During a recent cruise aboard the Disney Magic, my wife had the opportunity to experience Palo’s enhanced Esperienza del Vino. The tasting menu features six courses paired with either a glass of wine or a spirit. For comparison, I would recommend reading our review of the original Esperienza del Vino from 2014. It is only fair to you, the readers, for me to turn this review over to my wife.
Ok here we go – I am going to try my luck in a blog post. First off, you should be aware that we already had Palo brunch booked, and once the Palo dinner menu change was official, I added a reservation for Palo dinner. I wanted to try the new wine pairing, and Scott wanted to try the new menu items. Just to add a disclaimer, overall I find Palo to be ‘ok’ – it’s good, don’t get me wrong, but it is simply a place where Scott and I can enjoy a quiet, adult meal. I much prefer Remy on the Dream class ships – there I find a ‘wow’ factor. Also, food is subjective, and we all have different tastes, so take what I say with a grain of salt 🙂 Now, on with the review!
As we have done previously, we had no trouble ordering the wine pairing, as well as a la carte. Our server, Andrew (who was adorable by the way), said it he would pace the meal appropriately. Poor Andrew – he was convinced that we were corporate. At brunch the day before, he asked where we were from, and then for some reason, was convinced that one of us worked for Disney. Once the photos of our food started happening, that sealed the deal for the guy. It was comical after we ordered at dinner, he said, ‘Oh that’s right – I remember from yesterday – you guys are corporate. No wonder why one of you are ordering al la carte and the other is getting the wine pairing.’ Oh Andrew, if you only knew. LOL.
I reminded Andrew that I do not eat pork or beef, and he suggested that I give Scott the beef and order a different entree, which I did. However, the first course was Coppa, Favas and Pecorino, and I was not offered a substitute for the pork, so I just gave the meat to Scott. No biggie. I enjoyed the fava beans, the cheese and the sauce it was in. With the antipasto and bread service prior to the start of the meal, I knew I would not leave hungry.
Where I do remove points from this dish (because I cannot blame Palo for my dietary restrictions), was the pairing, which was Canella Bellini, pictured below. This is a pre-mixed cheap ‘wine’ – sparkling wine & peach juice. How do I know it was cheap? Well, I bought my friend a bottle of this a few years back at the ole’ Publix for $12.99, as since she was a wine cooler drinker, I knew this would be right up her alley. It’s not up mine. I personally love champagnes & sparkling wines, but this was sweet and personally I wasn’t a fan. Of note, if you recall when you attend brunch at Palo, you receive a complementary glass of sparkling wine, a kir royale, a mimosa, or a bellini — well, this is what they are giving you if you order a bellini. I noticed it the day before. Pass. Oh, a quick note on the ‘pour’ – Duncan, the sommelier, wasn’t around yet, so this wine was poured by Andrew, hence the heavy handed pour.
The next entree was my favorite. It was called Gnocchi Cep Mushrooms w/Rosemary. I am usually not a fan of rosemary-heavy dishes due to the pine-y flavor (I think it’s literally the only spice I am not crazy about), but I could’ve eaten a huge portion of this. I was wow’ed. The gnocchi was made perfectly and was melt-in-your-mouth delicious. I adore mushrooms, so the more the merrier for me 🙂
It was paired with Cuvée Bellavista Franciacorta Brut ’13, which was delicious and paired perfectly with the gnocchi. It was creamy and light. Not a very complex flavor profile to me, but it was good (especially after the ‘fail’ of the bellini). Duncan began to pour on this course…..
When this course arrived, I started to notice that they all had the same garnish. OK, that doesn’t matter to me, but just something I noticed with the presentations. This course was White Asparagus, Smoked Anchovies, Quail Egg, Truffle. I cleaned the plate, but honestly, I could’ve passed on this one too. At this point, you are probably thinking, ‘Wow. What does Emily like?” Not much – lol just kidding! Actually, I am not picky in the slightest and will try/eat pretty much anything (within reason). Beneath the quail eggs were rolled up anchovies. I ate those two in one bite each. I happen to adore asparagus, and have purchased white asparagus on several occasions, however, this just wasn’t good. Now, it’s possible that it’s because they were my chaser after the quail egg-anchovy bites, but I dunno. Let’s just say I wouldn’t order it again. It is beautiful though, I’ll say that much.
This dish was paried with Elena Walch Gewürztraminer ‘12, and I enjoyed it. I suppose it paired fine with the dish. I tasted flower notes and enjoyed the dryness and flavor profile. I’d definitely order a glass of this.
On to my second favorite dish of the meal, the Chilean Sea Bass, Spinach, Buckwheat, Lemon, which was paired with my favorite wine of the pairing, the La Scolca Gavi dei Gavi Black Label ’11 (see photo below). I love Chilean Sea Bass, and while the buckwheat accompaniment was pretty uninspired, the fish packed all of the flavor and was amazing.
The wine paired perfectly, and was light, buttery, and just beautiful. This wine is one I would buy a whole bottle of! Highly recommend.
Palate cleanser time – the lemon sorbet.
So next, it’s time to derail the wine pairing and pass the beef over to Scott while I got the Sea Scallops with Celery Root Purée, baby Vegetables and crispy Leeks served with a Prosecco and Black Truffle Sauce. Scallops are one of my favorite seafoods and my go-to at lots of restaurants, so I am always comparing them. This dish was good and I am a big fan of the new accompaniments and do not miss the past boring white beans that the scallops used to come with. I am starting to get full here, so I did not finish everything. This always makes the severs worry, and I assured him that it was indeed delicious.
I passed over to Scott the 25 Day Dry-aged Sirloin with Arugula & Balsamic. At home, since Isabelle & I don’t eat pork or beef, we don’t buy any, so every once in a while, Scott will order it somewhere where it’s good quality, like a burger at The BOATHOUSE. He said that he felt that the beef was rubbery and meh. He ordered his own entree, so he only had a few bites of it. Beef lovers may have a different verdict.
It was paired with the Tignanello Marchesi Antinori ’12, and I don’t care – I drank red wine with fish and I’ll do it again. Maybe next time with silly straws. The wine was delicious. Very full-bodied and I am sure would pair perfectly with the beef. Another wine I would enjoy a full glass or a full bottle of for sure. I did have Scott taste it with the beef so that he could get the flavor combo and he shook his head in agreement (I think) [Yes – I enjoyed the wine].
Oh the dessert. SO GOOD. The dessert on the wine pairing menu is a Rhubarb Mascarpone with Grappa. The cream was housed inside that white chocolate ball atop a shortcake ring and was in a pool of berry soup. It. Was. Delicious. Very flavorful, not too sweet and just overall superb. Did not disappoint.
What did disappoint was the pairing of the Grappa Alexander Platinum.
According to the manufacturer website, Amarone is the robust and excellent wine of Valpolicella that is aged in oak barrels for over 2 years. It is long-lived and characterized by its significant structure and raisin scents. The grappa exactly represents the main characteristics of the wine. The distillation is carried out in steam alembics and it is followed by a few months of refininement in stainless-steel tanks. Palo is serving the grappa in the giant Alexander Platinum Grappa bottle equipped with a small faucet which allows the serving of the grappa in a practical and nice way.
Oh lordy. One sniff and I thought I was back in college and someone was trying to get me to try grain alcohol (Everclear anyone?). I took a small sip and gleefully put it down hoping Scott would drink it. What I found funniest was that the servers were walking by waiting for my reaction. Andre from South America (who we had on the Magic over the summer), stopped by our table to ask our thoughts. Our server that night, Andrew, kind of chuckled. I told Scott that there’s something to be said when even the staff can’t get behind something.
Overall, I will admit to liking the original wine pairing menu better. I will not order this experience again. The belilni and the grappa were enough for me to say ‘one-and-done.’ Of note, the Palo Wine Experience price remains a $59 per person uncharge in addition to the regular price of Palo Dinner which is now $30 (until Disney ups it another five bucks to help pay for the news ships). Oh, don’t forget the $59 does not include the gratuity for the Sommelier.
Have you tried the new menu? Please feel free to share your experience in the comments section below.