= Cara's Favorite
Mediterranean cuisine. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Chef Joachim Splichal of the Patina Restaurant Group has a definite crowd pleaser at this Downtown Disney® District eatery, one that has remained a popular and well-thought-of choice for many years. The two-level restaurant features a mish-mash of dining rooms with intriguing cuisine offering a variety of small plates as well as creative specialty entrées. Start with goat cheese-stuffed piquillo peppers, really a must, with its scattering of toasted pine nuts and golden raisins, although a touch of additional spice might make this dish even more interesting. But truly, the very best appetizer is the Spanish cheese (aged Manchego, soft Mahon, and Valdeon blue) and charcuterie (Iberico jamon and sobrasada), a savory selection accompanied by crusty bread, Marcona almonds, dried apricots, and a seasonal fruit compote; you’ll be fighting over every morsel.
Follow with one of the earthy paella options, the lobster probably the best and actually as good as it sounds, tender yet not overcooked rice, spicy chorizo, a nice portion of Maine lobster, and plenty of paprika; the only thing missing was perhaps a bit more saffron. Better yet it is beautifully presented in a piping hot paella pan! Another great entrée choice is the a la parrilla (barbecued) gulf shrimp, huge, plump, garlicky beauties perched on roasted fingerling potatoes and grilled Brussels sprouts, all doused in green, fruity olive oil. The hangar steak is loaded with flavor made even better with the addition of blue cheese and a green peppercorn sauce and the same delicious sides as the a la parrilla shrimp. The bold-flavored, shredded lamb Bolognese with al dente house-made cavatelli peppered with bright green Castelvetrano olives topped with a dollop of ricotta is a super pasta choice; again, a bit of spice would have been a nice compliment to the dish.
Probably the best dessert is the butterscotch bread pudding with caramelized bananas and cinnamon gelato. The chocolate ardiente ganache cake (ardiente meaning hot or burning) is overly dense and the addition of habanero peppers not really appealing. A topping of orange curd helped to cool it down a bit, but I just don’t understand the gimmick of a spicy dessert.
Cara’s Tip: You might want to request the rotunda room if super views of the Downtown Disney complex is what you are seeking. I think the best view is from the outdoor terrace, that is, if you don’t mind the Downtown Disney hubbub. For a quicker, lighter meal opt for the open-air Uva Bar just outside the main restaurant located in the middle of Downtown Disney’s walkway.
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