By the time I’d freshened up back at Pop, I was cutting it pretty close for my dinner ADR at the Dolphin. Fortunately there’s never any traffic at WDW, so I was able to burn rubber over there.
Unfortunately, the Dolphin’s self-parking situation is second only to the Grand Floridian’s in its level of inconvenience. The lot is so far away that if you drive in the main hotel entrance you have to drive back out again and go down the street to get to the self-park lot. Then all the best spaces are taken by the valets, and all the second- and third-best spaces are taken by other people, so you have to park your pretentious, delusional rental car practically at the Yacht Club and speed-walk across the entire lot, through a break in the bushes, and up a hill in high-heeled wedges to get to the lobby.
At last… Todd Englsh’s bluezoo!
Boy did I wish I had Jensey with me, cuz the decor is awesome!
You can see some good pix HERE .
I got a comfy table for two at a banquette under a window, so I had a great view of the whole restaurant and some natural light until the sun set.
The restaurant has windows on three sides, but one side is taken up by a long private room that can be divided into three sections. I sneaked into one to get some shots for the Disney brides who might want to have their receptions there.
When I sat down they brought me a Festival o’ Bread basket containing “a chewy multi-grain peppered with sunflower seeds, a crispy thin lavosh, and a light, fluffy onion bread,” according to the AllEars.net review. That’s how memorable it was. Actually, my gripe was with the fennel-seed butter – why ruin perfectly good butter with fennel seed? The only thing butter should ever get jiggy with is garlic… and maybe honey… OK, lemon’s good too…
At first bluezoo’s menu was a bit overwhelming because I wanted to eat EVERYTHING! Eventually I settled for just eating most everything. My eyes nearly fell out of my head when I saw you could get jumbo scallops on top of beef short ribs for an appetizer, which is to me the savory equivalent of cake with an entire ice cream sundae on top.
I have to give this dish my highest rating of “A-Friggin-Mazing”!
Next stop, main course. If Patrick had been there, I would’ve ordered us the two-pound Maine “Cantonese” Lobster fried and tossed in sticky soy glaze, because I think it was meant for two people (the price tag certainly was!). Instead, I went for the “Simply Fish,” which the menu describes like this:
Our daily selection of finest fresh fish selected from coastal waters around the world, simply grilled on our teppanyaki grill, served with your selection of sauce below.
Selection of Sauces
- Red curry coconut
- Cucumber vinaigrette
- Warm crabmeat, dijon mustard, chives
Add lobster $5
Add caviar beurre blance $8
That’s right – you can get your fish with a warm crabmeat sauce and then add lobster—and caviar! They all duke it out for your attention right there on the plate! And if you still aren’t impressed, a giant truffle rides over on the back of some Kobe beef!!!
I picked a whitefish—I think it was skate—and the warm crabmeat, dijon mustard and chive sauce. I had been waffling between the scallop appetizer and the Low Country Jumbo Shrimp appetizer, only cuz the shrimp came with white cheddar hominy, so I asked if I could have a side of the hominy with my fish. The waiter happily obliged, his eyes ringing up dollar signs like an old fashioned cash register…
I think my main course was probably excellent – it was certainly cooked right, and you can’t go wrong with that sauce, but this was the meal where I finally realized I’m just not that into whitefish. It always gives me a sorta queasy feeling in my tummy. I really wish I’d chosen salmon for my Simply Fish. Still, I ate more of the skate than I should and sopped up the sauce with leftover bread. The grits were just meh. I thought they’d be cheesy like Le Cellier Cheddar Cheese Soup, but they were kinda bland.
In between courses I was happily blogging and texting and photo-snapping away at my half-occupied table for two. When a couple near me got up to leave, the woman came over and told me how much she loves eating alone and how happy she was to see someone else enjoy it too. I highly recommend it – you really get a chance to savor your food and the entire experience of dining out.
For dessert I chose the Warm Chocolate Cake with Liquid Ganache Center, Maracaibo Chocolate Cream Pudding, and Peanut Ice Cream after I determined that Maracaibo was the second-largest city in Venezuela and not a fancy name for coffee/booze/fruit flavor.
As so often happens with desserts a la mode, the ice cream-to-cake ratio was sadly lopsided, and I only managed to get about three bites with equal amounts of both (very important!). When my server checked in on me I joked about it to him, and he offered to bring more peanut ice cream. Whohoo!
I know I’m always snobbishly comparing every restaurant to my beloved L.A. restaurants, but I have to say bluezoo ranks right up there in quality and execution. The only hitch was trying to get the bill in time to crash Christin’s wedding—it seemed to take forever, and I can only assume they were drawing straws to see who had to actually hand it to me cuz the total was so high. I have never paid so much for a solo meal in my life: with tip (and no booze) it was $83! I know it’s my fault for ordering so much food, but I have to say I’ve never paid $13 for dessert at any of my precious L.A. restaurants…
After I paid the bill, I booked it to Italy Isola, where Christin’s cocktail hour was being held. I hadn’t wanted to carry a change of shoes, so I was wearing my cute Crocs Sassari wedges. These are pretty comfortable until you speed-walk nearly a mile in them, at which point your feet burst into a ball of flame.
Finally I staggered up to the rope surrounding all of Italy Isola and phoned Jensey, who turned out to be standing three feet away. We were separated by The Rope, so she pointed me to the event guide at the entrance. I rolled up my (virtual) sleeves and prepared for a fight (in this case, I was a little bit closer to actual crashing of the wedding because although I knew Christin from a Disney wedding message board, I didn’t even know her last name, so it was gonna be a trick to appear like I belonged there).
Jensey assured the event guide “She’s a friend of the bride’s” just as I blurted “I’m the photographers’ assistant!” The guide raised an eyebrow, looked at both of us and perhaps thought to herself, “They don’t pay me enough to figure this stuff out…” as she motioned me inside the rope. Whohoo!
Christin and Ryan had an evening ceremony at the Wedding Pavilion, and IllumiNations was their cocktail hour before their reception in the American Adventure Rotunda. The cocktail hour took up all the patios of the Italy Isola, and it was really exciting to be at such a huge party.
I felt a little uncomfortable at first cuz I didn’t know anyone there (or could that finally be remorse over my wedding-crashing ways?), but I figured the crowd was large enough that everybody on the bride’s side would just think I was with the groom’s side and vice versa.
Christin and Ryan were making the rounds, and when they came by Jensey introduced me. I thanked them profusely for letting a random Internet stalker attend their cocktail hour, and Christin was so sweet and gracious—she really made me feel welcome.
Nathan & Jensey & Amelia kindly said I could hang out with them, but I didn’t wanna stumble into any shots, seeing as how I’d already ruined one wedding that weekend! So I investigated the food (Note to Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings: I was too full from dinner to actually eat any of the food—no need to send me a bill.)
When IllumiNations started, Christin and Ryan were rushed to a primo spot like celebrities, and their paparazzi began clicking and, uh, whatever sound a video camera makes, away…
Meanwhile, I knew I would never get a front-row spot on the private patios of Italy again, so I staked out the smaller bridge right on the water and soaked up the breathtaking view. I don’t know why I bothered taking pictures when I had the pros right there, but I’ll include a few of mine here just to feel like I didn’t waste my time:
After the show, I thought I’d better make tracks so I wouldn’t wear out my welcome. However, my feet were so sore that I didn’t get very far. I ended up on a bench just on the America side of the Italy Pavilion, set back from the main path but with a clear view of Italy Isola—basically, exactly the spot a random Internet stalker would stake out after pretending to leave the party. D’oh!
As Christin’s guests filed by me on their way to the American Adventure, I shrank back into the shadows and wished I had my fabulous hat to pull down low. At that point I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do next (after I finished slapping on 85 bazillion blister blockers). The park was closing, my pals the Roots were hard at work, and here I was in “Italy” on a balmy spring evening with no Patrick to share it! So I called him. He was driving home from his workshop in Glendale, and I was limping past the American Adventure, craning my neck to get a glimpse of the inside.
Here’s what it looked like inside, courtesy of the Roots…
On nights when the moon looks really cool and we aren’t together, Patrick and I call each other to say “Look at the moon!” I was looking at the moon, but at 6:45pm on the West Coast all Patrick could see was L.A.’s world-famous “haze.” Naturally, he was in traffic, so I decided not to distract him, and we agreed to chat later. And I still didn’t know what I wanted to do—which in trip report terms means you’re about to get a bunch of random photos.
As I crossed the bridge from France to the UK, I was about to turn left and head for the International Gateway when I heard distinctly un-Disney music coming from the direction of the UK Pavilion. In fact, it sounded like the stuff you hear blasting from a car full of teenage boys at a stoplight. A-ha! Something to do! Off to investigate…
I felt so stealthy as I sneaked down the garden path to the back of the UK Pavilion when I was supposed to be exiting the park with the last few guests. The music led me to a Cast Member entrance behind the toy shop, but I wasn’t gutsy enough to poke my head in. I thought maybe the Cast Members were back there shakin’ their booties while they wrapped up work for the evening, but then a whiny teen pop ballad came on and that theory was sunk. I went back to taking random photos.
I continued following the music in the direction of Canada, but just before I got there, I discovered a path off to the left that I’d never noticed before (goodness knows why – it was wide enough to drive a pair of Mack trucks through). At the end was… someplace I have since learned is called World Showplace Pavilion. Disney bills it as “the world’s largest indoor facility located in a theme park,” and yet I had never noticed it before!
However, between me and “an extraordinary gathering or dining experience… ideal for exhibitions, trade shows, receptions, banquets, conferences, and meetings of virtually any type” were two more of those pesky event guides—which meant whatever was going on in that building had to be good.
As I approached, one of them asked, “Are you a chaperone?” to which I cleverly replied, “Uh… no.” (D’oh!) It turns out there was a prom going on inside—those lucky little bozos! They got to have their prom in EPCOT! We had to have our prom on a tourist trap of a riverboat on the Sacramento Delta (the theme was “An Evening on the Titanic”… and the venue was kinda my fault cuz I was class president… but what did they expect from someone whose previous position was Junior Prom Silverware Committee Chairwoman? … At least I eventually got to marry my date’s cousin, so it all turned out OK in the end. Now where was I…?).
And so the mystery of the booty-shaking music in the UK Pavilion turned out to be easily and boringly solved.
I still didn’t feel like going back to my room, though, so on the way out to my car, I dropped in at my favorite resort, the Beach Club, and spent a little time in one of their cozy public areas, the Parlor. No one was around at that hour, so I had the comfy chairs and TV playing Donald Duck cartoons all to myself. Bliss!
After about an hour of watching cartoons and catching up on my live blog, I headed for Pop Century. The last thing I had to do was investigate the pre-made cake options at the Food Court for the DISers on the Cake Thread.
In the cold case near the yogurt parfaits they had two kinds of 6-inch celebration cake in chocolate with chocolate frosting and vanilla with vanilla frosting for $21 each. Huh… I wonder how many cakes that would buy at Publix!