Victoria or Albert? Why Not Both?
by Daniel L Rappaport
Please read to the bottom, as there is a surprise!
"It's kind of fun to do the impossible."
- Walt Disney "Walt Disney is one of the greatest humans to have ever lived.", said Ariel. "Great?! Ha! What defines greatness beyond me?! He can create theme parks and dream up cities. But, he never did manage planets or universes, again, like me!", quipped Morgana.
"Morgana?! Really?! I can suck your tainted blood right out of you, and you wouldn't be able to do so much as crawl. What's with you?!", asked an exasperated Kabire. "Kabire. Please. Turn yourself into a bat and fly through a storm when Zeus is furious, would you?!" "Coven! Stop this! You are draining your precious energy, and if this continues, the universe will fall apart! Our honored guests need to focus on this mighty blog post, at hand!" And, with that, they all vanished.
And that, my friends, is exactly how I think of the small handful of meals that I have had at this unbelievable dining establishment. Impossible.
So, let’s start at the point that everyone loves to talk about…
Now, to be fair, I don’t care who you are or how much money you do/don’t have.
This restaurant is expensive, by any measurement.
You get what you pay for and you pay for what you get.
If we are talking purely amount of food, you would definitely pay about 1/4-1/2 the price just about anywhere else, including fine dining.
To use an analogy, we are paying for the Sistine Chapel Ceiling - the original. Not some cheap print.
If you ever do only one fine dining meal, in your entire life, this is the one.
This meal starts at about $300 per guest. Wine pairings are an additional $150.
Now that you are sufficiently shocked, let’s get on to the wonderful details!
Oh, sure. Yes. Of course. It's extraordinarily talented chefs creating intensely creative small and medium sized bites of food of the absolute highest end, in a ridiculously tiny kitchen.
It's, well, magic!
But, why do I (or rather Walt above) use the word "impossible"?
Frankly, I'm nearly surprised that this gem of a culinary landmark even exists. Why? Because an
entertainment company created it.
I wonder who the genius was, who woke up one day and said to themselves that they are going to create the finest restaurant in the world, in the middle of Central Florida?
Orlando area is far from being a culinary capital of the world (although, it is getting better and better by the day. Watch out, California, New York and France!).
But, that's what Disney does. Build it, and they will come.
So, again? How is this place "impossible"?
Plainly put, I am not sure what their secret is. Anyone can take the finest, best and freshest ingredients in the world, put them together in a masterfully artful form, and, guaranteed, it won't come out anywhere near the same.
Indeed. I have had, before, much lamb, bread, chicken, fish, sushi style flavors, caviar, etc... Nothing else compares.
It must be from a beyond intense and extremely deep understanding of how the food is raised and grown, to begin with, and then how to, of what I can only guess is almost akin to a chemist in a lab, combine those flavors into something that puts the word "unforgettable" to vast shame.
I know how to cook French food, and my mind is still blown.
And then, there is the service. Care for a small ottoman style, soft stump, that sits right next to your chair, for your digital devices, purse, etc..? Done!
Want at least three people assisting you with your meal (and sometimes, even the Chef de Cuisine Matthew Sowers will come out for a lovely chat. He's an incredibly warm and very articulate gentleman)? Done!
Oh heck? Let's have a tour of the kitchen! Done and done!
Tacky electric sound system? Nope. Live harpist? Yes!
And, what of the three different areas? There's the main dining room, the Queen Victoria room and the Chef's Table. Each of these areas have their own particular menus, providing three, while perhaps similar, but, at the same time, totally different experiences.
I am not going to showcase to you, or describe any one particular dish. Why? They change in and around every two weeks. It wouldn't make sense, and you can find all you need elsewhere online. Of course, this brings to mind...
How do you decide what dish to get rid of?
You see, each meal is comprised of 10 - 12 courses (depending upon the menu). It's set.
Prix fixe. It's as if Leonardo da Vinci would update the Mona Lisa, every couple of weeks, in front of a live audience. Insane!
Trying to obtain a seat here is a nearly impossible task. Don't go to the Walt Disney World app. You'll never get in. If you can find Allyson to help you out, well... Hope and pray.
During COVID, they remodeled the space. I can only imagine the craziness at Walt Disney Imagineering, when trying to think about how to mess with what had already earned them the prestigious AAA Five Diamond Award since 2000 and Forbes Travel Guide Five Star Award. They earned this in 2018.
And, I would also need to point out the additional stress of the culinary team, when they change out dishes. They must constantly be asking themselves if this week's slight menu change will live up to their rich reputation and past. They opened up in 1988.
How do they inspire Pazzaria Productions, and, well, Daniel L Rappaport?
For me, it’s the entire, visceral experience that I relish (pun fully intended). I have always been impressed with things that strive to be of the best quality, and don’t settle for anything less.
How would I do things differently? I would be very interested to see if there is an extremely classy way to involve more story into the experience. The restaurant is, at the time of this writing, in and around 34 years old, and is run by Disney.
Yet, the dinner is just the dinner. No plot based immersion of any kind, to speak of, that I could find.
And, to be completely fair, that isn’t the point of this restaurant. I wouldn’t change it. Not because I don’t appreciate nostalgia, because I absolutely do.
But, if this venue were to, all of a sudden, add some Disney I.P. into the mix, it would lose its heart and soul.
To update the concept, as I am describing, needs to be done with a fresh venue.
Lastly, but certainly not least, here is an excerpt from Disney's press release on the venue: Investing in Future Talent Disney is always looking for ways to empower and invest in students and future talent in the Central Florida community. To celebrate the reopening of Victoria & Albert’s, Walt Disney World Resort has donated $50,000 to Valencia College Foundation in Orlando – an institution Disney has teamed up with for nearly 50 years. This donation will support the culinary program, helping to enhance the overall education experience.
Additionally, prior to the restaurant’s reopening, Valencia College culinary students were among the first to experience an unforgettable evening at Victoria & Albert’s, as they met with Disney culinary cast members (including Valencia College alumni) and received an exclusive look at the kitchen and newly reimagined dining room.
So, this is very, very touching. I must admit that when I was in college, I would've loved for, essentially, the Fairy God Mother to come into my life, and do something similar.
We definitely have a philanthropic side, ourselves, and plan to grow that part of our business in the future, as well.
© and TM 2022 The Magic Dads © and TM 2022 Pazzaria Productions © and TM 2022 The Walt Disney Company