Review by Kevin Klose - 7/08
We recently had the occasion to dine at Cinderella’s Royal table.
Some very special guests were visiting and we thought that this would be a wonderful way to surprise them. There were 4 adults and two young ladies (10 and 7).
I have avoided reviewing Cindy’s (CRT) for various reasons. Reservations fill up in mere minutes after being released. This is as much an event as it is a dining experience. I hadn’t had the opportunity to dine with children. And finally, the restaurant has an almost mythical reputation.
With our recent experience, I had a chance to do away with most of these reasons. I had two young dinner companions. I was able to secure a reservation for a party of 6 two weeks prior to the date, and I thought it was time to see if the restaurant was worthy of all of the fuss.
When making our advanced dining reservation, I was told that I would be required to pay in full at the time of booking. The cost for each adult is $40.99 and each child (3 – 9) is $25.99. In addition to the cost of each of each dinner, you are charged tax and an 18% gratuity.
While I usually disclose the cost of our dinner at the end of the review, we paid for this one in advance. The cost for 4 adults, a 10 year old (who counts as an adult) and a 7 year old was $288.85.
Now on to dinner….
We met our guests at the specified time. I had been told to arrive even earlier than usually stated as there would be a stage show in the castle forecourt and we would need to leave extra time to get to our location.
Upon checking in at the podium, were told that we could be shown in immediately and we were taken in to the anteroom where we would have an audience with Cinderella. We lined up with the other guests and waited for our turn.
One of Cindy’s assistants saw that my young dining companions had autograph books and he took them and had Cindy sign them. I’m not sure why this was done in advance but it was.
When our turn came, the two girls posed for photos with Cindy and had a short chance to have a private conversation. Cindy was everything you want a Princess to be….gracious, sweet and absolutely picture perfect.
After our audience with the royalty, we waited for our name to be called.
It’s at this point that I should mention that guests are given the option of climbing a curving staircase or taking an elevator to the second floor dining room. Restrooms are located halfway up the curving staircase. An accessible restroom is located on at the back of the anteroom where you meet Cindy. Guests unable to use the staircase might want to take note of this prior to the trip upstairs.
Once all of us arrived in the dining room, we were shown to our table.
The dining room itself is on multiple levels and the only windows in the room look out over Fantasyland. The room is not very large but still rather grand.
Our server introduced herself, referring to everyone as “My Lady” and “My Lord”. Drink orders were taken as well as appetizer, entrée and dessert. There’s no messing around here. You order everything at once. It seems they might have plans to fill these $41.00 seats (plus gratuity and tax) several times a night
It was at this point that our server noticed that the young ladies had their autograph books out. We were told that the characters would not stop at our table, would not sign autographs and would not pose for photos. We were told that we could take as many photos as we wanted, but they would need to be “action” shots.
The menu at Cindy’s is limited in scope. There are four appetizers, six entrees and 4 dessert selections to choose from.
While waiting for our appetizers, a large basket of pretzel bread rolls were brought to our table. They were warm and tasty.
The majority of our group chose the Corn and Crab Soup as our appetizers. Most thought it very tasty, while the young lady (paying adult prices) deemed it “too spicy” for her taste. Our youngest companion chose chicken noodle soup from the kid’s menu. (Someone at Disney needs to know that celery is not the main ingredient in chicken soup.)
Without missing a beat, our entrees hit the table within a few beats of our appetizer plates being cleared.
Our youngest companion enjoyed chicken fingers for dinner. She thought they were “ok”.
Two of our party chose the Roast Lamb Chops with roasted fingerling potatoes, vegetable ragout and drizzled with herb pesto. There were two small chops and they were described as “dry and not all that tasty”.
One of our party had the Pan Seared Salmon with grain pilaf, grilled asparagus and glazed with rosemary – lemon honey. Again, this entrée was described as “dry and tasteless”. I was told that the asparagus was the best part and the majority of this entrée returned to the kitchen un-eaten.
Still another companion had the Lemon Lavender Chicken with mashed potatoes, wilted spinach and “chicken jus”. While I realize that this is a recurring theme, it was described as “having any and all moisture removed”. This might be one of the most unappealing entrees I have seen. It was half a boiled chicken lying on droopy mashed potatoes. The only reference to Lemon or Lavender appears to be in the entrée name. Again, the majority of this entrée returned to the kitchen un-eaten.
Finally, I chose the Cheese Tortellini with julienne vegetables, garlic, marinara sauce and fresh romano. This sounds tasty but it’s not what I was served. I received cheese tortellini and bland veggies in an even blander cheese sauce. This was accompanied by a slice of bread so hard it could have been a cross section of one of those “name” bricks out in front of the park. This majority of this entrée also went back un-eaten. In an ironic twist, this was an enormous serving of awful food.
While we not eating the majority of our entrees, the show began. Two of the mice from Cinderella, Suzy and Perla I believe, danced around the dining room. (John affectionately refers to them as “filler characters”.) At this point the Fairy Godmother appears. She bears an uncanny resemblance to Paula Deen. She also dances around the dining room talking about wishes and dreams and celebrations. She asks everyone that is having a birthday, anniversary or any other sundry and assorted celebration to raise their hands. Once everyone celebrating has been identified, a short song is sung. Lights twinkle throughout the room and then the show is over. It lasted roughly 7 - 10 minutes start to finish and it’s all fairly manic. I got the feeling they had a bigger and better gig elsewhere.
I have to share something at this point…..
Prior to sitting down, one of my dinner companions told me that her grandparents grew pears and they she absolutely loves them. She had heard that Cindy’s offered a spectacular pear dessert as their signature dish. She was VERY excited to try this.
Of the desserts chosen, our youngest had an ice cream sundae topped with a chocolate crown, one dinner companion had the Chocolate Cream Cheese Buckle (think chocolate muffin with cream cheese filling), one had the raspberry sorbet and two of us ordered the Poached Pear on Angel Food Cake topped with Mango Sorbet with a Port Reduction.
In this round, the ice cream sundae was the clear winner. As this wasn’t offered to adults, second place went to the chocolate buckle thing and the sad, sad, sad loser was the pear thing.
We each received half a pear soaked in port wine, a silver dollar sized puck of dense, dry angel food cake and a golf ball sized dollop of mango sorbet. The pear was nowhere near ripe and was as hard as a rock. You had to use a knife to cut through it. The port reduction tasted tinny and the “angel food” cake had the consistency of a kitchen pot scrubber. The mango sorbet made those veins that run down the sides of your neck throb because of its tartness.
Now, when I’m doing a review, I accept things as they happen and then tell you about them. As I had guests this time and this dessert was exceedingly bad, I asked our server to replace them with the Chocolate Buckle. Her response was “yeah….we get that a lot”. Two chocolate buckles were delivered straight away.
After dinner, I asked my young friends what they thought.
While I thought the food was horrendous, the show silly and short and the price outrageous, I assumed it’s because I’m old and cranky.
My young friends, while exceedingly polite and trying to be very diplomatic as they had just been treated to dinner, said that they thought the Cinderella Dinner at 1900 Park Fare was MUCH better because you could talk and dance with Cindy, the two Wicked Step Sisters and Lady Tremaine. They posed for photos, signed autographs and you could laugh and joke with them.
I asked what they thought of the food and they agreed. It wasn’t very good. Again, they were being polite.
And finally, I asked what they thought of eating in the Castle. They succinctly described there experience as “ok.”
If your goal is to eat in Cinderella’s Castle, this is your only choice. If you are looking for better food and more princess face time, your better off spending your dining dollars at 1900 Park Fare or the Princess Meal in Norway at Epcot.