Slowly but surely, I’m going to get this list of the top five restaurants at Walt DIsney World completed. Just to catch you up, number 5 was The Captain’s Grill at Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club Resort, number 4 was Le Cellier’ in Canada at World Showcase in EPCOT, and number 3 was The Whispering Canyon Cafe at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort. There are many reasons why I enjoy my number 2 restaurant at Walt Disney World, not the least of which is that this is where I took my wife, Jessica, to eat on the night that I proposed to her on the beach of the Polynesian Resort. The simple elegance and relaxing setting of this restaurant makes for a perfect night at Walt Disney World.
2. Narcoossee’s at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa
This little gem is probably not even on the radar for most people visiting Walt Disney World. It certainly lacks the word-of-mouth “buzz” that accompanies other popular restaurants like Le Cellier’ and Whispering Canyon; but this cozy, coastal restaurant is not to be missed!
I have visited this restaurant twice and ordered something different for each time. I’ll review each of those just to give a good sampling of both price extremes on the menu.
Narcoossee’s sits out over the Seven Seas Lagoon adjacent to the Magic Kingdom on the property of the beautiful Grand Floridian Resort. As such, it has a very appropriate nautical theme. The menu follows suit offering a wide variety of seafood offerings ranging from barbecue shrimp and grits and crispy calamari for appetizers to grilled swordfish, halibut, and Maine lobster for entrees. If you’re not a seafood fan, the menu also offers plenty of “land-lover” options such as new york strip, filet mignon, and various pastas and salads. There’s plenty of variety for everyone to enjoy something.
The first time I visited Narcoossee’s, I ordered the Surf ‘n Turf that featured a delicious sampling of filet mignon and Maine lobster tail and was served with parmesan mashed potatoes and garlic haricot vert (green beans). I’m not the biggest fan of leaner cuts of meat such as filet mignon as I prefer fattier marbled cuts such as a juicy ribeye; but I had forgotten just how melt-in-your-mouth a properly cooked quality filet could be. I ordered my steak medium and it was cooked to perfection with just the right balance of char on the outside and a nice juicy center. I’m not sure how the steak was finished, but it had a wonderful buttery flavor on the outside leading me to believe it was toped with some sort of herb butter and finished in the oven… delicious. The lobster tail was high quality and didn’t feature the rubbery texture of cheap or overcooked tails. It was also quite large but split down the middle for easy access to the sweet meat. Of course, a small ramekin of clarified butter was served for dipping and only adds to the richness of the lobster… and the steak if you’re so inclined… and I am. The sides were delicious as well. The mashed potatoes were smooth and creamy with a delicious undertone of parmesan and garlic and the green beans were a fresh, crisp side note. The green beans were either steamed or blanched and sautéed briefly with garlic because they were bright green and crisp, adding little extra texture to the entire dish. However, if you are not a fan of fresh, crunchy green beans, you may want to substitute another side dish such as the broccolini or spinach. The side dishes (and the entrees for that matter) change seasonally, so what I have described here may or may not appear in the same form for your visit. For dessert, I got what I typically have when available at Disney restaurants- creme brulee. Typically, Disney restaurants feature different flavors and versions of creme brulee, but this was just straight up delicious creamy goodness. I’m a creme brulee fanatic, so I order that for dessert whenever I can so my opinion is a bit biased.
On round two at Narccoossee’s, there was one very big thing missing from the equation… a free dining plan. On our first visit, we had the free dining plan and therefore were free to order whatever we wanted- hence the surf ‘n turf. On our second trip, we didn’t have the free dining and ordered accordingly. This time around, we did order an appetizer of oysters (raw). The oysters were served with a sweet chile sauce (similar to Mae Ploy Chile Garlic Sauce) and came in an order of six. They were delicious and got my wife hooked on raw oysters.
Trying to stay on the cheap (as much as is possible at Narcoossee’s) I ordered the roasted chicken breast. I prepared to be underwhelmed after having the filet and lobster tail the first time around. However, I noticed that the dish came with a chunk of pork belly… saving grace for even the most humble dish. I have to say that this was the best chicken breast I have ever tasted. One, the breast and rib meat were left on the bone but trimmed in such a way as to make sautéing flat and easy. Two, the breast was coated in a bit of flour before cooking so there was a super-thin, crispy texture on the outside. The chicken was cooked perfectly with no sign of rough, chewy, or overcooked meat. It was also trimmed beautifully making really easy to cut and eat even off the bone. I remember the dish being served with seasonal vegetables and some sort of potatoes, but the specifics elude me. Now for me, the star of the show was the small chunk of pork belly that came with the entree. Pork belly is a succulent cut of meat from the obvious part of the pig. Imagine bacon, only instead of being sliced thinly, it’s cut into chunks and is not smoked. It’s one of the juiciest, most succulent and mouth-watering things you’ll ever stick in your face. When cooked properly, the large amount of fat isn’t completely melted down but is softened to provide a purely guilt-inspiring sensation of gelatinous, fatty, porky, meaty goodness. One bite was enough to make the entire dish worth it. I left fully satisfied and not in the least bit disappointed because of the cheaper meal.
Narcoossee’s, like Le Cellier’, is a Signature restaurant meaning it will cost you two table-service credits if on the dining plan. This also means there’s a minimal dress code and that prices will be a little more steep than in the regular table-service locations if you’re not on the dining plan. This is certainly a splurge restaurant for those on a tight budget, but is by no means inaccessible as even the cheaper dishes like the chicken breast and the pastas are excellently prepared and delicious.
The atmosphere and setting at Narcoossee’s is relaxing, subtle, and surprisingly remote-feeling in terms of the craziness happening just across the water in the Magic Kingdom park.
Narcoossee’s is located on the property of Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa. This beautiful resort is the crown jewel of all of the Walt Disney World Resort hotels. As such, it certainly carries the highest price-tag and features some of Walt Disney World’s finest dining locations such as Citrico’s and Victoria and Albert’s. The resort itself is themed to turn-of-the century Florida with a definite Victorian flare in terms of architecture and setting. The grounds are crisp and clean with beautiful yet simple landscaping surrounded on either side by towering white buildings with the characteristic red roofing. The Grand Floridian conveys a sense of simple luxury without being stuffy and rigid. This relaxed class carries over into Narcoossee’s.
After a beautiful walk through the resort’s grounds, a small winding path leads you down a beautiful walkway and to the octagonal building hovering over the water that houses the restaurant. I would advise intentionally getting there very early, checking in (requesting a window seat of course), and grabbing a seat out on the beautiful balcony over the Seven Seas lagoon. The peaceful water and the scenic views of Disney’s Contemporary and Polynesian Resorts and the Magic Kingdom combined with a beautiful evening sky and the tranquil kinetic energy of the ferry boats makes for the beginning of wonderful Disney night. For some extra magic, make your reservation for later in the evening so as to catch Wishes, the Magic Kingdom fireworks show, from the balcony of the restaurant. It’s an excellent view of the castle and the fireworks without the hassle and crowds of the California Grill viewing area.
The restaurant itself has a sort of old Florida, nautical flare that features high ceilings, beautifully stained wood beams contrasted against beige frames, and high windows that create a stunning panoramic view of Seven Seas Lagoon. The royal blue table cloths provide a small yet delightful amount whimsy and simply capitalize on the nautical elements. At the center of the restaurant is a beautiful mural that draws the eyes upward to a bright skylight rotunda. The restaurant carries enough subtle 80s style to make it charming but not enough so as to be out of style or distasteful.
For the full experience, I would certainly advise traveling by bus to the Magic Kingdom (for resort guests) and taking the small boat to the Grand Floridian. Anytime you can throw an evening boat ride into a dining experience, that moves it up on the list a few notches.
I would give Narcoossee’s a solid 8.5 out of 10 for its sheer beauty and charm as well as the delicious food.
Check out Narcoosee’s here.
As with all Walt Disney World table service (sit-down) restaurants, reservations, while not required, are certainly strongly advised if you wish to eat where you want, when you want.
Stay tuned for number 1 of my top 5 restaurants at Walt Disney World soon!