Wine Bar George is a restaurant in The Landing area of Disney Springs, down the street from Raglan Road and across from Gideon’s Bakehouse. The menu is a mix of small plates, charcuterie, and entrees for singles or for a group. One of the highlights is the extensive wine list (more on that later). Small plates range from $9 to $19, single entrees from $17 to $22, and desserts are currently all priced at $8. A 3-course meal consisting of one small plate, one single entree, and a dessert will run you $35-$50 not including drinks and gratuities. That estimate is a little simplistic for the following reasons:
- Diners choosing to make a meal of shared small plates, or family-style entrees serving 2-4, can come up with a much wider range of price tags
- The restaurant has “Bar” in the name, and there’s likely to be a decent-sized bar bill
Reservations are accepted, but often available day-of or day-before, and the dinner menu is similar to lunch but with fewer single entrees. Dress is casual. The ground floor of the restaurant is mostly high-tops and bar seating, and will be noisy when crowded. The second floor is quieter and feels more relaxed, with more space between tables and seating for larger groups. The Quick Service window, The Basket at Wine Bar George, usually shares a couple of the small plates on its menu in addition to a very abbreviated bar listing.
The restaurant’s namesake is George Miliotes, who is one of only about 250 master sommeliers worldwide. So you may imagine that the wine list is a love letter to excellent wine, and you would be correct. Not only excellent, but affordable wine. And not only wine, but also a lovely selection of beer, cider, and cocktails.
We mostly focused on the beer and ciders on our visit. Shamefully, I did not make a list of what we drank. But here’s what I can tell you: it doesn’t matter. Our server was very familiar with the list and very able to make recommendations, which we found to be uniformly on point. If you’re having trouble with a decision, your server is a better resource than anything I would write about a tiny fraction of the offerings, which may have changed before your visit.
Also, I can say that I never would have thought of putting orgeat (a non-alcoholic almond-flavored syrup) in lemonade, but we ordered three rounds of it. We kept thinking we’d just share one or two around the table, and then making pouty faces at the last quarter-inch in the glass. If you have non-drinkers in your group, I encourage them to try a glass of the Orgeat Lemonade instead of ordering soda. Odds are very good they won’t be sorry.
Dicuru Burrata – $19.00
The Villages tomatoes / Belle Glade corn / Olde Hearth sourdough bread —featuring ingredients sourced from Florida
In my family we are all burrata freaks and this didn’t disappoint. Tangy bread with a noticeable chew balanced the creamy cheese and acidity from the tomatoes. However lovely this was, though, it wasn’t extremely more special than you can find elsewhere, except for the wonderful bread. That might not sound like an enthusiastic recommendation, but it is. I absolutely wouldn’t hesitate to order it again, on multiple visits. It’s just that if you’re waffling about stomach space or whatever, it’s OK to pass unless you are a bread connoisseur.
Crispy Mac & Cheese Bites – $16.00
tomato nage / pecorino
I am not often a fan of mac ‘n’ cheese bites. They are usually heavier than I want, greasier than I want, or blander than I want. I was definitely a fan of these mac ‘n’ cheese bites. The filling was creamy, not too sharp, and perfect. But the crisp, lightly seasoned (not-greasy!) breading is what ran away with this dish and made it a standout. I think math played a big role in making these so tasty; the surface area to volume ratio was just right for the contrast of textures and flavors. The slightly sweet, slightly acid, intensely tomato-ey sauce was the final leg of a balanced taste triangle.
Snapper Crudo – $18.00
miso and mushroom broth / cucumber pearls / scallion oil
This was not my dish but I kept asking to have it back for another spoonful. “Fresh” is not a flavor, but if it was it would taste like this. The broth was light, evanescent, with a hint of depth from the miso and mushroom that kept you from losing interest after the first couple of bites. The thin slices of radish piled onto the fresh train with a bit of crunch, and the snapper, ostensibly the featured ingredient, added body. If you don’t like raw fish but you’re dining with a sushi lover, you can 100% order this anyway. Give them the fish and hog the broth for yourself.
House-Made Meatballs – $16.00
triple cheese polenta / tomato sauce
A solid meatball (in quality, not texture), but the polenta was the star here. There was a great balance between the cheese and the corn, not overly salty but just exactly enough. The tomato sauce was tangy and not overly sweet, just right for its polenta backdrop. The meatballs are fine, even great, but they aren’t the reason to get this; even though it needs the meatballs and sauce in the bite to show it off properly, the polenta is what will wow you.
Saganaki on Fire – $17.00
Vlahotiri / Metaxa / crostini
This is a signature appetizer that has been on the menu for years, and the servers are well used to having people capture the standout presentation on their cell phones – you can just tell they’ve had a lot of practice. The good news is that this dish is good enough to be a highlight of the meal even if it wasn’t served blazing with fire. The sheep’s milk cheese has a tangy sharpness; it picks up crunch from the browned bits and acidity from the leftover alcohol. A really nice balance of textures and flavors.
Zucchini Hush Puppies – $9.00
preserved lemon remoulade
Like mac ‘n’ cheese bites, I find that a good hush puppy is a great hush puppy, but a so-so hush puppy is just a disappointing heavy greasy ball of dough. These were great. Better than great. The green flavor was more vegetal than yes-I-can-tell-this-is-zucchini, but we thought it made the little fried balls taste lighter. And the remoulade was to die for: light and creamy and zesty and everything that you want a sauce to be. We may have eaten quite a bit of the remoulade even after the hush puppies were gone. These were on the menu at the restaurant’s takeout window when we were there; if you’re passing by but not stopping for a meal I’d highly recommend them as a snack.
BLT + C – $17.00
bacon / lettuce / tomato / brioche / four-cheese sauce / house-made chips
OK, so. My grandfather ran a luncheonette, and in my youth he used to make us BLTs in the summer and hold forth on what separates the good BLTs from the greats. One of the most critical things that you must have in a great BLT (or at least, for it to be great in my book) is the “pink sauce”. This is what happens when you take tomatoes that are very ripe and aren’t too cold, put them directly next to mayonnaise, and add a little heat from freshly cooked bacon and toasted bread. You get a drippy, pink concoction that spreads through each bite and makes the whole sandwich moist.
I pronounce this BLT to be stupendously great. The bread was puffy, but soft enough not to have a hard time becoming something you could fit your mouth around. It was lightly toasted so that it didn’t become soggy under the – yep, it was here! – pink sauce. And hallelujah, nobody in the kitchen felt the need to pile on so much lettuce that you couldn’t taste anything else. (Way too much lettuce is another BLT no-no, in case you were curious.)
The house-made chips were wafer-thin, light, crunchy, and not greasy. We honestly could not stop eating them and by this point in the meal we were beginning to have a seriously elevated opinion of whoever was running the fry station. The sauce was mild, almost like a cheesy bechamel where you can taste the cheese but it isn’t the first thing you notice. It would have been fine on the sandwich if your taste runs that way; it was oomphy enough to hold up to the bacon. But we ate it on the chips and I think that’s the best use of it.
Steak Frites – $22.00
skirt steak / caramelized onion aïoli / fries
This steak had a smoky, charred flavor, with a crisp exterior from the sear, and a bit of chew on the interior. Think fajitas and you’ll be on the right track, although nowhere close to the station flavor-wise. The caramelized onion aioli had a nice, subtle flavor but managed to somehow feel heavier than other sauces we ate on this visit; I used it sparingly on the steak but it was also great on the fries. The fries were tender inside in the way that a great fry is, the way that you rarely see but recognize instantly. The outside was a bit crunchy but not too much for a steak fry. I found them a tad salty; you might ask to salt them yourself if you prefer your food with less salt. They weren’t the least bit greasy though, and our already stratospheric opinion of the fry cook went up some more.
Snapper Sandwich – $20.00
sauce gribiche / pickled onions / arugula / house-made chips
The snapper was lovely and perfectly fried, but as a lighter fish it doesn’t have a robust enough flavor to stand up on its own and give contrast to bread and mayo. The pickled onions made this dish, and the gribiche (a zippy cousin to mayo with added flavor from mustard and capers) bound it together. Arugula is not what you think of as a crunchy salad green, but it worked with the onions here to keep the fish, bread, and sauce from feeling like a mouthful of mush. And of course, we already talked about the chips.
Grilled Whole Greek Sea Bass – $78.00
white bean ragout / warm spinach with tomato confit /cipolini onions, serves 2-4
The flavor of the fish was light and buttery, enhanced but not overwhelmed by the touch of seasoning. The texture was perfectly melt in your mouth tender and flaky, and we found no bones. It might seem like the preparation here – fileted, lightly seasoned, grilled – is so simple that it would be hard to mess up, but in fact it’s the opposite. When you cook a fish like this with a relatively mild flavor there isn’t any room for error, and none were made here.
The vegetables and beans were their own highlights; each with a punch of flavor that could share a fork with the fish without talking down to it. The spinach and tomatoes were a classic just-right luscious sautee with a tangy, garlicky flavor, and the beans were a similar balance of traditional flavors that melded well. We ate a mix of cuisines in this meal, but this plate felt like it was delivered straight to a family table from some kitchen in a village on the side of an island in the Mediterranean, redolent with the vibe of good times, good friends, and good eating.
Key Lime Pie – $8.00
A Florida favorite
We loved the presentation, and the texture of the custard was exactly right. Firmer than a flan, but still silky and smooth. One of the best things about this is that it was unquestionably tart and not overly sweet, but without the bitter note that can often be found in a lesser key lime pie.
Olive Oil Cake – $8.00
candied olives, lemon mascarpone
This was the one dish we weren’t fond of. There were mixed opinions on the olives, but everyone thought the cake was one-note sweet. Perhaps we would have been more impressed with it had the rest of the meal not been so great. Or maybe not.
Rolled Pavlova – $8.00
White chocolate mousse / macerated berries / miso caramel
I make a traditional Pavlova from time to time, and I wasn’t sure what to expect from this. I make my pav at sheet-pan size (long story), so it wasn’t hard for me to envision how you might bake a thinner sheet of meringue like you’d find in a dacquoise and give it a jelly roll treatment. That turned out to be not too far off, but also not too close. The flavor of the meringue was lovely and did have a hint of the nuts (almonds?) that help differentiate Pavlova meringue from dacquoise. But there was just the barest remnant of the crispy-crunchy meringue exterior as rolling it with the mousse left it with a texture almost like a sponge cake. However much difficulty I’m having describing this thing, it was really nice and I recommend it without reservation.
Google is failing me here, but somewhere, somewhen, I read an article by a food writer who had gone to visit Julia Child at her home in France. They described being served a simple meal of salad and sandwiches, of a basic variety that you might be served in any home kitchen. But, they wrote, it was not an average meal. The food was made magnificent not only by the attention to small details that provided the perfect balance of flavors, but by the welcome of the host, the relaxed conversation, the time taken to attend to company.
Looking over the list of what we ate, there are only a couple of dishes that appear complicated enough that attempting them would give any competent home cook pause. (And we didn’t even get the charcuterie board!) But, reader, I am a better-than-competent home cook, and I feel confident to say that I doubt I could have produced such a string of dishes, each with such quality, all in a single meal. With the sole exception of the olive oil cake, there was nothing we ate where the flavors were unbalanced, or had odd notes, or minor complaints (like the salt on the fries) that couldn’t be put down to a question of differing taste. That is a pretty incredible achievement, for all that none of these dishes were “haute cuisine”. And the attentiveness and knowledge of the serving staff – which doesn’t get written about when describing the dishes – was that welcome of the host, the time taken to attend to company.
I am at a loss to explain why Wine Bar George isn’t one of the most difficult reservations on property. Certainly it routinely has high marks in our surveys, so those who make it through the doors think well of it. I can only guess that the unassuming nature of its menu might lead many to pass it by in favor of more “adventurous” fare. I’m OK with that, because it means I’ll be able to visit again and again. Their loss, my gain. And maybe yours.
Have you eaten at Wine Bar George? Would you go back? Let us know in the comments!