As anyone who has spent time researching and making reservations at Walt Disney World knows, the ultimate dining experience on property is at the 5 Diamond (AAA rating) Victoria and Albert's in the Grand Floridian.
For many years, I have been contemplating an evening here, but always have deferred it. This year, I had decided that my wife would have an early birthday dinner at V & A's before we made the trip back north for the warmer months.
Victoria and Albert's is located in the Grand Floridian resort, and is the only eating establishment which requires that you get a bit dressed up. Jackets, dress shirt/pants/shoes (ties optional) for the men, and a dress, skirt or dressy pants outfit for the women. You must be 10 years old or over to dine here, but then it's the rare child who would enjoy this evening of dining. (Not to say there aren't those who would.) There are only about a dozen tables in this small, romantically lit room, though the tables have enough light so that you don't have any difficulty seeing the menu or your meal.
About a week before our planned evening, I spoke with a V & A cast member and detailed my wife and my culinary preferences as well as informing her that we would be celebrating my wife's birthday.
The day arrived, and we drove the 90 minutes from our house to the Wilderness Lodge, where we would spend two nights following our night out. We met our daughter for a light lunch at Whispering Canyon (didn't want to ruin dinner - still hours away) and then up to our room to relax and later get ready to go out.
A little after 5:00 PM we got into our car for the very short drive to the Grand Floridian, where we would take advantage of the (included) valet parking. Up to the second floor we head for our check-in at Victoria and Albert's.
At the check-in podium, my wife was wished a Happy Birthday and we were shown to our table. My wife pocketbook was hung on a hook like device that rested on the table-top, keeping it out of the way - and off of the floor. Had I brought my camera (sorry, I wanted a camera-free evening so I could enjoy the experience without taking photos, no matter how out of character that actually was for me), they would have brought a small stool to place it on.
Our two (male) waiters introduced themselves and presented us with our menus. My wife's and mine were almost identical, except for the fact that - since I indicated my preference for no fish - where my second course included a King Crab selection, my wife's was King Crab and Salmon. She also had a Turbot selection on her menu. Other than that, there was no difference.
Since I am not a wine drinker, and it would have been too much wine for my wife, we opted simply to have sparkling house water with our dinners.
Our lead waiter then went over every item on the menu with us, and left us to decide what we wanted. Yes, you order all 7 courses right at the beginning.
I ordered;Colorado Bison
Alaskan King Crab
Veal with Black Truffles
White Chocolate Gelato
Caramelized Banana Gâteau
Coffee (of course)
While my wife ordered;
Alaskan King Crab and Salmon
The Cheese Plate
Caramelized Banana Gâteau
Coffee (of course)
The meal starts off with an Amuse-Bucher - something special the chef prepares to "amuse your mouth." This evening it was shrimp with various Japanese sauces, served with pickled mushroom. Needless to say, it whet our appetite for things to come.
I should also mention the amazing breads with paired butters that was served between courses. Yumm!!!!
I have to, at this point, make the mandatory comment about the coffee. It is prepared at your table in a device that was invented in the mid 1800's. It works on a vacuum and gravity principle and takes about 6 or 7 minutes to brew. They have it timed perfectly, and when your desert course is served, the coffee is ready, and it is the most wonderful tasting coffee. Even those who don't enjoy coffee have enjoyed this. As I had my third cup (!) there was no cream left in the creamer, but rather than ask for more, I simply drank it black - something I never do - and I realized just how good the coffee was when I enjoyed it as much (or more) like that.
After close to 3 hours, when the meal was drawing to a close, a plate of small candies was brought for us, followed by a rose for my wife (a long stemmed, thornless rose is presented to each woman dining at V & A's), as well as a date nut bread to take home along with our personalized menus.
Remember I said that valet parking was part of the evening? As we were leaving, our server asked if we wanted to walk around the Grand Floridian - listen to the music - enjoy the grounds, or if we would like him to see to it that our car was ready and waiting for us when we got to the valet stand. We chose the latter, and it was ready and waiting for us as promised.
An evening at Victoria and Albert's is not only about the food - which is superb - but an entire experience. I am planning on celebrating my birthday there ... hint! hint! hint!