Citricos at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort

Citricos
Citricos

This past weekend I had the opportunity to eat at one of my favorite restaurants on Walt Disney World Property at Citricos. Located in Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, Citricos is a signature restaurant with a focus on Mediterranean influence. I have eaten here at least 5 – 10 times over the past five years or so and it is consistently in my top five Disney restaurants. I previously wrote about it here when talking about my favorite restaurants.

The restaurant is located on the second floor of the Grand Floridian and is decorated in soft yellow and orange tones that invite guests to enter. Citricos shares a lobby with Victoria & Albert’s, the resort’s Five Diamond fine dining establishment. Inside Citricos there is a small lounge open to the restaurant, as is the kitchen, which always makes for fun dining to be able to see the chefs hard at work right before your eyes.

Citricos bar
Citricos bar
Citricos lounge and kitchen
Citricos lounge and kitchen
Citricos open kitchen
Citricos open kitchen

My friends and I arrived about half an hour before our scheduled reservation time, but since it was relatively slow, we were seated almost immediately in Citricos. The table we were lead to by the greeter was all the way in the back of the restaurant by the bank of windows facing the Magic Kingdom. We had a fantastic view of Cinderella Castle from our table for Wishes!

Chicken B'steeya
Chicken B’steeya
Crispy Fried Yellow Tomato and Buffalo Mozzarella
Crispy Fried Yellow Tomato and Buffalo Mozzarella
Panada
Panada

Appetizers

We started off each with an appetizer to begin our meal. I opted for the Ashley Farms Chicken B’steeya at the recommendation of a friend. It was almost like a version of baklava with chicken and almonds, a little sweet with the orange blossom honey, but very tasty. Shelley had the Crispy Fried Yellow and Buffalo Mozzarella, which was somewhat like a deconstructed Caesar salad. She said the sweet flavors of the heirloom tomatoes were well complemented by the bitter romaine and strong garlic of the dressing. Dave ordered the Panada, which one or two of us couldn’t help calling Panda and saying we didn’t want to eat our dear friend John. It was fantastic! The slow-cooked beef and pork are spiced with a tamarind sauce and then baked in phyllo.

Entrees

For entrees we each chose something that wouldn’t necessarily be our go to item on the menu to live dangerously. Shelley was craving beef, so she order the Oak-grilled Filet of Beef, which had fantastic accompaniments of Yukon Gold Potato and Peppadew Peppers. She said it was a good cut of meat, but a little bland for her taste and felt it could have been seasoned a bit more, but the cabernet demi-glace did help. Dave opted for the Madeira-braised Short Ribs with Hominy-Cheddar Potato Puree and Wild Mushroom Ragout, which is my go to entree at Citricos. I went out on a limb and got the Berkshire Pork Two Ways with Rotisserie Pork Tenderloin, Roasted Pork Belly, Brentwood Farms Corn Bred, Rainbow Swiss Chard, Green Apple and Cipplolini Onion Chutney. I am not usually a fan of pork, but thought I’d give it a shot. Dave was having buyer’s remorse, so we ended up actually switching our entrees after trying the ones we originally ordered. This ended up working out perfectly as we were both much happier with what the other got.

Oak-grilled Filet of Beef
Oak-grilled Filet of Beef
Berkshire Pork Two Ways
Berkshire Pork Two Ways
Madiera-braised Short Ribs
Madiera-braised Short Ribs

Dessert

Dessert was served just moments before Wishes started! Dave chose the Tiramisu, which he said was incredible. Shelley got the Tasting of Gelato, which is typically served with vanilla, cappuccino and raspberry, but she substituted the cappuccino for a second vanilla. I ordered the Granny Smith Green Apple Sorbet since I didn’t want anything creamy. This was amazing! It was like biting into a freshly frozen green apple and was served with strawberries and blueberries. Our view for the fireworks was awesome, only to be rivaled by the incredible service from our server Kierra.

Tasting of Gelato
Tasting of Gelato
Tiramisu
Tiramisu
Granny Smith Green Apple Sorbet
Granny Smith Green Apple Sorbet
Wishes
Wishes

All in all, this was yet another fantastic dining experience at Citricos. I cannot recommend this restaurant enough if you are looking for a nice meal outside the parks at Walt Disney World. I have learned I need to order the short ribs pretty much every time unless I opt for one of the phenomenal seafood dishes, which makes me lament the demise of the Gateau of Crab that used to be my favorite appetizer here. Have you been to Citricos recently? What did you order? Please let me know what your thoughts were.

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Cheryl’s Grand Floridian Thoughts

Since Disney Vacation Club properties Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort and the soon to be opening Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridan Resort and Spa are similarly priced when you buy through Disney, I thought I would compare my opinions between the two resorts.

grand
Grand Floridian Room Model at the DVC Preview Center

Grand Floridian Pluses:

  • The decor, especially the flooring and tile work, are definitely more upscale
  • You get additional h20 bath products, such as foot scrub, like you do when you stay at Disney’s Grand Floridan Resort and Spa.
  • In each closet, there are spa robes provided for you to relax in.
  • There is an additional Bed available.
The Villas at the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa Preview Center
A glimpse at the h20 products

Grand Floridian Things To Consider:

  • You will be sharing a pool with Grand Floridian Guests.
  • You can not walk to Magic Kingdom from the Grand Floridian.
  • There are no signature items to attract you to stay at this resort. Example Bay Lake Tower offers an observation deck and Bar.
  • In the 1 bedroom villas, there is no additional sleeper chair and bathroom.

The Villas at the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa Preview Center

Things To Ponder:

  • Will there be transportation challenges. Will buses and monorails become more crowded?
  • If you are driving to the resort, will parking be an issue?
  • How will weddings at Disney’s Wedding Pavilion impact the villas?

The Villas at the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa Preview Center

So I’ve been thinking about if I would buy in, and I’m not jumping at owning at the Grand Floridian right now. I’m going to be waiting to see to see what happens.

I will be staying at Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridan Resort and Spa, because I was lucky and got an available room for the Disney World Marathon weekend by runDisney. I was previously wait listed at Bay Lake and Wilderness Lodge.

Should I win the lottery?  Sign me up for Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridan Resort and Spa! Along with a home at Golden Oak and a stay at Aulani!

Here is a closer look at the Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa that are at the DVC preview center. It’s important to note that some of the finishes and decor may be different than those found in the actual rooms of the resort when it opens.

httpv://youtu.be/qg9IWD2UyuE

 

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Thanksgiving Dining at Walt Disney World

Mickey and the gang celebrating Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving image copyright Disney

If you are like me, and you are finding yourself at Walt Disney World over Thanksgiving and don’t have set plans yet, don’t fret. There are great dining options across property in both the parks and resorts. Some are even still available for dinner reservations at this point in time (11pm Wednesday, 11/14) (subject to change of course). Even if you don’t want to make a reservation for some of the restaurants for a Thanksgiving lunch or dinner, there are counter service locations that can still fill your craving for a traditional Thanksgiving meal.

 

Character Thanksgiving Meals

Some of the character meals across the parks and resorts are getting special treatment just for Thanksgiving. They offer holiday menus with many having traditional meals, with others focusing more on their own twist on the holiday fare. At the Contemporary Resort, Chef Mickey’s buffet is offering a Thanksgiving dinner. Across Bay Lake at Fort Wilderness, Mickey’s Backyard BBQ becomes Mickey’s Backyard Thanksgiving feast featuring turkey, ham, mashed potatoes and many of your favorites. In the parks, Tusker House, at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, is having Donald’s Dining Safari Thanksgiving Lunch and then a non-character Thanksgiving meal for dinner. Walt Disney World Swan’s Garden Grove is having a character buffet dinner as well.

 

Table Service Thanksgiving Meals

Many of the restaurants in the parks are also providing meal options for the holiday. In the Magic Kingdom, Liberty Tree Tavern has both family style lunch and dinners. Also, the Diamond Horseshoe is hosting a table service dinner. At Epcot, the Biergarten in Germany has both Thanksgiving lunch and dinner options. Hollywood Studios has their buffet open for lunch and dinner as well as the Fantasmic dinner package. And, as already mentioned, in the Animal Kingdom, Tusker House is offering their dinner buffet.

At the resorts is where you will find most of the special holiday menus being offered. Artist Point at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge has a special prix fixe menu. Cape May Cafe at the Beach Club has a dinner buffet and the Captain’s Grille at the Yacht Club is serving both lunch and dinner buffets. At the Grand Floridian, Citrico’s has a prix fixe dinner menu. Also with a prix fixe menu is Flying Fish Cafe at the Boardwalk. For some a la carte menu options you could try lunch or dinner at the Grand Floridian Cafe. Still at that resort for dinner you can have a Thanksgiving dinner at Narcoossee’s. Trail’s End at Fort Wilderness is having a lunch and dinner buffet. At the Polynesian you have lunch or dinner at Kona Cafe, Olivia’s at Old Key West is also serving both meals, as are Sanaa at Kidani Village, the Wave at the Contemporary and the Turf Club at Saratoga Springs. For more family style meals, check out either Whispering Canyon Cafe at the Wilderness Lodge for lunch or dinner, or dinner at the Yachtsman Steakhouse at the Yacht Club.

Are you staying at the Walt Disney World Swan or Dolphin? If so, don’t worry, they have great options too! Fresh Mediterranean Market at the Dolphin is having a lunch buffet. The Swan’s Il Mulino is serving Thanksgiving dinner a la carte as is the Dolphin’s Todd English’s bluezoo. Downtown Disney even has some options for you at the House of Blues for dinner and Planet Hollywood for both lunch and dinner.

 

Counter Service Thanksgiving Meals

So, what if you, like me, have waited til the last minute and maybe there aren’t reservations available for your party of five? Don’t worry, Disney has that covered too. In Epcot, Sunshine Seasons, one of my favorite counter service options already, is supposed to be offering a special holiday menu too. Don’t want to go to a park, there’s a resort that has your name written all over it. At Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort, the End Zone Food Court is even getting into the holiday meal spirit with a Thanksgiving dinner from noon until 10pm with turkey, mashed potatoes, candied yams, vegetables, cranberry sauce, rolls and your choice of either apple or pumpkin pie for only $10.99 for guests 10 and up and $5.99 for children 3 to 9 (prices, times and menu items subject to change without notice).

 

All in all, it looks like Walt Disney World has some pretty great options of many varieties of cuisine and location for just about any appetite. Many of these options are on the Disney Dining Plan and as I mentioned, a few are even still available at this time. If you find yourself at WDW over the holiday, have a Happy Thanksgiving and happy eating!

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Grand Floridian Resort Lobby’s Hosts Some Beautiful Hidden Gems

Grand Floridian Resort Lobby’s Hosts Some Beautiful Hidden Gems

The other night I was wandering around the lobby at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort, and as I was listening to the band play I stumbled upon something that I had never seemed to notice before.

As I was admiring the amazing tiles that can be found in the Grand Floridian’s Lobby, I looked a little closer and noticed something for the first time.  Hidden in the marble and stone floors of the resort were some of my most favorite characters.  At first I only noticed the silhouettes of Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy and Pluto in the entry of the lobby.  But as I was about to head out to my car, a friendly Grand Floridian cast member, who had seen me admiring the floor of the lobby, asked me if I had seen the other characters around the lobby.  And when I said that I hadn’t seen any of the other characters, he gave me a detailed tour of the lobby and made sure that I saw all the other hidden characters.  Also hidden in the lobby were Tinkerbell, Mrs. Potts, Chip, Peter Pan and Cinderella dancing at the Ball.

One of my favorite details can be found just above where you find Cinderella at the ball. If you go up the staircase, you will find in the carpet that Cinderella’s Carriage is waiting to whisk her home from her night.

I was amazed that even after all the times, and the countless times that I had walked through the lobby of the Grand Floridan, that I had never seen these hidden gems.

It was a great way to explore the Grand Floridian in a way that I hadn’t done before, and now I can’t wait to explore other resorts to see if I can find other hidden characters and gems!

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My Favorite Restaurants At Walt Disney World

We haven’t really focused much on food specifically and thought it was about time we explored this huge part of most guest’s Walt Disney World vacations. Dining in the parks and at the resorts ranges from Uncrustables to hot dogs, sandwiches and other typical park fare like burgers and fries to some of the finest dining in the world. Today I wanted to share with you some of my favorite signature restaurants at WDW. If you have a Tables in Wonderland membership you are able to save 20% (with an automatic 18% gratuity added back in) at these restaurants. The other great feature of the TiW card is that it allows you complimentary valet parking at the Disney resorts with validation showing you used your Tables card on your dinner receipt.

5. Todd English’s Bluezoo (Walt Disney World Dolphin) The restaurant sits on the lower level of the Dolphin at the bottom of the escalator. The decor reminds me of an upscale club or bar, but more subdued with subtle lighting and lots of blue accents. I’ve only been here once back in November of 2009, but the food was fabulous. My mom and my brother treated me to dinner for my 30th birthday, and it was amazing. The seafood seemed so fresh and the service was great. We started the night off with the zooberry (a twist on the blueberry martini). They were so fresh the perfect way to begin our meal. We shared the beet salad and the classico flatbread for appetizers. For an entree I had the teppan seared jumbo sea scallops, which were magnificent and perfectly cooked. The dessert was a lemon meringue pavlova and was complimentary for my birthday, which made it taste even better.

4. Flying Fish (Disney’s Boardwalk Inn) Situated on the Boardwalk, Flying Fish is decorated with whimsical fish flying through the air with parachutes. The resort’s atmosphere reflecting early 20th century seaside fun with rollercoasters and ferris wheels is carried through the restaurant as well. The first time I experienced the restaurant it was August of 2009, and more recently I returned in February of this year. So, the two times I’ve been here I ordered the same exact things for appetizer and entree and was so full that I didn’t get dessert. The cheese platter changes in the featured cheeses, but was great both times. I guess I really like the scallops in the Epcot Resort area because I have ordered the oak-grilled Maine diver scallops each time. Scallops aren’t even my favorite seafood, but I absolutely love them from here.

3. Citrico’s (Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa) Featuring a Mediterranean theme, Citrico’s is located on the second floor of the Grand Floridian between Mizner’s and Victoria & Albert’s. The decor and the menu reflect the influences of Italy and Greece and are both aesthetically and gastronomically pleasing. Of the restaurants on my top five list, this is the one I have been to the most, having been more than five times, and most recently in the beginning of March. Each time I have been the food has been absolutely fabulous. One of my favorite seasonal appetizers, which they didn’t have this last time, was the gateau of crab. This past time we had a nice cheese and cracker amuse bouche to start our palates on our dining adventure. I tried something new for my entree and was not the least bit disappointed. The Madeira-braised short ribs were so tender, they were falling apart. Wild mushroom ragout and trofie pasta accompany the short ribs along with a truffle creme fraiche. For dessert I did repeat one of my favorites in the seasonal berry gratin with a champagne – Grand Marnier sabayon. It was just as incredible as when I had first had it in November of 2010.

2. Jiko – The Cooking Place (Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge) This is the restaurant I have honestly been craving the most above all others on property. I love the atmosphere here with the gorgeous blue ceiling, setting sunset and beautiful (fake) birds flying overhead. It is an eclectic menu and I like to try different things each time I go. The first time I went was in July of 2008, when I first stayed at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. I remember having the ostrich filet as an appetizer and the Kenyan coffee barbecue braised short ribs (another favorite of mine apparently). They were both so tender and falling apart in my mouth as I took each bite. On subsequent visits I have had the Taste of Africa bread and dipping sauce service, kalamata olive flatbread, duck and stonefruit salad, oak grilled filet mignon with mac and cheese, and seared barbarie duck breast. I can say that each of the three times I’ve been, the last time being in November of 2010, the service and the quality of the food have been nothing short of fantastic.

1. Victoria & Albert’s (Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa) Ah, la creme de la creme. Victoria & Albert’s is a 13 time AAA Five Diamond award winning restaurant. I’ve only been here once, and would love to go back if someone else is paying. This is not to say that the price isn’t worth it (I want to say it was about $475 for two with the wine pairing and gratuity included AFTER my Tables in Wonderland discount), it is. I’d just prefer to have someone else pay, and I’d like to do chef’s table next time. But I digress. This meal is easily within my top five, if not top three meals I’ve ever eaten. The service was beyond impeccable. Situated on the second floor of the Grand Floridian, Victoria & Albert’s is hidden behind large wooden doors with frosted windows. The decor is a refined elegance not to be found elsewhere at a Disney restaurant. It is one of only a few Five Diamond restaurants in the state of Florida. I went with my mom for my 29th birthday present in 2008 and it was an incredible dining experience. There were amuse bouche, palate cleansers, about seven courses, coffee, dessert, and the aforementioned wine pairing to go with each course. This is most definitely a culinary experience, not simply a meal. You need every bit of the three plus hours they warn you about when you book. One of my favorite aspects of the pre-arrival communications with the restaurant is the conversation about your allergies, likes and dislikes. This is so the restaurant can customize your menu to you so you are not being served something for hundreds of dollars that you do not enjoy. I don’t recall the specific menu items, as there were so many, but there wasn’t one I didn’t like. I’ve included a picture of the general menu for the evening. Each guest also receives a personalized copy of their menu to take home, which I am unable to locate at the moment.

 

Have you been to any of these restaurants? If so, what were your thoughts? Do you have any favorites?

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