Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Trip Dining Reviews

Rather than providing a complete play by play of rest of this past January’s trip I am just going to write up a few highlights and reviews. Today I will focus on restaurants including one dining experience that had me frustrated but evening itself ended with a magical moment.

Yak & Yeti: 1st Visit

Dim Sum Basket - Pork pot stickers, shrimp siu mai, cha su bao, and pork sie mai steamed on a banana leaf, soy lime dipping sauce
Tempura Shrimp - chili plum sauce, coconut-ginger rice, stir fried vegetables.

Food: Excellent.

Service: Excellent.

Value: Compared to other Disney restaurants I would have to say this dining choice (which is owed by Rain Forest Café) is a bit over priced. Did not accept Tables in Wonderland but did give a 10% Annual Pass holder Discount.

Would return? Yes

Mama Melrose: 1st Visit

Oven Baked Chicken alla Parmesan over spaghetti

Food: Average

Service: Fair. Waitress gave the impression she was slightly hassled. Unwilling to divide bill into separate tickets on the Tables in Wonderland card. She simply said have others pay you back cash for their portion of the bill. This approach to billing flew in the face of last year’s experience when Rae used her Tables card at Chrystal Palace. At that dinner the waitress rang up our separate bills and then applied Rae’s Tables discount to each ticket. The impression I had at Mama’s was the waitress could have done the same but she did not want to mess with it.

Value: Good serving portion for the money paid.

Would return? Would try other studio offerings such as Brown Derby before a return visit.

LeCellier: 2nd Visit

Canadian Cheddar Cheese Soup
Le Cellier Mushroom Filet Mignon - with wild mushroom risotto, white truffle and herb butter sauce

Food: Excellent

Service: Excellent

Value: A bit pricey at dinner but the simply put the steak and cheese soup cannot be beat. The same entrée at lunch runs $10 dollars cheaper.

Would Return? Yes, Yes and Yes.

Ohana’s: 2nd Visit

All you can eat dinner.

Food: Good

Service: We were seated at 8:00pm for a 6:40pm reservation. The restaurant staff was clearly overwhelmed on the night of our visit. Many patrons were delayed in being seated. The problem (which I did not yet realize) was that water damage from the roof had collapsed the ceiling over a good sized portion of the dining room.

How could Ohana’s have handled the delays better? Well for one thing they could have told guests of the damaged dining room when they checked in. This might have cooled some tempers. Another thing that Disney could have done (and this depends upon when the damage occurred) is to call the guests who had ADRS. I know that Disney had my cell number on file and it would not be much of a leap to believe that Disney could have done some type of automatic call to notify guests.

Around 7:40 we were paged to be seated but our party of ten was led to a table for five. Once again we had to wait. By now I had learned about the ceiling issues and we now had a hostess working to get us seated before “Wishes” started at 8:00. Seeing “Wishes” as an end of the marathon events had been a big deal to me. “Wishes” started right as we sat down. Ohana’s was slow to bring up the music and they did not dim the lights as I had expected them to do. But I have to admit that after all my concerns about being seated in time it really did not matter. Sitting down to dinner with friends and enjoying each other’s company was the true highlight of the evening.

The service itself was excellent. The head chef came out to visit with Rae to discuss her food allergies and they even prepared her a special dessert. This was very impressive.

We used the Tables card here but they handled it different. This time they presented us with two bills and applied our separate payments. The second billed was covered under Justin’s Tables card.

Value: The food never stops coming. My wife and I dined here in 2007 and for two people the food was far too much. This dining experience is better suited to a large group. We had 10 at our table and this worked out very well.

A Silver Lining to the evening:

I would be remiss if I did not give a special mention to Deb. Deb provided the calm voice of reason during the pre dinner mess. She has a wonderful positive attitude and I greatly appreciated it.

After dinner Justin and Krystal stayed back at Poly while the rest of us went to the Magic Kingdom for the remainder of that evening’s Extra Magic hours. About 40 minutes into the park Rae, Eric, and Aaron were ready to call an end to their very long day. We said our goodbyes, unsure if we would see Rae’s family the next day or not. Next Deb, Mike, Amanda, Mom and I walked over and rode Peter Pan and then we headed over to the Haunted Mansion.

Rae, if you have not heard about this yet I’m sorry to tell you that you missed a magical moment. As our group left the stretching room, the “Chamber Maid” called the five of us back for a private tour of the mansion. She quickly lead us out the side door and back in through the “servants’ quarters.” Once in the “servants’ quarters” she began to tells us various facts and showed us the mansion keys and the various bells used to summon the Maids and Butlers. Next she led us back into the fire place room to the portrait of Master Gracey. She explained that following the Haunted Mansion movie the portrait was no longer to be referred to as Master Gracey. The idea is they do not want to tie this mansion in with the film.

Next she took our group into the stretching room and she supplied some more trivia and even quizzed us. Did you know that there are several hidden references to “The Nightmare Before Christmas” We were told that you would have to have a flashlight to find them. Also there is only 1 official hidden Mickey. It’s in the grave yard just before you turn to see the hitch hiking ghosts. There is a ghost staring out from a crypt. In his lantern is the official hidden Mickey.

After the trivia we were asked to be very quiet in order to hear everything that the gargoyles said. This was really cool because you did not have a noisy group shuffling out the door. We were shown a hidden panel in the wall that the cast members access to control the door. Before we set of for our doom buggies there was one more surprise. We got to stay in the stretching room and watch the portraits shrink as the room reset. This was a nice magical moment and as we left the Mansion and were walking by the Castle Deb said “See if dinner had not been delayed we would have missed that. There’s always a silver lining” She was absolutely right.

We all stopped in City Hall in order for Mike to leave a compliment for our “Chamber Maid” on a job well done. I knew that sometimes people wrote in with compliments but I had never thought about going to guest services and leaving a compliment in person. The next day we were back in MK and I left a compliment for “James” over at The Hall of Presidents” James was a walking encyclopedia of knowledge. He engaged each guest and asked where they were from and then he would speak at length about interesting and relevant facts.

Kona: 1st Visit

Tonga Toast

Food: Good

Service: Excellent. Our server handled the Tables card as expected and presented each of us with our own discounted bill.

Value: Good

Would return? Yes, but would probably order something other than Tonga Toast.

Coral Reef: 1st Visit

Creamy Lobster Soup.
Grilled Mahi Mahi - topped with a spicy pineapple chutney over cashew-jasmine rice finished with a coconut rum beurre blanc

Food: Excellent

Service: Excellent

Value: Very good.

Would return? Yes. A new food favorite right after LeCellier.

Bay Lake Tower, Top of the World Lounge: 1st Visit

Beef Tenderloin Flatbread - with goat cheese, aged balsamic, and onion jam
Habanero Margarita.

Food: Very good

Service: Excellent

Value: Good

Would return? Yes

La Cava: Visited Twice during this trip.

LaCava & Classic Margarita. Nachos with Salsa
Margarita Flight (five salted rimmed shot glass samples of Margaritas)

Food: The house salsa was both tasty and spicy. Only $3.50

Service: Very good

Value: Good

Would return? Absolutely, but would not order the flight again or any of the margs on it.(Cucumber, Jalapeño, Guacamole, A fruity one and one I can’t describe)LaCava is quite small. During our first evening visit we could not find a seat. Our second visit was in the mid afternoon and we had no trouble getting table.


Amanda said...

Great reviews. Love Coral Reef and Le Cellier.

The Haunted Mansion experience was truly the most magical I've ever had at WDW. I will never forget that as it was just amazing!!!

Agreed that Deb is one of the most positive and uplifting person I know. She certainly knows how to keep a level head and help people stay sane in the insanity!

Matt said...

I had the exact same experience the last time I went to Ohana. We weren't seated until a good hour and a half after we checked in and we weren't served for another 45 minutes after we were seated. We had a cake for my cousin (his birthday) and they had lost it as well... We were in that place for almost 3 hours. If I had to hear that woman sing one more time, I was gonna puke! But the food was ALMOST worth the wait!

MikeF. said...

Loved Ohana's. The waiting really got me riled up. But hey the Lapus were nice and cold right. I will never forget that H.M. moment. Totally made the night!

Rae! said...

That's soooooo cccooooolllll!!! Eric and his feet were just done. I wish we were around more. I am going to make sure that there are not any outside, family "stuff" in the way for 2011.