We live near a cute little theme park that you may have heard of: it's called Disney World. Living nearby is a good excuse to have an annual pass, which comes at a discounted rate for Florida residents and occasionally gets you a few perks, like previews of new rides and such. It also means that you have the option to just pop into the park to do your favorite ride and leave, without the feeling that you've just wasted a whole day's pass. Last, but not least, it also means that you have the opportunity to go in and eat at Disney restaurants, some of which you may want to pass up, (Morocco, anyone? BLECH.) but others that can be just perfect for a special occasion. We do this every now and again, and heartily enjoy having the option. Just recently we took advantage of our close proximity, and a not-so-well-known loophole to get a seat at Victoria & Albert's, the flagship restaurant at Disney's flagship resort, The Grand Floridian. A seat you might say? It's not THAT hard to get in. Ah, but we didn't want just any seat. We wanted the best table in the house: the Chef's Table. Typically one must call for a reservation first thing in the morning 6 months in advance. One seating per night, a 10-13 course meal depending on the whim of the chef, included menu upgrades that would make your bill skyrocket in the main dining room; if you can get it, it will make you never want to eat in the dining room again. Actually, I have never eaten in the main dining room; I've been to V & A twice, and both times I've eaten at the Chef's Table. Spoiled. I'm very, very spoiled.
The table itself is is set into a cozy alcove inside the kitchen. A beautiful long wood table that can seat 8 people comfortably, with built-ins along the side walls filled with beautiful china. The service, of course, is impeccable: like the main dining room, your table is served by two people, a female and a male 'Victoria' & 'Albert'. You share a champagne toast with the chef, who comes back to visit with you whenever possible and explain each course. Questions and photos are encouraged, gentlemen can remove their jackets, and no one minds some loud laughter. And the food! Oh, the food. Here is our amuse bouche:
From top left, clockwise: Smoked trout custard, baked in shell, with crispy sweet potato. Deviled Quail egg with Iranian Osetra caviar. Lobster Bisque with vanilla foam, smoked salmon roulade. Butter-poached Maine lobster, lobster sausage.
Ladies' first course: Dungeness and Blue crab cannelloni, with whole grain mustard, baby greens, radishes, and American Sturgeon caviar, accompanied by a toasty savory tuile.
Gentlemen's first course: Big Eye Tuna, 3 ways, including marinated and sesame crusted. Tat Soi salad, honey-tamari foam.
Everyone's second course, from the left: Caramelized Nantucket scallop with corn ragout and purple potato. Monterey abalone with capers and Meyer lemon. Virginia black bass with melted fennel and leeks, artichoke, and Jamon Iberico.
Ladies' third course, from left: Duck breast, spice-rubbed and slow-roasted, duck sausage with salsify and candied rind, and a roulade of duck confit, topped with blood orange. Accompanied by Sauce Bigarade and aged balsamic.
That was just the beginning; we've got several more to go, but let's all digest for awhile, shall we?