Saturday, January 17, 2009

Fun with Mickey Mouse: the good, the great, and the not so good

Just got back today from a trip to Orlando, we took the kids and I had a work meeting. Don't worry, we had plenty of time to get after it. Honestly, I was a little bit concerned about how it would be. All things considered, I was pleasantly surprised. By resort standards, the Disney conglomerate doesn't gouge you quite to the extent that several others do. here's what we found:

Babysitters are essentially guaranteed can make a hundred bucks every time you call them. If your kids are under the age of four, forget about the kids club.
Eating out is expensive, but you really don't have any choices if you are staying in a Disney resort. Bad food was remarkably expensiFor asleepve, and good food was almost staggering even by New York and San Francisco standards.
Standard amenities in the gift shops was actually cheaper than what I found it other resort hotels. It's hard to get a 20 ounce bottle of Diet Coke at a four-star resort for less than like for five dollars. Mickey charged me two bucks.
The other huge positive about every one of the restaurants that we went to was that they cateredvery much towards kids. Even restaurants with $40 entrees still had Mickey Mouse pasta with butter, and they acted like they couldn't care less if the kids slung pasta all over the whole restaurant. Kids screaming and unhappy? Don't worry about it, it's par for the course. This aspect might make the childless think twice about it. For us, it was perfect.

Big River. I assumed that this might be similar to the one in Chattanooga. It's not. The food here really wasn't very good. They did have their own brewed beer which was fine. I got a chicken breast penne pasta with a red sauce that was terrible. $16.

Flying Fish. One of the highlights of the trip. Also, one of the more expensive ventures. They had a great wine list, and a very well and thoughtfully prepared assortment of seafood. We started with yellowfin tartare which was about average. I'm not really that convinced that the tuna was sashimi grade. They did put it together very nicely. I had tilefish which was cooked to near perfection, had a great sauce with it, I loved it. The wife had perfectly cooked scallops on a wonderful risotto. We had a bottle that at this point I can't remember what it was except it was too chocolatey and didn't go very well with our meal.

Artists Pointe. This one was really good, and they had their sauces down cold. But what really failed us was their wine list. Maybe it's because I don't know that much about Oregon and Washington state lines, other than to know that they make good Pinot Noir and that occasionally hit on a good Cabernet Sauvignon, particularly in the form of a blend which you can get at a good value. They really need a sommelier to help bring you what you want. Our waiter failed us. I asked for a not terribly fruity blend of something, and wound up with 65% Merlot that was very fruit forward. Think Hawaiian Punch. The second bottle we went with was a Hogue 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon which was awesome. As far as food went, they had wonderful food. For some dumb reason I ordered vension spring rolls, I don't know what I was expecting but I didn't get it. They had a great mushroom soup that I'm going to try and think about reproducing. Think portobello mushrooms smoked and grilled, puréed in a thick vegetable stock probably augmented with cream, finished off with bacon and creme fraiche. the signature dish there was pacific salmon cooked on cedar planks on a brown butter sauce with honey and white truffle, served with brussels sprouts. It was really great, one of the best dishes I had the whole week.

Portabello (no longer the yacht club). Italian themed at downtown Disney. They had a wonderful selection of antipasti and some of the tastiest calamari that I have had in a while. It was fried in a really nice light batter, and perfectly seasoned. We had a nice bottle of wine (Ruffino Chianti Ducale), and then everything fell apart. Every entree that came out after that was so overly salted that it was almost inedible. The desserts were OK. The espresso was solid, the grappa was better. If they thought that level of saltiness was appropriate, they're mistaken. Maybe it was someone new in the kitchen, and I'd be willing to go back.

All in all, Disney was a success. We did the Magic Kingdom, and the kids and Mama went to Disney studios. We had a lot of fun, and can't wait to go back!!

1 comment:

JW said...

Haven't had much luck at the Disney complexes with food except that I have had some excellent Sushi a multiple occassions...they really cater to the Japs! Quick take picture!

BTW - the simple mushroom soup from the Les Halles Cookbook is money. I use a blend of white button and shitake, top with fresh croutons, and finish with a douse of Sherry and a drizzle of truffle oil. Serve with a fancy cheese sandwich, or as the French would call it a "croque".