Disney’s Victoria and Albert’s – Big Decision

Raymond and I are planning a quick trip to Disney World for the Food & Wine Festival this year.  We’re going the weekend before my birthday which made Raymond start to think about planning something special to celebrate, I guess, because he asked me if I wanted to go to Victoria and Albert’s.  Yes!  Wait!  Maybe.  I don’t know, to be honest.  I’m pretty decisive, but this one’s got me waffling.  Do I want to find out first hand exactly what it’s like to dine in a restaurant that’s received AAA’s Five Diamond Award (every year since 2000) and is currently ranked by Trip Advisor as the #2 restaurant in Orlando?  Do I?

Disney’s Victoria and Albert’s – Big DecisionCalifornia Grill won out over Victoria and Albert's for our 25th anniversary

Back in 2014 when we celebrated our 25th anniversary sans kids at Disney World, Raymond suggested Victoria and Albert’s then too.  I chose California Grill instead.  I can’t pinpoint my hesitation for not jumping on board with this idea.  If I put my thoughts on it here, maybe you will help me make a final decision?  WHY is this even difficult?  Poor Raymond’s been asking me, “Well?” with eyebrows raised every few days.  I guess it’s pretty clear which way he hopes I decide.Dressed up for Dinner at Remy. Would Victoria and Albert's be as good?

The closest we’ve come to a Victoria and Albert’s experience was when we dined at Remy on the Disney Dream.  Multiple courses, haute cuisine, excellent wine, impeccable service.  We loved both dinner and brunch.  Certainly Victoria and Albert’s would be similar…better maybe.  Chef Hunnel from Victoria and Albert’s is responsible for half of the menu items served at Remy.Dish served at Remy. Would Victoria and Albert's be similar?

IF we were to book a reservation at Victoria and Albert’s, I understand we’d have three options:

The Dining Room Sounds like the most economical and low frills experience.  That’s unflattering and selling it short and I’m sure it’s beyond amazing, but The Dining Room is the most basic option.  We can choose a 7- or 10-course meal and add wine pairings for a hefty upcharge.  While the restaurant’s menu changes daily, I found this example of the 7-course experience.

Queen Victoria’s Room – This room only seats eight and only offers a 10-course meal.  For wine enthusiasts like us, this experience sounds mighty tempting.

“Behind closed doors, elegant, intimate Queen Victoria’s Room seats just eight guests for a ten-course dinner with French gueridon service and wine pairings exclusive to the private room. Guests learn how chef and sommelier work together to identify the chemistry of each amazing dish paired with the perfect vintage.” – Victoria and Albert’s website.

Chef’s Table  – What if, by some miracle, two seats were available for the date we wanted to go?  As the most expensive option of all, this experience would also be exceptionally appealing to me since I love to cook and am not afraid to try new recipes and food prep techniques…the stuff I could learn!  I could see this leading to bankruptcy via Williams Sonoma by uncovering previously unknown kitchen gadget needs.  Culinary foam is all the rage and there’s a tool for that.  Bet I could make some awesome desserts with a kitchen torch.  Victoria and Albert’s Chef’s Table…a double-edged sword.

I found this Touring Plans article that includes pricing, so now I know what kind of investment this potential dinner will require.  Yikes!  (I know…This from the woman who recently dropped $250 per person for the Wild Africa Trek, but it was for Christmas!)  I though our Remy dinner was crazy expensive (about $400, everything included) and we didn’t even have the wine pairings (just ordered a single bottle).  Is my hesitation simply due to the fear that plunking down possibly $1000 or more for a single meal would be insane?  I’m all for experiences and happy memories, but oh, the stuff I could do with $1000!

Yes, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime type of thing.  Yes, I’ll have a fancy romantic dinner out with my favorite person.  I’m sure many people wish their spouse would ask them to have dinner at Victoria and Albert’s and I should (and do) consider myself extremely fortunate.  But I’m still undecided!

Please, if you’ve been to Victoria and Albert’s or if you’re dreaming of someday going, jump on in here and help a girl out!  Worth it?  Waste of money?  Best pros and cons you can offer would be very much appreciated!

Disney Dining – Adventureland’s Skipper Canteen

“Magic Kingdom’s newest themed table service eatery boasts both excellent service and uniquely delicious fare – in an exotic setting full of humor and whimsy.” – Me (my inner restaurant critic)

We found ourselves in Magic Kingdom with the huge post-Christmas crowds on a gorgeous Monday morning.  While we didn’t arrive for the 7:00 am park opening, we had managed to ride Big Thunder Mountain by FastPass, eat breakfast at Be Our Guest, tour Haunted Mansion on standby (less than 30 minutes), and FastPass Seven Dwarfs Mine Train – all by about 10:45…why not wander over to Adventureland?  Maybe, by some miracle, we could lunch at the new Jungle Navigation Co. Ltd. Skipper Canteen before our last FastPass of the day (Enchanted Tales With Belle)?Skipper-Canteen-Courtyard-Ceiling

Disney Dining – Adventureland’s Skipper Canteen

Once we located the entrance, it was about 11 o’clock.  Two Cast Members were working the podium outside and just a couple of other parties were already waiting in the courtyard.  I was quickly told that our wait would be about 20 minutes and if I provided my cell phone number, I’d receive a text when our table was ready.  We may have just eaten breakfast about an-hour-and-a-half earlier, but I was not missing this opportunity!  Raymond’s pretty flexible and was happy to go along.Skipper-Canteen-Waiting-Area

While we waited, I wandered around taking pictures and, exactly on time, I got the text to tell us our table was ready.  The next step is to go inside to another waiting area.  Skipper-Canteen-interiorOur name was called right away and the hostess escorted us to our table in the large main dining room called “The Mess Hall”.  There are a couple of smaller dining rooms off of the main one – The Falls Family Parlor and the S.E.A. (Society of Explorers and Adventurers) Room.Skipper-Canteen-Mess-Hall Skipper-Canteen-ArtifactsAs one would expect, and similar to the much larger layout of Be Our Guest, each room is fantastically themed.  There are too many details and Jungle Cruise artifacts to take in during a single visit…very clever!  (More on the Canteen’s back story here.)

Bobby was our server and he was excellent!  Passionate about his new Skipper position, he delivered our food and those famous Skipper puns with equal skill.  That’s where this restaurant sets itself apart – the food and service are much better than typical theme-park fare and the theming and back story are so well done – the overall experience is wonderful!  (Seriously – every tiny detail made me happy!)Skipper-Canteen-Menu-ArtSkipper-Canteen-Menu

Bread arrived while we were looking over the menu.  The round loaf of Ambasha bread is accompanied by honey seasoned with a healthy dose of Fenugreek (herb with a maple-like flavor commonly used in Middle Eastern cuisine) which made this starter taste exotic and delicious!Skipper-Canteen-Bread

Since we had just eaten breakfast, Raymond and I decided to share three courses so we could taste a whole meal without stuffing ourselves or wasting food.  We started with the S.E.A. Shu Mai (A legendary blend of Pork, Shrimp, Mung Beans, and Spices wrapped in Gyoza Skin then steamed) $10.  This was perfect!  The dipping sauce was exactly right – a little spicy and salty and the perfect complement to the dumplings.Skipper-Canteen-Appetizer

Our entrée selection was the Rice Noodle Bowl with Chicken (Pho Broth served with Jalapeños with mix of fresh Herbs) $22. This sounds plain but was spicy and delicious!  Everything prepared on site from scratch makes this experience extra special.  The flavors and presentation of the food, combined with the atmosphere and service, truly make you forget you’re eating in a theme park.Skipper-Canteen-Noodle-Bowl

We wrapped up our little culinary adventure with the Sugar Crusted Congee Pudding (Caramelized Custard with Millet, Almonds, Apricot, Dates, and Honey-Almond Tuile) $8.  Normally, we aren’t big on dessert, but this sounded unique and interesting and was absolutely delicious.  The combination of flavors and textures was perfect.Skipper-Canteen-Pudding

We did not take advantage of the specialty (non-alcoholic) drink menu on this visit, but opted for iced tea and water.  Our total bill was very reasonable and we walked away completely satisfied.  If Skipper Canteen represents the future of in-park dining at Walt Disney World, we cannot WAIT to see what’s next!Skipper-Canteen-Display Skipper-Canteen-Jungle-Cruise-Sign Skipper-Canteen-Collection Skipper-Canteen-Barrel

Are you adventurous enough to try the new Jungle Cruise Navigation Co. Ltd. Skipper Canteen?  What would keep you from dining there?

Disney World Breakfasts for Champions

Wheaties may be the “Breakfast OF Champions”, but when you need to fuel up mid-morning on a Walt Disney World vacation, there are a few great places we favor.  You may be asking yourself, “Champions”, Lisa?  Yes!  When we’ve rope-dropped and managed 4 or 5 rides before the first meal of the day we ARE champions…hungry ones.

Five Great Disney World Breakfasts FOR Champions

1. Starring Rolls.  Centrally located in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, this is one of our all-time favorite must-visit breakfast spots.  It’s the convenient location, the ample outdoor seating, and the variety of Danishes, bagels, huge sandwiches, and the latest in magical Disney cupcake-ery.RM-Disney-Olaf-CupcakeStarring Rolls / Red Velvet Cupcake

2. Main Street Bakery.  We like Starbucks and while there are some things we miss (about the pre-Starbucks version) at this Main Street USA location in Magic Kingdom, we can very happily pop in for a great morning meal.  RM-Main-Street-StarbucksWe love the coffee and the wide assortment of baked goods and hot sandwiches.  Seriously, I can even make myself feel like I’m being healthy on vacation with a tasty spinach and feta breakfast wrap.  We’re all about the grab and go here so we can get back out there and ride on.

3.  Sunshine Seasons.  This is a great place to relax in Epcot after Soarin’ and Living With the Land while waiting for World Showcase to open.  Sunshine Seasons BreakfastThe Chocolate Croissant is a perennial favorite, but Raymond and I also love to share the focaccia breakfast sandwich – it comes with fried potatoes and is very delicious…and filling.  Which is why we share it – saving room for lunch!

4. Gasparilla Island Grill.  We ducked in this tidy little eatery at the Grand Floridian after a massage at the Senses Spa there.  We were famished and couldn’t think about continuing on with our day without sustenance.  Our experience (Croissant Sandwich – YUM) made us fans of this underappreciated quick-service location.  While I recommend you do not order the grits here, the rest of our breakfast was delish!

5. Contempo Café (Contemporary Resort).  HERE is where to order grits (best we’ve found at Disney World), if you’re so inclined.  The Contempo offers an impressively wide array of choices for breakfast in a convenient location near Chef Mickey’s.  RM-Contempo-Cafe-Breakfast-SandwichBreakfast sandwiches, platters, Mickey Waffles, even steel cut oatmeal and assorted baked goods – huge menu, certain to please every member of your dining party.

Bonus:  We can and have enjoyed breakfast at the Earl of Sandwich in Downtown Disney – but I recommend waiting for lunch.  Lunch is better there.

Where’s your favorite Walt Disney World breakfast location?

Earl of Sandwich Breakfast

Disney Dining – An Ode to Filth

Por Favor PodcastHi there readers! This is Gary and Mike from the Por Favor Podcast. Lisa has been kind enough to give us some space on her wonderful blog. After much consideration, we figured we should talk about what we know best. Filth.

For anyone not familiar with our podcast (we have literally dozen’s of listeners!) we endearingly refer to most food as filth. At least most food that we eat. That’s mostly because we eat generally filthy offerings, especially at Walt Disney World.

A perfect example of filth would be a burger from Pecos Bills with all the fixings. Apple slices would not be considered filth. I think you get the basic idea.

Now, on to the really fun part. We are going to break-down some of the filthiest foods in Walt Disney World. Some you will have surely heard about, some may be new to you. Each holds a place near and dear to our hearts…and stomaches.

Magic Kingdom

Dole Whip
​A Dole Whip from Aloha Isle might not be considered by many to fit the definition of filth, as set forth earlier in the article, but if we take into account the fact that Por Favor Gary likes to start his day with a Dole Whip for breakfast, this clearly falls into the filth file.Pineapple Dole Whip

Pork Shank
​A pork shank from Gaston’s Tavern is one of the truest forms of filth one can find in the Magic Kingdom. This greasy mass of meat is probably going to slow down your touring plans, but the lethargy is well worth it as you’ll feel a primitive satisfaction as you gnaw the last pieces of pig flesh off the bone in triumph.RM-Gaston's-Tavern-Roasted-Pork-Shank

Sweet and Spicy Chicken and Waffle Sandwich
​The sweet and spicy chicken and waffle sandwich from Sleepy Hollow Refreshments holds a special place in the pantheon of filth at the Magic Kingdom. There are some who would say that chicken and waffles don’t belong together (stuff that doesn’t go with stuff) and there are others who salivate at the idea of this culinary concoction. However you feel personally about this unique sandwich, you must agree that it is quite filthy.RM-Sweet-&-Spicy-Chicken-Waffle-Sandwich

EPCOT Center

Jalapeño and Cheese Stuffed Pretzel
​The jalapeno and cheese stuffed pretzel from Block and Hans in the American Adventure Pavilion is one of the best hidden secrets at Walt Disney World. This snack has it all. Portability, affordability and of course it’s stuffed full of cheese and jalapenos that define filth. This may be the neatest of the filth we encounter, but don’t let that fool you. This is a must try!RM-Jalapeno-Cheese-Pretzel

Scotch Egg
​Found at the Rose & Crown Pub, the scotch egg is an instant Por Favor Filth Favorite. Both Mike and Gary have experienced the true filthy beauty of this deep fried, hard boiled egg surrounded in sausage topped with an incredible mustard sauce. If this appetizer wasn’t presented so nicely in the restaurant it might take the cake as filthiest in all of EPCOT, but even in its somewhat refined form, it’s close to tops.

Churritos
​The miniature version of the iconic churro can be found at La Cantina de San Angel, the quick service outside of the Mexico Pavilion. The reason this item has made our list is because of the caramel dipping sauce that accompanies it. These adorable churritos are very tasty on their own, but when utilized properly they become a conveyance system for the caramel. No trip to Walt Disney World would be complete without a churro, so you might as well grab these little beauties and double down with the filthy caramel sauce!

Disney Hollywood Studios

Peanut Butter and Jelly Shake
​The 50s Prime Time Cafe is well known amongst Disney fans for its kitschy décor and intentionally overbearing waitstaff. It’s also know to have some of the best comfort food on property. However many guests overlook an item on the menu that has earned a spot in any filth lovers heart. A peanut butter and jelly shake may sound off-putting to some, but we say, give it a try and you’ll soon realize why Mike and Gary consider this pure filth in a cup.The Hollywood Brown Derby / Disney's Hollywood Studios

Cobb Salad
​Excuse me, did someone take over the reigns on this article? How on earth did a salad make its way into a list of filth? These questions could only be asked by someone who hasn’t experienced the filthy goodness of a Cobb salad from the Hollywood Brown Derby. You know this salad must be mind-blowingly filthy to make it to such rarefied territory. One bite of this salad and you’ll forget you’re actually eating some veggies among the filth.Starring Rolls Cafe / Disney's Hollywood Studios

Ham or Turkey Sandwich
​Once again, you may be having double take, but let us explain. The ham and turkey sandwiches from Starring Rolls Cafe are so chock full of deli meat that you can barely unhinge your jaw wide enough to fit all the filth into your maw. There is a token piece of lettuce and a scant offering of tomato on top of this sandwich and the bread is merely there because society hasn’t progressed enough yet to make it acceptable to eat a pound and a half of deli meat by itself in one sitting.

Animal Kingdom

Anything from Flame Tree BBQ
​Is this a cop out? Yes. Undoubtedly, but who are we to deprive you of any of the offering from what many consider the best quick-service on property. Mike and Gary can definitively say that this is the filthiest quick-service around. Between the fall-off-the-bone ribs and the best baked beans around, this joint can fling some filth. Do not do yourself a disservice and miss Flame Tree. You can’t go wrong with any of the filth offered.Flame-Tree-Barbeque

Beef Lo-Mien
​You got us. This item is no longer offered at Yak and Yeti, but we felt it was still worthy of our praises. Just because something is gone doesn’t mean it hasn’t impacted our lives. And, hey, look at the citrus swirl! It could come back. Anyway, this was one of the original food items that Mike and Gary referred to as filth on the podcast. It’s just a Chinese food take-out style box filled to the brim with filth. Tons of beef, noodles and some veggies to make people feel a little better about themselves. Maybe if this article gets enough traction, we might see this menu item make its triumphant return to Animal Kingdom.RM-Yak-&-Yeti-Restaurant-Exterior

Spice Rubbed Karubi Ribs
​It helps having a local as one half of your show, because this filth offering is from the brand new Harambe Market. Por Favor Mike had the difficult task of dragging himself to Animal Kingdom and trying out this new item. It comes with green papaya-carrot slaw and a chickpea, cucumber and tomato salad. In case you weren’t sure, that is considered “stuff that doesn’t go with stuff”. Despite this, it still was able to earn Mike’s seal of approval. Next time you are in Animal Kingdom, check out the new Harambe Market and see which new piece of filth piques your interest!

There are many more chances to indulge in filth at Walt Disney World and perhaps if Lisa is so gracious we can come back and list a few of our favorites from outside the parks! If you liked what you’ve read, be sure to check out our podcast at www.porfavorpodcast.com like us on Facebook www.facebook.com/porfavorpodcast and follow us on Twitter www.twitter.com/porfavorpodcast and www.twitter.com/porfavormike