By The Clever Diva
Victoria and Albert’s (V&A), located in the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, is the only restaurant at WDW that actually frowns on children as guests. And maybe you think that’s awful. But, I think it’s wonderful to have one place that is completely an adult experience. And it makes for a lovely, romantic evening, from the moment you enter, until you depart, rose in hand. I will start out by saying that V&A is not for everyone. It is very expensive, it takes hours of your time to dine there, and it is so quiet it could make some uncomfortable. But, it is luxurious, and the food is exceptional. Did I mention that it is expensive???
The prix fix menu in the dining room, is currently at $150 per person, plus tax and gratuity. There is also an option of dining in the Queen Victoria Room, for an additional cost per person, or at the Chef’s Table, in the kitchen for $210 per person for 10 to 12 courses. The restaurant does not accept the Disney Dining Plan, nor does it accept the Tables in Wonderland card, any longer. In addition to the standard charge, there are several upgrades available on the menu. If you starting choosing those upgrades, and have several drinks, your final bill could be more than your mortgage payment. V&A offers 2 seatings a night; typically the first seating is between 5 and 6 pm, and the second seating starting at 8:30 pm. Although we like to dine late, we worried that the Kids Club, at the Polynesian, would close before we finished dinner. V&A suggests that you allow 3 hours for dinner, and that estimate was accurate. So, we chose 5:15, which was very early for us.
Several days before our reservation, we received a call from the restaurant. They wanted the correct spelling of the names of everyone in our party (my husband and I), mention of any special celebrations (our birthdays), and dietary information. The dietary information started with allergies, and moved on to general preferences and dislikes. I have never been asked these sorts of questions by any restaurant.
My husband had packed a suit, and I brought an evening gown. Suits or sports jackets are required for men, but ties are not necessary. Women generally need to wear something dressy. And I had packed every sort of jacket and hoodie for my daughters, but somehow forgot an evening wrap for me. Somehow, my grey Mickey Mouse hoodie just didn’t seem right, so with my arms bare, I hoped that the air conditioning wouldn’t be too chilly. My husband delivered our girls to the Kids Club, and I finished getting dressed, and took the monorail to the Grand Floridian. My husband waited, inside the Grand Floridian, near the monorail. And then he started answering questions – where are the rest rooms, where is 1900 Park Fare, etc. It seems that if you wear a suit at WDW, everyone assumes you are an employee. One woman actually got mad that he wouldn’t help her find her lost camera case. When he replied that he didn’t work there, she said “Then why the heck are you wearing a suit???”. We wondered too!
We walked to the entrance that V&A shares with Citricos. We gave our name, and a moment later, the restaurant door opened, and we were escorted into the restaurant. It was a tiny jewel box! There are only 16 tables in the dining room. The décor is Victorian, and our food servers were dress were attired appropriately. The woman wore a lovely raspberry full length skirt and high-necked lacey blouse. The man wore a blue grey morning suit, complete with tails and ascot. They were genteel, and laughed at our comments, even if they weren’t funny. We felt a bit like we had somehow gone back in time, and were suddenly wealthy, with indentured servants. It took a little getting used to.
The tone of the room was hushed, except for a woman playing the harp, off to one side. The elements combined to make for a very grown-up sort of evening, even though we were right in the middle of the happiest place on earth. I felt like I was on a first date, even though we’ve been married for 18 years.
Overall, the food was fabulous, and the service was exquisite! When I mentioned that I was chilly, a cashmere wrap appeared, and was arranged on my shoulders. The server asked for my purse, and hung it from the table. When it was time for coffee, the server prepared the cup for me, asking how much sugar and creamer I wanted. It was the feeling of being totally pampered.
The menus arrived, and they were personalized with our names and birthday greetings. And the selections on the menu were also personalized, so my husband and I had different, but similar choices. The menu is described as 7 courses, plus 3 bread courses, but there are actually more. That’s sounds like so much food, but each course was just a bite or two. With the bread courses, we were quite satisfied, but not uncomfortable, at the end of the meal.
We were presented with the iPad wine menu. V&A has been honored with Wine Spectator’s “Best of Award of Excellence” , and the selection was quite large and varied. There were several bottles under $100, and many much much higher. The most expensive bottle I saw was $5500. Several of the choices were priced as something like $250 BTG. BTG? By the Glass….Yes, there were many wines that were listed as hundreds of dollars, by the glass. I did find a blend of several reds from regions in France, priced at $22 a glass. Compared to everything else, it seemed like a steal! I questioned the server, and he remarked that the wine buyer got it for a very good price, and passed it on. Since I intended to have several glasses of wine, it seemed like a good choice, and it was. The server brought the bottle to the table, and the pours were generous. There is also a wine pairing, starting at $65 per person, and that is probably a very good way to have a proper wine with each course, at a reasonable price.
Your menu selections will be personalized, but I’ll give you an idea of what I was offered. I could go into detail about each course, but it will suffice to say that each course was tiny and perfect. And they were all equally wonderful. First, there was option of a white truffle shaving, for an additional $45. Then, an Amuse-Bouche (a little taste) was served. Osetra Caviar was available for $210 for one ounce. We did not indulge, but wished we could. This was followed by two fish courses (I chose rare tuna, followed by Maine scallop), then a “white meat” course (quail was offered, but I chose pork), then a “dark meat” course with a choice of veal, duck, lamb or Kobe-style beef (an additional $35) or true Japanese Kobe beef for an additional $110. At the end of the meal, there was a choice of a lovely cheese plate, or white chocolate gelato. In between each main course, there was a different incredible bread, with a special butter suited to that bread. My husband, who cannot have milk products, has a different selection of breads, and each had a special olive oil to accompany it. And these oils were so different and so flavorful!
After dinner, you must have coffee, just to see the presentation! But, you must be patient because it takes about 10 minutes to brew at your table. At V&A, they employ a siphon type of coffee maker that uses a vacuum created by the heat. The water in the glass bottom is heated and slowly percolates into the upper glass vessel, which holds the coffee grounds. Then the heat is removed, and ….nothing happens. But, a couple of minutes later, all the liquid coffee was suddenly drawn into the lower vessel, so quickly that I let out a little gasp. And oh, it was fabulous coffee! Instantly, our server appeared to pour and prepare my cup. At V&A’s, you won’t even have to stir your coffee, or add sugar or cream – it will all be done for you.
Then, dessert arrived. I had the Caramelized Banana Gateau, which included a stunning piece of spun sugar or floss. Although it first sounded like my husband would have to settle for fruit, due to his milk intolerance, he was rewarded with a plate that included a dark chocolate and raspberry tart, fresh berries with a mango sorbet, and crushed sugared macadamia nuts.
When we thought we had finally finished dinner, a plate of house-made chocolates and confections (listed as friandises) arrived. I felt compelled to finish them all!
The bill arrived in a small box, with a long-stemmed rose, wrapped in plastic. Inside the box, was typical cash register receipt, which was a little comical. We also received a dark brown paper bag. Inside, we found our personalized menus in a stunning rich brown envelope, and a small loaf of bread, to enjoy at breakfast the next day. A very nice touch!
We left hand in hand, enjoying those last few moments in the gorgeous lobby of the Grand Floridian, and walked to the monorail to rejoin the real world. Our children, who didn’t want to go to the Kids Club, now didn’t want to leave. We were very quickly back to reality!
We really enjoyed our get-away evening at V&A. It was quiet and relaxing, and my husband and I found that we did still have some things to talk about, other than our children. V&A does invite children aged 10 and up, but I don’t think that most would enjoy it at all. My children are used to dining in nice restaurants, and still, I don’t think they would have liked it at all. It’s extremely quiet and reserved – sort of like enjoying dinner in a very formal library, where the librarian might shush you at any moment. For us, the service and the food combined to make a truly memorable experience. Will we go back? More likely if we had someone to watch our kids. Adding the cost of 3 ½ hours in the Kids Club to the already expensive dinner, made it a very rare treat. But, one we’ll always remember, and treasure.