We continue our coverage of the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa with breakfast for lunch at the Grand Floridian Cafe and since we’re here, dinner too. You’ll find the restaurant on the ground floor just off the lobby in the back left. As part of this month’s series, we also took a look at what to expect from the Grand’s Club Level Lounge in this review. And we also took a good look around a standard room at the resort in this review.
One interesting and potentially unique thing about Grand Floridian Cafe is that the restaurant serves breakfast and lunch items from 7:30am through 2pm. Everyone I mention this to seems surprised, so I thought I would highlight an afternoon jaunt with my ham and cheese omelet..
Yes, Shrimp Cocktails for breakfast.
And Lobster Benedict for lunch.
Atmospherically, Grand Floridian Cafe is a casual, subdued space with a few flourishes of elegance.
It’s a large, often-overlooked restaurant with Citricos, Narcoossee’s, and Victoria & Albert’s receiving most of the attention. That means reservations are virtually always available. I didn’t have any trouble booking a 1:45pm day-of reservation around noon, while waiting in line for Tower of Terror at Hollywood Studios.
Window tables overlooking the courtyard are particularly bright and airy during daylight hours. You might put in a request at check-in.
Complimentary Bread isn’t typically served during breakfast and lunch, but we asked if any was available and were presented with these delicious, freshly-made biscuits with butter and an assortment of jam.
I have to apologize as I’m rocking phone pictures here with Erin’s $20 “Lobster Benedict – Two-poached Eggs, Toasted English Muffin, Lobster, Hollandaise, and Marinated Tomato Salad.”
She deemed this to be better than the Lobster Eggs Benedict served during Sunday brunch at California Grill – the lobster was tender and flavorful and there was a ton of it in between the crispy English Muffin and the creamy, decadent Hollandaise. The eggs were also expertly prepared with soft whites and beautiful golden yolks. Really impressive. The Tomato Salad was fresh and vibrant with the acidity doing a nice job of cutting some of the richness of the eggs.
Grand Floridian Cafe is a good compromise for couples or groups where some people may be feeling breakfast while others just want a 7:30am Reuben Sandwich. I am not typically into big early morning breakfasts myself, so it’s nice to have an opportunity to pick up heavier breakfast items later in the day when I don’t feel like it will weigh down the first few hours of the day. I ended up going with the $15 “Ham and Cheese Omelet – Three Egg Omelet served with Cheesy-Hash Brown Casserole or Fruit.”
It’s probably larger than it looks on the plate, served nice and hot with a ton of ham mixed in with the perfectly melted cheese. We’re far from reinventing the wheel, but this was a classic done right. Very filling.
The Cheesy-Hash Brown Casserole has been a Cafe mainstay for years. It’s a heavy, creamy, appropriately-cheesy mass of shredded potatoes with a crispy top. I thought it was a little one-note – blandly cheesy, but not much more than that. Adding salt and pepper didn’t seem to do a lot of good.
Overall, the plating might leave a little to be desired. Less dense potatoes are probably used to help cover more surface area. but the omelet was executed well and it was exactly what I wanted in that moment. I’ll try something a little more bloggable next time.
Another perk of the breakfast/lunch hour is that the steak is less expensive. 20 bucks buys you a serious hunk of beef with two eggs, the same hash browns, and what is now a chimichurri sauce topping.
Here’s a reminder of what you can expect for $11 worth of Smoked Salmon. An elegant presentation.
Another perk – 8:30am Chocolate Fondue and Poached Lobster. For four bucks, why not add a Berry Tart?
Plenty of options for the kids as well, though $11 for Chicken Nuggets seems to be on the high side. You can pull up the full, current menu here.
Dinner brings many of the same appetizers that are also available earlier in the day.
The “Old South Chicken Wings” and “Artisanal Cheese Offering” are exclusive to dinner.
The $15 “Selection of fine Cheeses from around the World served with assorted Accoutrements” was on the disappointing side with just four small, forgettable pieces of cheese served with flavorless crostini and a couple bland sides. Bottom of the barrel as far as cheese goes.
The $16 “Chilled Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail – Citrus-Avocado Salad and Red Rooster Cocktail Sauce” was okay. Five large, nicely-prepared shrimp arrive on a bed of greens with a pleasant, acidic vinaigrette with some hints of orange and lime.
My guess is that the “Red Rooster” part of the description comes from the brand of hot sauce of the same name that’s used in the recipe. It was otherwise a thin, mildly spicy sauce that did a nice job of adding dimension to the shrimp. I don’t think it did anything special enough to command $16. We might be talking given two more shrimp or a $4 price reduction.
I review the wings and offer a history of the local Datil Pepper in my last dinner review, which also includes thoughts on the Shrimp & Grits, Lobster Thermidor Burger, House-breaded Fried Mozzarella, and Cafe Sandwich, among others.
Dinner adds entrees like the New York Strip Steak, Shrimp and Grits, Grilled Pork Chop, and what is typically a vegetarian pasta dish. Currently, that’s an Artisan-made Spinach-Ricotta Ravioli.
Entrees were much more impressive, here with the $25 “Grilled Pork Chop – 10-oz Pork Chop, Candied Baked Sweet Potato, Mixed Green and Wax Beans with Sautéed Apples.”
The pork was tender, juicy, and lean, seasoned simply with salt and pepper and sweetened up with the apples, which carried a little bit of cinnamon and spice with each delicious, dynamic bite. The slick beans are fun for the fall, lounging underneath the delicious chop and cooked to a pleasing al dente with just enough bite. They do a nice job of soaking up the flavors from the ample amount of bright, chewy apples. I am not typically a sweet potato person, but it worked very well here with the subtle sugary quality of the glaze playing nicely with the fresher sweetness of the fruit. Very good and I don’t think anybody would stick their noses up at the flavors of the dish if it was served at one of the resort’s signature restaurants, though the presentation would probably be a little more frou frou.
I went with the $26 “Miso-glazed Salmon – Lemon Sticky Rice, French Beans, Wasabi Peas, and Ginger-Soy Vinaigrette,” which is also available with chicken in place of the salmon, for two dollars less.
It’s not the most attractive piece of fish I’ve ever been served, but it’s one of the juiciest and most flavorful. The salmon starts in a sous vide cooker and is finished on the stove with a nice sear, creating a perfectly flaky, almost-melt-in-your-mouth quality. I expected the ginger and soy to overpower the delicate flavors of the salmon, but my concerns ended up being for naught. The sweet, salty vinaigrette did a nice job of bringing out the flavors of the fish even more and the crunchy beans did a nice job of providing a textural contrast to the soft salmon. I liked the coconut rice too – the lemon did a nice job of cutting the subtle sweetness of the firm cereal grains. I’m not sure if the size of the portion is evident, but it was huge. You’ll typically receive six or eight ounces at a restaurant like Flying Fish or Artist Point. This may come in over 12 ounces.
Rolls are served with dinner – they’re on the thick side with a chewy interior, served with an addictive salted butter.
Kids can get in on the action with an assortment of entrees that range from a nice salmon filet to your typical cheese pizza. The rest of the dinner menu is available here.
A lot of guests forgo dessert these days and the Grand Floridian Cafe seems to be taking a tact similar to Be Our Guest Restaurant, offering smaller desserts in the $4-$6 range, rather than $14 sundae monstrosities.
Being a party of two dudes both named Josh, we opted to go the more natural route with the $8 “Chocolate Fondue with Fruit, Brownie Bites, and Campfire Marshmallows.”
The plate arrived with about 20 bites to dip into the luscious melted chocolate. The fruit was impressively ripe and the marshmallows were perfectly toasted. A fun little way to end the meal and easily shareable among two or three people for a modest per-person cost.
Disney says the “Grand Floridian Cafe is a hidden gem that offers moderately priced cuisine with maximum flavor.” And I think that’s true. You hear far less about it than other restaurants on the monorail like Kona Cafe or The Wave. I like the ability to order from an expanded menu beginning in the early morning and continuing into the lunch hour. And the fact that it’s so easy to secure reservations makes for an easy, no-nonsense meal. Service is typically friendly and efficient with cast that seem authentically interested in providing an elegant, unpretentious atmosphere. It’s not always the restaurant I’m looking to experience. But sometimes you just want a laid back dinner or a 1:30pm omelet. And Grand Floridian Cafe fits that bill nicely.
We’ll get over to California Grill next.