Wine Bar George is the newest table service restaurant at Disney Springs in Walt Disney World. This review discusses the food quality and value, wine list, menu and prices, and includes food photos. We visited during George’s opening weekend, generally the most chaotic days in a restaurant’s life. Still, the food was very good and at fair prices; the wine list is even better, and the service excellent. Wine Bar George accepts the Disney Dining Plan using table service credits and offers a 10% discount at lunch to Annual Passholder but does not yet offer Tables in Wonderland discounts. Reservations will be accepted starting this Friday for June 25 and later.
The restaurant’s namesake is George Miliotes, who became a master sommelier in 2007 and is one of only 249 master sommeliers in the world. So George knew a lot about wine before opening this restaurant. For food he added Executive Chef Ron Rupert. Rupert was part of the opening team at Disney’s Jiko – The Cooking Place, and worked most recently as the Executive Chef at Seasons 52, part of the Darden Restaurants chain, in Orlando.
Wine Bar George’s decor is spare and industrial, with exposed air vents, concrete floors, brick walls, and lots of glass windows. The focus of the ground floor is the central bar, which features an elevated wine rack and seating for around 18 people. Six 6-person high-tops and four 4-person tables are also available on that level. The first floor is noisy – any room with this seating configuration surrounded by concrete and brick would be – even before you add alcohol. The second floor is much quieter even with more tables available. The second floor also has a 7-seat bar and outdoor seating.
Wine Bar George Menu
The first sentence of Wine Bar George’s menu reads:
Spain is the single greatest country to find unique, delicious, and affordable wines.
May God bless George Miliotes, his children, his children’s children, and everyone who put that sentence on paper. Talking about affordability on a menu may be unprecedented in the history of Disney restaurants. It is long overdue. This is a good start.
Spanish flavors are the inspiration for most of Wine Bar George’s menu, and it’s all designed to be shared. Ten of the fifteen items on the menu are small plates, from simple spiced olives, to grilled octopus, to spiced pork cheeks. A cheese board and a charcuterie board are available either separately or combined. The three entrees (steak, chicken, and fish) are served family-style and are enough for two to four people to share.
Besides (or because of) the Spanish influence, you’ll find cheese and olive oil included in many items, with citrus, tomato, or vinegar adding acidity to balance those full, savory flavors. Since this is a wine bar, it’s a safe bet that George and Chef Rupert picked those combinations because they pair well with many different types of wine.
We tried the Crispy Mac & Cheese Bites ($11) first. These are four, two-bite discs, lightly fried and served with tomato sauce. Pecorino cheese adds just a touch of zing to these bites, but it’s not at all overpowering. The tomato sauce tastes homemade, and I mean ‘homemade’ in a way that honors my Italian grandmother Doris’s memory. The kid in our dining party liked these quite a bit. I thought they were just a touch plain. That simplicity might be on purpose, though, if the mac & cheese is the menu’s designated, child-friendly small plate.
The Porchetta Spiced Pork Cheeks ($16) came next to our table. These three golf-ball-sized cheeks are served on a triple cheese polenta, with a touch of pork gravy over top. The flavors of the pork, cheese, and polenta combine in delicious, complex ways. A bite with more pork gives a flavor of a finely seasoned sausage; adding polenta reminded me of an excellent roast. The textures were perfect, too, the polenta neither too runny nor too firm. This one small plate is better than half the entrees served on property.
Next up was the Grilled Romaine ($10), three large stalks of romaine lettuce served warm with a creamy dressing and pecorino cheese crisps as garnish. Everyone at the table agreed this was delicious. The romaine had been charred perfectly, with hints of smoky flavor but no bitterness. The dressing was balanced well, with just enough spice to be interesting but overpowering the romaine. Unfortunately, constant rain had made these ‘crisps’ into something more chewy. The flavor was spot on, but the kitchen should consider how they’re going to maintain quality here going into Florida’s humid summers.
The Chicken Skewers ($13) were then delivered to the table. Each of the three skewers held four pieces of chicken, grilled and coated with Japanese togarachi sauce, usually a blend of red chili powder, ground Japanese pepper, zested orange peel, black and white sesame seeds, hemp seeds, and ginger. The chicken was properly grilled, still piping hot and juicy, and the sauce is excellent – a much more sophisticated flavor than teriyaki. If the pork cheeks were good enough for the adults to fight over, these chicken skewers were so good that the selfless at the table insisted on sharing: “Really, you should try these.” My dining companions are saints.
We continued exploring the small plates by trying the Grilled Octopus ($16). Grilled octopus is having a moment in Disney restaurants right now, dating back to its debut on the menu at Tiffins in Disney’s Animal Kingdom. George’s version comes with a lemon vinaigrette and mixed with an olive salad. It’s served cold, and if the menu didn’t say it was grilled you’d swear it was ceviche. As with all the dishes, the flavors balanced well here. I would’ve liked to taste more char on the octopus – I think Tiffins does it really well. If you’ve never tried octopus, though, this is a good first bite.
We were all fairly full by the time The Big Board ($54) of cheese and charcuterie came out. This has five meats: three were a salty, savory proscuitto, a beef braciole, and a spicy dried chorizo. The other two were salami variations, one spicy and one more peppery – it was difficult to hear the descriptions. Also on the board were five cheeses (the menu says six – five is enough): triple cream brie, manchego, gruyère, Humboldt Fog, and a blue. All of this comes with various accompaniments including ground mustard, honey, marcona almonds, an apricot chutney, and fig spread. The Humboldt Fog and the triple cream brie were the standouts on the cheese side, the soft Humboldt with a creamy saltiness that I would have mistaken for a really good Delice du Bourgogne. The Big Board could serve as an appetizer for at least four people, maybe five. Yes, it’s $54, but that’s less than $11 per person, right in the middle of the appetizers price range.
I have no idea why we kept ordering food, but we did. The last thing to come to our table was the Wine Braised Chicken ($49), an entire chicken, roasted, and served in its roasting pan with mushrooms, Yukon potato hash, and seasonal vegetables. Your first two thoughts after seeing that price probably involve profanity: “Harlan Sanders best be cooking this damn bird himself” and “What the hell does a $49 chicken taste like, anyway?” Like heaven, dear reader. Like heaven. The skin is a deep, rich mahogany color you only find in expensive antique furniture and the tans of people who can afford it. With that skin, the meat manages to be crispy on one side and juicy on the other, every savory, rich bite the distilled essence of poultry itself. If the duck skin at Morimoto Asia is legendary, this chicken skin is the sequel. The potato hash and mushrooms were cooked in the chicken juices, and are every bit as good as that sounds. Also, the asparagus was done really well – an on-point al dente – I suspect it was prepared separately and arranged around the chicken. And this is a large chicken – it’s easily enough for two or three people. I would serve this at Thanksgiving and tell people I made it.
There’s no questioning the quality of the wine selections on the menu. Beyond that, there are a couple of things to like: many of the wines are available by the ounce, the glass, and the bottle. This allows you create your own inexpensive wine flight theme, say “Australia 2016”, sampling the Leeuwin Estate Art Series chardonnay ($6), a Pewsey Vale riesling ($11), and the Bindo Dixon pinor noir ($7) to see how that year’s climate affected different grapes in the region. Or you could try wines from the same grape varietal and region across a span of consecutive years to see effects on an even longer time scale. The waitstaff are very helpful with this sort of thing.
The other thing to like about the wines is their prices – all of the wines we price-checked were offered at the industry standard markup of 2x to 3x retail. This seems to be on the low end of the range for Disney restaurants, and is another example of George’s commitment to affordability.
We sampled six wines with our food. Five were recommended by our server, and one we picked on our own. Here are our tasting notes. All of the prices are for 6-ounce pours unless otherwise noted.
The Chalk Hill ($22) was recommended for the pork cheeks. This is a very full-bodied California Chardonnay, with butter and lemon pound cake flavors that mellowed as it warmed up.
We tried the Nigl Gruner Veltliner ($13), a white wine from Austria, with the grilled romaine. It was delicious – light and flavorful with a touch of pepper flavor that went really well with the romaine. It also worked well with the cheese board.
Our favorite red was a recommendation from our server, the Bodegas Borsao Garnacha ($11), from Spain, to go with the roasted chicken. This had a bold, cherry flavor that stood up well to the chicken. It also went well with the mac & cheese bites. Overall, very easy to drink and an excellent recommendation.
We were recommended a sauvignon blanc for the grilled octopus but chose the Aubry champagne ($30) on our own. Our concern here was that any grassy or green pepper flavors found in some sauvignon blancs might have been too much for the octopus. The champagne was fabulous, with a yeast taste that wasn’t too forward and a definite flavor of lemon right away. It also went well with most of the cheeses.
Our server recommended an Italian red, Arpepe Nebbiolo ($20) to go with the chicken skewers. It was light bodied and tasted of smoke, earth, and wood. It was the least favorite of the reds we tried.
Much better was the ‘outstanding by the ounce’ Chateau Musar, a cabernet sauvignon from Lebanon. It was perfect with the blue cheese and good with the manchego.
[Update 8:17pm 5/22] We had seven wines: the seventh was the Sabine Rosé ($9) that went well with all of the cheeses.
Service was excellent from the moment we approached the podium for a table until we left. Perhaps the most impressive thing we saw while we were there was the staff’s willingness to say, “I don’t know – let me ask,” when they didn’t have an answer to a question. We’re pretty sure we’ve had servers make up an answer on the spot, either not to admit not knowing, or to save a trip back to the kitchen to find something out. It’s harder (but better) to say “I don’t know” and then get the answer. Whoever’s training the staff is doing it well.
Wine Bar George, the Disney Dining Plan, Tables in Wonderland, and Annual Pass Discounts
Wine Bar George accepts the Disney Dining Plan. We’re told that the restaurant uses one table service credit. Our server explained that because most of the menu is small plates, that one table service dining credit could be used on two or three items, depending on which items were selected. The family-style entrees, which serve two or three people, may count as two credits on their own because of the price. All of this may change in the next few days, as everyone figures out how the dining plan works with this menu. Our advice is to check with your server before you order. I got the sense that they’d work with you as much as they could within the plan.
Disney Annual Passholders receive a 10% discount at lunch. Tables in Wonderland discounts aren’t yet available.
Most of the menu is very good, some of it is excellent. If you know a lot about wine, you’ll find a lot to like here. If you don’t know anything about wine, this is the place to learn it cheaply and from the master. Wine Bar George is a great addition to Disney Springs. Stop in for a quick bite and a glass the next time you’re there. Four stars out of five.