|Sushi chefs at Mitsukoshi Tokyo Dining in Epcot // All photos by Maureen Stone|
The choices in fine dining are plentiful this year at Walt Disney World and four experiences during a recent visit by Travel Agent to the resort demonstrated the strong consistency of quality in service and presentation available across a range of different cuisines.
Mitsukoshi Tokyo Dining is a modern Japanese restaurant within the traditionally-designed Japan pavilion at Epcot Center. Although it has been serving guests for five years, Mitsukoshi Tokyo may not be on the radar screen of some Disney resort visitors unaware of the welcoming dining experience on offer. More than one park guest asked the question: “What is up there?” as we emerged down the high steps of the pavilion. What is up there is a beautiful modern space with your choice of either a table with a view of the sushi chefs in the open kitchen, or a table on the window side of the restaurant with panoramic views of the Epcot World Showcase lagoon.
Guests are greeted by charming Japanese hostesses in colorful, traditional kimonos, who bow respectfully to welcome each diner. The sushi chefs, visible behind the bar fronting the open kitchen are all young ladies, a departure from the male sushi chefs seen in many other Japanese restaurants. We opted for deluxe sushi platters as main courses, a choice that proved excellent in freshness and flavor but with far more pieces of tuna, salmon, shrimp, eel and veggie sushi than the normal single diner can easily handle. This was especially true after tasting a generous-sized assorted tempura appetizer that was a tasty combination of battered shrimp, chicken and vegetables in a tangy Japanese dipping sauce.
One recommendation would be either to share one of the deluxe platters – priced at about $25 - between two diners if you wish to sample a variety of sushi rolls, or order rolls as desired individually until your appetite is sated. The variety of delicious sakes and tropical drinks served are excellent complements to the cuisine. Try for a table near the picture window in the late afternoon and enjoy the fine view as dusk settles over the Epcot lagoon. One other tip is to walk up the steps and have a look at the space as you pass the pavilion during a visit around Epcot. Hostesses will greet you with a friendly smile and let you look over the menu before deciding whether to make a lunch or dinner reservation.
|Chicken breast over fregola pasta at Grand Floridian Café.|
Grand Floridian Café
Sous chef Dylan Schauwecker presented a sampling of several courses of the new American cuisine at the Grand Floridian Café in Disney’s 867-room Grand Floridian Resort Hotel. Located off the main lobby of the hotel, the Grand Floridian Café is not considered in the same upscale category as the hotel’s two-second floor restaurants, namely Citricos and Victoria and Albert’s. Yet the happy luncheon surprises offered by Chef Schauwecker marked the Grand Floridian Café as a spot worthy of far more dining consideration than the average, casual quick-meal restaurant in most hotels that serves morning, noon and night.
Among the café’s offerings is a refreshing strawberry soup with minted berry salsa, and a seasonal salad with locally grown greens, heirloom tomatoes, blue cheese and pine nuts with a fig drizzle. The main dish choices include a panko-crusted lump crab cake with fennel slaw and corn remoulade, an angus burger topped by a slice of poached lobster, red onion marmalade and mango ketchup, and a pan-roasted chicken breast with fregola sarda pasta, tomato essence and basil oil. Desserts were presented by Grand Floridian pastry chef Kristine Farmer and could not be resisted despite the full stomachs around the table. Choices included fresh berry tarts, a boston cream pie, key lime tart and a lemon cheesecake.
|Pastry Chef Kristine Farmer's creations at Grand Floridian Café.|
Chef Schauwecker noted that the emphasis at the Grand Floridian Café is on using only fresh, local ingredients whenever possible. He credited Grand Floridian chef de cuisine Michael Bursell with guiding the café’s culinary team to reduce the time from farm to table with the results clearly visible on the plate. Pastry chef Farmer said that all the café’s desserts are made from scratch in the Grand Floridian bakery, including the large wedding cakes that are made for receptions at the Walt Disney World resort.
|Les Halles Boulangerie and L'Artisan des Glaces open in June at France pavilion in Epcot.|
California Grill and L’Artisan des Glaces
The California Grill on the 15th floor of Disney’s Contemporary Resort will reopen this summer with a newly-designed dining room featuring an onstage kitchen. The restaurant, with tables featuring the best panoramic views in all of Walt Disney World, will offer a newly-created menu by chef de cuisine Brian Piasecki. He is promising fresh, seasonal dishes and top-quality sushi.
Eric Weistroffer, the French-born general manager of the acclaimed Monsieur Paul that debuted at Epcot’s French pavilion in December, as well as the long-running Chefs de France bistro, will open in June L’Artisan des Glaces Artisan Ice Cream & Sorbet Shop. The new ice cream shop complements the recently-opened Les Halles Boulangerie Patisserie, which offers breads and desserts that had viewers drooling during a recent media preview.
Mini eclairs, chocolate bon bons and fruit tarts are just some of the items available at the shop, located near the entrance of Monsieur Paul. L’Artisan des Glaces will feature 16 ice cream and four sorbet flavors, all created in house, including some served with adult liqueurs in martini glasses.