Thursday, September 13, 2007

Portobello Yacht Club (Downtown Disney)

So, I’ll be honest, forthright, and just get this right out of the way – this was the only negative dining experience we had while spending a week in Orlando.  Incidentally, our original agenda didn’t even include this restaurant; Amanda’s a fan of Italian, so upon checking in at our resort, I snagged us two reservations for dinner later that night.

It’d been a long day for sure, with the traveling, settling in at the resort, and some theme park action of course.  So, when it was finally time to eat that night, we were famished and ravenously hungry.  This was to be our first official Disney meal.

We ordered an appetizer, opting to try the fried calamari.  While not the best plate I’ve ever had, these milk-marinated tender rings of crispy fried calamari still managed to be a scrumptious way to start our dinner.  With some freshly squeezed lemon juice and homemade marinara to add to the equation, this was a flavorful and fun appetizer.

I can’t be quite sure, but I believe the drink I ordered, on the left, was called a Bibita Modo Tuo.  I choose the raspberry version.  Sadly, I was rather unimpressed; it tasted exactly like Kool-Aid with some puréed ice in it.  Don’t get me wrong, I love Kool-Aid at home, but when I’m shelling out cash for a specialty drink, I’m expecting a little more.  Amanda got a Illy Espresso martini.  It was made with some quality items, including chilled Illy Espresso shaken with Godiva Dark Chocolate liqueur, Frangelico liqueur and Licor.  But, for $8.95, it was a bit of a letdown, as upon both of us tasting it, we agreed we’d had better martinis elsewhere before.

But, in the bread accompaniment category, I’d have to rank this lovely loaf above most Italian restaurant fare.  We had no idea at first what that object is on the far right, but discovered upon a test taste it to be garlic.  It was nice to have both butter and garlic, so you could be as zesty as your heart desired.

Here we are awaiting our entrees.  The place’s décor is moderately appealing, but it’s way too bustling and loud inside if you’re anticipating a quiet, romantic Italian dinner

This is where things took a turn for the worse for me.  I ordered the veal scallopini.  Damn me, and my adventurous palate!  I’d had veal a couple times back home in Ohio, and had never been impressed.  I was hoping here, in an allegedly nicer establishment, I’d finally find my veal valentine.  Plus, it came with gnocchi, which are basically Italian dumplings, and are usually a gastronomical gift.  Something about this dish just didn’t gel, though; be it the tough and relatively flavorless veal, the uninspired “sauce” that it bathed in, or something else entirely.  I regretted not going with something safer, that I’d likely have enjoyed a lot more, like Eggplant Rollatini or Grouper Carciofi.

Upon examining their current menu now, I don’t see this dish, which Amanda selected, currently being served.  I don’t recall the exact name, but it was similar to a shrimp scampi and pasta hybrid.  While the bite I had wasn’t bad, Amanda wasn’t terribly excited by this entrée; still, it easily put mine to shame.

Overall, our experience wasn’t very favorable.  Upon leaving the restaurant, a Disney employee of some sort, who you can see clearly in the very first picture above, asked us to participate in a survey.  Questions were basic, like would you recommend this restaurant to others, etc. and we were perfectly honest when we said we just weren’t that impressed.  Could you have an amazing time here?  Surely.  I don’t think that’s beyond questioning.  Unfortunately, we just didn’t – and when there are so many extraordinary places to eat and experience nearby, I can’t see choosing this one as the best of options.

Overall Grade: C- 

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