A Meal at Citricos is Practically Perfect

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Located on the second floor of Disney’s Grand Floridian Hotel, Citricos is a hidden gem at Walt Disney World. This restaurant has recently reopened with a Mary Poppins Returns theme, but don’t expect over-the-top decor or strolling characters — this IS a signature restaurant that keeps with a more upscale theme.

The Mary Poppins theme is a subtle nod rather than a bold makeover. The private wine room has her famous carpet bag on a proper hat stand surrounded by penguin waiters. Also on the hat rack your can find her parrot head umbrella. Sommelier Israel Perez is currently working on plans to reopen the wine room for private parties.

Tables are not as spaced out as they once were, but the beautifully upholstered chairs and overstuffed, plush booths create a lot of space for each party. The progression of patterns and colors takes you from early evening to the beautiful London night sky. It is certainly worth looking around to take in the ambiance before your food arrives.

The entrance to the restaurant opens with the still-closed lounge area, and the chairs seem to symbolize the preparation for the evening with delicate lace on the back of comfy lounge chairs that feel both romantic and special. Once you move into the main dining area just center off the kitchen, the colors turn to lush, ice blues and greens with more formal ruffles — the most energetic part of the evening. The final room is the finale of the evening with a London sky full of stars. The chandeliers are sparkly and stunning, and they only get more dazzling as the sun goes down. It provides a beautiful backdrop for the fantastic views of Happily Ever After fireworks followed later by the Electrical Water Pageant.

 

But enough gushing about the decor–the reason you come to a restaurant is to eat!

For drinks, we ordered the Agridolce cocktail as well as a pot of tea.

The Agridolce (St Germain, Absolut Elyx, Ginger Beer and Montesole Spumante) was a perfect summer drink. It was light and refreshing with a nice tart flavor and the Montesole Spumante gave it some nice effervescence.

The tea is a suitably proper tea with the teapot warm even before it was placed on the flame.

First out was bread service. This dark rye bread was warm and obviously made with real rye flour and not just a ton of caraway seeds. It was delicious, but don’t fill up on bread — there’s so much more to come that is even better. At the end of the meal, your server would be happy to box up any bread you don’t eat to take home, too.

The first course section of the menu contains soup, salad, and a variety of appetizers. For the salad, we picked the Strawberry Salad. We didn’t get the chamomile taste in the goat cheese, but the entire plate was stunning in terms of flavor and visual appeal. Spunky frisée, salty bacon vinaigrette, and sweet strawberries make a spring wreath that was almost too pretty to eat. This is one of the top three items of the meal, and well worth the $16 price.

The soup is a Sweet Corn Bisque, and although that may sound fairly ordinary, the show of pouring the sweet soup over the fennel, popcorn, and dill made for a fun presentation. The combination of piquant flavor from the dill, crunch from the fennel and popcorn, and the lovely taste of the sweet corn made this a well thought out soup, even for the $14 price tag.

We also ordered the plant-based Wild Mushroom Arancini (Truffle Aïoli, Watercress and Champagne Vinaigrette, $14). Don’t be put off by the mention of truffle aïoli — it’s very mild. If you’re looking for stronger truffle flavors, order the mac & cheese (more on that later). For the arancini, it has a wonderfully crunchy exterior and a delicious, silky filling. Each bite is heavenly.

The Citrus-Cured Hamachi (Passion Fruit Nuoc Cham, Compressed Star Fruit, Pasilla Oil and Blood Orange Puffed Tapioca, $21) is the fish-based starter on the menu and the most expensive of the starters. Because hamachi can be a robust fish, that is probably why it was chosen for this dish. Although it is delicious, the flavor of the fish is lost with the strong, but lovely, flavors of orange. If you’re looking for a fish option, save your appetite for the entree section.

If you dine out a lot, you’ll find that pork belly is a fairly common food to show up on menus lately. For the Berkshire Pork Belly (Boniato and Plantain Croquette, Salsa Verde and Jícama, $17), this was elevated beyond just pork belly on a plate. With a serving size that is enough to share, visually stunning, and full of bold flavors, this take on pork belly is original and very good thanks to the boniato and plantain croquette served with it. This is on our must-try-every-time list . . . for quality control, of course.

The Smoked Duck (Fresh Tagliatelle Pasta, Celeriac Purée and Duck Confit, $18) isn’t for everyone, as some at our table aren’t fans of duck in general. If you like duck, you’ll find the flavor smoky and delicate, but the pasta is the real star of the dish. The house-made tagliatelle has the most wonderful bite, and a bowl of just the purée and pasta would have been a win.

On to the main entrees! First up was the Tilefish (Jupiter Rice Chorizo “Risotto”, Key West Pink Shrimp and Confit Tomatoes, $46). This was a favorite dish of the night. The “risotto” was so impressive and the thick, seared crust on the fish sealed in the most buttery, flakey bites of fresh seafood happiness. It’s pricey, but worth every penny.

On the other hand, the Guava Barbecued Short Ribs (Aged Cheddar Creamy Grits, Roasted Poblano, Curtido Slaw and Brussels Sprouts, $50) would be a dish that we’d skip. It’s not that there was anything wrong with the dish — it was delicious of course — but it felt really heavy compared to a meal with light and delicate flavors. Because similar dishes can be found elsewhere, skip this and go for the more unique options.

Although the Tilefish is the fish dish that we’d recommend, coming in very close behind is the Butter-Poached Florida Cobia (Mashed Fingerling Potatoes, Grilled Asparagus, Local Mushrooms and Grapefruit Buerre Blanc, $42). The grapefruit beurre blanc and glaze of quality butter provide a lush quality to this mild fish.

For plant-based diners, the House-Made Rigatoni (Bolognese, Seasonal Vegetables, Roasted Hen of the Woods Mushrooms and “Egg Yolk”, $34) is a wonderful option. Every bite was delightful and the portion size is more than enough for one person. Note the different sizes of the rigatoni pasta — you can tell this is handmade. This is actually better than the rigatoni at Topolino’s Terrace. Yes, we said that.

But if you’re only going to get one entree to try, it needs to be the Roulade of Chicken (Braised Kale, Corn Cake, Romesco Sauce and Roasted Turnips, $38). In the words of our reviewer, Dear Sweet Baby Poppins! This is the single best chicken dish I’ve ever had on property. It’s just as heavy and filling as the short ribs but created so beautifully and in such an original way that it is well worth the price of $38. Or more. I actually said the words ‘This kale is delicious” — words that no other human has ever muttered, I’m sure. Gorgeously plated and it tasted even better. The fanciest Thanksgiving dinner I’ve ever had and I can’t wait to go back.

In addition to the entrees, there are some premium sides available.

First, the Truffle Mac and Cheese (House-made Gnocchetti, Summer Black Truffles, Sottocenere al Tartufo and Tarragon). It was tasty, but the truffle flavor is very strong. Honestly, has truffle mac and cheese been overdone at this point? At $21, this is one to skip.

Grilled Marble Potatoes (Roasted Tomato Aïoli, Shaved Serrano Ham and Manchego, $11) are up next. Because the entrees are so well balanced and executed, it isn’t all that necessary to order sides, but there is value in this dish. It is beautiful and tasty, but will you have room for it?

Although most of the sides are on our skip list, the Smoked Cauliflower (Green Curry, Chili Crunch and Citrus Crème Faîche) is worth getting. At $9, the price won’t break the bank for this meal, and with it being the most dolled-up cauliflower ever, it is worth adding it on.
Although the meals are wonderful, you can’t skip dessert, right? We tried all four of the desserts offered.
First, the Apple Rose (Served Warm with Seasonal Apples, Marzipan, Raspberry Jam and Frozen Coconut Milk, $13) delights with its presentation. All the flavors together enhance the flavors of apple. It is simply lovely.
Of course there needs to be a chocolate option on any good dessert menu, and this menu offers an artistic Chocolate Torte (Chocolate Financier, Dark Chocolate Ganache, Morello Cherries and Vanilla Mascarpone Cream, $14). The cocoa pattern on the plate matches the organized chaos of the wall that separates the rooms and evening transition. It is an English country garden in all its glory–the leaves, the ruffled chocolate work at the top of the torte in full bloom! This is the most stunning food-as-art item on the menu and should be ordered for the presentation alone. While the financier is a French pastry, the chef put an English twist on it with the cherries and the heavy sweetness. It’s far too rich and sweet for one person, but it should be ordered for the table so everyone can have a taste — it is a feast for the eyes and the tastebuds.

 

For some thing much less overpowering, you’ll want the Blackberry Tartlette (Lemon Bavarian and Blackberry Mousse enrobed in Glacage with Candied Violet, $12). Is there any way to sneak into the kitchen to bottle up the violet glacage to take home? (Asking for a friend.  .  .) If you’re not a huge fan of sweets for desserts, this is the one for you. It has a gentle flavor and a beautiful appearance.

The Orange Blossom Flan (Blood Orange Gelée, Orange-scented Shortbread and Orange Blossom Honey-drizzled Fruit, $13) was the sleeper hit of the dessert menu. The orange flavors are happy and bright. In many ways, this dish is reminiscent of Mary Poppins herself — a plain, serviceable dish on the outside, but inside full of tricks and magic when you get to know it. Trust us, this dessert is a must-try.

At the end of the meal, you are sent on your way with the “spoonful of sugar” in the form of boxed truffles. Depending on time time for your meal, it truly feels like a celebration gift as the fireworks light up the sky and the water pageant floats by. The chocolates were a charming way to end the evening. Between the amazing food and delightful service, this is a meal that can easily become that place to dine for those special occasions.

Citricos is open from 5:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. and reservations are suggested. If you don’t have reservations, bar seating is available as are walk-up reservations through the My Disney Experience app. As a signature restaurant, there is a suggested dress code (a la “resort casual”), but from our experience it was more a suggestion than an enforced rule. We saw everything from dress shorts and golf shirts to capri pants and t-shirts (without graphics) to sundresses and business casual pants and dress shirts. TouringPlans readers give Citricos an 88% thumbs up rating.

Does Citricos sound like a meal for your next trip? Let us know what you think in the comments.

 

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Julia Mascardo

Freelance writer and editor, living the dream in Central Florida with my husband, cats, and totally awesome homeschooled ten-year-old daughter.

One thought on “A Meal at Citricos is Practically Perfect

  • July 22, 2021 at 6:57 pm
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    This review was so descriptive and enticing, I cancelled my California Grill ADR and booked Citrico’s for the final table service experience of my September trip. I’ve been to California Grill but have never tried Citrico’s. Absolutely can’t wait to try it now!

    Reply

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