A Dining Reviewby Cheryl Pendry, PassPorter Featured Columnist
Last modified 09-02-2010
There are many wonderful dining experiences at the Walt Disney World resort and a number of those are classified as Signature restaurants, partially for the quality of the food they serve up, but also because of the cost, and very often, because of the location.
Grand Floridian - Narcoosee's
A chef proudly shows off her work in the kitchen at Narcoosee's.
They say location is everything and with Narcoosee's at the Grand Floridian, that's certainly the case. The restaurant is located in its own building right by the marina, where boats dock to take you to and from the Magic Kingdom or offer you the opportunity to cruise around the Seven Seas Lagoon. As such, it offers a perfect view of the Magic Kingdom and, of course, the nightly fireworks, Wishes. With music piped into the restaurant and the balcony outside, you have a choice of being able to enjoy the show from your table or from the edge of the lagoon.
On our most recent visit to Narcoosee’s, the meal was once again timed beautifully, so that we finished just in time for Wishes, so I headed outside to watch it from there. To my mind, that’s the perfect viewing spot, although I heard no complaints from those who stayed at our table. Here, tables are available either right next to the window, just a little further back on the same level, which is where we were sitting, or on a slightly higher level. The restaurant has a very intimate feel to it, because of its layout. It’s probably bigger than you think it is when you enter, but because the tables don’t go that far back from the windows, I certainly always get a cozy feeling whenever we dine there.
One nice touch is that you get to pass the kitchen as you walk in. It’s a good opportunity to admire the chefs at work and the delicacies they’re turning out. We were amazed by the crispy whole yellowtail snapper that we saw one chef proudly display as we arrived. I can imagine that, if you have a long wait for your table, your mouth will certainly be watering by the time you sit down, having seen those creations being prepared in front of you. Fortunately, whenever we’ve dined here, we’ve had a very short wait for our table. This time was no different, even though we were cheekily adding two extra people to our reservation.
We always find the service here to be excellent, but then again, as a Signature dining experience, we tend to expect nothing less. The food is usually superb as well, with an emphasis more on fish than meat, which suits me down to the ground as a non-meat eater. The menu isn’t as dominated with fish as at the Flying Fish Cafe and you’ll usually find at least two or three meat options.
Although the menu does alter on a regular basis, favourites that you can usually expect to find on offer here include the crispy crab cakes with southern slaw and Cajun remoulade sauce, which are absolutely beautiful. If you enjoy crab cakes, this is the place to sample them! My husband was very impressed by the fried Rhode Island calamari with pepperoncini relish, tomato coulis, and extra virgin olive oil. Other regulars on the appetizer menu include the shrimp and crab chowder with dill crème fraiche, micro onions, and Narcoosee’s oyster crackers; a selection of artisanal cheeses that varies with the season, and Prince Edward Island mussels with parsley-pastis broth and garlic toast. Prices vary from $9 for the chowder to $15 for the artisanal cheeses.
When it comes to main course, you can expect at least one Chef’s Recommendation, which changes daily. Staples include the crispy whole snapper (although how it’s served does vary); the Tanglewood farms chicken breast with “loaded” mashed potatoes, spinach and bacon vinaigrette; along with a surf and turf combination, usually fillet mignon with rock lobster tail. The latter doesn’t come cheaply, with a $59 tag, although it’s superb value if you’re on a dining plan and intend to order some of the more expensive dishes, which is our usual approach. My husband loved being able to order the surf and turf, without me worrying about how much the check would come to!
There’s usually one vegetarian option on the menu, often based around vegetables in season, and it’s not unusual to find some form of crab-crusted fish on the menu as well. On our last visit, I sampled the grilled Loch Duart salmon with laughing bird shrimp risotto and brandy-truffle reduction (but without the pancetta, which was no problem at all). The flavours all blended together superbly.
Grand Floridian - Narcoosee's
A pretty view of Narcoosee's as you arrive back at the marina at the Grand Floridian Resort.
Turning to perhaps the best part of the meal, the dessert menu is again a regularly changing feast. The key lime crème brulee was on offer when we dined there and my husband gave that the thumbs up, while I wasn’t quite so sure about the warm Valrhona chocolate cake, finished with orange sauce. I think the problem for me was that it was hard for it to live up to the same dish on offer at the California Grill, which is absolutely first class.
We always find that the food delivers at Narcoosee’s and it’s located in a beautiful setting. It’s perhaps not one of the Signature restaurants that gets the most rave reviews and sometimes it’s easy to forget it, with the California Grill dominating most people’s thoughts whenever you consider a restaurant where you can enjoy fine dining and a superb view of Wishes. However, Narcoosee’s also delivers on both those counts and is well worth keeping in mind as a good fine dining choice on Disney property.
Updated 09-02-2010 - Article #515
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