Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Paradise Pier: Ariel's Grotto

When someone in your group is named Ariel, it really is a no-brainer that you should go to Ariel's Grotto, right? At least, that was our logic. Also, it was another character dining experience that we weren't going to pass up, especially since it was the princesses.

Everyone in our group (except me) are obsessed with the princesses, yes even the honourary male of the group, Adam- he likes Rapunzel. Anything with the princesses, anytime we saw the princesses, anything with the princesses on it, we were there. It was highly amusing.

Here is the breakdown of princess love:

Gaby loves Princess Aurora

Grace loves Princess Snow White

 Ariel loves Princess Ariel

Adam loves Princess Rapunzel

And I like Princess Tiana, but I wasn't as crazy about her as the others are. When we saw Tiana in New Orleans Square that morning, they immediately freaked out and made us get in line. They thought I was going to get as excited as them since she is my favourite but I don't think I am capable of getting as excited as they were. We got photos and had another amusing conversation about my name being Charlotte with Tiana.

Now, dining at Ariel's Grotto was to be expected and it was where we went for lunch on July 4th. Of course we had reservations and only waited a little bit before we were led down the stairs and took pictures with Princess Ariel before being seated.

I loved the decor in the restaurant; it felt like you were under the water. My favourtie things were the jellyfish lights that were above each table- I love jellyfish and really want a light like that. There was a lot of glass because that has the glossy underwater feel and lots of great sea life detailing.

It was yet another flat rate price type of dining and it comes with a three course meal. The first course is a tower with fruit, cheese and prosciutto, a salad, and a sourdough flower-which I am certain was provided by Boudin Bakery. Once more, I noticed how Disney dining is becoming more aware of dietary restrictions because when our waiter came to take our order for the second course, he first asked if anyone has a dietary restriction. We informed him of a gluten allergy and a gluten/soy allergy so he went and got one of the best chefs ever.

The chef came out and he explained what we could and could not have. Basically, they can make anything into gluten free, so whatever we wanted they could change things up for us. So Grace and I had a decent amount of choices. 
When first looking over the menu, I had to bring up the interesting issue of the seafood cuisine. It makes sense in a place with an under the ocean theme but that theme expands to being Ariel's Grotto. Ariel was a mermaid and made friends with all the creatures under the ocean (except that shark) so if you think about it, all of Ariel’s friends are on the menu, right?

Well, I love seafood so I didn't care, but I'm sure if you brought that up to other people like little kids, or Ariel, they would be disturbed.
The menu had a variety of seafood based dishes and I couldn't resist the temptation that was ciopinno. It is a tomato based soup with all matters of seafood from fish to lobster and mussels. Being from Northern California, I know ciopinno from San Francisco to Monterey Bay and I had to try Disney's version.

The food arrived and it was honestly both what I was expecting and what I wasn't expecting. In Fisherman's Wharf or in Moss Landing, you get a big, huge bowl full of soup- I know that seems redundant but that really is just how enormous the portion is. This was small, but I kind of was happy that it was or else I would have been there all afternoon eating it while the others waited, especially since we kept stopping to take pictures of the princesses.

All of the seafood in it was fresh and perfectly cooked, it was still moist and it had absorbed all of the flavour of the broth. I don't like lobster, but I liked this lobster because of the broth that went with it. They described it as slightly spicy, and ciopinno is spicy, but this was very mild, I would have liked it to have a bit more spice. My only complaint was that I wished there was more of the soup, as you can tell from the image it looked more like a sauce than a soup. It was really good but I still would rather have the original in San Francisco.

And now an intermission for the Princesses:

And with that, I have now officially met ALL of the Disney Princesses! I just needed Mulan and Belle.

 Back when the chef first came to our table, he talked to Grace and I about our options. The dessert they usually give out is a platter with cupcakes, cookies, chocolate cake, and some berries, in other words, close to nothing that we could eat. The chef informed us of other choices for those with dietary restrictions. They had a brownie, a cookie, and sorbet they could give us. The brownie did have soy in it so I couldn't eat it and he said the cookie “was a gluten free cookie and it tasted like it”. I love that he was honest about that and while others might not know, sometimes gluten free things have an off taste or are just crumbly because they don't have that gluten to hold it together. Immediately, Grace and I understood what he meant by 'tastes gluten free' and we stayed away from that.
In all honesty, the sorbet sounded like the best dessert they offered, both gluten and non-gluten, and that is what Grace and I both got.

The sorbet came in a frosted glass with a rim of sugar and the sorbets were lemon and raspberry with a slice of lemon, a few berries, and some mint leaves. It was creamy and tart yet with the sugar on the side it added the little bit of sweetness. I think this was the perfect dessert to go after the seafood dishes instead of all those cookies and cupcakes. It was light and really summed up the meal perfectly. So they can have their baked goods, I'll take my sorbet.

And we got all of that for about $40.

We then went and had fun for the rest of our Fourth of July:

Said 'hi' to some of my friends working in A Bug's Land.

My friend Chris always has a way to get me on her Red Car Trolly.

Found out that I was most like The Evil Queen from Snow White in Beast's Library.

Ate dinner at the Village Haus, which I reviewed already: here.

Watched Fantasmic. It lived up to its name.

Then watched the Fourth of July Fireworks. Last year, I watched them while sitting on my bed in my apartment while watching Captain America: The First Avenger.

And we ended our evening with Grace being the rebel spy.

I know this was a long one, but Ariel's Grotto really had great food!


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