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Come along with us on a great date night destination at Walt Disney World — Citricos at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa!
If you haven’t had the pleasure, there are so many reasons to give this wonderful restaurant a try. It’s a little easier to get an Advance Dining Reservation here than other, more popular spots in the Magic Kingdom area.
But with food that rivals the hottest spots at Disney World — and a quiet, comfortable atmosphere — this has become a restaurant we return to again and again. Does it continue to wow? We shall see…
Citricos is tucked back behind Victoria & Albert’s (another review we’ll be treating you to soon!) on the Grand Floridian’s second floor. And with that “hidden” location, Citricos is often the overlooked signature dining spot here in the Magic Kingdom resort area. Diners often gravitate to California Grill or Narcoossee’s over Citricos in favor of spectacular fireworks views.
But don’t underestimate this place. While the fireworks viewing potential is pretty small here, sometimes being the “odd man out” can make a restaurant even more compelling. Citricos’ strengths come in the form of warmth, elegance, and a very quiet, comfortable atmosphere. I keep saying “comfortable” over and over again, and I’m pretty sure it’s because these dining chairs are some of the best on property! No kidding!
Warm light, sunny colors, and copper details make this an inviting space. (And did I mention the chairs? They’re comfortable.) A full bank of floor-to-ceiling windows lets in plenty of natural light during daytime hours.
I like the whimsical, colorful glass touches on the tables. The candle holder and bread plates really add a pop of color to the formal place settings.
It’s always fun to watch the action in the open kitchen. The setting is beautiful, and the staff is poised and professional as they go about dinner service. (Don’t forget to take a peek as you walk to your table to see what items you might want to try!)
Off to the side of the restaurant — just next to the kitchen — is the Chef’s Domain. I’ve had the pleasure of eating in this private dining room recently for a good friend’s birthday dinner, and it’s very nice. You can order from a specialized menu or stick with the regular offerings. For events ranging from a private dinner party to a more elaborate affair, this is a great spot. This must be booked well ahead of time, and there’s a food and beverage minimum cost.
And as a bonus, you can get a really good view of the pastry specialists working at their craft – yum!
Now, back to our regular old dining room experience! Just walking to our table was enough to excite us about the meal! We were ready to get started.
The menu at Citricos focuses on the flavors of Provence, Tuscany, and the Spanish Riviera. You’ll find bright flavors tempered with oak grilling.
Is there a better way to start date night than with a glass of sparkling wine? I don’t think so!
While we were looking over the menu, our server brought this beautiful multi-grain bread to the table. Crusty and delicious, this is clearly baked fresh in-house.
It was soon time to turn our attention to our appetizers. We began with the Sauteed Shrimp. It’s sounds so simple, doesn’t it?
But in fact, this is blow-your-mind amazing. I don’t care if you like shrimp or not, this is just an incredible dish. Probably because it’s surrounded by about a pound of butter, in addition to the lemon, white wine, tomatoes, and feta. 😉 Seriously, though, if you take nothing else from this review…ORDER THE SHRIMP.
Next, we shared the Chef’s Tapas Plate. What a fun combo of goodies here! The Clams Gratinati were surprisingly good; I didn’t think cheese and clams would work so well together, but they really do. The Sumac-rubbed Wagyu Beef Carpaccio with Quail Egg was stellar too.
But the clear winner for me were the Spiced Panadas. Basically meat pies, these Sardinian snacks were savory, crispy, and perfectly seasoned. Don’t forget to share.
We also decided to have an order of one of my very favorite dishes, the Arancini. I’ve loved this stuff since I first tried it years ago.
Basically deep-fried balls of creamy mushroom risotto (um…you guys know how I feel about mushroom risotto), they hit these out of the park every single time. I can’t imagine a Citricos meal without them. Here’s hoping they never take it off the menu.
We also ordered the cheese course, as we always do. This particular offering is a little different from other Disney restaurants. While the portions are larger than other cheese plates I’ve had, there are only three cheeses included.
By the way — love cheese? Check out our Disney Cheese Plate Gallery. Yep, we have one. Because I love you.
We’ve seen the Drunken Goat as recently as my review of the Territory Lounge. The P’tit Basque was good, but not particularly memorable. The bleu offering, Fourme d’Ambert, was mild for a bleu and possessed an earthy flavor. TIP: if you order the cheese course, go ahead and request extra toast and honey. Because there never bring enough. In any restaurant. Ever.
If you can only do one appetizer: personally, I’d choose the arancini over this cheese plate in its current incarnation.
We were ready to turn our attention to entrees and began with the Berkshire Pork Two Ways. The “two ways” refers to rotisserie pork tenderloin and roasted pork belly. I lurve pork belly. It was the clear winner here!
But while it was delicious, and the sauce was great too, I’m not sure I’d order this dish again. The pork belly wasn’t enough to save the less flavorful tenderloin, which paled in comparison.
In fact, I was envious of the Oak-Grilled Filet of Beef sitting across the table from me. We usually flip a coin to see who gets to order this dish when we go to Citricos, because, as always, it was phenomenal! Every time I stray from it on the menu, I always want to come back.
Served with equally brilliant four-cheese mashed potatoes, this is almost too much. But not quite.
Now, the menu also touted a Saffron and Green Pea Risotto, and since I have a love affair with risotto (we have a gallery for that, too), I had to order it as a side. I expected it to be quite flavorful, but it fell a little flat. Not recommended, but I’m glad I tried it. The more you know.
We were pretty full from the incredible offerings, but there was no way we were skipping dessert. I had the Warm Banana Chocolate Torte, which is Citricos’ signature dessert offering.
With chocolate lattice that looked more like art than food, this was beautiful and quite good, with the rich, deep chocolate flavor and bittersweetness of the caramelized banana. Still, the flavors and textures were a little singular. I tend to prefer more variety in my dessert.
The Lemon-Scented Cheesecake was (and always is) our clear favorite. This particular dessert is available at other spots around the Grand, and is obviously made in the main pastry kitchen. But it’s remarkably good, especially considering it’s mass-produced.
Just as we were wrapping up dessert, the Manager graciously brought the cognac cart to our table. It was a delightful ending to our meal, as he explained the various bottles of spirits to us. Being surrounded by thousands and thousands of dollars of Cognac, Scotch, and more (AND the crystal bottles they come in, which can cost thousands even without their contents) is a pretty heady feeling!
We ended up ordering a glass of cognac (not the one that cost thousands) and a glass of Grappa. A great end to the evening.
After the meal, we were sent on our way with this adorable Biscotti. I enjoy that the Grand Floridian signature restaurants have started including “parting gifts” from time to time. 😉
Citricos will likely never disappoint you, because I know it never has me. Not once. It consistently offers delicious food and impeccable service. In fact, I would say that a meal here rivals, and even bests, California Grill at times.
One potential complaint – and it won’t be a problem for everyone – is the pace of the meal. The staff here expect you to linger a while, enjoying your food, enjoying your company, and relaxing. A meal at Citricos will potentially last two to three hours, so don’t book it and expect a wham-bam experience.
This won’t be your cup of tea if you’re in a rush or have crabby kiddos. On the other hand, it’s rather quiet, so a child inclined to drift off to sleep may be very happy and comfortable here. I’ve even seen families push those uber-comfortable chairs together to create a cot for a sleeping toddler. Great idea!
All in all, this is an awesome place to escape the madness of Disney; a place where you can take in the calm and relax for a bit. And order the shrimp.
What is your favorite menu item at Citricos? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!