The story of dessert
By Elizabeth Caran
As far as special occassions go, Walt Disney World offers all sorts of choices. This year's marketing theme touts how fabulous the parks are for celebrating any event of your choice in any number of styles from low-key to high-brow. Arguably, the most high-brow of all (outside of Cinderella's Suite in the castle) is the adult-only four-diamond restaurant tucked up inside Disney's Grand Floridian Resort and Spa. Although the waiters and waitresses no longer wear the ambiguous "Victoria" and "Albert" name tags, they still carry on as butler and maid; your personal guides through an exquisite meal and extremely formal experience.
Dinner at Victoria and Albert's carries a heavy pricetag, so after years of traveling to the World, sometimes separately and sometimes together, my husband and I along with two other couples decided it was high time we tried this high-end experience. For some background, the three women in these couples (Alice, Karen, and myself) were sorority sisters in college. Alice met her husband Derek when we were Freshmen and they were both pre-med students. I am blamed for introducing Karen and Jeff soon after that in the classic, "My friend is in town, so can you bring a friend for him on our date tonight?" scenario. We've been in each others' weddings. We've held each others' newborns. What I'm trying to say here is... we go way back.
So when we talked about when to go on our bi-annual trip to Disney together, we chose to go in early May, coinciding with my daughter's third birthday and Karen and Jeff's 11th wedding anniversary. With childcare secured and a Disney Dining Experience card in hand for a nice 20% discount, we made our reservations--failing at our attempts for the Chef's Table, but happily "settling" for the dining room.
The evening of the event, we got all dressed up and drove from our offsite timeshare to the Polynesian, where Alice and Derek were staying. From there, we took the monorail over and paraded in. Victoria and Albert's is set off to the side of the entrance to Citricos, so we sort of joined in the line of people checking in there. The doors to our restaurant were closed, so we assumed the hostess at Citricos would help us. Instead, the doors opened just enough for a maitre-d' to come briskly out, pick us out of the line, inquire if we were "The Smith Party" and escort us in. No, we were not wearing nametags. But we might have been the only party of six in there for the first seating. I'm not sure. It was very special and cool, and just a little bit creepy.
The restaurant is elegant, the service is exceptional, and the food is really really REALLY good. I'm a bit of an amateur foodie, and I was impressed with every single bite I put in my mouth. But that's not what this article is all about. Instead, I'd like to share with you the story of dessert.Like everywhere on property, cast members at Victoria and Albert's will go out of their way to make your evening extra special, especially if you have a cause to celebrate. For Karen and Jeff, it was their 11th wedding anniversary, and the waiter made it clear he knew that we were there to celebrate the occassion.
So at the end of the meal, our waiter came to the table and presented Karen with a "special dessert" for their anniversary. With a flourish, he set a covered silver platter in front of her and he whisked the top away, revealing a beautiful bed of rose petals. We all oohed and leaned in to get a closer look at this fantabulous dessert that was looking more and more like maybe she was supposed to eat the rose petals. In what seemed like a minute, but was probably more like two seconds, the waiter muttered something about "this isn't right," covered the dish and gracefully issued forth apology after apology as he headed back to the kitchen.
We looked at Karen...
We resumed our conversation.
He returned with the same platter, and moved in for attempt number two. This time, sitting amidst the clearly non-edible rose petals was a beautiful emerald wrap for Karen's wedding set. Suddenly, the ploy became clear. I was impressed with how well Jeff kept his cool when the waiter brought out the empty platter. He admitted later to mentally freaking out thinking they had lost the ring in the kitchen.In reality, the error actually kind of made the whole thing even more romantic. I guess the bait and switch threw us all for a loop. But any romantic atmosphere was sufficiently stifled when Karen reminded us all that 1) they've been married 11 years and 2) she manages the household when she looked at him, tears in her eyes, and gently demanded, "So which credit card did you use for this?!"