Vegan Dining at Victoria and Albert’s Chef’s Table – No Tofu for You!

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Today’s dining article comes to us from Emily Woesthoff, General Manager of BabycakesNYC, a vegan, gluten-free bakery in Downtown Disney Marketplace. 

Everyone and everything gets a comfy seat at the Chef's Table

Walking into the Grand Floridian, I felt a little bit like Kobayashi. Was I supposed to have prepared for this? Was I maybe going to vomit from eating so much? Should I pre-soak my courses in water to help the marathon of eating on which I was about to embark? No, it was going to be fine, it’s just dinner… a really fancy dinner that I’ve been wanting to eat for years. No big deal.

We arrived promptly for our 5pm seating and waited to be escorted to our table. Some of the gentlemen in our party needed to borrow jackets, including a certain co-author I know. Once we were there, the guys were then told they could remove their jackets, as the Chef’s Table boasted a relaxed atmosphere, and was very different from the main dining room (phew). Get this, I was even given an extra-special fancy stool for my camera. Yup, they brought me a stool for my camera. That and a three car garage are the epitome of class. Our waiter also let the ladies at the table know that there were shawls available should any of us get chilly. At this, I promptly hid my sweater so I could request said shawl a bit later during the meal.

The amuse-bouche started the meal

The table was set up a mere 5 feet from where all of the action was going on in the kitchen.  There was hustle, there was bustle, and most importantly; there was a mirror for those who were seated with their backs to the kitchen so they could see the goings on as well.  Our waiters made introductions, and then Chef Scott Hunnel came out to speak with us.  He was very cordial, and asked about any food allergies at the table along with food preferences.  I was all ready to recite my I’m-vegan-no-I-don’t-eat-fish-or-butter-or-eggs speech when, to my relief, Chef Scott let me know he had a vegan menu planned for me (and no, it wouldn’t contain a drop of honey!).  I’ll admit it, I was a little skeptical.  Was my special menu going to be a lot of tofu on tofu action?  Was it going to be very salad and pasta heavy?  Ladies and gentlemen, I was about to find out.  Let the feasting begin!

The table kicked everything off with a champagne toast. I, on the other hand, prefer to kick things off like a 10 year old on New Year’s Eve, with a sparkling apple cider!  The first dish arrived, and I was extremely stoked because, despite the fact that there were four separate articles of food on the plate, they were all kept to their respective corners, like the beginning of a four person boxing match (I like that). This course is called the “amuse-bouche” (which I believe roughly translates to “something to amuse the bouche”) and featured one of my favorites of the evening, a Consommeé with a strong, biting mushroom flavor that was reminiscent of the best French onion soup broth you have ever tasted.  Also included on the plate were Salsify with Olive Oil and Capers, Vegetable Roulade with Pickled Ginger, and Gold Beet Carpaccio.  Do I know what a lot of that is?  No.  Did I Google it later?  Yes!

Heirloom Tomatoes and Lentils

If the nine courses to follow would be anything like the first, I was ready for them!  I really found the Heirloom Tomatoes with Lentils Charmoula Sauce to be delicious. You may not know this about me, but boy do I have a thing for lentils, especially when they are served a la revenge.  Seriously, eat with me at Boma sometime, I tend to go back to the buffet for cold lentils a third and fourth time.  Those lentils, however, have nothing on these lentils.  The Charmoula Sauce was flavorful, but light enough that it did not overpower the lentils or heirloom tomatoes sharing the plate.

At some point in my meal, I was served the second-place winner of the evening.  It is called Potato Cannelloni with Arugla and Spinach, White Truffle on the menu, but really, they could have summed it up as Freaking Magic on a Plate. The Potato Cannelloni was like eating mashed potatoes enveloped in a soft shell of deliciousness, with the most amazing mushroom gravy on the side.  I swear, I understand the purpose of blogging, but words can not describe how amazing this tasted.  Anyone planning to have the vegan menu at V&A (we’re on a first initial basis now) in the near future, please sneak one of these into your purse-on-a-stool and bring it back to me.  Seriously.

The second of three, count 'em THREE, desserts

I was blown away, course after course, but I’m sort of really into vegan desserts so I was really excited to be served three amazing dessert courses during this meal.  That’s right, three desserts!  One featured three flavors of sorbet, Pear-Ginger, Spiced Apple, and Red Currant. The pear flavor was fantastic because the ginger was so understated, but the Spiced Apple was the winner.  It tasted like a small scoop of chilled autumn with just a hint of spice.  There was also a Tofu Cheesecake which was divine. It was served topped with a raspberry glaze and ribbons of chocolate.  The best of the three, however, was the Apple Crisp. You know when you get to the bottom of a box of cereal and all of those delicious clusters remain?  That’s what I was reminded of eating the this dessert.  It was like a mini pie, the top was full of crunchy clusters covering warm spiced apples and cranberries with complimentary sweet and spicy flavors.  I was really impressed with all three of the vegan dessert options and the Tofu Cheesecake was one of the prettiest dishes I have ever seen.

The grand prize winner of the evening, though, was only part of a course.  Served alongside Vegetable Ratatouille in Calamarata Pasta, Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you 100 Year Balsamic. When I got over the fact that I was dipping my pasta in something that had been aged 100 years, I was able to appreciate the divine, almost maple syrupy taste of the balsamic.  It was so good that I pretty much made all of the other six people at the table try some.  Some of us swiped our fingers in it, others dipped it into Pastry Chef Erich Herbitschek’s Austrian Bread; but we all agreed that it tasted amazing.

A balsamic vinegar older than the combined ages of several people at our table!

Flavor aside, at this point, I realized just how specialized and rare some of these ingredients actually are, and how this menu is so carefully thought out.  I was taken aback to think about how much preparation had gone into this meal, and felt so grateful for the experience and the rare opportunity to eat such an amazing meal.  It was truly an unforgettable, once-in-a-lifetime-unless-you’re-really-lucky type of experience.  I still can’t get over how wonderfully my vegan diet was accommodated, and how welcoming the staff at Victoria and Albert’s was.  They gave the everyone at the table printed, personalized menus to help us all remember the evening (as if we would soon forget). The ladies at the table also got a red rose to take home as a souvenir.  And despite my best efforts, no, I was not able to keep my eating-shawl as a parting gift.

I feel confident in officially naming this the best vegan meal on property, in the Orlando area, anywhere ever.  If you’re a regular at V&A’s, and you’ve already tried the regular menu, I would highly recommend branching out and trying the vegan options.  I swear, it’s very far from ten courses of tofu.

Victoria and Albert’s is located at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa next to Citricos. It offers regular dining room seating, the Queen Victoria’s Room, and the Chef’s Table. The restaurant does not accept the Disney Dining Plan (the Platinum Plan is accepted for the regular dining room). Tables in Wonderland is accepted only at the regular dining room, not the Chef’s Table or the Queen Victoria’s Room. Children under 10 are not allowed at any Victoria and Albert’s seating.

All menus are prix-fixe:

Regular Dining Room – $125, wine pairings an additional $60.

Queen Victoria’s Room and Chef’s Table – $200, wine pairings an additional $95

Wines are also available by the glass.

Have you dreamed of eating at Victoria and Albert’s? Are you are vegan looking for a meal ne plus ultra? Talk about it in the comments!

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Posted on January 31, 2012

24 Responses to “Vegan Dining at Victoria and Albert’s Chef’s Table – No Tofu for You!”

  • WoW!!!! Thank you for writing such a great blog. It is wonderful to be able to eat vegan and have a true dining experience. Do you think they would ship to Canada? I hope to return to Disney this year and indulge. Did you request the recipe for the lentil dish? Keep up the great work!

    • I agree! Vegan fine dining experiences are hard to come by, and I was extremely impressed with what V&A’s had to offer.

      I neglected to ask for any of the recipes, but I definitely need to find both the lentil one, and the potato one!

  • Emily,

    My wife and I went to V&A’s while on our honeymoon, and despite having had an almost identical meal while at Remy on the Disney Dream (understandable given that the same chef designed both menus), she absolutely adored the Vegan menu. They took such great care of us, I can’t help but say that it was absolutely worth the cost.

    By the way, she also very much enjoyed BabycakesNYC while we were there. Any plans to open a Seattle franchise?

    • Rob, I’m so glad she enjoyed the vegan menu! It’s great to know they offer something similar on the Dream (I guess I’ll just have to go try it for myself!). For the quality of the food and the service, not to mention the insane amount of food, I agree it was worth the price.

      I’m so glad she enjoyed the bakery! No plans for Seattle just yet, but you never know!

  • The mark of any fine vegan dining establishment can be traced to if the menu has cold lentils.

  • What a great article! I laughed, I cried, I got hungry. Also, I’m glad to see your camera (and it’s strap) got the respect it deserves.

  • by Hedy @ wdw not just for kids on January 31, 2012, at 1:55 pm EDT

    I am a vegetarian whose Disney bucket list is topped by V&A.

  • Great review, Emily!

    I’ve eaten at V&A half a dozen times, including the Chef’s Table and the Queen Victoria Room.

    During one visit, while chatting with our waiter, we learned that they had recently hosted vegan guests who were so happy with their meal that they decided to come back the next night. The chefs were able to create an entirely different vegan dining experience for them with just a few hours notice.

    I think I may order the vegetarian menu next time, just to see/taste what it’s like. I’m sure I’ll be pleased.

  • Thanks for the wonderful photos! I want that teapot.

  • Okay, when you were on the podcast, Len mentioned that the tab per person came out closer to $340 (which, for what you get, is high but not unexpected for this DC-ite). But at $200 plus a generous tip, without wine pairings, that’s a fantastic price for what you get. Especially when you translate it into an hourly cost, it’s incredibly reasonable. Going to have to put this on the bucket list!

    • I have to agree. When you think about how much time you spend there, you’re not only paying for the delicious food, but also for the experience. Add it to the list!

  • Wow! I thought the Vegan Unplugged at CG was great- V&A sounds amazing! I will have to add this to my “once in a lifetime” list! Would love to see a blog or mini e-book about vegan CS options at WDW.

  • Did you get the wine pairing as well? Does it add significantly to the experience or does it make you feel full more quickly? The blog was great and made my mouth water.

  • I am so thankful for this review. My husband, who isn’t vegan, and I just booked this for his birthday dinner on May 1st, 2014. I have never had a meal of this caliber and am a little nervous about feeling out of place, but we are going for it!

  • Can you tell me if the pricing was any different for the veggie/vegan menu? My husband and I are both vegetarians, and I just can’t justify paying the same fixed price for beets, pasta, and cabbage (currently on the veggie menu) as the people eating lobster, lamb, and caviar (the current regular menu).

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