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Day 8: Like Royalty / WDW-40, 2016

Victoria & Albert’s has been on my Disney Bucket List for a long while, and for my 40th birthday, Steve treated me to this dining experience. We have one word to describe the evening – amazing.

The ultimate in fine dining at Walt Disney World® Resort and one of the finest restaurants in the Southeast, Victoria & Albert’s features Modern American cuisine with exquisite products sourced from around the world – truffles from Italy, the finest caviar, fresh herbs from Ohio, beef from Japan, poulet rouge from North Carolina, oysters from North Florida. Chef Scott Hunnel’s approach is imaginative and his food is an art form, featuring vivid colors and textures, with exquisite wine pairings offered with each course. Recipient of AAA’s highest achievement, the Five Diamond Award, “Forbes Travel Guide” Four Star rating and glowing reviews from Zagat and others, the restaurant in Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa evokes another era when dining was an elegant ritual, with a knowledgeable maître d’hôtel and chefs in classic white toques. – Victoria & Albert’s website

40th Birthday Dinner at Victoria & Alberts - Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa

There is a strict dress code at V&A’s – men must wear a dinner jacket, with smart shirt, trousers, and shoes. Ties are optional. You can borrow a jacket from the restaurant, we emailed in advance to request one. This saved us stressing about Steve bringing out a full suit to Florida. He didn’t wear a tie, but most of the men in the restaurant did. He said he felt a bit underdressed without it. For women, a cocktail dress, “nice” dress, pant suit, or skirt and blouse must be worn. I wore a brightly coloured maxi dress, as you’ll see in the pictures of me

Jeans, shorts, capri pants, sandals, flip-flops or tennis shoes are not permitted.

For the price you are paying at this restaurant I’m not even sure why you would even want to get around the dress code! It felt gorgeous to dress up so fancy for dinner!

There are three separate rooms for dinner:

  • Dining Room, with one sitting, and fourteen tables. You can dine from either Chef Scott Hunnel’s seven-course menu or the ten-course Chef’s Tasting Menu.
  • Queen Victoria Room, seats just eight guests for a ten-course dinner with French gueridon service and wine pairings exclusive to the private room.
  • Chef’s Table, In the kitchen, guests gather around the coveted Chef’s Table for a front-row seat of the action. Chef Hunnel starts the evening with a Champagne toast as he and the Victoria & Albert’s team begin to craft your dinner with up to 13 courses.

We had chosen the Dining Room – as it was the least expensive of the three – I won’t say cheapest, because it is anything but!

I didn’t want to spoil the ambience by taking lots of photos of the decor – I knew there would plenty on line for you to see. But I did want to at least document the food experience for you. The lighting in the Dining Room was very dim, and I still didn’t know my new camera very well. The photos I got of the food are a bit rubbish, lighting is all over the place, I missed the focused, but it’s all I have! I hope you’ll forgive the quality!

Victoria & Albert’s is very much an adult affair, however Guests over the age of 10 are permitted to dine. But honestly, unless your child is really into fine dining, this is definitely just one for the grown ups.

When we arrived, we were greeted warmly. Everything felt so fancy, and as far from Disney as you can get, at Disney World! We were shown to our table and I clocked the seat with arms (fat people problems), and must have looked pained. Without hesitation, the seat was switched for me to one without arms – that to me is fabulous service. There was also a little stool for our thing – like handbag, purse, etc. i told you – fancy!

Here is the write up about the Dining Room from the restaurant’s website:

With just one seating each evening, this oasis of opulence captivates with the setting, the knowledgeable staff, the fresh flowers, the fine tableware, the extraordinary food. With Chef Scott Hunnel’s imaginative approach, tradition melds with innovation for an avant-garde culinary journey on both the seven-course menu and the ten-course Chef’s Tasting Menu. Tableside touches include specialty cocktails, a Champagne trolley, butter carving, and a cheese gueridon. The warmly lit Dining Room’s classic rotunda features a hand-painted dome and just fourteen tables elegantly dressed in Italian linens, handsome Wedgwood china, and Sambonet silverware. With soft music from a harpist, the Dining Room embodies the spirit of luxury and romance.

40th Birthday Dinner at Victoria & Alberts - Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa

We had two servers – Danny and Sharon. My understanding was that Sharon was a higher level than Danny – it was explained to us, but honestly, I’ve forgotten now. Sharon went through the menus with us – we decided to splash out and have the Chef’s 10 Course Tasting Menu – it was [nearly] my 40th birthday after all! The menu is personalised, and they place it in an envelope for you to take home.

We were offered wine pairings, but as we are not big wine drinkers, we declined.

Danny did most of the service, and explaining of dishes, and I wish we were able to record him telling us about each course. His knowledge of the menu and ingredients was outstanding, and he even told us stories behind some of the ingredients too. Dining at V&A’s is described as an experience, and we would wholeheartedly agree with that. I wish I could remember everything, but I really can’t.

We were poured a glass each of water, and was offered a Water Service with waters from around the world. Uhm, what?! That’s $9 for a 750ml bottle of England’s finest water! We also passed on this! I know I enjoy drinking water, I’m a bit sad that it’s my soft drink of choice, but I don’t love it enough to spend that kind of money!

40th Birthday Dinner at Victoria & Alberts - Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa

For drinks, Steve had a bottle of Budweiser ($6.50). When it was poured out for him, the bottle was swiftly taken away. We both looked at each other, as the bottle hadn’t been completely poured, but we later learned that they keep the bottle on ice for top ups! I had a Citropolitan – Absolut Mandarin Vodka with Lemoncello, and Cranberry Juice ($10)

40th Birthday Dinner at Victoria & Alberts - Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa

During the evening we had a bread service, which was included. Unfortunately, I don’t have full details about the breads and butters we were served, but there was a story behind each and every one! The little pink pot you can see in the photos below was filled with salt, so that we could salt our butter. Too precious!