It’s the best time of year in Florida. Highs are in the low 80s with a 0% chance of precipitation most days.
It looked like they were hauling out some of the asbestos. You can read about the ongoing refurbishment here at Tikiman Pages. I love that logo! I think the “Not Mickey” hand in mine needs a drink.
Things are otherwise bright and happy.
The resort is otherwise as we left it.
Artsy fartsy flowers. This isn’t even my 35mm F1.4 lens. Things are going to get a lot worse before they get better!
The Tambu Lounge sits adjacent to ‘Ohana on the second floor of the lobby. This area will be crawling with people waiting for their pagers to buzz for Kona Cafe and ‘Ohana in a couple of hours. Because of that, the Tambu is not one of my favorite resort bars. Unless you arrive before 4:30pm or right around 5:15pm, it’s unlikely that there will be anywhere to sit. A lot of the people who arrive around 5pm will be seated by 5:15pm, which is the reason for the early evening exodus. And the last several times I’ve been, they’ve seemed to be understaffed. It’s unlikely that anyone will return to see if you would like another drink, let alone ask how the first one tasted. Service at the bar itself seemed to be better because you’ll at least see the bartenders making the rounds as they prepare customers’ drinks.
Judy and Christine will again be joining us. You may recognize them as forum moderators. They also operate Help Around the Mouse, which is another trip planning resource. They basically craft an itinerary along with (optional) intelligent touring plans catered specifically to what you want to do. You’ll also receive tips as your vacation approaches along with fun reminders about some of the things you have to look forward to at Walt Disney World. And perhaps best of all, they are a soothing voice to the occasional “oh my gosh there’s so much we need to know” freak out. It would basically be like having me plan your trip for you. They’re just a lot nicer.
Above is the “Captain’s Mai Tai – Captain Morgan Original Spiced rum, amaretto and tropical juices topped with a float of Myers’s Original Dark rum.” It was good enough that Judy ordered another.
I opted for the “Ultimate Long Island Ice Tea – Bacardi Superior rum, Tito’s Handmade vodka, Hendrick’s gin, Cointreau and sweet & sour with a splash of Coca-Cola.” This was the best drink I ordered over the course of a couple of days. Strong-ish and refreshing.
Christine kept it simple with a “vodka tonic.” While Disney offers a drink menu, they can whip up just about whatever you want.
The simpler “Vodka” was significantly cheaper than the drinks on the Disney menu.
Hmmmmmmmm. Oh I know! “Pimm’s Punch – Pimm’s No. 1 liqueur, Hendrick’s gin, Odwalla lemonade and wild strawberry.” This one seemed to be well balanced. Gin is my least favorite of the major alcohol types. I drank very, very cheap gin in college because it basically guaranteed no one would try to mooch off me. Or once they got a whiff of a Crystal Light and Potter’s Gin, they were no longer interested. This one didn’t reek of gin. One has to assume all the drinks have a pretty similar amount of alcohol in them. It was also cold and refreshing with a ripe strawberry on top. I think these kinds of tropical drinks in the taller glasses work well here at the Polynesian. You may want to save the Rye Manhattan and Forever Young for the Top of the World Lounge or Mizner’s.
A “Tennessee Honey – Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey, agave nectar, fresh lemon juice and Sprite.” Tennessee Honey is a sweet, syrupy bourbon. Evan Williams makes a similar, less expensive product and you’d also find similar versions from Jim Beam and Wild Turkey. The Tennessee Honey was sweet, but the lemon juice and Sprite seemed to temper the syrupy-ness inherent in most “blended bourbons.” I probably wouldn’t order a second as it would be pretty easy to put together yourself.
The “Red Stag Lemonade – Red Stag Black Cherry Bourbon and Odwalla lemonade garnished with Luxardo gourmet maraschino cherries.” Hopefully that isn’t a bug in the drink. Red Stag is another of the blended bourbons. It’s unique in that it maintains being 80 proof. The others are in the 70-proof vicinity. This one was pretty good too – there isn’t a whole lot to it. The blended bourbons are worth checking out if you’re not a terribly uppity bourbon person. They mix well with a simple Diet Coke or other easy ingredients. I think I like the Honeys more than the Cherries. Cherry may remind you of ‘Tussin. Although the Red Stag Cherry might come in handier with a broken leg or asthma.
The “Agave Nectar Margarita – Tres Generaciones organic plata tequila, agave nectar and fresh lime juice.” I think. Another well balanced drink.
Tambu Lounge opens at 1pm and serves food after 5pm. They are pretty serious about that 5pm time too – a bartender can’t even put in the order until then. Above is the “Pulled Pork Nachos – Polynesian chips topped with Pork, Cheese, Pineapple Salsa, and Spicy Mayonnaise – $8.99.” This was pretty terrific. It’s hard to gauge portion size from the picture, but this is a lot of food for nine dollars. The pork was sweeter than I was expecting, but not necessarily in a bad way. I would have liked a bit more of it, but that’s my only complaint. There’s a similar item on the menu down at Captain Cook’s. I think the intelligent would tell you that the chips are fried wontons, which adds to the uniqueness of the dish. The nachos are $7.59 downstairs. Certainly a nice, easily sharable appetizer while you sip your beverage.
The $5.99 Crisp Bread and Dips – assorted breads with Sun-dried Tomato Pesto, Roasted Red Pepper Hummus, and Baba Ghanoush. This would be a nice light accompaniment to some evening drinks. The portion size wasn’t gigantic, but there aren’t a lot of things on the menu for under six bucks at Disney. All the dips and breads tasted good. I’m not sure I have much else to say about them.
Kona Cafe is located off the lobby on the second floor. We had no trouble walking up right around 5pm and getting a table for three. By 6pm, the place was quite busy with a lot of people waiting around outside in the lobby for a table to become available. I think the one critique you could make about Kona is its placement on the second floor with very little privacy. You can see that I could physically touch the people seated at the tables closest to the lobby. I’m not saying I did. I’m just saying you could. You may want to request a table further back in the restaurant.
You’ll see Kona on a lot of “under appreciated Disney restaurants” lists – so much so that I think you can move it over to the “appreciated” column. It’s a great spot for lunch in particular, outside of the hustle and bustle of the theme parks. Of course, this assumes no monorail delays.
One of the big draws to Kona is their sweet bread, which is a fluffy, airy, and (YOU GUESSED IT!) sweet bread that at least feels lighter in the tummy than most. If not for the thought of a lifetime supply of always-warm Olive Garden breadsticks, my choice would be a lifetime supply of Kona bread. It’s that good. Someone may have to correct me, but I don’t think they serve the bread with lunch.
It’s served with a macadamia nut butter, which I would describe as a light whipped, slightly nutty sweet butter. The bread/butter combination really is delicious and don’t be shy about ordering a second (or third…or fourth…) loaf.
Judy opted for the $8.49 Sticky Wings – Glazed Chicken Wings with Tangy Mustard Drizzle and Toasted Sesame Seeds. It looks like you get six for the price. They are generally rated highly, though I didn’t have as much luck at Tambu Lounge a couple of months ago. A similar item is available next door at ‘Ohana:
I think it would run you slightly north of $40/adult these days.
Breakfast runs closer to $25/adult.
Christine went with the Coconut Almond Chicken – Breaded and Baked Chicken Breast with a Salad of Asian Greens, fresh Fruit and Almonds – $16.99.
She compared it favorably to what was once a very popular item over at Wolfgang Puck Cafe – the Macadamia Nut Chicken. At less than two bucks more than a Cosmic Ray’s Chicken/Ribs plate, you can see why Kona is popular among those of us “in the know.”
And I ordered the Pan-Asian Noodles – Yakisoba noodles, Wok-seared with Vegetables and your choice of Chicken or Tofu in a Garlic-Ginger Sauce – $17.99. Or with Shrimp for $18.99. I thought this was quite good and one of the best meals I’ve had on property recently for less than $20. There were at least a dozen shrimp tossed with the noodles, crunchy pea pods, and peppers. It was served piping hot, which adds quality points in my book. It was also filling, relatively inexpensive, and just spicy enough. I’ve read some unfavorable reviews of the Noodles, so I’m not sure if they’ve corrected the problem or I’m just easy to please.
You may remember that Kona also has a sushi bar attached.
You can theoretically waltz up without a reservation, but space is limited and service is on the slow side. But if you arrive around 5pm and Kona Cafe is less then enthusiastic about your chances of getting a quick table, you can plop yourselves down at the Sushi Bar. At the Sushi Bar, you can order anything off the regular Kona Cafe. And at Kona Cafe, you can order the sushi. The Kona Cafe seating area is just to the right.
I’m no expert on sushi, but I’ve had nothing but good experiences. There’s a longer look around here. The Sushi Bar accepts to-go orders, but expect the transaction to take at least ten minutes. They make and package the sushi while you wait.
Oops, forgot a drink – the Jameson Irish Whiskey Sour – Jameson Irish whiskey, Cointreau, agave nectar and fresh lemon juice. This didn’t have as much of a whiskey flavor as one of my own creations would. I tend to double up on the alcohol. With the carefully crafted bar menu that’s offered resort wide, you can be pretty certain that all of the drink recipes are created with America’s palette in mind and that they’re going to be similarly prepared wherever you go. Assuming you enjoy a whiskey sour, margarita, Manhattan, etc. it’s unlikely that you won’t enjoy Disney’s versions. It’s not like we’re really comparing apples and oranges between various restaurants or hotels. It’s all the same.
Here’s what’s on the Captain Cook’s menu these days:
They have a beer flavored cupcake of some sort that I’ve heard is disgusting.
And of course, the self serve Dole Whip machine is still there.
Like the other resorts, movies are played in the evening. Brave, in this case.
The pool bar with the usual menu.
That concludes another Polynesian Resort upgrade. The pool area seems to look better with the lights edited out.