I have to admit- having Walt Disney World in my backyard is not a terrible thing. Though we Orlandoans constantly tell outsiders that our city is more than just theme parks, Disney is a huge dot on our culinary map. There are a lot of incredible restaurants throughout the resort, including Victoria and Alberts at the Grand Floridian resort, an AAA Five Diamond Award recipient since the year 2000, and one of my favorite places in Orlando, Chef Art Smith’s Homecoming Kitchen at Disney Springs.
Wine Bar George has been in the works for a very long time and it has finally opened in the incredibly popular shopping, dining, and entertainment district known as Disney Springs. I was lucky enough to be invited to be one of the first to dine here. After we watched the ribbon cutting ceremony, a few friends and I found a table on the second floor and literally watched what will surely become an iconic Orlando restaurant come to life.
First, what makes Wine Bar George stand out among all the other Disney eateries is the namesake of the restaurant – George Miliotes. George is one of only 249 master sommeliers in the world as recognized by the Court of Master Sommeliers organization. George was the first General Manager of the famed California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. He left the Disney organization to design a new concept for Darden Restaurants which became Seasons 52. In late 2015, George left Darden to begin working on a wine bar at the new Disney Springs project (formally known as Disney Downtown which encompasses Pleasure Island and Disney’s Marketplace.)
On May 19, 2018, Wine Bar George became the latest food establishment to open at Disney Springs. There was a high expectation and a lot of fanfare. The tables around us filled up very quickly, the service was impeccable and the food was outstanding. The restaurant itself is not very big – a large bar downstairs is flanked by a few tables, while upstairs holds another smaller bar with a few tables and lounging spaces.
Wine Bar George offers 135 wines, available by the ounce, glass, or bottle. And every server holds at minimum a Level One Wine Certificate from the Court of Master Sommeliers organization. This means your server is educated on pairing you with the best wines based on your preferences, even if you know nothing about wine.
We enjoyed a few appetizers for our table- the Jicama-Kohlrabi Salad, the Grilled Octopus salad, and the Crispy Mac and Cheese Bites.
Jicama is a root vegetable while kohlrabi is a leafy cabbage, and combined together with a mint vinaigrette and pickled jalapeno, this makes a very intriguing and tasty small plate. The taste is very mild but refreshing.
The Grilled Octopus is mixed with olives and a lemon vinaigrette to make a light and airy dish. This is not your ordinary calamari, grilled octopus is not rubbery or greasy. This was definitely one of my favorites.
The table favorite was the Crispy Mac and Cheese Bites. We were impressed the macaroni noodles were still intact inside of the crispy pockets, and the bites were coated with Hot & Spicy Cheez-It crackers. I am fairly certain this dish could become a Wine Bar George signature.
We also indulged in an Artisanal Cheese Plate with a selection of four sliced gourmet cheeses, jam, nuts, and grilled bread. I think I could enjoy a cheese plate and a glass of wine every day and never be bored.
The star dish of the evening was the Grilled Whole Greek Sea Bass. The fish came to the table fully intact and with one slight of the hand, our server fileted the fish for us and we were left to enjoy the meat. Probably not my most favorite way to eat fish but it was seriously delicious. For those who are squeamish in seeing the head, the kitchen will gladly remove both the head and the tail upon request.
Dessert was just as amazing as everything else. The Olive Oil Cake with candied olives was incredible. Light and moist.
The Key Lime Pie was a perfect bite size and a Floridian signature dish.
And a perfect way to round out the meal was to enjoy the Wake Up Call ‘tini – with espresso-infused Barsol Pisco and espresso liqueur.
Wine Bar George is way more than a meal, it is an experience to be shared among friends and family. I highly recommend securing a reservation before you visit as this place is going to be as popular as any of the great restaurants on Disney property.