Victoria and Albert's was a restaurant we got to enjoy in our September 2006 trip to Disney World. We were first turned onto Victoria & Albert's when it was showcased on Undiscovered Walt Disney on the Travel Channel. Well, actually, it was the Chef's Table at Victoria and Albert's that was showcased, but the restaurant caught our attention none-the-less [ed. note: We plan on doing a review of the Chef's Table in a future post].
My wife really salivated (no pun intended) at the idea of dining at this establishment. Because Victoria and Albert's has a strict dress code that meant that I had to be wearing a suit (in actuality I was only required to be in a coat but the wife's wishes prevailed), and my wife needed to sport a dress.
What this translates to is a very long shopping expedition to look for the perfect dress, shoes and purse. Plus, she needed to get me suited up.
We chose to dine at Victoria and Albert's on our first night at Walt Disney World. This date also corresponded with my 35th birthday.
Since my wife and I weren't allowed to take a Honeymoon after getting married and my job kept us from having a decent vacation afterwards, we decided that this trip would also count as our Honeymoon.
As rumored, we were contacted prior to our trip to Disney World by someone at Victoria and Albert's to determine our food allergies or any other foods that we just don't like to eat. My wife told them that we would prefer to not have caviar, sweetbreads, nor corn.
At this time the representative from the restaurant verified that we are indeed celebrating my birthday and honeymoon.
For all you men out there that are reading my blog, let me give you one bit of advice......
Another bit of advice I can pass on is that no matter how much you try to convince your wife, she isn't going to get on the Disney Bus System in a nice cocktail dress and heels. That means that we needed to plan to take a taxi to the Grand Floridian.
If you think stepping in the Magic Kingdom is like stepping into another world of Fantasy, then be prepared to slip even further into the "rabbit hole" when you cross through the threshold of Victoria and Albert's.
My mother once told me that there is a difference between eating and dining. A meal at Victoria and Albert's is definitely one that falls under the "dining" category. Be prepared for a very long dining experience. We had a 9PM seating and we weren't out of there until almost midnight.
A meal at Victoria and Albert's definitely substitutes for any parade and firework shows for the evening.
The first thing my wife and I observed was the quiet in the dining room. I remember leaning over to my wife and whispering to her that it felt like we were having our dinner in the resource section of a library. You know that section of the library that all the uber research geeks like to hang out. Where you most likely would find Disney Geek George if he wasn't tied to his duties as a Librarian.
The other thing you'll notice is that the restaurant isn't setup to hold a lot of people. The room we were in was really only designed to hold about 12 people and there were only a couple other rooms of tables.
Dining at Victoria and Albert's is not an appetizer, entree, and dessert type of establishment. You are going to have many, many courses. I went into this dining experience knowing that, but the portion size is still very deceptive.
When the wait staff sets down the first course you are sure you are going to breeze through this meal and leave needing to stop off somewhere and eat another meal.
The other thing you'll notice is that the china changes with each course. Both the style and patterns changed.
Now, I'm sure you are wondering what I thought of the food.
Well, I'm known to be pretty honest with you all, so I'm not going to start lying now. There were things that I thought were awesome (anything categorized as red meat) and there were other things that weren't so awesome. So I ended up taking a "no thank you" taste and left it relatively untouched. My mother always told me to try everything and eat enough to show that you cared even if you didn't like it.
The thing that I thought I would absolutely love, but found that I really didn't was the cheese course. I am a big lover of cheese (one of my few vices) but these weren't your usual cheeses. They were exotic cheeses and they didn't taste anything like what I've ever had before. I did try them all, but they were very pungent cheeses and now I know I don't like them.
The thing that I thought I would love and actually did was the dessert. Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate was the final course and I have two words to describe it....Grump-Tastic!
There were a lot of lovely touches in this restaurant. We all dined to tunes provided by a very talented harpist. I must say that I've never heard Elvis on a harp until that night.
Victoria and Albert went out of there way to keep us happy. Our glasses never got empty. When each course was provided we were given plenty of information about what we were eating. Plus, when the entree was presented we got the whole metal dome treatment. From my time as a fine dining waiter, I knew this was a French style service. It is always fun to see. Also, in the french style of service, the bread was served one roll at a time from a basket the wait staff carries. This help prevent you from filling up on bread which is a big problem of mine.
We did try to get plenty of pictures of our food, but I had a poor camera for the job and felt like I was committing some kind of federal crime by doing so. A crime like taking flash pictures in a dark ride or heckling the Jungle Cruise Skipper.
Our wait staff tried to reassure us that it was alright to take the pictures and that other people did it, but it still felt odd. Granted, this meal was way before I even thought to start blogging about my experiences with Disney. So, at the time, my memories were only worthy of our Disney scrapbook and photo albums.
Next time, the Nikon D80 is coming out and I'm taking better notes about my thoughts and impressions. Hopefully, I'll have a good flash with a diffuser on it to help prevent the blowing out of the whites that compose most of the dinnerware.
Plus, to top off the evening, every lady leaves with a fresh cut long-stem red rose.
You definitely saw a different sub-set of tourist at this restaurant. You just don't expect to see a bunch of finely dressed people when you are at Disney World.
My wife and I are definitely including this restaurant on our list of places we'll be going to again in the future. Unfortunately, with a price tag of $253 (not including alcohol), I doubt it will be anytime soon that we'll be going back (unless they add it as a Premium dining establishment on the Deluxe Dining Plan in 2008).
Below, you'll see copies of the menus that we were given to take home. You'll need to click on them to see a much larger copy which will be more legible.