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Sunday Brunch

Sunday Brunch: Great Moments with Fine Disney Dining

by Reuben Gutierrez

12 May 2013

This past April has by chance become a month of fine dining as I've had the great fortune of eating at a different table service restaurant within the Walt Disney World Resort! Luckily I've been working a lot of overtime, so it's been an affordable and lucky month of adventures in food. I may use it more often than I should, but adventures are really what happen when you sample food in this wonderful resort. Not only are you enjoying food from around the world, you're enjoying food in places from all different places, time periods, and cultures.

Mama Melrose's
The half curtain window treatments simulate those found in restaurants in NYC

Our first dining adventure takes us to an elegant, yet humble, Italian restaurant that looks as if it's been plucked from the streets of New York City and placed in Hollywood. With dozens of celebrity food fans decorating the lobby and dining room, this mama and papa run restaurant is Mama Melrose's Ristorante Italiano at Disney's Hollywood Studios. I've had some excellent Italian food here, but by far my most favorite item was the Spaghetti and Meatball Cupcake.

Spaghetti and Meatball Cupcake

While not the best tasting cupcake I've had, it certainly is one of the most creatively deceptive. It looks a lot like a small cup of spaghetti with a single meatball on top. The base is a chocolate cupcake topped with white buttercream. Long strands of 'spaghetti' are actually piped buttercream (probably created with a size 3 or 4 round tip for all you pastry chefs out there) that seemed to be tinged with a faint yellow. The 'meatball' is a chocolate cake ball (though my friend Randi and I debated whether or not it was a brownie or cake) rolled in a chocolate sprinkle flake coating. The 'spaghetti sauce' is a delicious strawberry sauce with white chocolate shavings playing the part of parmesan cheese. In Hollywood, actors pretend to be someone else, and at Mama Melrose's, the dessert does just that!

Cinderella's Royal Table

After the previous week's star studded tour of Italy, my friends and I stormed the castle and dined with Disney's finest royalty at the most regal of tables in the land: Cinderella's Royal Table. In celebration of my friend's book launch, our trio schmoozed with princesses, feasted like kings and queens, and ended our meal happily with a trio of desserts. The dessert trio was my favorite part of our meal.

Cinderella's Royal Table Dessert Trio

The Chef's Dessert Trio allows Cinderella's guests to enjoy small samples of each of the desserts the chefs have whipped up. Cinderella seems to think her guests need to have a more worldly palate so she 'sent her Chefs around the world to discover new desserts.' While around the world is quite a broad term, it seems that her Chefs only made it around the country. The three desserts are a Strawberry Jam and Key Lime Cheesecake, White Chocolate Custard, and a Flourless Chocolate Cake. The chocolate cake was just okay. For a flourless cake though it was pretty dry, probably due to an excess of cocoa powder that may have been used in its place. The White Chocolate Custard was great, very similar to a mousse, but a little more like ice cream in flavor and consistency. The Strawberry Jam and Key Lime Cheesecake was by far the best. A small cup of graham crust was lined with the strawberry jam and the cheesecake baked on top. I wish I had ordered the full version for my dessert as the tiny two bite sample was not enough. Overall, the dessert was a terrific fairy tale finale to a fine meal.

Artist Point

Leaving the Castle in the Enchanted Forest, we journey to another kind of forest, one that is nationally protected to conserve nature's beauty. Artist's Point at the Wilderness Lodge takes guests to the Pacific Northwest to a restaurant decorated with incredible murals painted by artists who captured the elegance and majesty of America's National Forests. Additionally, Artist's Point's atmosphere is further enhanced by its excellent food.

Artist Point

The Cedar Plank roasted King Salmon is the restaurant's signature dish, with fresh caught Salmon all the way from Alaska. They actually deliver your filet of salmon on the cedar plank it was cooked on, proving that the smoky rustic flavor of the cedar is true. Of all the fish in the sea, salmon is my favorite, and no cuisine does it better than the culinarians of the Pacific Northwest.

Yachtsman Steakhouse

Being surrounded by forests, I found myself pining for the sea, so the following week brought me across the country and to the shores of New England at Yachtsman Steakhouse in the Yacht Club Resort. An elegant dining room with nautical elements in both d'cor and architecture, Yachtsman Steakhouse offers an incredible selection of beef. Though today, we'll be looking at another offering: the Artisanal Cheeses.

Yachtsman Steakhouse  Yachtsman Steakhoues

This week I was joined by our favourite Canadian Dining Companion Alex, whose favourite food is cheese. Naturally the cheese plate had to be ordered, and after all my cheese sharing meals with Alex, I think this one has to be the best of them all. Five different seasonal cheeses were each paired harmoniously with five different accompaniments ranging from breads, spreads, and pickled fruits. My favorite was the Vermont Creamery Bonne Bouche, a 'good mouthful' of creamy young cheese, highlighted with a citrusy flavor, which was enhanced with pickled blueberries. Blueberries and dairy are always a perfect pair and the characteristics of the Bonne Bouche and the blueberry complement each other very well.

Kona Cafe
Family and Friends share a meal at Kona

From the shores of North Atlantic we sail around the world to the tropical seas of Polynesia where we end our month of fine dining at the incredible, delectable Kona Caf' at the Polynesian Resort. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner, I love the Kona Caf'. It is the underdog restaurants of the Polynesian as most guests flock to the Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show or the popular family style buffet 'Ohana. The night we ate here, we actually tried to get a walk-up reservation at 'Ohana for my friend John's birthday dinner, but alas its popularity changed our plans and we journeyed to the greatest consolation prize of them all: Kona.

Yachtsman Steakhouse

Kona boasts delicious entrees with Asian and Pacific Island influences. I ordered the Pan-Asian Noodles, a blend of Yakisoba Noodles in a ginger-garlic sauce with chicken and Wok-seared vegetables. This is a rich man's Ramen. While not expensive by any means, Kona's Pan-Asian noodles were the freshest stir fry and noodles I've had in a long time. The tangy ginger and strong savory garlic accent the vegetables and chicken with a strong contrast to each ingredient's natural flavor. While we didn't get a chance to share a seemingly endless meal at 'Ohana, my friends and I were completely satisfied with the surprise Polynesian meal we didn't expect to have.

Cinderella Castle

April is the absolute perfect time to visit Walt Disney World. The weather is beautiful as the humidity has not yet set in, but the ocean breezes continue to sweep the state under the cheery Florida sun. Though the best part of this season is the crowds of Spring Break have already gone and the ones for the summer season are no where in site. Low crowds means it is quite easy to get into restaurants (except for'Ohana) without having a months in advance reservation. For each restaurant my various friends and I had dined at this past month, the reservation was made either a few days in advance if not the day of, aside from Cinderella's. Even still, Cinderella's Royal Table requires months to almost a year in advance reservation, and we were quite lucky to snag one merely two months before. April has proven to be an incredible opportunity to try delicious food and venture to places around the country, the world, and our imaginations.

 

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