Narcoossee’s is set right over the waters of the Seven Seas Lagoon at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort. This signature dining establishment has been delighting palates since June 28, 1988.
Location: Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort
DDP: Yes 2 Credits (Signature Dining)
Tables in Wonderland: Yes
Meal Eaten: Dinner (Breakfast and lunch are not served)
Dress Code Guidelines: Men: Khakis, slacks, jeans, dress shorts, collared shirts. Sport coats are optional.
Ladies: Capris, skirts, dresses, jeans, dress shorts.
Not permitted in dining room: Tank tops, swimwear, hats for gentleman, cut offs, or torn clothing. While T-shirts are now allowed, the policy remains that T-shirts with offensive language or graphics are not acceptable.
When it comes to discussions about fine dining at Walt Disney World many restaurants will be mentioned. I searched “fine dining in walt disney world” on Google and got back various reviews and posts about The California Grill, Jiko, Flying Fish, Yachtsman’s Steakhouse, Shula’s and of course Disney World’s premier dining establishment Victoria and Albert’s. All are great restaurants and reservations to some of them especially California Grill can be hard to get if you don’t call or make online reservation as soon as your 180 day window of opportunity arrives. Now I am no stranger to Walt Disney World and have been visiting since 1993 but for some reason we never got around to trying Narcoossee’s. We did entertain the idea over the years but it seemed like each year there was a new dining experience to try and has restaurants like Papeete Bay Verandah became Ohana’s, Top of the World became the California Grill, The Empress Lilly lost her paddle wheel and smoke stacks to become Fulton’s Crab House and King Stefan’s Banquet Hall became Cinderella’s Royal Table, Narcoossee’s was always the place we would eat at on the next trip. So when it was time to call for Advanced Dinning Reservation (ADRs) in 2009, I totally forgot about Narcoossee’s as I do every year,and wanted to book the California Grill. It was our 14th wedding anniversary so we wanted to go to a special place. Well, like a lot of people that don’t want to start dinner somewhere between 8:50pm and the next morning so I declined the available reservation for California Grill. Unfortunately I still needed a place to eat near the Magic Kingdom. I had already been shut out of Ohana’s and there was no way I was getting into Cindy’s place. What about Citrico’s? Wasn’t that once called Flagler’s, lets see, Grand Floridian Cafe` not for our anniversary…So as I sit on the phone pondering my options with a very patient Cast Member at 407-WDW-DINE, she said “what about Narcoossee’s, I have early times available”. Yes! I exclaim, Narcoossee’s! what about Narcoossee’s, why not Narcoossee’s, after all it is the same view as the California Grill, only lower, and more mirror like as everything is the same just now it is to my left. I’m glad I thought of it! Kim will be happy with my anniversary choice, OK , I said, book it!
So now that you know how I ended up at Narcoossee’s how was the experience? We had reservations for 5:30pm which is the time the restaurant starts serving. We arrived early and checked in at the podium located just inside the restaurant. The reception area was filling up with arriving diners so my wife Kim and I decided to stroll out onto the veranda. Like the observation deck at the Contemporary Resort, access is only available through the restaurant and not available to folks strolling around the resort. I wandered around the veranda snapping photos of the scenery which was now starting to become draped in a nice warm orange glow of a setting Florida sun. I watched as the Monorail zipped by silhouetted against the bright western sky. Kim was talking to a couple from Ohio who were frequent visitors to the world. They had brought along their teenage son but he was inside playing with a live lobster along with some of the chefs. As a New Englander I forget how a lobster could be such a novelty to people who live miles inland. Especially a young person who only may have seen them in a grocery store and had never seen one alive out of the water.
I have to say I really enjoyed watching the flurry of activity from the veranda. Boats from the resorts passed us and in the distance I watched the Richard F Irvin and the General Joe Potter Ferry boats bring guests to and from the Magic Kingdom and the Transportation and Ticket Center. I could hear the bell and whistle of the Walt Disney World Rail Road steam engine as it sat in the station getting ready for another grands circle tour. Across the lagoon monorails appeared to be swallowed by the giant “A” framed Contemporary Resort. I could have stayed there all night but after only a few minutes our table was ready. Now this is the part of the review where I place a photo of the dining room except I didn’t take any. I was so relaxed and in the mood for a great meal I forgot about my motto “photograph everything (which drives my poor wife crazy). Let me describe the dining room for you. The room is large but small by WDW dining room standards. The building is shaped in an octagon with about one quarter to a third being the bar and kitchen. The room has 2 tiers with the middle being much higher than the outside walk in level. The bar is also up on the higher tier occupying the center section of the restaurant. The outer lower ring has two rows of tables split by a walkway. There are tables against the large windows that wrap around the water side of the building giving dinners a panoramic view of the Seven Seas Lagoon. We were seated on the lower level but on the inner row up against the second tier level. The high pointed roof also makes the inside of the restaurant quite cavernous. The floors are hardwood so I could imagine it can get a bit noisy when the dining room is full but it never was loud enough to notice during our visit.
After seated by a host we were greeted by our Server Chevy. We got our menus and he briefly went over some of the highlights. He took our drinks orders and returned quite promptly with them. He said he would return in a few moments to take our order or answer any questions. After he left we looked over the menu which is dominated by seafood. Only one beef entree was offered, a grilled fillet Mignon and one chicken dish of the “free range” variety. There is a surf and turf option that pairs fillets with a lobster tail. For appetizers there were several seafood offerings including calamari, fried shrimp and mussels. There were also a few salads to choose from. Kim had the Green Goddess Salad made with romaine, cucumber, hearts of palm, tarragon, tomatoes, and avocado dressing ($11.00). She proclaimed it has “the best salad ever”. I went with the Narcoossee’s Seafood Bisque ($9.00) which is strange because the menu lists it as having Main rock crab, micro onions, and sourdough crostini. So if crab is the only seafood shouldn’t it be called crab bisque? For those of you not familiar with New England seafood Maine rock crab is sometimes called Peekytoe crab. Until the late 1990’s these small crabs were a throwaway product of lobster fisherman. Lobsters and crabs are scavengers and the crabs would go into the lobster traps, called pots, and feed on the bait. The word peeky toe is not meant to be cute but is Maine talk for “picket toe” which describes the pointy sharp ends of their legs. Peekytoe is how “picket toe” is pronounced with a heavy down east accent and the name stuck.
The bisque was good and rich it wasn’t the best I had ever had but still well worth it. The surprising thing was the sourdough crostini. It tasted like it had been submerged in garlic butter. It has really delicious. For our entrees Kim went with the crab-crusted Alaskan Halibut served over crushed fingerling potatoes, haricot verts and Meyer lemon sauce $33.00. Now this surprised me as Kim does not order fish often so I was little nervous that she would be unhappy with her meal. To my surprise she found this to be very good and it ended up being her favorite meal of the entire trip. The fish was pan fried so the crab crust was light, thin and crispy. I asked her if the sauce was real lemony and she said it was and could easily over power the fish if you really put to much on it. I am not a fan of lemon on fish so I don’t know if I would like that too much. The fish itself was done to perfection, light, moist, and flaky. I tried a piece sans lemon sauce ,it was very good.
I decided on the most exotic of the menu choices, grilled lamp and tiger shrimp, couscous, tangine of vegetables, Moroccan spices, and raita. Raita is a south Asian condiment based on yogurt mixed with coriander (cilantro), cumin, mint, cayenne pepper, and other herbs and spices. What surprised me the most was the amount of food that was in the dish. Our server delivered a large bowl that had the couscous and vegetables in the middle with the lamp and shrimp lining the outer edge. The raita was on top of the couscous. There were several medallion sized pieces of lamb and three large grilled shrimp. The dish did have a North African flavor but I would not call it spicy. I really don’t like couscous but I did try it and found the flavor to be good. I don’t like mushy foods so it is not so much the flavor of the couscous i don’t like but its texture. The vegetables were good, they were still firm and had a nice seasoning to them that completed the dish. The shrimp had a nice wood grilled flavor and could carry the dish on its own but the perfectly grilled lamb was the star of the plate.
After dinner we were stuffed but still wanted something sweet. We looked over the desert menu. Kim usually orders chocolate cake but the cake came with blood orange sauce so we declined. Our server suggested ordering the brownie sundae off of the children’s menu. We opted for that and really enjoyed this simple treat.
Our meal cost for the two of us was just under $125.00. We found this restaurant to be a great place to dine. In fact we booked it again for our next trip in August. I called well within our 180 day reservation time and was able to get a table at a reasonable time. If you are looking for a nice signature dinning experience or like me simply could not get into California Grill try Narcoossee’s. The service and food is an overlooked hidden dining treasure.