Review: Toledo – Tapas, Steak & Seafood w/ Fireworks Viewing at Dahlia Lounge

We return to Disney’s Coronado Springs today to take a look at Toledo – Tapas, Steak & Seafood; the new signature restaurant of Gran Destino Tower. We will also include a look at the adjacent Dahlia Lounge, which is essentially the bar area for the main restaurant.

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Both Toledo and Dahlia Lounge are located on the 16th (top) floor of the Tower. It’s obvious Disney is going for a California Grill feel here. Neither Toledo or Dahlia live up to the greatness that is Cali Grill, but that doesn’t mean that they are bad either.

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The views from the observation deck at Dahlia offer far away views of much of Walt Disney World. You can see Expedition Everest, Blizzard Beach, The Hollywood Tower Hotel and Spaceship Earth all while standing in the same spot! Still, it doesn’t beat the close up birds eye view of Magic Kingdom and Seven Seas Lagoon you get while dining at California Grill.

DSC_5819Everest…

DSC_5820Blizzard Beach…

DSC_5821Hollywood Tower Hotel

DSC_5822Spaceship Earth / Swan & Dolphin…

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The inside of Dahlia Lounge is very Vegas-esque which is not necessarily a bad thing as far as we’re concerned. While it’s not particularly Disney, its still a very nice space with eye catching visuals and and overall ornate feel to it.

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The observation deck is likewise very pleasant.

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Let’s head over to Toledo for dinner. We booked a 7:30 pm reservation so that we could see the restaurant both before and after the sun sets. We also wanted to catch the 9 pm Illuminations fireworks and the 9:30 Star Wars fireworks after our meal.

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While the sun is still up, the restaurant has a very light and sleek feel to it. The colorful ceiling design does a nice job adding some contrast to the room and really pops. The color layout will shift periodically throughout the meal, but pretty much always consists of some combination of warm colors: basically orange, red, pink and yellow.

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The theme of the restaurant, much like the tower itself, is inspired by surrealist art and 1930’s era avant-garde.

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The menu is actually a wooden board with various tabs attached for tapas, drinks and entrees. The restaurant currently offers a 10% annual pass discount, but does not currently accept Tables in Wonderland.

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Here is a look at the full menu from the Disney World website:

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We were seated at a nice half circle table just to the left of where you enter the restaurant. Below is the view from our table.

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If you are looking this direction, the Magic Kingdom is on the left side while all the other sights I mentioned earlier are on the right.

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The bad news is, unless you are seated right at a window seat, you won’t be able to see a whole lot from your table.

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The good news, is that nothing is stopping you from heading over to the observation deck at Dahlia either before or after your meal.

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The rear side of the restaurant has the tapas kitchen on display which adds a great kinetic energy to this portion of the room.

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A servers station runs up the center of the room as well, between the two planter/trees.

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The lighting of the room becomes warmer and warmer as the sun continues to set.

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For our meal, we decided to order a couple tapas to start off with. Prior to the food arriving we were brought out plates along with these smaller sized dining utensils.

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We went with the ($3 each) Traditional Tortilla Española: Spanish Potato Omelet w/ jamón serrano, picholine olive relish; as well as the $16 Garlic Shrimp Pi Pi: Head On Shrimp w/ ‘ají amarillo’ yellow pepper sauce. We were served bread for dipping as well.

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I liked how the Tortilla Española was served on this flattened wine bottle.

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We thought these were good, not great. The flavors were good but it was very dry and we didn’t care for the olive relish on top.

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The shrimp however, was fantastic. Every bite was filled with flavor and they were cooked to the perfect texture. The sauce was also very good for dipping the bread in. Great dish all around.

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For our first entree, we went with the $30 Bone-In Pork Chop Paillard: Potato Puree, Romesco, Arugula, Fennel, Lemon

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I was weary to order this as early reviews I had read indicated this to be a bit on the bland side.  Still, I love a good pork chop and decided to give it a try. The kitchen suggests getting it prepared to medium temperature which I still have a hard time getting used to with pork, but I went with their suggestion.

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The dish turned out to be pretty good. Perhaps some tweaks have already been made because the chop had a nice lemon flavor and the fresh veggies on top did a nice job balancing the flavors. It probably could have used just a tad more salt but overall it was seasoned well. The sauce was delicious but I wish they gave you more of it!

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For our second entree, we went with the $32 Hangar Steak: Crushed New Potatoes, Salsa Verde, Greens, Charred Peppers

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I love the presentation with the food off to the side allowing for some fun with the sauces on the plate.

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The steak had a ton of flavor and was cooked perfectly. The meat was tender and there was just the right amount of fat to add flavor without being overly chewy. The sauces were both very good and the greens on top did a really good job of evening things out. Really good dish!

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For dessert, I ordered the $12 Toledo Tapas Bar. This idea is taken from the menu over at Tiffins (one of our favorite in park restauarnts). It’s basically a chocolate bar meant to be eaten in a specific direction (right to left here) to give your palette a variety of flavors.

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You start with a couple lemony flavors, move on to a raspberry mousse and finish up with a chocolate coffee combo. DSC_5898

The bar itself has a nice crunch to it for texture. This is an all around great dessert both here and at Tiffins.

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Bella ordered the $9 Cafe con Leche Choux. This is basically chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate… but it’s delicious!

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Its basically a chocolate mousse dome on top of a chocolate cream puff; with chocolate horns for a nice presentation. It may be too rich for some but we both loved it!

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By now, the sun had set and the room was totally engulfed in the warm glow of the ceiling. The colors pop even more at night and its a really nice atmosphere.

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Based on our lack of views from our table inside the restaurant, we decided to head over to the Dahlia Lounge to watch the fireworks.

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The entrance to the lounge has the same bell pattern featured throughout the rest of the tower. This imagery is taken directly from the Disney / Dali “Destino” animated collaboration (the theme for the new tower).

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Just inside the entrance of the lounge you will find several photos on the wall of Walt and Salvador working together for the short.

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The vibrant colors and unique design lines really look great after sunset inside the lounge.

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We arrived on the balcony right around 8:50.

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There were a decent amount of folks out there awaiting the fireworks but there was still plenty of space along the railing.

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Unfortunately, the firework views from the tower have turned out to be nothing less than underwhelming.

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Even the largest bursts at Epcot are small off in the distance.

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There is no music piped in, understandably so since you can’t follow along all that well from this far away. You can’t see the spinning globe either so there is just a 5 + minute lull where nothing happens from this point of view.

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A lot of folks left before Illuminations was even over as they were clearly expecting more. Again, this is not California Grill.

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Hollywood Studios turned out to be worse. Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular is light on pyro as it is, instead focusing heavily on projections.

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Most of the pyro is of the turret variety and even the larger bursts still look smaller than the ones from Epcot.

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If you are set on watching fireworks from up here, I’d go with the Epcot show and not bother waiting around for Hollywood Studios. That may change once Illuminations comes to a close at the end of September. It doesn’t seem like the temporary Epcot Forever show will be heavy on pyro.

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Overall, we had a very nice night even with the fireworks view leaving a lot to be desired. Toledo is not on the same level as some of Disney’s best signature restaurants, but its still very good and significantly cheaper than the likes of California Grill, Narcoossee’s, Flying Fish, etc… It’s also one of the few fine dining restaurants located within a moderately priced resort.

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The Dahlia Lounge is one of Disney’s more pleasant bars and is another great addition to the resort. You can order several food items (mostly tapas) off the Toledo menu there so if you don’t feel like going all out for an expensive meal, Dahlia can be a cheaper option with a similar vibe. We have no problem recommending either of these locations for a nice night out!

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