If the Walt Disney World Parks and Resorts machine were to ever boast of a premiere restaurant, Victoria & Albert’s would be it. Located within the Grand Floridian Resort, this is not a restaurant to which you take your family (there’s actually an age restriction here), and this is not a restaurant to attend if you are traveling to Disney World on a budget.
This restaurant is aimed at those doing Disney World for adults, and we need to just get this out of the way now, because price and exclusivity are the only two drawbacks to this elegantly phenomenal restaurant.
So, in this review, I’m going to break down everything you need to know about this unique restaurant, from the menu to whether or not you need reservations and more.
Dress Code and Reservations (3/5)
Now before we get started, it’s important for me to mention that there is a Victoria and Albert’s dress code policy in place at this restaurant.
Now, when you’re on vacation, a lot of people just want to be free and easy and move about their day and night without any restrictions. And so, if a dress code is bothersome to you—I get it. But, with that said, for those that read this review and still are charmed by Victoria and Albert’s and want to give it a try, just know that when you begin packing for Disney World, you need to remember to bring some formal wear for this restaurant.
This restaurant asks that only children ten and over be allowed to enjoy the food and atmosphere of Victoria & Albert’s (you’ll understand why, once we get into the menu section of our review), and all men (including young men) are required to wear a jacket (although a tie is optional). Women (including young women) must be dressed in proper evening attire: a nice dress or pants and blouse.
Reservations are required. From firsthand experience, you will want to book those reservations as quickly as possible, because, even though the reservations open 180 days in advance, the restaurant tends to book fairly quickly.
This is, largely, due to the fact that they only serve fourteen tables a night in the main dining area. There are two other dining areas that are more exclusive, with the larger room holding eight tables, and the smaller one being a private table. All told, the restaurant has one seating a night, and only a total of twenty-three tables.
As I said, it books quickly.
Victoria and Albert’s Price (2/5)
I wanted to get this part out of the way, but please do not let this deter you. Save up for as long as you need to in order to make this work, because one dining experience at Victoria & Albert’s is completely worth it.
As of the publishing of this review, a regular, 7-course dinner costs roughly $185. Per person.
Okay, stay with me—breathe….BREATHE. Everything is going to be okay.
We’ll talk about it more when I spend more time on the menu and the food, but $185, though a lot of money, goes towards one of the best meals you will ever eat.
Take a minute and get yourself used to the idea. I’ll wait.
Okay, you feel a little better? Good, because I’m going to up it a bit.
If you really want the ideal experience, go for the wine pairing for an extra $65 a person. Instead of just enjoying the seven courses, the staff sommelier selects a wine to go with each specific course, so that your meal is – almost literally – hand-tailored to you.
Now, for those of you who do not mind spending even more, you can reserve a special table in a closed-off room. This is known as Queen Victoria’s Room, and runs $235 a person. Should you add the wine pairing, it will run you $340. As I mentioned above, this is a smaller, more intimate dining experience, and only has eight tables to the room.
But wait! There’s more.
Victoria and Albert’s Chef Table and Cost
So what’s the “Chef’s Table?” Well, the Chef’s Table gives you an exclusive look at the kitchen. You and your party will sit at this table, eating and drinking as the chef brings you a taste of everything that is prepared in the kitchen.
That’s right: you get a small sampling of every item on the menu.
Now, this only amounts to a dozen or so items, but that’s almost double what everyone else gets. That experience will run you about $355 with the wine and approximately $250 if you want to dine wine-free).
Now that I’ve scared you away, let’s take a look at some of the more attractive features of the restaurant. In this article, we’ll take a look at:
- Overall value
Below, check out what “Eating My Ears” on YouTube had to say about Victoria & Albert’s:
The main dining room is elegant, as one would expect. There are, of course, the usual niceties of patterned carpet, columns, and so on, but the center piece is the domed ceiling: it has been hand-painted with a gorgeously detailed foliage design.
From the center hangs an ornate chandelier, casting a soft glow about the room. In the center, underneath the chandelier, sits a rather large bouquet of fresh-cut flowers atop a beautifully-carved table. The fourteen tables are all spaced out around this centerpiece. It’s all quite classy, really.
Queen Victoria’s Room, as one would also expect, is smaller and more intimate, with a slightly more formal décor. A large, gilded-framed mirror hangs on the wall at the opposite end of the room. In front of this mirror is an antique (or antique-looking, I’m unsure) bureau upon which sit two large, crystal vases, each containing freshly-cut flowers.
An ornate table in the center of the room also contains a vase of flowers. But what the eye is really drawn to in all of this is above the fireplace: an oil portrait of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. It portrays them in their younger years, and it’s very well-done.
The Chef’s Table, like the other two dining areas, has its own unique feel, but still manages to maintain a sophisticated atmosphere with its decor. The table, made of solid wood (sorry, not much of a wood expert, so I can’t tell you what kind of wood it is), sits a few feet away from the kitchen, where guests can watch the staff prepare the food. This does not, however, mean that the dining area is sterile and cold, as the dining area is separated from the kitchen by an ornate gate, reminiscent of wrought-iron.
The area itself is decorated to feel like a modern, upscale kitchen, with cupboards, wine bottles on the counter, and bookshelves along one wall. It’s remarkably inviting, and actually makes me wish my kitchen looked like their dining area.
Now, décor is one thing, and a very important thing, to be sure. However, part of what décor does is feed into the much larger picture of ambiance, and Victoria & Albert’s would have atmosphere in spades, just on the décor alone, but even the best décor can fail to create a pleasing atmosphere if other elements don’t work.
But here, every element works.
Let’s start with the minor detail that helps make the atmosphere of this restaurant incredible: the harpist. Off to the side of the main dining area, near the back, is a harpist.
Now, my understanding is that he or she typically plays some of the more familiar classical pieces: Canon in D, Sonata for Harp in G Major, a little Mozart, some Beethoven, Chopin . . . you know, typical stuff – very relaxed, very romantic. I, however, cannot actually attest to this, because when we ate there, he played movie themes and show tunes.
Here’s the deal, though: “Suicide is Painless” is oddly soothing on a harp. So is the theme from Jurassic Park. And, even though I tend to dislike musicals, the soundtrack to Les Misérables is quite moving when played by a professional harpist.
I think what also stands out is that the music is present, but not overwhelming. While our party certainly noticed his musical choices, I think it was quite interesting that I honestly have no idea how long he was playing before I noticed him – it could have been twenty or thirty minutes. It is, in fact, quite easy to tune-out, if you desire.
Now, let’s stop a moment and consider something. You are there, sitting in this restaurant, eating seven courses of food, each of them hand-crafted when ordered, and (if you go for it) paired with a hand-selected wine. In between some of the courses, there are bread and butter pairings (more on that in a moment!) to help cleanse the pallet. At no point during any of this do they rush you, or hurry you along. If you want to linger over the fourth course for an hour, they will let you, no questions asked.
Listen: you will be there for two or three hours. But here’s the important part: it doesn’t feel like it at all. Everything is so beautifully-crafted to make you feel welcome, that a three-hour meal feels completely normal. If that doesn’t earn five stars for atmosphere, I don’t know what will.
In all honesty, the service is the other large part of why the atmosphere is so special, but the service itself is so special that I feel it deserves its own examination. Because the service is spectacular.
Where I live, we used to have a high-end restaurant (I forget the name) that attempted to be like Victoria & Albert’s. It failed. Every time you finished a plate, they whisked over, removed it, and raked the crumbs off the table.
The problem was they were so . . . vigorous . . . with it, that you often didn’t have time to put your fork down before the plate disappeared. And, sometimes, the crumbs ended up in your lap.
Victoria & Albert’s also takes your plate away when you are finished, and they also clean off the table, but it’s done with absolute perfect balance: the empty plate doesn’t sit for five minutes, but you have time to breathe and relax for a second before they come over to clear the table. And, after seven courses, I not once ended up with crumbs in my lap.
Each table has two or three staff members attending to your needs. Need to get up to use the restroom? Someone will pull your chair out for you. Come back from the restroom? They will help seat you. They will even adjust your footstool, if you need them to.
Oh? Did I forget to mention that? Silly me! Yes, each chair has a footstool.
They are knowledgeable about the food, the wine, and any other question you may have. Not sure what bison Carpaccio is? Your waiter will be able to describe it in such a way that you cannot possibly resist it.
Need a wine recommendation? You’d swear the waiter was the vintner in charge of making the wines himself. I have had wonderful, spectacularly awesome waiters and waitresses over the years, but the service at Victoria & Albert’s puts even the best places I have been to shame.
Victoria and Albert’s Menu (5/5)
This is the moment that, let’s face it, matters most: what is on the menu and how good is the food? At more than $200 a person, I would expect the food to be exquisite. In fact, if the food were less than exquisite, this would be a much different (and shorter) review.
But the food is exquisite.
Now, if you were to say to me, “Hey, there’s this restaurant that serves seven courses, it’s really great!” I’d probably smile and nod, and think, “Too much food! No thanks!”
However, each course is very small – really just about a third of the size of most appetizers in chain restaurants these days. It’s really nothing more than a taste of food. This helps, truthfully, since there is so much to take in.
So your courses are sufficient, as a whole, but that’s because each one is relatively small. For example, in my second course, I had a cold-smoked and seared bison Carpaccio, with a very nice truffle vinaigrette, and I believe I finished it in about four or five bites. Now, had I received a full plate as a single course, I would have been very happy.
But then I would have missed out on the duck confit, the lamb with candied marbled potatoes, the cheese plate, and the Meyer lemon and blood orange purse with blackberry-violet sherbet. Everything was, quite literally, the best food I have ever eaten, before or since (incidentally, dessert was a chocolate pyramid with edible gold shavings on top).
In between the three main courses, they bring out a different kind of homemade bread, which acts as a bit of a pallet cleanser. Now get this, the bread is paired with a specific kind of homemade butter, crafted especially to match each loaf. So each bread loaf has its own butter pairing. When’s the last time your favorite restaurant gave you an oregano butter to put on your rosemary focaccia?
Look, I know we talked about the drawbacks of this restaurant being exclusivity (including, perhaps, even the dress code) and price—but the food completely makes up for it. You are unlikely to find a better meal anywhere. You may certainly find a better restaurant, one you can hop into on a Friday night without having to dress up, but Victoria & Albert’s is an experience, not a restaurant. From the moment you walk in the door to the moment you walk out, every single second is meant to be savored.
The food is completely worth the price. And even if you’re a simple eater, maybe even someone that just enjoys indulging in pizza or burgers, I’ll say this: if you feel you can enjoy a nice meal, great atmosphere, and service catered to your satisfaction, this is a restaurant worth trying.
I recognize that the price tag is high, but I hope that doesn’t deter anyone from going. This is certainly, at least on my budget, not a restaurant I plan on going to often. But, on the occasion when I am ready to to splurge, I know Victoria and Albert’s is definitely worth it.
Rating: 5/5 Stars
- Verdict: An Experience Worth Its Weight in Edible Gold
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