This dining experience took place on Monday, March 17, 2014
Surprisingly, at least to us, we've never been to Citrico's in the Grand Floridian Resort - the menu usually has something that piques our interest. The menu has always changed seasonally (which happens more often at Walt Disney World restaurants property wide in the last few years) and the philosophy is American Flavors with Mediterranean Flair.
Located on the second floor of the Grand Floridian, Citrico's shares a "lobby/waiting area" with Victoria and Albert's (another restaurant at Walt Disney World that we've not tried). This is the dining area immediately as you enter Citrico's.
Here, we're in the front dining area looking back toward the entrance (to the left) and toward the open kitchen (at the top). The colors are bright and cheerful and the tables have a little more space between them than at some other Walt Disney World restaurants.
This is the bar. It's located immediately on your left as you enter the restaurant. Remember, no reservations needed for the bar. Nick said that early in the evening, there were plenty of open seats (and he also recommends Citrico's bar over Mizner's Lounge if the grouchy lady bartender is working at Mizner's).
We were seated in the large rotunda room, which we didn't get photos of. It's rather deep into the restaurant and contains the semi-circular dessert kitchen (similar to the dessert kitchen on display at Kona Cafe). We were seated at a four-top (with two chairs taken away) with our backs to the corner of the dessert kitchen, we were concerned at first that we'd been given a crappy location - as the evening wore on, we decided that the location was great for us. We could see the room but there weren't any people passing behind us (two pluses). There was a large table right next to us with 4 or 5 kids, now you how we are about kids in a fine dining restaurant, we don't like it. These were relatively well behaved, at least there was no shrieking or screaming or hissy-fit-pitching.
Our server was Malek (from Morocco, originally came to Disney World as a Cast Member at the Morocco Pavilion in the second wave of students), he's served at many different restaurants at Disney World and has been at Citrico's for 10 or 12 years. As dinner progressed, he understood that we were here to dine and was an excellent server throughout... We were so pleased with the dining experience that we're eager to go back - and we will request Malek in the future.
We started with a couple of beers and a large bottle of still water (this has become our usual habit - we find that we drink more water when we get a bottle of still and it also helps when we're having a long meal with wine).
Ommegang Three Philosophers Quadrapul Ale - originally, this was Nick's beer.
From the label, 98% Ale + 2% Ale with cherries added; 9.7% ABV
Vanilla Porter - originally, this was my choice.
Breckenridge Vanilla Porter Ale, real vanilla beans, 4.7% ABV.
After tasting both beers, we swapped (that's pretty unusual for us). We enjoyed these with the bread service - there was a black olive bread and a multigrain bread served with citrus sea salt butter. We liked that the butter was salted and we both preferred the flavors of the black olive bread over the multigrain (I tend to be cautious with multigrain bread because of a rye allergy).
The First Course offerings looked interesting with mussels, pork belly, cheese, arancini, charcuterie, and shrimp. After quite a bit of discussion, we chose the Charcuterie Board... this was a good variety for the money.
Malek helped us with the wine selection. I had the Colinas Tinto Merlot Cabernet Blend, Bairrada '07, this is the wine paired on the menu, the Colinas grape is used to make port and is typically too harsh to drink by itself, so it's usually blended. Nick didn't care for it as much, so he asked Malek to suggest something else...
Winner from Malek. Cross Barn by Paul Hobbs, a Pinot Noir (we had Paul Hobbs Pinot Noir at the pasta making class from Chef Cib at the Swan and Dolphin Food and Wine Classic 2013)... this should work well with the fat in the charcuterie.
There's a lot to chose from on this charcuterie...
Maple Salami smells like a slim jim, a grown up slim jim; it was rather peppery and made the Colinas wine much sweeter
Soppresetto was saltier and meatier than the maple salami with a slight heat; the Vanilla Porter went very well with this
Mid-left: Coppa on top, pierced Greek green olives in the center, and Bresaola (dried beef on bottom)
Coppa, we preferred over the Bresaola - this was the first item that clearly favored red wine over the beers
Greek Olives, these weren't very olive-y or briny to us... not our favorite olives ever
Bresaola: looks like dried beef out of the little glass jars from our childhood, it didn't taste much different either. I didn't like it very much with the Colinas.
Mid-right: Pecorino Romano at top, Salted Almonds and Serrano Ham in center, and Dates on bottom
Pecorino Romano (cheese) - lots of umami and nice salt/heavy creaminess between the meats
Salted Almonds - nice bit of crunch, we don't often see nuts on charcuterie (in fact, I don't think I've ever seen them) and they're a nice variation
Serrano Ham - we both liked this, it reminded us of a mild North Carolina country ham, Nick wanted a whole plate of it; I thought it paired quite well with my wine
Dates - I liked them, they added a bit of sweet smoothness to the whole presentation; we aren't sure, but we think this was the first time that Nick had eaten dates
Far Right: Bread and Butter Pickles on top, (serrano ham again), and Chorizo
Bread and Butter Pickles - these were decent, they tasted like "home" and weren't overly sweet
Chorizo - could smell the paprika and capsicum; Nick thought it had a nice, meaty flavor and he liked it with his wine; I agreed, there wasn't a greasy mouthfeel to this chorizo (happy surprise), it was very flavorful and meaty
Footnotes on the Charcuterie:
- quite a large selection
- the Three Philosophers went well with the meats, cheese, etc... the Vanilla Porter did not
- both of our wines went well with the selection
- Nick's Top Three: Coppa, Chorizo, and Soppresetto
- Nora's Top Three: Soppresetto, Chorizo, and Serrano Ham
Braised Veal Shank - Roasted Elephant Garlic=Smashed Yukon Gold Potatoes, Rainbow Carrots, Brussels Sprouts, and Toasted Citrus Gremolata. recommended pairing - Lucente, La Vite Marchesi de Frescobaldi, Toscana (merlot and san Giovaise)Nick liked the Lucente, I thought it has LOADS of tannin and wanted something different. I went with Malek's personal recommendation of "The Prisoner 2012" So, we aren't big veal eaters. It isn't that we don't like it, it's just that given a choice between lamb or venison or veal… veal comes out at the bottom of the list. BUT since this is the signature dish AND it's our first visit… what the heck, eat the veal. And we're so glad that we did. The veal demiglace was really nice on the potatoes The brussels sprouts were still crunchy (applause!) Vegetables! Parsnips, carrots, brussels sprouts, cipollini onions, roasted garlic, mashed potatoes… yum yum yum! OMG THE VEAL… This was very, very good (like California Grill USED to be when it was really good). Nick said "I want to eat this every night after you win the lottery." Malek brought Chef over to introduce us to him. We had a nice discussion with him and look forward to eating more of his food creations! After he walked away, we discovered that this veal shank was even good after it had cooled off quite a bit! Malek brought us a small fork so that we could get the marrow out of the bone. We'd never eaten marrow before and let me say, that stuff is great! It's both meaty and nutty. As you can see, we really liked this! I was very pleased with my wine pairing and Nick was equally happy with his. Nick's final comment "I could eat this every week and not get tired of it" We ended the evening with a couple of relaxed decaffeinated coffees. We were really happy with this dining experience and look forward to going back to Citrico's.