Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Dining Review: Liberty Tree Tavern

We had ressies at 8:40 for Liberty Tree Tavern. We were all suddenly really hungry after waiting in line for Splash Mountain for almost an hour.

Brett and I had done this one for our honeymoon but John really wanted to try it again. The restaurant was not nearly as full as it had been previously for the character meals.

The food hasn't changed much in a year. It's still the same traditional family-style meal. Starters include a garden salad with raspberry vinaigrette, hot rolls and butter. Then, turkey with gravy, stuffing, ham and a mustard sauce, roast beef, mashed potatoes and Stouffer's mac & cheese. Then, apple cobbler with vanilla ice cream for dessert.

It was a filling meal but no sparks were flying. We were stuffed by the end and needed to find a bench before heading off to Extra Magic Hours.

A huge family from Australia was next to us. At least 12-14 people. It was loud! We could obviously tell they hadn't had root bear before because they were all passing around one glass and saying how much is wasn't like sasparilla and how it tasted like medicine. If medicine tastes like that in Australia, I need to move there.

Our server did a great job of refilling items for us. He was almost too quick with getting drink refills.It's a good meal for picky eaters. But the drawback is the price. They haven't changed the price since getting rid of character dining. It just isn't worth the price minus the extras now. I'd go back in the future, but only if they reduced the price or brought back the characters.

Dining Review: Tokyo Dining

We originally were supposed to eat at Narcoosee's on Saturday night after the 5k. But we were tired and didn't want to spend as much money with the current state of the economy. So we decided to insert an alternative table service in its place on our last day. Well, we managed to fit two table service meals in its place and probably came about even if we had gone with our original plan.

One of the restaurants we decided to try was Tokyo Dining for sushi. We've recently been on a huge sushi kick and enjoy finding new places that have exciting, experimental choices.

None of us had ever actually been to the Japan pavilion at World Showcase, so there were a lot of firsts. There are beautiful ponds and gardens in the pavilion. The large ceremonial temple still has scaffolding and a huge tarp around it due to renovations. The Cast Members in the entire area were the nicest I have encountered.

Tokyo Dining is located on the second floor above the Mitsokoshi shopping area. It shares the space with Teppan Edo. There were definitely more people trying the teppanyaki-style dining experience where the teppan chefs prepare your food in an entertaining way for you.The CMs at the entry all wore traditional kimonos. They bowed as they greeted you (your servers did as well).

A large picture window overlooks the lagoon (it must be great for Illuminations.) A center dining area has tables and gives a front row seat of the sushi chefs and a large plasma screen that plays calming images of flora and fauna.

Our waitress was so sweet! She bent over backwards for any needs. First, she brings a warm wash cloth and instructs you its to refresh your hands. The menu isn't extensive as some places but there are a few new sushi items that we haven't seen elsewhere.

We each end up trying something different. I tried the Bento box (a mix of tuna sashimi, seaweed salad, steamed rice, teriyaki beef and tempura veggies). It was fabulous. The fish had a great flavor. The seaweed salad was a nice surprise. It was very refreshing. The tempura batter was one of the lightest I have ever tried. It actually stuck to the veggies well and had a great crunch.

Brett had a Spicy Philadelphia Roll, yellowtail sashimi and salmon roll. John had tempura shrimp, squid sashimi, and yellowtail. Everything was amazing. The Spicy Philly roll was something we haven't seen anywhere else. I normally don't like cream cheese in my sushi, but the smoothness of the cream cheese provided a great cooling effect to the spicyness of the rest of the roll.

Tokyo Dining also provided us with a special anniversary dessert slice of chocolate ginger cake. It was really good! I love ginger so much and never thought it would be such a great compliment to chocolate. It wasn't too decadent. (Photo)

Overall, Tokyo Dining is now one of my favorite Disney dining destinations and one of the hidden gems at World Showcase. The entire experience was fabulous. The only downside was the price. It wasn't quite as competitive as other choices you could make at the world or in comparison with other sushi restaurants, but service and ambience more than make up for it. We will definitely be back!

Dining Review: Boma (breakfast)

Brett and I had already enjoyed Boma's dinner buffet during out Disneymoon last year. We still can't stop raving about it. So, when we started planning this trip, we knew we wanted to go back and try breakfast. John was a little apprehensive about it, but I think he warmed up to it pretty nicely.

We had a 7:50 ressie on Friday, March 6. We were running a bit late anyways, but it didn't help that Security was amped up (I heard rumors Britney Spears was staying at Animal Kingdom Lodge during the same time so they limited incoming guests) and they were checking our driver's licenses and calling the restaurant to confirm our dining reservation even though we gave them a confirmation code.

The restaurant was barely full at that time of morning. We could see the pool from our table, steam still rising off the water's surface. I'm still amazed at how gorgeous the lodge's architecture really is from the thatched roof to the savannah. I was carefully examining all the kitchens and the space that Boma takes up is immense.We were taken to our table promptly.

The Cast Member gave DH and I a "Celebrate Today!" card for our 1st anniversary signed by all the CMs in their native languages. It was really touching.The layout of the buffet is similar to dinner.

On the far right hand side is the carving station (it had cured ham and corned beef for breakfast) and traditional African fare such as bobotie (it seemed like a spicy version of grits to me) and fried tomatoes.

There was an area that had waffles, sausage, bacon and already prepared eggs and omelettes. But there was also an made-to-order omelette station. I had the chef make a bacon, mushroom and cheddar omelet. It was huge, but well worth it! There was a large selection of dry cereals, breads and muffins. The banana bread was excellent. Brett and John both really enjoyed the sausage. They said it had a great smoky flavor.

Boma's signature juice - a mix of guava, mango and papaya was a great starter for the morning. I also love the paper straws they have at the lodge and at Animal Kingdom park. Finally, our server brought Brett and I special dessert to celebrate our anniversary. (Picture with our card.) Even if it was only 9 a.m., they were fantabulous!

Overall, I really enjoyed breakfast at Boma. There's enough of a selection for even the pickiest of diners. The restaurant was still barely full by the time we left, so I think it's a nice quiet option for adult travelers or those with older children. I would go back in a heartbeat for both meals!

Dining Review: Cape May Cafe

We visited Cape May Cafe on our first night (Wednesday, March 4). We had a 7:30 ressie. John and I absolutely love Yacht & Beach Club for its ambience. It was Brett's first trip there, so I hope he liked it just as much. None of us had ever been to CMC.

Brett and I have lived in Boston, so we have all had a traditional New England clambake. While this isn't "traditional," the fare was average. There were ample amounts of selections on the buffet for both seafood and non-seafood eaters.

The Cast Members who greeted us were energetic and gave us the lay of the land. They showed us the designated areas for soups, salads, seafood, kid's choices and **of course** dessert!

The colorful inside is a beach theme with beachside umbrellas and awnings, sandcastles, and light wood finishings. The tables were covered in large white pieces of paper and crayons were stocked in little metal buckets. (I had a ball coloring a little Cinderella castle with fireworks and a dog! See picture.)

There was everything including mussels, clams, herb-baked salmon, corn-on-the-cob, fruit salad (it had a little too much mint for my taste), barbecued chicken and prime rib.

The items that stick out to me was the clam chowder. It's hard to get a good clam chowder, but I liked that there's had a hefty amount of meat (you could actually tell they were clams) and there was even the grit of the sand (I like that...I know others who don't.) I also really enjoyed the Oreo Bon-Bons. It was an Oreo sandwich cookie covered with a vanilla/chocolate mousse and then covered in milk chocolate. Really good! The cookies on the dessert bar were a tad dry. I like a chewy cookie. But, the Key Lime pie tarts were a tasty and spring-like alternative.

Overall, our service was a bit spotty. It took awhile to get beverages refilled. The food was good, but nothing to really write home about. I think you can get a better deal at other buffets such as Boma or Crystal Palace in regards to both food, ambience and service. If we were pressed for ADRs on a future trip, I would give it a try, but it's not on my "must-do" list.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Trip report - Pt. 2

Sunday, March 8

Our last day. We slept in a bit until around 8-ish. Then, we parked over at Beach Club around 10 a.m. to walk over through the International Gateway at World Showcase.

Brett and I toured the shops around the UK pavilion while John found a quaint little bench in front of Rose & Crown before other areas opened. I played around with a trivia game in one of the UK shops before Brett and I went to see the O! Canada movie. I haven't seen the new Martin Short version or heard the new song sung by the Canadian Idol winner, but I liked the changes.

Afterwards, we leisurely walked around to Mexico for a ride on The Gran Fiesta Tour (I still miss Cheech Marin in El Rio del Tiempo!). I was getting hungry and something was smelling amazing at the couter service outside the pavilion. We were able to walk right on the Maelstrom before our ressies for lunch at Tokyo Dining.

I have never actually gone in the Japan pavilion but was really surprised at the shops and the food was amazing! We had a great experience and the sushi was really good. Before we left Epcot, we made one last trip on Spaceship Earth. Then, we took the Monorail over to MK for the rest of the day and night. John was well involved in starting his pin trading, so Brett and I were able to catch Move It! Shake It! Celebrate It! on Main Street. We walked right on to POTC. Then, we had a 50-minute wait for Splash Mountain. While we were standing in line, a little boy in front of us stepped to the side of the line and started peeing in some bushes. Really gross!

We had ressies at Liberty Tree Tavern at 8:40 so we were able to catch Country Bear Jamboree during Spectromagic. I'm surprised they didn't change the price of the meal after getting rid of the characters. We also had a LARGE family from Australia next to us -- maybe 12-14 people. It was loud to say the least. They were very adamant about the root beer tasting like medicine.

There were Extra Magic Hours until 1 a.m. so we were able to do Haunted Mansion and a few other attractions with no problem. The crowds were just a bit overwhelming. It seemed like a lot of people were being turned away for not having Key To The World cards which caused the lines to be a lot longer. We also saw paramedics carting a guy off in Tomorrowland. Very eventful evening. By the end of the night we were wasted. But, it was a great ending to the trip.

Monday, March 8

Our last day. We had to get up early to get the rental car back and get a shuttle to the airport. I managed to get some last minute souvenirs at the airport (a really cute crystal and silver Mickey ring and some chocolate covered coconut Mickeys).

It is so sad when you're riding the tram to your terminal. It's like the last ride you get in Orlando. We had a connecting flight in Atlanta. We were supposed to get home at 2 p.m. but we were delayed by four hours and had three gate changes. We were beat when we finally made it in. Plus, I had to work the next day. Note to self: Take day off after Disney vacay.

Overall, I was very satisfied with our trip. It was a lot shorter than we normally would take but the focus for me was mainly on the run, which I'm very happy to have finished. The All Star Moviews served it's purpose as a room, but for more amenities, such as better transportation, I think I'll stick with the moderates in the future. I hope we can stay at one of the deluxe resorts on our next stay.

I really enjoyed Toy Story Mania. I can see why it's such a hugely popular ride. The Table Service meals that we did have were great. (I'll post those reviews shortly...) I can't rave enough about Tokyo Dining -- the service was impeccable and the food was top-notch. The only downfall was it was a bit expensive if you're not on the Disney Dining Plan. We can get similar food at home, not the same service, for a fraction of the cost.

All in all in was a great trip away from the cold Wisconsin winter.

Hope you all enjoyed the trip reports and I can't wait to go back!