Dining

Menu Monday: My Dinner at VIVO

by on November 3, 2014

entrancevivoWhen I made it over to Universal Orlando Resort for the first time a few weeks ago, I was pleasantly surprised at the close proximity of the parks and the CityWalk area. I knew that I should sample some food from the CityWalk area, and through some research I thought I should go to VIVO.

openkitchenVIVO Italian Kitchen just opened up in June as part of CityWalk’s new renovations and additions. (Other restaurants recently added are Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt, Hot Dog Hall of Fame, and The Cowfish.) VIVO promotes itself as “modern Italian cuisine,” and the decor of the restaurant really promotes that. It feels very contemporary inside, with an open layout and lots of light.

I really enjoyed the modern decorations here, and it was a great setting with which to relax after a long day of touring around Universal. It was classy, but I didn’t feel under-dressed, either.

barI was seated near the bar, and the two bartenders working waited on me. I have worked in the food industry before, and know that sometimes servers would prefer to wait on tables of two or more guests instead of a solo diner, but the bartenders were very nice and didn’t try to get me out the door as soon as possible. One of them had a nice conversation with me about Halloween Horror Nights, which he had just attended the night before.

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Menu Monday: The Cowfish Orlando Now Open at Universal CityWalk

by on November 3, 2014

First Look Cowfish Orlando now open

Take a first look inside Cowfish Orlando, the new sushi & burger restaurant at Universal’s CityWalk (photos by Seth Kubersky).

I’ll admit it: I was skeptical. When I first heard that The Cowfish — the North Carolina-based restaurant concept combining sushi and burgers into “burgushi” — was coming to Universal Orlando, I didn’t have much hope for the fishy fusion, even if it did involve two of my favorite foods. But now, after eating at Cowfish Orlando on its first night of “soft opening” to the public, I’m sold! Enjoy these Cowfish Orlando photos from our first look inside the sure-to-be-popular eatery, which should now be open daily at CityWalk.

Cowfish Orlando Exterior

Cowfish occupies both a portion of CityWalk’s ground level real estate between Red Oven Pizza and VIVO, and the second story site where the complex’s original Starbucks Coffee once sat. The look is clean, colorful, and a bit whimsical, with massive representations of the restaurant’s namesake animals.

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Menu Monday: A Pescetarian Guide to Disney World

by on November 3, 2014

Even spell-check does not know what a pescetarian is, so allow me to explain: a pescetarian diet is similar to a vegetarian diet, with the addition of fish. Reasons for eating pescetarian range from the health conscious to the animal loving. My family and I have been pescetarians for the past eight years–minus one stubbornly carnivorous brother. We have traveled throughout the Walt Disney World theme parks finding counter service restaurants that offer a variety of pescetarian, vegetarian, and vegan options. So whether you’re a pescetarian yourself or you ride The Seas with Nemo and Friends and think “them’s good eatins,” this pescetarian guide to Disney World is for you.

pescetarian Disney World

Columbia Harbor House has an extensive seafood menu. Photo by Maddi Higgins.

Magic Kingdom

Magic Kingdom’s counter service dining has vastly improved in recent years, and that improvement has included adding many pescetarian and vegetarian options.

Pescetarian Pick: When I mentioned to my fellow Cast Members that I was working on this article, Columbia Harbor House was the first restaurant mentioned by every single person. Options range from the classic fried fish and French fries to grilled salmon with couscous and broccoli. The fried selections are essentially the same as you’ll find anywhere else on property, but the Anchors Aweigh and Lighthouse sandwiches are unique selections It’s also home to my favorite kid’s meal: tuna salad sandwich on goldfish-shaped bread for only $5.99. While seafood and veggie-lovers have a great variety to choose from, pickings are relatively slim for classic carnivores. I’m also happy to see that TouringPlans.com users agree with unfailing support of the restaurant, with 93% of users giving Columbia Harbor House a positive review.

Honorable Mentions: If you can manage to get in the restaurant, Be Our Guest’s tuna Nicoise salad is yummy and you can’t beat the atmosphere. I never thought I would ever say this in my life about a restaurant in Fantasyland, but Pinocchio Village Haus actually has pretty good flatbread pizza. However, there is no reason not to walk to Columbia Harbor House no matter where you are in Magic Kingdom, considering how superior the selection is to anywhere else.

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Menu Monday: Desserts Aboard the Disney Wonder

by on November 3, 2014

Disney Wonder Desserts

A Work Of Art – It tasted as good as it looks!

If you’ve been following along you probably already know by now that I was lucky enough to enjoy a spectacular Disney Alaska Cruise this summer aboard the Disney Wonder. Between rounds of bingo and incredible Port Adventures like dog sledding, riding the rails and soaring in a floatplane, I managed to fit in some time to eat. Talking to several cruisers during my planning, I discovered that dining onboard the cruise ship was a large part of the vacation for most people. Being an extremely picky eater myself, I planned on focusing my meals mainly on dessert.

Please continue on to see my dessert lover’s photo diary as I ate my way around the Disney Wonder!

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A Monorail Loop Progressive Dinner

by on November 3, 2014

A progressive dinner (or supper safari) is a meal where you start at one location for part of the meal, but by the final course, you have visited several locations for various courses.

On a recent visit to Walt Disney World, my family wasn’t sure what they wanted to eat, so we skipped making dining reservations. Needless to say, by the time dinner came around, there weren’t a lot of options available. We had joked that if there is any place on the world where a progressive dinner makes sense, it is at Walt Disney World, and so we set out on a grand progressive dinner adventure dining around the monorail loop.

Great food and awesome transportation when you do a monorail loop progressive dinner.

Great food and awesome transportation when you do a monorail loop progressive dinner. (Photo by Julia Mascardo)

What’s great is that you get to sample a variety of cuisine without having to worry about dining reservations. Think of it as your own mini Food and Wine festival.

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Observations from Downtown Disney (Big Hero 6 Kiosk, New Stores, Construction Update, and More)

by on October 29, 2014

It has been a big week for Downtown Disney (soon to be rebranded as Disney Springs) with the news of two new dining venues coming to the area, including one from celebrated Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto. A lot of progress has been made since our last photo report of WDW’s shopping district, and today you’ll be able to get a look at two new kiosks that have recently opened (Set the Bar and Sublime) along with updates on the Food Truck Park, the bridge across Village Lake, and new merchandise at the stores.

Our first look is at the status of the much needed West Side parking garage. This garage is huge and stretches all the way from DisneyQuest to Pleasure Island. The scheduled opening date is Spring 2015.

DTD_garage1

West Side parking garage.

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Disney Dining: The Smokehouse at Downtown Disney

by on October 27, 2014

With House of Blues still on double secret probation, it was time to try a new venue for lunch while on a recent trip to Downtown Disney. I had intended on trying the menu of one of the four Disney food trucks, but three of them (the ones dedicated to food representing Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and “Magic Kingdom’s around the world”) were not open until 6PM. I met photographer Brandon Glover near Cirque du Soleil on DtD’s West Side, and The Smokehouse was the first place we walked past, so we made the easy decision of just eating there instead of walking all the way back to the Marketplace, where the Animal Kingdom food truck was parked next to World of Disney. (Please note that all pictures in this article can be viewed at full size by clicking on them.)

 

Smokehouse_ribs

A half rack of St. Louis ribs at The Smokehouse (photos by Brandon Glover.)

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Menu Monday: Cinderella’s Royal Table vs. Be Our Guest Restaurant

by on October 27, 2014

Disney World’s Magic Kingdom is home to two of the most magical dining locations you can imagine: Cinderella’s Royal Table and the Be Our Guest Restaurant. Both are very popular with guests, including myself, because who wouldn’t want the chance to dine in a castle like Disney royalty, right? But which one should you choose on your vacation and which of the two offers the most pixie dust for your buck? That’s exactly what I intend to find out in this Magic Kingdom Dinner Showdown: Cinderella’s Royal Table vs. Be Our Guest Restaurant.

Copyright - Disney

Copyright – Disney

First of all, Cinderella’s Royal Table, located inside Cinderella Castle, is a character meal featuring Disney Princesses at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Breakfast is standard, American fare, while lunch and dinner offer more sophisticated dishes. Touring Plans currently rates this dining destination three stars.

Be Our Guest, however, is only open for lunch and dinner; but the two different mealtimes offer different experiences. At lunch, Be Our Guest is a quick service restaurant where you order your food ahead of time with a Cast Member or at a kiosk and then choose your own table. The menu is centered around soups and sandwiches. At dinner, the dessert menu remains the same, but Be Our Guest becomes a table service restaurant offering a traditional, sit-down restaurant experience. Touring Plans currently rates this dining destination four stars.

Challenge #1: Price

Cinderella’s Royal Table is unique in that the menu is prix fixe. This means there is a set price for your meal, but you choose which selection of dishes you prefer. An average price for an adult meal at Cinderella’s Royal Table is currently around $70 per person and $45 per child.

Dinner at Be Our Guest offer a more typical dining set-up with individual prices for each menu item. To offer a price comparison to Cinderella’s Royal Table, if I were to order a soft drink, an appetizer of Potato Leek Soup, the Grilled Strip Steak, and then the Grey Stuff for dessert, my bill would average to about $50.00 per person. A kid’s dinner consisting of a drink, a garden salad for an appetizer, the Beast’s Casserole (macaroni and cheese), and the Grey Stuff for dessert would cost around $10 to $12.

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SATURDAY SIX: Six Reasons To Go On a Disney Cruise

by on October 25, 2014

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Reasons To Go On a Disney Cruise. Earlier this month I was fortunate to be able to take my first ever Disney Cruise aboard the Disney Wonder as part of TouringPlans #Everywhere promotion. The experience was pretty amazing overall, and while before the trip I had a hard time understanding why people would pay so much for a Disney Cruise when there are some great alternatives (such as Royal Caribbean) for a fraction of the price, I now see exactly what draws people back again and again to DCL. In fact, I think for many Disney fans a sailing on the DCL is a must-do, as it provides an overall immersion in the Disney brand that even many on-site WDW vacations can’t compete with. Today we are going to look at six of the reasons you should consider popping a Dramamine and sailing the high seas with Mickey and the gang. Remember that clicking on any picture will bring it up in full size, so grab that life jacket and let’s start counting down…

# 6 – The Characters

DCL_Character_Donald

Donald Duck on the DCL Wonder.

 

We knew that there were going to be characters on board the Disney ships that you could meet, but we were not prepared for how many. There were the Fab 5 of Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, and Pluto. The ubiquitous Chip and Dale. Daisy Duck. Frozen‘s Anna and Elsa. Disney Jr. characters such as Sofia the First and Jake. Disney princesses including Ariel, Tiana, Rapunzel, Snow White, Aurora, Belle, and Cinderella. Lastly, there were miscellaneous characters such as Peter Pan, Captain Hook, and Stitch. These were just the ones that I personally saw throughout the cruise, as we never looked to see where the characters would be, or at what time, which leads me to believe that there are even more that I didn’t see.

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Menu Monday: Snacks from the World Showcase: China!

by on October 20, 2014

Epcot's Iconic Spaceship Earth, on our snacks from China Quest

It’s a perfect day to search out snacks! © Disney

It’s Menu Monday! Today we are looking once again at packaged snacks that are available in Epcot’s World Showcase, and we have already visited JapanCanadaUnited Kingdom, France, and Germany. Only a few stops remain on our snacking tour, so let’s check out what’s available as we explore today’s stop, China!

Snack Rules

  • No snacks over $10; preferably less than $5
  • As unusual as possible
  • Something I personally would eat

Let’s see what we can find!

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