WDW Weekend Eats
August 5, 2012
Last weekend Miss Bonnie and I made a quick trip to the World, and even though it wasn’t a full weekend, there was plenty of good and interesting eats to share, so let’s dive right in!
After a Saturday morning spent checking out the construction walls in the Magic Kingdom (more on that in another post), we boarded the monorail for the ride to Epcot for lunch.
On our way to Italy, we passed yet another construction wall in the World Showcase…
Outside our lunch destination, Tutto Gusto, was a sign touting their new wine seminars.
We made our way into the cool interior and were able to snag a seat on one of the sofas in the room next to the fireplace (of course you need a fireplace in Florida in July…).
We ordered a couple of adult beverages while we perused the menu…
we ordered the marinated artichokes to start.
Tender and nicely flavored from the olive oil, we both enjoyed this as a light starter to share.
We then decided to split one of the corkscrew pasta dishes…
and settled on the Gamberetti.
With a few large, nicely cooked shrimp and a sauce with just enough bite from the calabrian chili to make me happy, yet not scare off Miss Bonnie, this was a “two thumbs up” from both of us (so I guess that would be four thumbs up?).
All in all a nice, relaxing lunch in the midst of a huge theme park.
It was during this meal we learned of the new menu change to occur at Tutto Gusto (see the post “Go for the Gusto“), and now we’re even more eager to return here to see what new is in store!
Afterwards we headed to the Mexico Pavilion to meet a certain Disney-celebrity-blogger friend at La Cava for margaritas (oh, twist my arm!).
A couple of new drinks have been added to the margarita roster since our last visit.
So of course we had to try the “Organic Skinny Lime” and “Milagro Pomegranate” margaritas. Both were good (the pomegranate the better of the two), but neither we thought among the best that La Cava has to offer.
We sadly said our goodbyes to our friend, and La Cava, to return to our room at the Dolphin resort.
Only the anticipation of our upcoming dinner could ease the sting of leaving La Cava…
As you might guess, that evenings repast was scheduled at Cat Cora’s Kouzzina restaurant on the Boardwalk, a short walk from the Dolphin resort.
I have dined at Kouzzina a few times, while this was Miss Bonnie’s first time there, and she was quite looking forward to trying the menu there.
We ordered beverages (Miss Bonnie selected one of the wine flights that would highlight her eventual entree selection while I tried the Caymus Red Conundrum) and started by sharing the baked goat cheese appetizer.
I’m a sucker for goat cheese, and this heated and adorned version was quickly downed (and yes, we did now have our Total Minimum Daily Requirement of artichoke). We were also served bread with a couple of types of Greek olive oil for dipping along with a few cured olives – Miss Bonnie adored the oil (and I couldn’t argue with her in the least about this simple culinary pleasure of nice, spongy bread and flavorful oil).
Not able to decide on a single entree, Miss Bonnie went for the Kouzzina Trio.
This “combo platter” has tender cinnamon-scented stewed chicken served with herbed orzo pasta (we both liked), a nice portion of the Greek-style Lasagna (pasta, cinnamon-stewed meat sauce, and bechamel sauce – as a full dish this perhaps would have been too much, but in this sampler portion it was well liked) and a slider-size Char-grilled Lamb Burger (this was the only item that is not offered as a separate entree option).
The burger was actually quite good, and would be a nice lunch option if Kouzinna was open for lunch (which it isn’t…). Our served warned us that the burger was “very spicy”, but even Miss Bonnie’s more tender taste buds didn’t detect any excessive heat.
I was in the mood for some Serious Meat, so I was torn between the Braised Short Ribs, Wood-grilled Rib-eye and the Oak-fired Pork Tenderloin. I asked our server her recommendation and she quickly answered “the pork”.
The huge piece of pig was perfectly cooked to medium and topped with a feta gremolata. Broccoli rabe and a cornbread-like concoction rounded out the plate.
I was very happy with this dish and would certainly order it again.
Overstuffed, we passed on the dessert options and made plans to waddle ourselves to Epcot for a post-dinner viewing of Illuminations.
Miss Bonnie was enthralled by the restaurant, and now thinks she has found one of her new favorite eateries in the World. My only disappointment was not getting to speak to Chef Dee (Dee Foundoukis, who runs the kitchen) – I guess now that Bonnie has expressed a desire to return, the Chefs Table here will have to be in our future…
Sunday began with a visit to Animal Kingdom (we were a bit disappointed that we didn’t happen to come across any construction walls here…).
In Harambe, we noted that the Dawa Bar was still offering the tasty Sugar Cane Mojito even though the Sundowner Celebration has ended.
After a ride on the safari and some wandering around, we looked for some light sustenance and decided to take a another go at the Summer Rolls from one of the carts along the path between Africa and Asia.
Served cold, these rice paper enrobed veggie-and-rice pasta filled wraps are a refreshing change of pace on a hot summer day.
These now are served in a “two-pack” and comes with a yummy hoisin-based dipping sauce (the original offering here was a single roll served with a sweet chili sauce). I really like that we have a healthy and light alternative to most of the other snack options available in the parks.
Now sufficiently sated to trek elsewhere for Sunday lunch, we moved on to the recently opened Art of Animation Resort.
We had scoped out this incredibly well-themed resort a few weeks back, but despite the initial good reports on the eats at the food court, this was our first chance to eat there.
We wandered around and explored a bit – the “Cars” area had just recently opened.
We then went into the main Animation Hall building to find the Landscape of Flavors food court.
The roomy food court area is, like the food courts at the other value resorts, broken down into sections, each with a similar food theme…
Video screens above each section show the menu for that area on one side and large pictures of featured items on the other.
The two pages of each menu alternate on the right side of the screen, while pictures of several of the featured items rotate on the left side.
The photos pixilate as they change from one image to another – a simple but cool effect.
The kitchen area, unlike most other of the food courts, is wide and open, allowing you to see the food actually being prepared. They even have shiny high-tech tandoori ovens for making several of the Indian-inspired items.
Based on what we’d heard from others who had already eaten then, as well as from one prior visit when we scoped out the eats but didn’t partake, we knew pretty much what we were going to have… but that didn’t stop us from eyeing the other sections menus before we ordered.
We had decided to eat from the Tandoori and Mongolian Grill area, so the next decision was what exactly to have from there…
We eyeballed the display plates of food while chatting up the amiable castmembers behind the counter – asking them their preferences of the items being offered.
Miss Bonnie chose the Acorn Squash as her main and I selected the Tandoori Chicken Thigh. We got a variety of sides (we were actually given three sides each, if you count the rice – not sure if the rice was considered part of the meal or if the servers were just generous on that day) and made our way to pay and find a table.
There are several large dining areas, each themed to one of the movies represented in the different sections of the resort. It was not crowded when we visited, and we found a table among many of the ones open in the Little Mermaid seating area.
We eagerly dove in, and were quite pleased with was was on our plates. Bonnie found the roasted acorn squash to be a revelation!
The chicken held up well to the high heat of the tandoor, and was full of flavor while not being dry. Alongside was a spiced, yoghourt-based sauce. The veggies were good, even though be both thought the spinach could have had a bit more spice. The freshly baked naan was great, and if there had been more room in our stomachs we would have gladly devoured more of it.
I’ve eaten more than my share of Indian food in my day, and this certainly wasn’t the best, but it was far from being the worst… Miss Bonnie and I agreed that if we had been served the same meal in a sit-down establishment and charged twice as much, we would have still been very happy. The portions are generous (even without a third side, I don’t think we could have finished our plates without being overly stuffed), and the quality was very good. The food here is also a fairly good value – our two entrees and two non-adult beverages came to just over $20 after the Tables in Wonderland discount (yes, they do take it here – yea!).
Even though we were both feeling full, Bonnie couldn’t resist a trip for something sweet…
The Market Shop section of the food court has a variety of smoothies, specialty beverages, sweets, and Miss Bonnie’s choice for the day: gelato.
There were several flavors of gelato to choose from (along with toppings if desired) and Miss Bonnie was glad to take sample tastes of all of them before settling on a combo bowl of pistachio and torrone (don’t ask me what that flavor is, all I know is it’s Italian-something…).
The gelto flavors are displayed in a fun way, with hidden (and not-so-hidden) Mickeys!
The food court also has a nice selection of grab-and-go items…
including sandwiches, sushi, fruit, and baked goods (including vegan goodies from Babycakes).
Even the beer and wine selection was a few notches above the norm, including several Florida-brewed specialties.
We’re looking forward to trying some of the other offerings here – has a food court actually become Destination Dining?
It will be interesting to see if the quality and service changes as the rest of the resort rooms are opened (at the time of our visit only two of the four sections of the resort had opened) and the number of dining guests increases greatly.
So there you have it Dear Dedicated Readers – some more vicarious dining for you… we really enjoyed our three main experiences (Tutto Gusto, Kouzinna and Landscape of Flavors) and are actually looking forward to re-visiting them all soon – not a bad percentage!
Time to get back to the kitchen – see you again soon!