Dec 22

Birthday Dinner at Artist Point

Laurie is back with another review of one of her favorite restaurants…….see what she has to say about Artist Point.
I could have chosen any restaurant in Florida for dinner but none compares to Artist Point for awesome food and staff that I know can provide a memorable dinner. My favorite entrance into the lodge is through the lower entrance that leads to the pool. I enjoyed a lovely fun scooter ride past trees that brings back memories of being a girl on the living room floor playing with Lincoln logs. I scooted through the lower level entrance into Western American grandeur. There is a ramp up to the lobby that I love going down on my scooter. At the top of this ramp is a ramp up to Artist Point, bathrooms, and Territory Lounge. I went into the lobby to find a place to charge the scooter, which a nice lady from the front desk found me a plug. I love sitting in the cartoon area to watch cartoons while checking e-mail.My next stop was ice tea at the Territory Lounge and to enjoy the warm Pacific Northwest theme. Then it was down the ramp to the hostess station and back up the ramp to Artist Point. The first thing you see is a room with good but not bright lighting and hardwood floors. I walked past the hostess desk to my two top table that overlooked the trees on my right and straight ahead was the geyser and more awesome natural beauty. I was in a very comfortable chair but guests who need a bit more room can ask for the banquet seating along the wall. The banquet seating provides a bit more privacy. I like how the tables are spaced so that guests are not elbow to elbow with other guests.

What? Menu? I was too busy taking in the Northwest themed room’s artwork, decor, soaring columns, and the view out the window. The chef came by to go over my diet which I cannot have wheat gluten, most soy, and some chicken egg products. The menu is market and season driven so you never know what my be the newest item to try. I chose whiskey glaze confit natural bacon for my appetizer and the entree was half of the “Berkshire” pork tenderloin and half of the seared diver scallops. I was asked what temperature I wanted on both entrees which is rare as most places do not ask how you want your scallops done.

Out came a white rectangular plate with rolls, a tiny pot of fennel and garlic infused olive oil, and real butter. I started with the warm oil that sang of herbs that made for a delicious bite. I am a bigger fan of butter on rolls but I sat there staring at the black shining crystals of black Cypress sea salt. I later found out that this mild salt is white Cypress sea salt that has charcoal added. Black sea salt is touted as a detoxifier and deacidifier but I just know that it was a wonderful companion to the buttered rolls. I was having fun sampling the crystals of black sea salt.

I ordered the “Whiskey glaze confit natural bacon” due to the grammar and wording of the item. Is it with a glaze type of sauce or is it glazed? Normally I see “duck confit” so what is done confit style? Finally the “natural” bacon got me as how do they make natural bacon? Out came a white rectangular plate with an orange colored whipped thing and the big chunk of bacon topped with a sunny side up quail egg. I thought “silk” meant whipped but it refers to the silk squash plant that I never had before. I dived into the squash for smooth whipped squash with slivered almonds for pure squash bliss that I would love to see as a side dish. The bacon sat on a pool of sweet glaze that I sopped up with my bread. Not everyone would like the bacon because it is rather fatty like pork belly. It was pure bacon goodness that was enhanced by the glaze. The quail egg just sat there doing nothing special but for me it was so nice to eat an egg. Overall this is one dish I would love to do again.

The scallops came with corn risotto, fennel jus, 2 blistered cherry tomatoes, citrus pistou, and a huge piece of Serranno ham. The ham was not crispy but more chewy and very strong in flavor as it sat there on the plate like an oversized sail. The large chive topped large scallops were perfectly cooked. I loved that the risotto had corn for additional texture and flavor. Next I dug into cheddar polenta that was very finely ground and full of Cheddar cheese goodness. They use Beecher’s Flagship Reserve Cheddar cheese which has less moisture, more salt, and a richer taste. The Berkshire pork tenderloin was flavorful and properly cooked. On the dish were two pearl onions, black mission figs, and baby fennel each like a birthday present with its own unique experience. Overall each item on the dish was a palate pleasing treat and I cannot decide which to have again as both were BODACIOUS AWESOME.

The shock was staff bringing out flourless chocolate cake with a candle in it. HAPPY BIRTHDAY was written on the plate and a glowing Tinkerbelle was on the plate. Being alone on your birthday is not so bad when you are spoiled rotten by the staff of Artist Point. The dark chocolate cake came with a raspberry sauce. This was one of the best cakes ever with nuts, dark chocolate, and the rasperry sauce. A woman stopped to take a picture of my cake before I dug into bliss. The best part was the bacon brittle which is sweet and crunch like peanut brittle. The best part is sucking the candy off the brittle to end up with a mouthful of chewy bacon goodness. I was like a kid reveling in the soft dark chocolate then a bit of brittle then a taste of the lettering of the plate. This was the grande finale to an awesome birthday dinner. I wish they sold the bacon brittle as it was the best part of the dinner.

Dec 22

Grand Floridian Cafe Review

Laurie is back again with another review for us.  This time she ate at Grand Floridian Cafe.  See what she had to say.  It was also a pleasure to finally meet her in person.  Thanks for meeting with me, Laurie.
The cafe has big windows with a lovely view of the pool, good lighting, comfortable seating even for this Pooh sized lady, niches for some privacy, and great decor.  The bad news is that scooters are not allowed to park in the foyer so the scooters and strollers are left out on the porch.  I parked mine down the hall and walked. .
November, 2013 when I finally got to meet up with my awesome friend, Tabitha.  She popped in for a few minutes to chat and introduce me to her delightful son.  The waitress asked them if they needed anything but she declined as she was doing the dessert party in the Magic Kingdom.  The Grand Floridian Cafe had changed as the carpet had bits of debris and the seater did not have someone clean under the table when I said I saw a dinner roll. The cafe is the family restaurant for guests staying at the Grand Floridian Resort unless they want to pay a bit more for the character buffet.  Overall the kids seem to be better mannered here than in most family restaurants.  I told the chef I was no gluten and no soy which had to be repeated over and over.  The gluten free GNI roll came out a huge pair of pats of butter with sea salt.  I asked for the shrimp cocktail appetizer and the pork chop with grits.  The entree came but not the appetizer.  I got the impression that I was at fault for not ordering the shrimp.  I have a set way of ordering and am very clear on what I order.  I loved the dairy laden grits which were finely ground and smooth except for the tiny bits of corn.  The pork chop was done the way I like it, was flavorful, and had a good sear on it.  I could eat that entree every day.  The entree paired two great items to form a delicious hearty dish.
The sad news was the shrimp salad which arrived just before Tabitha showed up.  The menu said it was “Fragrantly-poached Shrimp served with Locally-sourced Tomato-Avocado and fresh Verde Sauce – $12.99”.  I stared, blinked, and tried to figure out what was sitting there in a corner waiting for me to finish my entree.  The bottom of the salad bowl was a pool of oil then a layer of diced tomatoes, a layer for shrimp, and a ring of avocado slices.  The thin avocado was breaking up and still had medium green rind on it.  The tomatoes did not have the stem area removed. Based on what I tasted the “verde sauce” was supposed to be the Italian version not Hispanic green salsa.  It was a muddled green sauce that did not sing of anything but oil, a bit of kick, and more oil.  Definitely not a true Italian green sauce.  I had to pick out tomatoes, avocado, and shrimp from the pool of oil.  The shrimp were firm and tasty while the tomatoes and avocado were a nice accompaniment. There was the poor knife skills, muddled sauce, and lake of oil that makes me wonder what is going on in the kitchen.  They made a wonderful pork chop and grits entree so what happened to the appetizer.  Another problem was that they brought out iced tea while I was on my second sip.  The drink sits there as the ice melts and is a waste of money, time, and man hours.  The waitress was very nice and good at her job.  I did not like how she wedged between my table and the neighboring table to take their order.  Did she have to stand on my left side to shout to the people on my right side to see if they needed drinks.  That was very impersonal and not professional as she was not going up to them to see if they needed anything not just drinks.
Grand Floridan Cafe offers great food, lovely decor, disabled access, very good lighting, and great service.  This was a quiet relaxed meal with a smooth service that did not leave me waiting for things as the timing was spot on.  Despite my limited diet they were able to provide me with bread, butter, appetizer, entree and several desserts which I regret passing up.  The issues mentioned above can be overlooked or by a guest telling staff to stop yelling across their table.  My experience there was top notch almost on par with fine dining locations.  I was disappointed by the shrimp dish which was poorly thought out.  I would gladly eat here again.