Disney Roundup: Be Our Guest

Recently, my family and I decided on Orlando, Florida for our annual summer vacation. We traveled to Orlando two years ago and stayed on Disney property at the Caribbean Beach Resort. This time, we opted for a much smaller resort and stayed at Disney’s Port Orleans – French Quarter. The French Quarter is much smaller than its counterpart, the Riverside, and if you’re in building 3 or 4, you’re extremely close to the main building, the food court and the buses.

We also opted to sign up for the Disney Dining Plan, despite the fact that we would be spending two days at Universal. For those of you not familiar with the Dining Plan, you basically get 1 quick-service meal, 1 snack and 1 table-service meal per day, per person. Due to the lengthy list of restaurants participating in the Dining Plan, we ate at some really great places and that’s what this post is about!

We used all our quick-service credits for lunch since we wanted to have a nice sit-down dinner every night. Most of the time it was fast food – burgers, hot dogs, and sandwiches. However, one quick-service meal really shone above the others and it was Disney’s new Be Our Guest restaurant in Magic Kingdom. If your’e staying on Disney property, you’re able to make FastPass+ reservations for this restaurant, which is amazing because when we arrived for our FastPass+ time at 12:40pm, the restaurant was completely full and not taking anymore walk-ins.

IMG_9253
Be Our Guest is modeled after the castle in Beauty and the Beast and it’s absolutely gorgeous! The decor is beautiful and it’s the only quick-service restaurant that I’ve been to in Disney that serves food on actual plates. The menu isn’t that big but the food is really good for for a restaurant labeled as quick-service for lunch. I went for the Braised Pork (Coq Au Vin Style), which featured eight hour slow-cooked pork with mushrooms, onions, carrots and bacon served with mashed potatoes and green beans jardiniere. The pork was very tender and broke apart easily. The mashed potatoes tasted delightful with the sauce from the pork. It was brought hot to our table by a covered trolley, which was really thoughtful.

IMG_6321

For dessert at Be Our Guest, I went with The Master’s Cupcake, which was chocolate sponge cake topped with Lumiere’s special “Grey Stuff”. I heard that the special “Grey Stuff” was super-whipped cookies and cream panna cotta and I don’t doubt it for a second. The “Grey Stuff” was so good! It was very light and not too sweet at all. It looks pretty heavy since it’s meant to be a cupcake frosting but it melted in my mouth.

IMG_6322

 

 

Ai Fiori

The Boyfriend and I have been extremely interested in the Altamarea Group ever since he had a great meal at Marea after our graduation from college. We recently dined at All’onda, whose chef used to work under the Altamarea Group and we were blown away by how good the pasta was. So when Restaurant Week Summer edition rolled around, I quickly made reservations for Ai Fiori, one of the restaurants under the Altamarea Group. Ai Fiori boasts one Michelin Star, so we went in with high expectations.

We arrived early for out 11:45am reservation (we had a matinee show on Broadway afterwards so I wanted to give us ample time) and were told to wait in the lounge area. A few minutes later, we were seated – the first ones in the entire restaurant! But the other tables filled up pretty quickly during our meal, so I’d say they’re pretty popular! We were greeted by our waiter with menus – both a la carte and Restaurant Week clearly marked.

IMG_6197

After we made our order, which our waiter didn’t even bat an eyelid to, our seating plates were taken away and bread was brought to our table. I want to comment on this – they come around and give you two pieces of bread. Around 20 minutes later, when our appetizers arrived, they came around again to give us more bread. We both really liked this because sometimes it’s such a hassle just to get bread at other restaurants. At Ai Fiori, bread just appeared on our bread plates! Ps. The bread was also really good – super soft!

I went with the Zuppa di Zucchini, or chilled zucchini soup with basil and lemon. I’m a huge fan of chilled soups so this was extra enjoyable for me. The soup was nicely flavored and had a hint of spice. With each spoonful you get a nice kick of heat but it doesn’t linger.

IMG_6200

The Boyfriend decided on the Terrina di Maiale, or house-made pate. The presentation was lovely, but one gripe that we had was the lack of baguette! There was one tiny piece for the entire square of pate! Lack of baguette aside, the pate was delicious – stiffer than other pates that we’ve had but still very enjoyable.

IMG_6198

For my entrée, I opted for the Pollo Arrosto, or pan-roasted chicken with polenta, pancetta, corn and hen jus. The chicken was moist and flavorful – there was a hint of herbs and lemon in every bite. The polenta was just soft enough and tasted really good when mixed up with the pancetta, mushrooms and corn bits. I wished there was more!

IMG_6202

The Boyfriend opted for the Tagliatelle, which featured house-made pasta with capers, taggiasca olives and tomato. The pasta itself was cooked al dente and tasted fresh. But it was the sauce that really made the dish shine. The sauce was superb! The capers and olives really gave the standard tomato sauce a burst of flavor. The pasta was so good that he even declared Ai Fiori his favorite Restaurant Week meal to date (and we’ve had Dovetail, Nobu and Capital Grille!).

IMG_6203

For my dessert, I went with the Crema di Cioccolato, or dark chocolate and coffee mousse with vanilla ice cream. I really liked the mousse – it was firm but not too much. The use of dark chocolate ensured that the mousse wasn’t too sweet and the ice cream helped sweeten up the bitterness of the dark chocolate and coffee flavors.

IMG_6205

The Boyfriend went with the other option on the menu, the Panna Cotta with balsamic crema, almonds and market berries. I had a bite of his dessert – the balsamic and raspberry gave the sweet panna cotta a tarty flavor. I’ve had better panna cottas before but this one was pretty tasty.

IMG_6206

We both opted to have a glass of white wine with our meal – they offered a white and a red wine for $10.00 extra on top of their Restaurant Week menu. They bring it over, offer you a taste and then pour a very generous glass if you approve. The wine was from 2006 so it’s almost a teenager in wine terms! We both enjoyed it and thought it paired very well with our dishes.

Service was impeccable – our water glasses were never empty and bread appeared on our plates without prompting. Our dishes came in a timely manner – we had just the right amount of time between courses to chat and slowly savor our food. We never felt rushed at all. I would definitely love to come back for a regular meal outside of Restaurant Week!