As we were planning our cruise, Dan and I knew we wanted to be sure to try both of the additional-fee restaurants onboard the Dream: Palo and Remy. We didn’t really have a plan, specifically, but the way it shook out, we ended up booking Palo brunch on our at-sea day.
Some quick facts: Palo only offers brunch from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. on at-sea days on cruises that are four nights or longer. Only adults (18+) are welcome, and you’ve got the standard Disney signature restaurant dress code to contend with. The meal costs $30 per person (as of May 2016).
That extra $30 was certainly on our mind as we walked into the dining room … but the cost quickly melted as we enjoyed the opulent surroundings. The space is beautiful, covered in rich velvets and dark woods, and the entryway chandelier is incredible. The seating is tiered, so you’ll have an awe-inducing view of the sea no matter where you find yourself. You can see more photos of the interior space on Dan’s blog, At Disney Again.
As soon as we sat down, we were immediately offered a glass of champagne or a champagne cocktail (the mix-in options seem to vary, but I imagine they can make whatever you’d like), then we were escorted to the buffet. Which, cool … thanks for the tour! But then we were forced to stand in front of the buffet, pointing at the items we wanted to try so that a waiter could load our plate from the trays.
I’ll be blunt: This wasn’t my favorite Disney dining experience. In fact, it was easily the worst eating experience I had on the cruise. But not because of the food. The food itself was awesome. But the service was suffocating. I mean, I get it. The hallmark of Palo is luxury. But I have to tell you, even if I were a hundred-billionaire, I’d find the over-attentive service at this place to be … well, over-attentive. I wasn’t able to serve myself even once during the entire meal. I half expected the waiters to slice my meat for me.
But the food was incredible. Impeccable, even. In addition to unlimited trips to the buffet (which was laden with fruits, breads, seafood, cheeses, charcuterie and other small bites), we were also able to order flatbreads as well as a variety of breakfast and dinner entrées, including at least two different types of eggs Benedict and three different pasta dishes.
It was a heck of a lot of food. But it was good. The kind of good where you know you’re eating too much but you just … don’t … care. The chicken parm in particular, which we ordered as an entrée, was right up there in the top five meals of my life. No joke. We also ordered a flatbread to share: half gorgonzola and grape, half sundried tomato and goat cheese. The flavors and textures were so varied and delicious … well, we ate more flatbread then we should have, too.
Something really cool: Dan ordered an iced tea after his mimosa. And they brought it out with iced tea ice cubes so his drink wouldn’t get watered down. I’ve seen this done with with coffee ice cubes, but never with tea. And it, frankly, blew my mind.
Then … dessert! After two trips to the buffet with my personal waiter earlier in the meal, I was done with being served. I actually couldn’t bring myself to walk back up to the buffet and point at sweet treats. It was too awkward. So we asked the waiter for the table (a different waiter than the one who served us at the buffet!) to make up a tasting plate of her favorite desserts from the buffet. It was much less cringe-inducing that way. And what we ended up with was delish.
Overall, it was a delightful meal, if a bit uncomfortable. While I don’t think I’d ever ever want to have brunch here again, I would absolutely, without-a-doubt return to Palo for dinner. 100%. The food and atmosphere were totally worth the extra cash, and I can’t wait to try the full-sized entrees.
Have you been to Palo for bunch? Let me know what you thought in the comments below.