Narcoossee’s, the Grand Floridian restaurant that sits apart – physically and experientially – from the more well known Victoria & Albert’s and Citricos in the “main house,” recently reopened after a renovation and menu refresh.
Like the other restaurants in the nearly 35-year-old hotel, Narcoossee’s has undergone renovations before – it was originally an oyster bar – but this one changed the physical layout and removed a sunken part of the room so that it is now all on one level. It still takes full advantage of its lagoonfront location and proximity to the Magic Kingdom. And while it is still a decidedly casual dining experience, the food is more elevated than I remember from past Narcoossee’ses (Narcoossi?)
Noah Estabrook is the chef overseeing the current menu. I was invited to sample some of the new items – as well as some returning fan favorites – at a media dinner recently.
We started with an innovative charcuterie board, one featuring seafood items instead of the usual pork and beef. It had sausages filled with lobster, ahi tuna that had been given the pastrami treatment, and charred octopus.
We also sampled brisket and ricotta tortelloni in brown butter with sultana raisins.
And lobster bisque, with the broth poured tableside over butter-poached lobster and vanilla foam with coral tuile sticking out (making it look like perhaps an elk had sunk into the bisque. Narcoossee’s has always had a lobster bisque on the menu. Estabrook’s version is one of the better ones.
My tablemates and I all negotiated to order different entrees and agreed to share. My favorite – alas not the one I selected for my own – was the blackened redfish, a beautiful thick fillet dredged in spicy spices sitting atop a hash of chorizo sausage and sunchokes with sweet corn and hominy. The fish was fresh tasting and had wonderfully big-flaked flesh.
Plancha-seared scallops were my second favorite (also not my selection; what can I say, I was out ordered). Big pillowy scallops with a gorgeous golden scorch, served in a lemon cream sauce tinged with truffle and with bits of tasso ham.
My dry-aged pork ribeye chop didn’t disappoint but it didn’t elicit oohs and ahhs either. The chop was accompanied by a delicious potato pave filled with goat cheese and the meat was topped with a tasty onion jam.
My other companion had the prime New York strip steak, nicely seared and sliced, graced with fig jus and accompanied by turnips and colorful cauliflower.
For dessert, a sampling of delicacies from resort pastry chef Kristine Farmer, including almond-crusted cheesecake, hazelnut-chocolate bar, berry pavlova and pineapple bavarois. As beautiful as the desserts she features up at Victoria & Albert’s.
Service, under the direction of “proprietor” Matt Cristi, was up to the usual Disney standards.
Narcoossee’s, I’m told, is often named as the favorite restaurant of returning visitors and locals, too. With the new menu and comfortable atmosphere, it’s bound to become a favorite to many more.