favorite part of WDW, and I feared we wouldn't make it to WS except on this night. Spoiler... this was the first of 3 nights spent strolling WS. My ODD decided at the last minute to skip the movie and come with us. She loves seeing movies, but she loves kakigori even more. (Also the first of 3). She actually measures our trip lengths in kakigori + dole whips? This trip was a relatively short one for us. 3 kakigori + 1 Dole Whip. She claims her record is 6 + 3. On to the food.

    Boys got a Cuban beef plate at Bongos (the take out CS, not the restaurant) and loved it. This was served shredded with rice and pickled plantains. YDD was not a fan of the plantains, but is ready to try the restaurant next trip. He ordered a kids meal (either chicken nuggets or fried fish), but regretted his order, because the beef was so good. Thankfully, DH shared. This was a great gluten free counter service option.

    Epcot introduced the holiday booths this year, and it was a fantastic addition. We are never able to travel during Food and Wine or Flower and Garden, so it was a nice taste of what that experience must be like. There were fewer booths, but we enjoyed them!

    I stopped at the Alpine Hous for the cheese Fondue. This was out of this world. It was only $8, but ended up being my dinner for the evening. (I had planned to continue eating, but it filled me up.) This was a wonderful fondue. It was clearly made with good quality cheese. It came in a bread bowl, with the hunks removed from inside on the plate. These were either a bit stale or toasted, but a perfect texture to dunk in the cheese. There were also 3 each of steamed baby potatoes, carrots, and zucchini strips. The veggies were lightly seasoned and perfectly cooked. I do not eat cooked carrots ever, but these were so good. It was a treat to get fresh veggies! I felt so healthy eating my huge bowl of cheese.
    The only problem with this dish was here was still a fair amount of fondue left in the bowl after I demolished the dunking pieces. Thank goodness we had stopped at Les Halle's to stock up on chocolate frangiapanes and a baguette. The pastries were for breakfast the next day, but the baguette was for my ODD now. She saw me looking greedily at it and good girl that she is, ripped me off a chunk. Then. Ate the bowl, and now you know why I was done for the night!

    I had carried my fondue to Japan, in order to purchase kakigori of course (always rainbow, always delicious). We ended up sitting in the little garden above he kakigori stand. This was perfect, away from the busier "street", surrounded by beautiful plants, and within ear shot of the Candlelight Processional. Truly heaven. My 4 year old was asleep in the stroller at this point, but luckily woke up before the kakigori was gone. That prevented me from have not to buy another one, as she had expected to eat one. The only time we ever got her her own it ended up upside down in the stroller, so I was hoping to avoid that.

    Our next stop was the American Holiday booth. My ODD was interested in the pork tenderloin. I asked about allergy preparation, and there was a chef right in the booth who offered to do plain pork (it had some sort of a glaze finish) with sweet potatoes. No green beans, as they were tossed with a dressing. That had no allergens, but he was concerned, as the sauce wasn't prepared In the booth, so he couldn't be sure. We happily payed $11 for this meal. This was also excellent. My daughter does not eat sweet potatoes, but they were good. They were cut like fries, but were moist and lightly seasoned. The pork was fantastic. It was plain, but still tasted great. My YDD ate 1 slice and ODD ate the rest (about 5 more).

    The holiday offerings we had were very much a stand alone meal, which was more than I was expecting.

    We ended the night with a Schofferhoffer for me. Amazing, as always. As YDD hadn't eaten much, just the slice of pork and a hunk of baguette, I gave her full reign of the caramel shop. She choose a caramel apple. She waffled between chocolate covered or caramel, and thankfully made the right choice. She is also a good girl and shared with me. Crisp apple, perfect caramel. My only complaint is that the caramel was cold, so it basically came right off the apple. They cut it into 4 pieces, each pretty large, so we went home with half an apple. That made an excellent breakfast a couple days later.

    We strolled around World Showcase and back to our resort (Beach Club) after that treat!
     
  8. kabbie

    kabbie DIS Veteran

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    What time was your GG breakfast ADR - I am wanting to do a later time (sometime between 10-10:30), but am concerned that the characters will leave before the breakfast ends.
     
  9. Mainemama

    Mainemama DIS Veteran

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    We have eaten there at 9:55 and 10:15. The characters have never left, and there has been a CM ensuring we met them. We have been the 2nd to last table, eating in an empty restaurant two times. They did come before any of our food once. Because of the linear set up (circular really), it would be pretty hard for them to miss a table. Unlike a buffet, you are a captive audience, so they simply progress around in order.
     
  10. Mainemama

    Mainemama DIS Veteran

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    12/27 lunch at Grand Floridian Cafe
    GFC has been very consistent for us over multiple trips. Today was no exception. We have a well oiled routine of hitting MK for rope drop (today was at 7:00 am), using our FPs and rolling out of MK and onto a boat to GF right as the big crowds walk in. We did 10 rides this "level 10" day (it didn't feel that crowded, though), and arrived early at 11:15 for our ADR. We were seated quickly, and the restaurant had some open tables. The GFC menu has been changed quite a bit in the last year. They now offer breakfast or lunch throughout the day. We are entrenched in our lunch habit, though, so the additional offerings don't tempt us. It might be nice for parties with separate tastes, though.

    I ordered the shrimp Caesar. This is served in a high sided bowl and is delicious. Crisp lettuce, balanced dressing with fresh shaved Parmesan, and charred shrimp still warm. It manages to be refreshing and filling at the same time. I also got the raspberry mega berry smoothie, and it was lovely as always. I do miss that it used to have whipped cream on top, but I haven't seen that in a while.

    My DS ordered the chicken Caesar and it was equally delicious.

    YDD ordered the pizza. At home, she only eats the cheese, but here, she ate a good portion of the crust, too. It is either good or she was really hungry. Breakfast was just pop tarts at the bus stop, so probably the latter.

    ODD wanted a kids burger, but they didn't have one on the menu. In fact, the old Grand Floridian burger (of the lobster topped fame), was gone, too. DH was so sad, but I wasn't as the last few times I had it, the lobster was pretty bad. The new burger was a Wagu beef burger. You could add butter poached lobster for an additional charge of $8. That made it a $30+ burger, so DH skipped it in favor of the Cobb salad. He enjoyed this. ODD was easily accommodated with a burger and fries, as the waitress said it would be easy for them to make one.

    We learned an important allergy lesson here. ODD's burger was served with no bun. I requested a bun ( she eats regular buns here and everywhere all the time.) the waitress brought the chef out who explained that she couldn't have the gluten free buns because they had another of her allergens in them (egg or something else, I can't recall.) We explained she can eat a regular wheat bun. Apparently, when you make a reservation with notes on allergies, they get sent back to the kitchen as all for 1 diner. We had reviewed with our waitress the specific allergens for each person, but the chef still saw all of the allergens for 1 person. DH is gluten free, ODD is not. This taught us a valuable lesson. We now book only indicating our ODD's allergies, then communicate our DH's when needed in person. This worked much better for the rest of he trip, and explained past confusions about why ODD wasn't given some things we knew she could eat.

    Service here was gracious and timely. Another win for GFC, a good thing, as DH now wants to eat here twice a trip (even on 4 day trips!)
     
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  11. Stefecatzz

    Stefecatzz "If nothing changed, there'd be no butterflies."

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    Thanks for the reviews! Looking forward to the rest of them for your Christmas week. That must've been exciting for you & your family to plan a last minute Christmas trip!

    I always have enjoyed Garden Grill for dinner. Not sure how it is now since I looked at the menu & it looks like they no longer serve the steak for dinner & they have the sausage instead which is a big disappointment since that was what I most looked forward to. I think it may be time to give another TS in Epcot a try since there are a few I haven't tried yet. Chefs De France & LeCellier top the list, even if I just stick to a soup & app for the meal. :)

    I had my past trip in early December and tried the blackened catfish at the southern booth at Epcot which was So Good! It was nice that they served full sized meal portions for the booths.

    The GF Cafe has been on my list for a while now to try for lunch. GF is my Mom's favorite place to stay & she always talks about having good meals there from her past trips. I look forward to trying the french onion soup since that is one of my favorite things to eat!
     
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  12. Mainemama

    Mainemama DIS Veteran

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    12/27 dinner Flying Fish
    One of the downsides of a last minute trip that we turned into an upside is the limited choices for dinner ADRs for tables of 5. Don't get me wrong, there were ADRs available, but choice was limited. Either the time or location tended to be unpopular. We like to eat early, in the 5:00 range, for dinner. This worked to our advantage, as we did have choices. However, many of them were unfamiliar restaurants. Flying Fish was on my short list for restaurants to try after we stayed at the Boardwalk during its refurbishment. My interest was piqued, and DH said go for it when I expressed my hesitation at booking a signature. Other than Le Cellier for lunch and California Grill with my older kids, this was our first signature experience. We called it his Christmas present to me.

    We checked in after walking over from the Beach Club. The small waiting area was packed, so I took the kids outside for a bit until a bench opened up in the waiting e wait was short, though, and we were led to a lovely table just beyond the awesome banquette tables. The glass Fish overhead are really stunning. Our service from the start was exceptional.

    I started with a blood orange magharita. I am always in search of great margheritas, and this was the best I have had in WDW. Yes, even better than the amazing avocado margarita. It was on the rocks, sugar rimmed, but tart enough that it wasn't overpowering, like the nasty margaritas from Joe's stand on the Boardwalk. My DH ordered a wine flight. He asked the waiter for a recommendation based on his meal choices. I believe it was the old world and he enjoyed it. It came with 1 white and 2 reds.

    For apps, I had the tuna, served in a spicy char crust (but completely rare except for very thin edge), over avocado, pickled watermelon, and radish. It was beautiful, bright, and delicious. We were able to share this around the table, with picky kids eating just the tuna, and the rest of us enjoying all of the flavors. The parts were wonderful both separately and composed.

    My DH ordered an app, too, but I can't recall exactly what. I believe it was the mission fig salad. Whatever it was was equally delicious, but I was busy swooning, so I missed it.

    My entree was the scallops with grits. I hesitated on this, as I adore scallops, but do not like grits. Turns out I love Flying Fish grits. Enough that I could eat just grits and be happy. The scallops were lightly cooked, slightly rare in the middle. The sauce had citrus and was so good. The grits had diced veggies, and I practically licked my plate clean. There was a generous amount of large scallops. I was able to share with DH and the kids (who love scallops) without getting territorial.

    DH had the prawns, sea bass, and key west shrimp. This was very good. Each Fish was cooked perfectly. This whole plate got shared and wiped clean, too.

    ODD ordered a sirloin steak off the kids menu. My DH almost let her order the bison off the adult menu, but I managed to intervene there. She was totally fine with that switch. The chef didn't explain the $30 price difference, but luckily I had looked at the menu! The sirloin was great, not tough, and she ate it all. She was able to get fries and broccoli. She also ordered hot tea (my kids always want hot drinks when it is hot out! It was mid 80s when we headed into dinner,) She had a choice of blends and chose a black tea with citrus notes. She loved this, and felt very grown up, as it came with it's own little pot of water. YDD had pizza. It was exactly the same as everywhere and she liked it.

    DS started to get into a bit of an entitled mood here. This built throughout the trip. He wanted to order off the adult menu. We convinced him to order the kids Fish and chips, which he did love, and we shared our meals with him. I can see on future trips, we need to set very clear rules on what he can order, as he is an order the most expensive item kid. I am okay with that to a point, but we just can't afford $40 entrees for a 9 year old! I offered to share with him after that, but he seemed to think that meant he could pick what he wanted and give me a bite.
    He has actually offered to use his spending money on sushi, as he would rather order fine food than but a souvenir.

    By the time we finished our meals, my YDD needed to leave the table. The meal was not terribly slow, but this was a signature, and she had been very still and very good. I decided not to press our luck with a dessert course and took her out to the Boardwalk to find ice cream. ODD came, too, while DS and DH stayed for dessert.

    They panned the desserts. DH ordered the chocolate gluten free dessert, and DS had the deconstructed s'mores. They both felt the desserts were trying to hard. They were pretty to look at, but just not that good.

    The girls had the best luck. We went to Ample Hills. My ODD had a scoop of strawberry and YDD had a scoop of chocolate. Their smalls are huge! I was going to get something sweet somewhere else, but my YDD could only eat half of hers, so I finished it, and it was plenty to share. The chocolate has little bits of chocolate in it. We were trying to figure out toppings, and the CM ended up giving us a bowl of sprinkles and little m and ms. It was very funny. The girls then picked individual toppings out of the bowl all night long! I did see and file mentally for the next trip that you can get a flight of ice cream for $9.00. (Smalls were $6.00.) the flights had 6 mini scoops in a circle. It would be perfect to share and fun to try lots of flavors.

    Allergy note: the only 2 flavors that do not have egg are strawberry, and the lemon ginger sorbet. My ODD tried that one and decided it was too tart (and she loves tart.)
     
  13. Mrallison83

    Mrallison83 Earning My Ears

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    I have got to make it down for Christmas one year! Thanks for the post
     
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