Family Style at Garden Grill

Garden Grill seems to becoming more and more popular lately, when I talk to fellow Disney goers. This restaurant seems like it went overlooked for so long but now even offers brunch to people wandering the parks.

In this building I would usually end up grabbing a quick service at Seasons, but this time we decided to give the rotating restaurant a go and I only have a few complaints.

The service was fantastic. Our server, Nancy was really sweet and attentive and made sure 14657403_10100317117557944_3043378802124547916_nwe got to see Mickey, Chip and Dale which was just great.

The dinner rolls were warm and delicious. The honey butter was not too honeyed which is great for me. The salad was great as well, made with ingredients right from the greenhouses at Epcot, with a house made ranch dressing.

The thinly sliced beef was much better than that offered at Liberty Tree Tavern, even I had a piece and appreciated that it was so tender it could practically be cut with a knife. The turkey was juicy and delicious but there was only one slice, the rest seemed to be pieces broken off the edge of a turkey breast versus a proper roast and were tough to cut into.

The sausage seemed a little undercooked to be honest, and we did tell Nancy this and she offered to get us different morsels which we declined. The mashed potatoes were awesome. I’m a fan of a good mash, and the veggies also from Epcot’s greenhouses were 14731272_10100317117582894_8874177371062101894_n-1great also.

The standout was the dessert and oh my god was it good. One of the best strawberry shortcakes I have ever tasted in my life. I ate a couple pieces, soaking it in the strawberry sauce and the homemade whipped cream.

 

 

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Halloween Time with Minnie at Hollywood and Vine

This restaurant is one that always has a packed house. It’s not impossible to get reservations but because it is one that offers Fantasmic dining packages it is best to get your ADR in as soon as possible.

The wait to go in wasn’t too long and the decor is similar to 50s Prime Time right next door (they share a bathroom too).

minnie-holiday-dineThe buffet this time was Halloween themed, though the only themed things were a few banners around the restaurant, the characters in costume and the names of rather standard buffet dishes.

Because this is a buffet I didn’t really try everything as I tend to the safer side of things, being a picky eater.

My favourites: Meatballs, garlic mashed potatoes, stir fried broccoli, garlic green beans and corn dog nuggets. For dessert I hoarded the lemon meringue boo’s.

Least favourites: Shrimp. Too greasy for me.

This dining experience is good for picky eaters or kids because Minnie, Mickey, Donald, Daisy and Pluto do make their rounds.

Happy Thanksgiving! All year round at Liberty Tree Tavern!

Anyone who knows me can attest to the fact that my two favourite holiday meals take place in October and December, mostly because they contain a lot of the same foods. They would be Thanksgiving and Christmas because the more turkey the better.

That being said those preferences make Liberty Tree Tavern in Disney’s Magical Kingdom one of my favourite places to eat, though I was a little concerned to be visiting them yesterday so soon after our Thanksgiving in Canada.

The restaurant has a good atmosphere, with several different dining areas dispersed through the restaurant. The bathrooms are still in need of some work, with so few stalls for ladies.

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The only downside about the atmosphere is the restaurant, containing both upper and lower dining spaces can get pretty loud. Also, I’ve never been there when it wasn’t freezing.

Also, for some the family/platter style dining can be a downside because it gives off a kind of one menu suits all feel but I’ve never had any complaints about that portion of the dining experience. Usually if you ask them not to bring you something they’re all good to do so.

The first course is fluffy light rolls and honey butter, which is not a favourite of mine but has grown on me over time. There is also the delicious salad, and you must be thinking, c’mon how  delicious can a salad be? Well this salad is covered in strawberry vinaigrette dressing and while I’ve tried to duplicate it at home I have been woefully unable to do so.

The main course is meat. And sides. Delicious delicious sides. Unfortunately you will not hear me wax philosophical about the ham or beef dishes as I’m not a fan of either even at home. I am told however the pot roast was cut too thick and unfortunately was not as  tender as it should be. The ham was good, apparently, but not as good as Boma’s yesterday morning.

The turkey was nice, tender and juicy and I could probably write odes to the cornbread 14666311_10100316152616694_5900305316963246909_n14717146_10100316152591744_6656431266500684233_nstuffing which is funny because I actually really dislike cornbread. Weird, I know. This is a dish that HAS been replicated for me for Christmas and man am I lucky, because quite frankly I can’t afford to fly to Florida every time I have a craving.

The mashed potatoes are again a favourite, as they are redskin potatoes, with just a touch of garlic in them, skin still in which I love for the texture and they are creamy delicious and even moreso when you put gravy on them.

The green beans are also cooked in garlic which makes them more delicious than usual. I’m a veggie person, what can I say?

My only letdown on this visit was the mac and cheese. I feel like they changed it. I don’t recall it being made with what tastes like plastic cheese, a dislike of mine, but there it is. And it was watery, I was a little disappointed to be honest.

Dessert is no longer Johnny Apple-Seed cake which does make me sad because I do love me some of that. It is instead a tart, with each small square packed full of cinnamon dusted and cooked apples, dried cranberries and wonderful out of this world vanilla bean ice cream.

This restaurant is good for those who want the magic of the holidays around them all year round, and good if you are ravenously hungry. Sometimes though, if you’re only a party of two you might be left leaving a lot on the platter so I recommend telling them you only really want small portions so as not to be wasteful. Disney being Disney is more than happy to accommodate.

Watch this spot later because I will be attending Minnie’s Holiday Dine at Hollywood and Vine as well as a Galactic Dessert Party which is Star Wars Themed, which means they might have to roll me back here but I’m sure it will be delicious.

So my readers, stay hungry, or go grab a snack because we’ve still got 5 more days of dining to get through and I haven’t even hit Epcot yet.

Boma-Picky Eater Edition

The name of the game in eating breakfast at Boma is patience. I’ve been to this restaurant now three times and I’ve never seen it where it’s not packed for breakfast or lunch.

You will wait to get in. And if you’re wanting to try some delicious carved turkey or ham you will wait for that. That being said there is few meals more worth it.

While this restaurant would benefit from the standard two buffet line method once

Carvery and hash

you’re past the carvery you are golden. 

The atmosphere of the restaurant is beautiful, with richly painted walls in orange, yellow and clay like brown it’s easy to feel at home here.

If you’re a picky eater like me then don’t worry. You can skip the African Hash and Turkey Babotie to get to more traditional fares like bacon, eggs and sausage as well as a series of delicious pastries.

I wouldn’t recommend skipping either of those things though because even I enjoy them in small doses but to each their own. If you’re going to stick to scrambled eggs it doesn’t hurt to try the batch of eggs that has goat cheese and chives in it as they were a highlight.

Yum

And in case you were concerned about the possibility of being unable to snag a Mickey waffle don’t be. They are here also with Simba waffles and they are delicious.

The best way to begin a trip to WDW…

cupcake…is with a delicious cupcake.

Today I checked into Kidani Village at Animal Kingdom (review to come later) and immediately hunted down something to satisfy my sweet tooth while providing me with lovely eye appealing visuals as well.

Though it’s a trek to The Mara from Kidani as it is in Jambo House I am certcupcake-cross-sectionainly not complaining as I try to chase every little crumb of their zebra cupcake.

Topped with delicious, whipped icing, little chocolate covered cookie bits with a wonderful delicate cake this easily might be one of my favourites. The chocolate icing in the middle just makes it even better.

Hotel Review: Disney’s Bay Lake Tower at Contemporary Resort

12642795_10100220284786594_413574295841980652_nThis was quite the adventure in fun (and developing pneumonia) but this hotel was a good place to stay, so as promised, albeit late here is mine (and my best friend’s) review of Bay Lake Tower.

Theming: 

This is maybe the least themed and most normal hotel feeling of all the Disney hotels. It’s understandable though, as it is also a convention centre, but what is there in terms of Mickeyness, is pretty awesome.  ★★★

Amenities:

Does this place have amenities or what? I cannot complain about the multiple gift shops a12647486_1764000563831161_7898682913274459337_nt Disney’s Contemporary Resort, as well as the general store, Chef Mickey’s, Contempo Cafe and the room service. We even rented some blurays once we learned my best friend had not seen Big Hero Six, Tangled, or Brave. Also who can argue with the grandest amenity of them all, the view of Magic Kingdom out the window and our ability to watch fireworks every night if we so pleased. ★★★★★

Comfort: 

Those beds, those pillows. Oh so comfortable. That’s all I have to say. Also, with one bathroom per person for three of us no one was complaining about the wait to get ready in the morning and it was awesome. ★★★★

Service:

Disney as always provided excellent service. Everyone who we talked to was very nice, from the people who delivered our room service when I was too sick to leave the room, to the people who cleaned the hotel and who greeted us in the lobby. ★★★★

Proximity:

★★★★★ Seriously, just five stars because it was amazing being able to just walk over to Magic Kingdom. It was great. Seriously.

Downsides:

The pool was sadly closed. The pools stay open until way too early. And what is with the perfume smell in the lobby? It was like someone was trying to cover up something bad.

Over all I give this hotel ★★★★ out of 5.

New Year and Next Disney Trip!

As of January’s endish I will be leaving with my mum and my best friend on a Disney trip (and leaving the rest of our families at home hehe). My mum and I were there as early as October, and my best friend has not been since she was 3, so over 20 years ago.

It’s going to be fun, and I am quite excited to regale you with the details!

Here are our plans as follows:

Check into Bay Lake Tower 2 Bedroom Suite for 7 nights

Day 1: 

  • Stop at Target to pick up grocery miscellany
  • Stop at Arby’s cause we barely have them here (or Cracker Barrell)
  • Check into hotel
  • Go to Downtown Disney (maybe) or explore the hotel!
  • Chef Mickey’s Buffet Dinner
  • Maybe go to MK cause it’s extra magic hours!

Day 2:

  • MK
  • Pirates FP
  • Be Our Guest Lunch
  • Haunted Mansion
  • Dinner at Liberty Tree Tavern
  • Wishes FP

Day 3:

  • AK
  • Dinosaur FP
  • Kilimanjaro Safari FP
  • Quick Service Lunch
  • Festival of the Lion King FP
  • Trail’s End for Dinner

Day 4:

  • Supercalifragilistic Breakfast at 1900 Park Fare
  • Epcot
  • Chefs de France Dinner
  • Illuminations FP

Day 5:

  • Probably more Magic Kingdom
  • Cinderella’s Royal Table Dinner

Day 6:

  • Universal Studios

Day 7:

  • Hollywood Studios
  • Toy Story Midway Mania FP
  • Star Tours FP
  • Lights, Motor, Action, Stunt Show FP
  • Minnie’s Seasonal Dine Dinner at Hollywood and Vine

We will be reviewing the hotel based on:

  • Theming/style of the hotel
  • Amenities
  • Comfort
  • Service
  • Proximinity/Ease of getting to the parks

We will be reviewing restaurants based on:

  • Wait time
  • Service
  • Theming
  • And of course, taste!

 

Loving Italy From Afar and Missing It

10418423_947947510704_8405202295249165231_nI knew, last year when I embarked on my journey that Italy had always been something I had wanted to see.

The architecture, the warmth of the people there, the history.

Yet it struck me, how much I loved Italy when I got there, and I never thought how much I would miss it when I left.

Perhaps it is because I was traveling with some of the best people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting, or because we had an awesome tour guide who could bring the very history of the country to life when she spoke of it.

I truly don’t know, but now, there are moments when I find myself closing my eyes, and I can see the streets 10592786_948111921224_6726545195169400792_nof Venice spread out before me, a little cramped but filled with adventure and tourists. I can hear the sounds of people rushing in and out of the Vatican, waxing philosophical on religion. I can smell the salt waters of Sorrento and something in me longs to be back there again.

I will never forget how lucky I was to go to the Vatican, though I am not religious, and walk the streets of Rome as so many others have before me. I know I’m blessed in life, to have seen these things but as always, as a traveler there is a greed that follows. A greed for more rich sights, a greed for more experiences and memories to fill the pages of my notebooks and the memory cards in my camera.

In one week, or rather a little over, I will be returning to Orlando, FL, to stay in Loew’s Portofino at the choice of my brother in law, and I have no doubt that the pale imitation of an Italian village will simply make me miss Italy more.

The Value of Seasons, and Snow

Something I wrote for my other blog, which is just as relevant here.

A Cup of Cocoa and a Slice of Life

10649888_961185411844_2895187482784671267_nI’ve lived in Canada my entire life. Just North of Toronto, by about 45 minutes (that’s how we tell distance here) if the traffic is good.

I’m 27 years old, and winter seldom held magic for me after the age of 12. It was the last time I went skiing, probably one of the last time’s I really played in the snow and is about the time I realized that winter can be more of a hindrance than something amazing.

I guess I got older, grew jaded. I forgot about the value of all seasons, and the value of snow. Its priceless. And what it gives us is even more priceless.

It just took Switzerland for me to realize how much it means to live somewhere where we get to experience the beauty, and struggle of all four seasons (five if you count construction).

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Do you speak English? Non, nein, nee. I don’t…except…

She saw me, and knew I was a tourist right away. She knew we all were. Thirty something tourists, one Canadian in the bunch, one American, twenty-nine Aussies, four Kiwis.

One tour guide.

This girl was holding a piece of cardboard, a piece of paper on it, accosting everyone she could.

“Do you speak English?” She burst out, staring at me and aghast and confused I shook my head no while our tour guide approached separating the girl from the group.

I’ve now been asked this question quite a bit, one after another converging on us in the tourist areas of Paris. They’re waiting for a yes,wanting to explain a fake cause,wanting to separate us from our herds, literally and figuratively.

And before you know it something is missing. A wallet. Some cash. Your camera. Your passport.

Now I don’t tell you this to scare you because I find barring any severe incidences that travel is wonderful, even with its risks.

Paris might be your city that you fall in love with. It’s culture, architecture and history wrapping you in a warm embrace.

Or it might be Barcelona, it’s markets lively, people passionate and good delicious.

But don’t take candy, flowers or petitions from strangers. Don’t open your wallet in the open and don’t wear a backpack if you can help it. Trust me. But don’t trust them. And if someone asks if you speak English, you don’t. You never do.