3 Crazy Days of Deluxe Dining incl. credit sharing & paying for guests

Discussion in 'Disney Dining Reviews' started by elaine amj, Apr 1, 2016.

  1. elaine amj

    elaine amj DIS Veteran

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    We shared credits AND paid for guests not on the Dining Plan, had some OOP stuff, juggled credits like crazy, and ate an insane amount of food.

    Let's backtrack a wee bit. We had a trip planned to spend a weekend at Universal Studios during Canadian March Break. A month before the trip, my 17 and 20 yr old "nieces" (in reality, the beloved daughters of best friends) told us that they planned to go to WDW that week and asked for help planning. They hadn't been since their one trip as little kids. I went home and asked DH if there was any way to extend our trip since I would be way too jealous if they got to go to Disney without me LOL!

    Long story short, we added another 5 days to our time in Orlando!! I planned multiple scenarios and ended up deciding to only join them for ONE park day. The girls would be staying offsite with their grandparents (who didn't plan to go to the parks). So here was how the Disney portion worked out:

    Tuesday, March 15th: The girls would spend the day in Magic Kingdom. We would move from our Universal hotel to Pop Century, joining them for a 3:45pm reservation I had snagged at Ohana. Their grandparents would also join us for dinner.

    Wednesday, March 16th:
    The girls would be at Animal Kingdom all day. We would start at Epcot, having lunch at Le Cellier before joining them at AK in the afternoon. After park close, we would all go to Whispering Canyon Cafe (joined by the grandparents) for dinner. They would then go back while our family would move on to MK for Evening EMH.

    Thursday, March 17th: We all went our separate ways, even though all of us were at Disney Springs. The girls shopped and had lunch at T-Rex while we had lunch at Bongos Cuban Cafe and spent the day at Disney Quest. DH and I left the kids for a bit to go for a romantic dinner at The Dining Room at Wolfgang Puck Cafe. After closing at DisneyQuest, we took the boat over for a 10pm dinner at the Turf Club.

    I do like to maximize and love juggling credits so you'll see some of that in my review. We're very used to sharing food and love optimizing our value. Adding the Deluxe plan to our room-only (to make a ticketless package) wasn't hugely rational though. I crunched the numbers like crazy, and feel we paid a little more (because we ate more) than we would have if we had paid cash. But I was not being really rational about this trip and wanted the freedom to indulge like crazy. The DXDDP allowed us to do that. And I don't regret the decision one bit (although I do sigh occasionally about how much money we spent).

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    Some notes about us.

    DH was on a restricted diet for health reasons and avoids sugar, salt, meat, dairy, and basically every food that you would normally eat (Just Kidding! I do manage to cook for him :) ). He did plan to be pretty relaxed this trip - would watch what he could but would also eat some stuff he wouldn't normally eat.

    I LOVE my food, particularly meat. I can be a glutton...but have been watching calories since January. Lost 15 pounds before the trip - Woot! I did plan to indulge like crazy all week.

    DD is a pretty picky teen girl. She eats frequently in small portions. I'm always jealous about how skinny she is.

    DS has been on a bit of a growth spurt and has been eating more than normal. Not really satisfied with his old kid-sized portions. Not sure yet if I'm going to end up with a typical bottomless teen boy on my hands.

    Without further ado, let's get started with this Dining Review!

    My rating system:
    :sick: Yuck, yuck, YUCK! Will never, ever eat here again
    :) Edible, but forgettable
    :):) Decent, will eat here again but will not go out of my way
    :):):) Good, will happily eat here again
    :):):):love: Loved it!!! Highly recommend this!
     
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2016
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  2. elaine amj

    elaine amj DIS Veteran

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    Tuesday, March 15th:
    Breakfast was at our hotel - we would move to Pop today and get started with the Dining Plan for dinner.

    Today was Ohana day! Our most favourite restaurant anywhere in the world! Amazingly enough, when the girls were giving me their must-do list, they asked for Ohana. I still wonder about that but sure was happy to oblige. I was worried about getting a reservation since we were less than a month out. Thankfully, right about the time we booked, Ohana decided to extend their dining hours and started offering reservations starting at 3:30pm. So it was super easy to snag a 3:45pm reservation for 8ppl. (I kept trying, somewhat half-heartedly for the following month to push it to a later time but never succeeded).

    For drinks, I asked about the breakfast juice and our server happily offered it to everyone. Most of us got that while my kids opted for Shirley Temples. I hadn't realized they would offer unlimited refills on specialty drinks - but we all got as much as we could drink of the breakfast juice and the Shirley Temples with our dining credits.

    The food was solidly good - although maybe not quite as good as previous visits. We were all happy with our meals, but our servers weren't very prompt about requests for more medium rare steak and shrimp. Everything seemed to take quite a while. Oh well, none of us were in a hurry and we enjoyed each other's company. My son wasn't in a steak mood this day and only ate a little. Normally, the dumplings are his FAVOURITE dish but this time, he only ate a few (the pieces of veggies inside were larger than I remember them ever being). My DD also ate fairly lightly. My teen nieces typically eat like birds so it was the same story with them. We did know all this going in but the overall experience was still worth it. The bread pudding was phenomenal as always (my DS was happy they also brought brownies). The grandma is a huge dessert fan and eats out a LOT. She said it was hands-down the best bread pudding she has EVER had (and she loves bread pudding)!

    My DS took it into his head that he wanted to get leis for my nieces. So he voluntarily got up to join in the coconut races (this past year or two, he has been pretty embarrassed about joining in kid games). It was so much fun!

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    The girls were happy with their leis.

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    We did have a tussle with their grandfather about paying. He is "Dad" to us and incredibly generous. It was so hard for him to accept that we wanted to pay. This was part of the reason I got the Dining Plan. I knew the only argument he would accept would be that the money would go to waste if he didn't let us pay.

    Here's our whole group:

    [​IMG]

    All in all, Ohanas was a win! I was so glad my nieces and their grandparents enjoyed it so much. Still a must-do in our world.

    :):):):love: Loved it!!! Highly recommend this!

    After dinner, the girls headed back to Magic Kingdom while we took their grandparents on a monorail tour.

    The Grand Floridian was having a special chocolate Easter Egg display. Incredible!

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    The Contemporary didn't turn out to be as interesting to tour. But we made up for it by stopping for treats in the gift store. "Dad" was still upset we didn't let him pay and insisted on buying us all treats. Killed me a bit since I knew we had 16 snack credits but I eventually relented to make him happy.

    My son got a bag of his fave Goofy Sours candy (no photo).
    I got a Mickey Ears brownie which was cute but blah

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    DD got some white chocolate thing which she enjoyed.

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    Can't believe we could still eat after our Ohana feast :)
     
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2016
  3. phabric

    phabric DIS Veteran

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    Enjoyed your review. Looking for more. I will be eating at O'Hana in August.
     
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  5. elaine amj

    elaine amj DIS Veteran

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    Wednesday, March 16

    An early start today as I wanted to get to Epcot by 8:45am to get to Test Track on standby. Told the crew they could each use a snack credit for breakfast in the food court at Pop Century. My DH got the make-your-own oatmeal which he was thrilled about, both DD and I got make-your-own yogurt parfaits (they were much more filling than we expected!) and DS got a chocolate croissant. I had done some research and was very happy that snack credits were plenty for a good breakfast for all of us - I had been a little hesitant.

    :):):) Good, will happily eat here again

    Onwards to Epcot. Note to self - quit forgetting that Epcot no longer does a rope drop!! We got off the bus by 8:45am but were well behind the waves of people already pouring in. We finally got to Test Track at just about 9am and waited in a 20 min line. Oh well - one of those things I used to always know about and didnt double check on in the scramble to put this last minute trip together. It did put us behind and the kids had a 30min wait for Sum of All Thrills after. Good thing this visit was more about FOOD than rides!

    At 11am, we headed over to World Showcase to try out the food kiosks at the Flower and Garden Festival.

    First up was La Isla Fresca (we had to wait 5 mins to be allowed to get in line) where DH had the Jerk-spice Grouper with Mango Salsa, Chayote and Green Papaya Slaw with Lime-Cilantro Vinaigrette (GF). It was REALLY good...the best fish he had all week (and he had a lot of fish).

    Here's the photo from Disney Food Blog:

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    :):):):love: Loved it!!! Highly recommend this!

    Then, he decided to try Urban Farm Eats and their Vegetable and White Bean “Naanwich” with Arugula Pesto and Oven-dried Tomatoes featuring Seeds of Change® Quinoa, Brown & Red Rice (V). Another yummy dish (although the grouper was still the star). The cool part was that this stand was next to a neat temp playground for the kids. The bad part was NO SHADE. It was a super sunny, warm day and all the tables (stand up cocktail style) were in full sun. We moved on pretty quickly.

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    :):):) Good, will happily eat here again

    We ended up wandering through many of the food kiosks as I had planned to get a snack myself. But nothing ended up tempting me enough, especially with a huge lunch ahead. Someday I would love to come back with plenty of snack credits to indulge.

    Next up - lunch at our 2nd favourite restaurant in the world - Le Cellier!! We hadn't been back since their 1TS credit days in 2012. Would it live up to our memories?

    We checked in at 12:30 (at opening) to find quite a number of people already checked in. We actually wanted to eat earlier so I wish I had given it a shot at 12/12:15pm. After a few minutes, we were seated in a fabulous, quiet corner booth.

    This turned out to be a blessing. My kids were making a bit of noise and fussing mildly with each other and with us. To top it off, my DH is not entirely civilized and his method of dealing with them is either playing noisy, wrestling style games or scolding them. Ugh. I asked for peace and quiet, reminding them That I was paying over $200 for the meal and I wanted to enjoy it. They really did try...but their noise volume remained higher than I wished, which was stressful for me as I constantly tried to shush them (my DH is no better *sigh*). After a while, a couple was seated in a booth across from us, but thankfully, the table in the middle remained empty. We all know how tight the seating is in there!

    Anyway, the food eventually started coming - yay!! My DD loved the pretzel bread. I enjoyed the multigrain bread.

    The yummy specialty nonalcoholic drinks of yesteryear has disappeared. Our server said we could only get the typical pop, etc. I got an unsweetened ice tea, the kids opted for the flavoured lemonade (this was DISGUSTING! My niece ordered it the next night and also found it gross. Told the server but she didn't offer to replace it) and my DH had a lovely loose leaf herbal tea.

    It was soon time for apps. Our first time in Deluxe so this was exciting. We decided to share 3 credits between the 4 of us. I told the waitress and she had no issues with it.

    My DD had the Charcuterie - Chef's Handcrafted Meat Selection, House Pickles, Toasted Ciabatta Bread and discovered she really liked it. DS helped a bit and we had to ask for more toasted ciabatta as they kept fighting over it.

    I had the Winter Beets and Black Garlic Goat Cheese Roasted Baby Beets, Black Garlic Goat Cheese, Pumpkin Seed-Bacon Crumb, Mustard Vinaigrette, Grapefruit and the Cedar Key Clams La Fin du Monde Beer-braised Middleneck Clams, Ginger-Butter Sauce, Pretzel Croutons. DH shared a bit. The beets were delish but I have no memories of the clams.

    It was now time for STEAK! We had 3 orders of the same thing - Filet Mignon with Truffle Butter Sauce. Medium for DD and Medium Rare for the rest of us. The boys both shared their steaks with me.

    We were complicated and asked to substitute sides. Our server was sweet about it. DD had Mac n cheese (she loved it) and plain green beans (for DS), DH stuck to the risotto (which I ate most of - better than I remembered, not as salty) and I had the celery root (gross!! I have had it somewhere else and loved it...but not here). The steaks were as phenomenal as ever. DH and I have been to nice steakhouses with supposedly better quality steaks. But the truffle butter sauce always takes everything to the next level. We're definitely sauce people :)

    Terrible photo - but we wanted to EAT!
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    Finally, it was time for dessert. DD ordered the Camembert Cheesecake
    Double-Cream Cheesecake, Cherry Gelée, Pistachio Cream Florentine and I got the Vanilla-Florida Orange Panna Cotta, a No Sugar Added Dessert Mandarin Orange Purée. They were both yummy - I liked that mine was light and yet delicious. We made a special request for the Chocolate Moose, even though it's a kids dessert. We have fond memories of it :)

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    Le Cellier will still be a repeat...even though it has gotten outrageously expensive.
    :):):):love: Loved it!!! Highly recommend this!

    We are only halfway through the day and there's more food on the way! Next up...snacks in the Animal Kingdom and some crazy shenanigans at Whispering Canyon Cafe.
     
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2016
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  6. chocolateMinnie

    chocolateMinnie DIS Veteran

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    Glad you enjoyed your meal at Le Cellier - we have eaten here about half a dozen times and it is so hit and miss - when it's good it's amazing :)
     
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  7. elaine amj

    elaine amj DIS Veteran

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    I would go again, but I might make my kids eat somewhere else. They love the steaks too - but their shenanigans stressed me out. No big deal in a normal noisy place, but I was trying to keep them orderly in a 2 TS place so they wouldn't disturb other diners. Yes, they can be very well behaved at the table and do actually know their table manners, but they like messing around. And DH likes it too. Trying to get all 3 of them together sitting quietly can be hard (Even though they are in their teens now)! Especially when they get into a silly mood, which is usually the case on our family vacations (Like playing tag outside Buckingham Palace!).

    All in all, glad we went. In future, the kids can have steak somewhere cheaper!
     
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  8. elaine amj

    elaine amj DIS Veteran

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    Time to get back to yummy food memories. We left Epcot and waited for what seemed like eternity for a bus to AK. We were hoping to make the 3pm Nemo show (we had FPs) but it looked like we had just missed a bus so the wait was pretty lengthy. Finally, I knew there was no chance and I rescheduled our FPs. My nieces texted us that they were waiting in the theatre and I let them know it was highly unlikely we would make it.

    We got to AK close to 2:55pm and I declared it was impossible. My kids really wanted to try though, so we told them to go ahead and run to the theatre. We would give it a shot, but would likely meet them after the show. They RAN and ended up making it, but the doors were shut firmly by the time we got there.

    DH and I enjoyed a slow stroll around the park. It wasn't too bad in most places, but horribly congested in Asia (due to the construction). We used a snack credit to pick up a little container of edamame for my son (who loves it!), happy to find an excuse to add some green in his life.

    DH was looking for a healthy snack for himself but we couldn't really find anything for him (other than the edamame, which he's not a big fan of). We got back to Dinoland in time to meet our kids and nieces as the show let out. Turned out they didn't end up being able to be together during the show, but that was OK. They all enjoyed it.

    After a super fun ride on Dinosaur, we went in search for some Mickey-shaped treats (one of the girls' must-dos). The girls ended up splitting a Mickey ice cream bar. I was super tempted by either an ice cream cookie sandwich or a gigantic ice cream sundae, but had trouble finding the spot in Dinoland that was reported to have it. Finally decided a Mickey bar was essential so DD and I had a Mickey bar each. DS chose a frozen lemonade (that unfortunately, he didn't end up being in the mood for. Oh well, it hit the spot for me as it was a hot day and I ate more than half of it). It was the perfect time to wander through the gorgeously themed Maharajah Jungle Trek.

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    We had a wonderful afternoon hanging out with our beloved nieces. They had such an incredible time at Disney, commenting that they didn't think it was possible to be upset at Disney since the whole place just made them smile. They were really into characters, spending about 75% of their time hunting down characters. Their only frustration was lack of merchandise as they really wanted several specific souvenirs, which didn't turn out to be very easy to find (i.e. barely any Ariel plushes anywhere in the World and definitely no minor character souvenirs like Tarzan)

    OK Ok..I know you guys just want to hear about the FOOD.

    As we left the park, my one niece was dying of thirst but kept insisting on waiting until dinner. My DS insisted on using his snack credit to buy her a lemonade slush.

    Tonight, we had planned on Whispering Canyon Cafe. I had originally wanted Yak & Yeti but could not get an end of night ADR (maybe there was a special event?). Since we wanted to go to MK after, I decided to look for something reasonably close to MK. After studying menus and looking at options, WCC seemed like the best bet. When I showed the girls, they were hyper excited about BBQ - so WCC was it!

    We had invited their grandparents to join us again, but they were on the fence. Finally, they said that they would join us on one condition - that we allow them to pay. ACK!! There went all my careful planning to force them to let us treat them the night before. They are just wayyy too generous with us. In the end though, I told them that we wanted their company more so we would agree.

    It was a FABULOUS dinner. We all ended up deciding to go with the skillet. I didn't want quite that much food and originally told the waiter that my DS and I would split the ribs platter. He insisted that we should all get the skillet and that he would charge DS the kids price so that it would end up close to the same amount of $$. It was a lot less work for him so we all had the skillet. Except my DH, who chose the fish, which he said was good.

    Several folks chose the bottomless milkshakes, which they enjoyed. The skillets were REALLY good that day. My DD has never been a big fan of pulled pork, but that ended up being her favourite. My one niece loved the food, especially the corn (she must have eaten several ears all by herself). We all asked for seconds of practically everything. The ribs were DELISH and the beef was also good! Even the chicken was amazing. Usually I rarely fill up on the chicken but this time, I ate several pieces - it was so incredibly juicy and delicious. And the cornbread...mmmmmm....

    Here's the skillet with my DH's fish in the background:
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    The restaurant shenanigans were fun. The only thing that detracted from it was that we were hidden in a back corner of the restaurant where we couldn't really see the goings-on. We turned our card to "Play" and our server was pretty engaging. The kids got a kick out of our silverware and napkins getting tossed onto the table. With our location, we weren't able to participate in the Hokey Pokey. When it came time to ask for ketchup, I think nobody could find us! We chanted...and nothing. We chanted louder...still nothing. Finally we chanted REALLY loudly, all of us hammering on the table (it was too funny!) and ketchup started appearing :) The joke was on us though - nearly ALL those bottles were empty with only one having any ketchup in it!

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    All in all, it was fab choice for dinner. The laid back atmosphere, the fun games and crazy goings-on were all part of what makes Disney such a fun spot.

    :):):):love: Loved it!!! Highly recommend this!

    We left at 9:30pm, too late to make it for Wishes. We decided to take the boat over for the fun of it. Amazingly enough, we make it to MK just as Wishes is starting, and end up with a fabulous private Wishes cruise as our captain hung out right in front of the train station for the best view (we could hear the audio too!). We had a fab time at EMH, staying from 10pm - 1:30am!

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    With "Dad" insisting on paying, we were now left with TEN TS credits that we would have to use up by the next day. We had used up 11 snack credits so still had FIVE to go. Oh boy! LOTS more eating ahead!
     
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  9. elaine amj

    elaine amj DIS Veteran

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    Thursday, March 17th

    Today was about FOOD! We had so many credits to use up. it was also St Patrick's Day so we were all decked out in GREEN!

    For breakfast, my DD had a tie-dye cheesecake, and my DH picked up 2 bags of "healthy" chips he had found that he thought was a great value for snack credits. The 3 of them would eat those chips at various points over the next 3 days. (I had to get my DD to refresh my memories - I don't remember as I didn't eat anything). We had slept in and were checking out this morning. The plan was to Uber over to our next hotel (the Holiday Inn Disney Springs), then walk to Disney Springs for brunch at 11am. We were a bit tired, so asked our uber driver to wait while we dropped off our luggage and got him to drive us as close to DisneyQuest as he could. This worked out perfectly and only added a tiny bit to our cost.

    When we got there, we were still debating what to eat. My son quite liked the menu at Wolfgang Puck Cafe but I was thinking of eating dinner there, so we ended up choosing Bongos Cuban Cafe. I was a bit nervous because my kids are not a fan of Cuban flavors (or Mexican, or Latin, or...). The waitress reassured us and did her best to walk us through the menu and help us make our choices.

    We chose to share 3 TS credits here for lunch and again, the server did not bat a lash. Appetizers were: Fried Calamari (Calamares Fritos) Lightly breaded calamari served with criolla marinara sauce (YUM!!), Traditonal Ceviche (Ceviche Tradicional) Corvina fish marinated in lime juice, red onions, cilantro and mild jalapeño peppers served with crispy plantain chips (gluten-free). These two apps were for me and I loved them both. I dream about ceviche and it's not something I get often (not common where I live). After much discussion with our server, my DS decided to go with Crispy Pork Bites (Masitas de Puerco) Mojo marinated pork topped with grilled onions (Gluten-free). Sadly, he didn't care much for this. He didn't like the spices they are marinated in.

    DD chose Breaded Palomilla Steak (Bistec Empanizado) Our famous Cuban breaded palomilla steak. Served with white rice and black beans. They were able to offer fries as a side instead. She LOVED this and DS also begged for whatever scraps she would give him.

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    I had the Famous Criollo Seafood Combo (Famosa Zarzuela de Marsicos) Lobster, shrimp, scallops, mussels, clams, calamari and fish in a Cuban criolla sauce. Served with white rice and green plantains (gluten-free). I totally pigged out on seafood between the 2 apps and the entree. It was all so good! My DH had Grilled Fresh Grouper Filet Grilled fresh grouper served with our famous black beans and whole grain brown rice which was OK.

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    We were way too full to eat dessert. Plus, the kids were getting impatient to go to Disney Quest. So we decided to pack it to go. I am obsessed with Tres Leche so that was a must for me - Three Milk Cake Homemade cake soaked in a sweet blend of three milks topped with whipped cream. I cannot remember what the 2nd dessert we got was - probably Guava Cheesecake Homemade NY style cheesecake served with our unique guava marmalade sauce on the side. We also got the Churros Six pieces of churros served with condensed milk, chocolate and strawberry sauce hoping to give it away to our nieces. Unfortunately, we stayed on opposite sides of Disney Springs and never managed to coordinate a meetup. I eventually ate some a couple of days later and some friends who met up with us at that time finished up the rest of the stale churros. They were fine - we are just not big fans of churros.

    We had the desserts for breakfast/snacks over the next couple of days. The Tres Leche was yummy (never met one I didn't like) although not the best I've ever had (we did spend Christmas in Austin after all). I think the cheecake was good, but knowing my DD, she likely skipped the guava marmalade. I didn't get to try any so no clue. Still, there's no such thing as a yucky cheesecake.

    All in all, it was a good meal. I don't know that we would return. I loved my food but the rest of the family was just so-so about it (although DD also enjoyed her breaded steak, mostly because it was pretty plain). I would suggest studying the menu and making your decision from there if your family is unfamiliar with Cuban food.

    :):):) Good, will happily eat here again

    There's MORE food to come!!
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2016
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  10. chocolateMinnie

    chocolateMinnie DIS Veteran

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    Nice to see a review of Bongos - tempted to try their CS now :)
     
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  11. ALEXandFAB

    ALEXandFAB Mouseketeer

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    What great reviews so far!
     
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  12. pumba

    pumba DIS PUMBARIZER

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    your reviews are fantastic...thanks so much...and I love the decked out greenery...great job...
     
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  13. suse66

    suse66 DIS Veteran

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    Thanks for sharing! We were the same time as you and also in Disney Springs on St Patrick's Day. We didn't get there until about 8pm and found the crowds insane! How did your gang enjoy Disney Quest? We had hoped to get there that night but they changed the operating hours and ended closing at 9 pm instead of 11 pm. Oh well! Looking forward to hearing about the rest of your dining adventures!
     
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  14. DisneyJo

    DisneyJo Missing my tags!

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    Great reviews :goodvibes
     
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  15. elaine amj

    elaine amj DIS Veteran

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    Thank you all for joining in my reviews! :)

    The crowds were heavy on St Patrick's Day, but we were really not walking anywhere where we would be crazily affected by the crowds. DQ was incredibly empty all day. The walk to the boat to SSR was a bit nuts, but we survived. It was just about as bad a couple of days before when we spent an hour there on Tuesday evening.

    As for DQ, it all depends on your family. Our family LOVE DisneyQuest. One trip we went 2 full days of our 12 day trip. Another we went for one full day and we did the same thing this time. We always do open to close. We go to a lot of arcades, and we think DQ is far and away the best because of the variety of stuff and of course, all you can play with no running out of expensive tokens! My DD loves the animation academy portion as well as the little karaoke room. Both my kids also really love Cyber Space Mountain and do it again and again. I think the interactive Pirate game is the absolute best. None of us cared as much for the virtual reality games - the helmets are so heavy and awkward - although my kids spent some time on the Aladdin game and learned to play it (it still leaves me confused and dizzy lol). The Buzz Lightyear bumper car is really cool (even if I can never get the hang of it!).

    I don't really understand why DQ has so many haters. But then again, I have learned that our family really enjoys arcades and have no problems playing all day and all night. My DD isn't as big into playing arcade games, but she has her favourites and she also likes to watch. When DH and I need a break, we snooze in the cozy couches in the incredibly well themed Alice in Wonderland Cafe. Or we leave the kids to play while we go for a stroll or for dinner. OK OK - I admit, we do BOTH every trip :)

    Don't worry, there'll be more reviewing to come. I still have 2 more meals PLUS snacks to go on this one very crazy day, so we're not done yet!
     
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  16. elaine amj

    elaine amj DIS Veteran

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    Time to keep going before I forget all these yummy food memories!

    I was up so late the night before that by 2pm or so I was crashing hard at DisneyQuest and sprawled out for a bit on the couches in the adorably themed Wonderland Cafe. Such a pity that attendance is so low they closed the food outlets (not sure if they are open on weekends). In years past, it was ALWAYS packed in the cafe. Plus they have the SAME super-delish cupcakes you get at Starring Rolls in Hollywood Studios. I had hoped to pick up a cupcake so was disappointed to see it closed.

    The emptiness of DQ meant it was super easy to grab a cute spot to leave our stuff (normally space is at a premium so we were prepared to carry our multiple bags everywhere). Unfortunately, I didn't take a photo so grabbed one from this blog. I mean - how cute is that?! And the couch is perfect for a little nap :)

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    So what does this have to do with food? Well, we had picked up some popcorn for a snack credit. At least - I have vague memories of it since I remember arguing that they had had tons of popcorn during the Universal portion of our trip (we had a refillable bucket) but they kept asking for more. So we hung out here, they had their popcorn and munched on some lunch leftovers (again, I don't remember much other than opening a box or two). EDIT: my DD reminded me that no, we didn't get any popcorn after all.

    Around 4pm or so, we took the kids and went off for a stroll to find them some snacks to tide them over until our 10pm dinner ADR. We walked as they discussed what they wanted. My DS decided the portions at the gelato place was too small. We checked out Erin McKenna's Bakery and none of us were impressed. Nothing looked particularly appetizing. My DD couldn't come up with anything until she noticed a smoothie stand next to the big stage.

    DD chose a strawberry banana smoothie which she said was a great value for a snack credit. At Ghiradelli's (can't believe I spelled it correctly!), the server told us that there had been a recent change in policy. They had upped the amount that qualified for a snack credit and now anything $6.75 and below would qualify. DS opted for a gigantic Homemade Chocolate-Dipped Waffle Cone Double Scoop ($6.55). I can't remember what flavors he got, but it was definitely a notch above regular Disney ice cream. Much creamier with more intense flavors. It was GIGANTIC and he was ultimately defeated - his sister had to finish up the last third of his ice cream. (He enjoys ice cream but rarely can manage huge portions in one sitting). Plus he got in a weird mood and decided he didn't like the waffle cone.

    A school choir filed in to the stage as DD was getting her smoothie and we happily sat for a bit to watch (I enjoy student performances - the kids always try so hard!).

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    At some point, DH and DS moved to sit in front of us girls. Not sure why (maybe it was shadier?). Then DD nudged me to grab this adorable photo of our boys.

    [​IMG]

    And no, my boy will never learn to eat ice cream without it getting all over his face! We have proof :)

    [​IMG]

    Our snacks definitely got two thumbs up from the kids.

    :):):):love: Loved it!!! Highly recommend this!

    I think this wrapped up the last of our snack credits - we somehow made it through SIXTEEN snack credits. I'm still a little shocked how quickly they started disappearing. I thought we would have souvenirs to take home...but nope, we managed to eat them all.
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2016
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  17. elaine amj

    elaine amj DIS Veteran

    Joined:
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    Next meal is coming up!

    After we fueled the kids, we dropped them at at DQ and told them to have fun for a couple of hours while we went for dinner. I hadn't expected things to be too busy at 5pm so didn't make an ADR. we walked over to the Dining Room at Wolfgang Puck (convenient as it is directly across) only to be told that they were completely full. We walked a little trying to find an alternate place, but since we wanted a 2TS meal and preferred to stay in Disney Springs, our options were pretty limited. The Boathouse looked very busy. After a few minutes, I decided to check to see what ADRs were available. Turned out that an ADR was available at The Dining Room at Wolfgang puck - just a half hour away! I booked it, walked back to the desk and told them I snagged an ADR and could they seat us early. Since I had an ADR, they were magically no longer full. (I am still struggling to understand how restaurants handle reservations and walkups. I've had the same thing happen over at Universal Studios where I was told they were full with a 1.5hr wait. I went online, booked a reservation for 15 mins from then, and was seated immediately).

    They seated us immediately and the restaurant was still mostly empty. (it did gradually fill up but was never full the whole time we were there). We got a beautiful window table and had a decent waiter who was engaging, warm, and professional.

    For appetizers, we're both scallop fans and both opted for the same dish Sauteed Sea Scallops celery root and parsnip puree, warm mushroom salad, creme fraiche. It was very good and we really enjoyed it. For entrees, I chose the Sashimi Platter 16 pieces of the chef's selection sashimi since I am a massive fan of sashimi. It was delicious - although honestly, nothing much different from good sashimi I have had everywhere else. For $35 for just 16 pieces, there was nothing outstanding. To be fair, I doubt my taste is particularly discerning since my fave is salmon sashimi (the cheapest kind). Still, there was one time where I had butterfish sashimi at this one standout Japanese place and I still dream of that fish (crazy expensive as it was). Mmmm. Back to the food that night, I was pretty full and struggled a bit to get through all my sashimi. My favourite on this night (other than the always yummy salmon) was the tamagoyaki, a type of egg omelette (the yellow rectangles below). I have never had it before and loved it. It's a little sweet and as far as I am concerned, sugar and eggs ALWAYS go super together.

    DH chose the Florida Gulf Catch of the Day saffron braised fennel, shrimp, fingerling potatoes, lobster-tomato broth. I forget what type of fish it was that day. He did explain his diet restrictions to the waiter, but ultimately, he didn't trust what was brought out. He took the fish out of the sauce and ate it plain. It was OK. It was fish and he ate it, but unfortunately, for $37, it was nothing spectacular. I do blame my DH though since it's pretty unfair that he didn't bring it up then. Still, if they had taken more time and care to ensure my DH felt comfortable with what was served, he would have eaten it. Our waiter was good but didn't follow up with DH, a little disappointing when I look back to it. DH didn't want to make a fuss so just ate what he was comfortable eating. Still, a bit of a pity for such an expensive meal. We were enjoying our time together so I wasn't paying a whole lot of attention myself. I don't have much room for complaint though - DH was still very happy we chose to eat there and kept saying ho much he enjoyed it.

    [​IMG]

    For dessert, we spent some time debating what to order with our server and he was very good at explaining the menu. I am SUPER picky about carrot cakes and rarely order them unless I am reasonably confident I can get a good one. I am used to European-style cakes in Asia and typically find American carrot cakes super heavy and not carroty enough. OK OK - I know I'm a wee bit ridiculous (ok ok, a lot), but there you have it - although it's my favourite cake, I rarely order it anymore. Our waiter assured me that theirs was extremely good so I ordered the Carrot Cake coconut flakes, cream cheese icing. OMG. It was amazing!! I tried really hard to save some to take back to the room. Even DH enjoyed it - he's not a carrot cake fan AND it doesn't meet his diet. Even with all that, he couldn't resist sneaking bites. Before long, it was ALL GONE.

    My DH ordered the Five Layer Chocolate Cake vanilla bean ice cream. The server explained it was a dryer, spongy style cake and not the super rich chocolate many people expect (and therefore not his favorite). We decided to give it a shot. Another absolute winner. We preferred it less rich, loving the dryer texture. The frosting in between was incredibly delicious. We stopped after eating about half the cake. I was beyond stuffed and DH already felt guilty about all the forbidden sugar, poor guy. Another to-go box to add to the pile! (The kids and I enjoyed this the next morning as part of our sugary breakfast).

    [​IMG]
    Excuse his wacky face - we were amassing a collection of DH food faces for my DD (she wants to put together a collage lol).

    :):):):love: Loved it!!! Highly recommend this!

    So now we have tried 3 signatures. Narcoossee (in our 2012 trip in my signature), Le Cellier and The Dining Room. By and large, we are not signature people although I think we will always make an exception for Le Cellier and their filet mignon. I am quite content with the smaller price point of 1 TS places and find I always enjoy my meals there. That said, I think the desserts at signature places are truly incredible. Our Almond Crusted Cheesecake at Narcoossee is the stuff memories are made of. And the desserts here were also mind-blowingly amazing. Le Cellier desserts didn't quite hit this level though. While I would go out of my way for desserts in the other two places, I wouldn't for LC.
     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2016
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  18. elaine amj

    elaine amj DIS Veteran

    Joined:
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    Messages:
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    Time for the FINAL MEAL of the trip. If you've been following along, we've now gone through 7 meal credits today. 3 for lunch at Bongos and 4 for our signature meal at The Dining Room. That leaves us with 3 credits for a 2nd dinner with the kids. I was considering going to Wolfgang Puck Cafe (downstairs), but ended deciding to return to an old favourite - the Turf Club at Saratoga Springs. We had eaten here back in 2012 and really enjoyed it. It was a little bit more of a hassle because our new hotel was the Holiday Inn Disney Springs, but I was up for it. Disney Quest closed at 9pm so I made the last ADR of the night - for 9:50pm

    DS complained a little when we told him because he had been looking forward to the alfredo pasta at WPC. That's all he wanted at this point of the trip - pasta. I assured him that Turf Club would have something and dragged them all of on the boat. It was busy, but the wait wasn't too long and after a 5 min wait, we were off across the water. It was our first time on the Disney Springs boats - but unfortunately, we all froze as it had gotten quite chilly, especially on the water.

    When we got to the boat dock, we were left a little confused as to how to get to the Turf Club. We didn't find the signage as helpful as usual. Eventually, we just followed everyone else and ended up in the more familiar main building. Our table wasn't ready so we wandered off. My DD wanted to check out the pin board and the boys also went wandering. After a bit, I decided to check to see what was taking them so long only to find DH and Ds sitting at the table waiting for us. Grrr - i had to walk all the way back to the gift shop to collect DD.

    As we looked at the menu, DS was vocally disappointed at the lack of a alfredo pasta. It's such a simple dish, I asked the server if there was any way to make one up for him but was told "no".

    For drinks, DD had a strawberry milkshake and I had a sparkling water (EDIT: no I didn't! I had a incredibly delish virgin pina colada I managed to forget about. We were also offered a virgin strawberry daiquiri). DS didn't care for any of the choices and stuck with water (also to make Dad happy). I believe DH also stuck with water.

    For appetizers, we went with Steamed Mussels with Fennel, Shallots, White Wine, Tomato Pesto, and fresh Herbs, Buffalo Chicken Dip Pulled Buffalo Chicken, Wing Sauce, Blue Cheese, and Celery served with our Saratoga Chips, Asian-Inspired Crispy Shrimp Dressed in a spicy Aïoli on a bed of Vegetable Slaw. All 3 apps were for me since there were no other apps that anyone else desired. The shrimp was out of this world GOOD! I ordered it on the server's recommendation and he was completely right. The mussels were enjoyable, tender and not overcooked. Unfortunately, the Buffalo Chicken Dip was gross (and I LOVE buffalo dip!!). I told the server but he made no attempt to replace the dish. So we just left it practically untouched although the kids ate the accompanying chips.

    [​IMG]

    For entrees, DS chose the Crispy Free-Range Chicken Breast with Three-Cheese Macaroni & Cheese and Green Beans Amandine, giving the mac and cheese to DD. He didn't end up liking this dish, liking the green beans best. DD had the Grilled New York Strip with Asparagus, Mashed Potatoes, and Lobster Fondue, replacing the side with more mac and cheese. She had the lobster fondue on the side (which I ate all by its lovely self). She LOVED it and DS returned to begging for morsels from his sister. (We did highly recommend he order the steak lol). Thankfully he ended up liking the bread and ate a lot of it.

    For DH, we brought up his diet restrictions to the server. For the first time, the chef came out to talk to us. We explained his restrictions, saying he would be happy to try anything the chef would like to make. I explained a few dishes that I often make at home and the chef was very nice, saying he would see what he came up with. We were pretty excited. At some point, the server came and told us that they were taking pics in the kitchen. Woot! We must have an awesome dish ahead - SUPER excited as by this point of our vacation, I was feeling bad for DH as finding food that met his plans had proved to be really difficult - he either ate plain fish or would eat stuff not on his plan.

    Well - after all the anticipation, the server brought him a plate of veggie sides. They were all well cooked and tasted good. But....they were veggie sides. Asparagus, broccolini, tomatoes, etc. There wasn't even any protein on the plate. *sigh* I felt sorry for DH, telling him that I would cook him all his favorites when we got home - eggplant curry, zucchini noodles, tofu stirfries, etc. On the good side, he likes plain veggies and had no issues eating what was on his plate. We didn't want to cause a fuss or anything and said nothing of our disappointment to the server. After all, it WAS good - just not what he would have hoped. He would likely have ordered the salmon instead since he really likes salmon.

    It was now time for dessert - but after all this, we were stuffed and ordered it all to go. Warm Bread Pudding with Salted Toffee Sauce, Strawberry Shortcake (No Sugar Added), and Cheesecake with Seasonal Topping.

    Turf Club was still a win despite a couple of disappointments. (That steak is really good and the shrimp is to-die-for!)

    :):):):love: Loved it!!! Highly recommend this!

    We were too tired at this point to deal with taking the boat to Disney Springs and then walking/figuring out the shuttle to our hotel (Holiday Inn Disney Springs) so we called an Uber. With it being about 11pm on St Patrick's Day, there was a 1.7x surge. After a few minutes wait, we decided it was worth it and booked it. It only cost under $9 for our trip back to our hotel. So it worked out and we were soon in bed.

    We survived the Deluxe Dining Plan!

    Next up - how much leftovers did we have and final thoughts.
     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2016
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  19. chocolateMinnie

    chocolateMinnie DIS Veteran

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    have really enjoyed your reviews - it's nice to see some more unusual venues. :)
     
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  20. suse66

    suse66 DIS Veteran

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    Sep 3, 2008
    Messages:
    637
    It did get chilly that night, didn't it? With the boys being so disappointed over the early closure of Disney Quest, we promised them some time at the arcade at the Beach Club. DH and I went for a stroll around the Boardwalk after having drinks and a nibblie at Crew's Cup and I actually went up to the room to get my denim jacket. Crazy, because it was so hot that day! Looking forward to your wrap up! :)
     
  21. DnA2010

    DnA2010 Rope Drop!

    Joined:
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    :flower3: Really enjoyed your write up, thanks for sharing!
     
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