Confisco Grille bills itself as a place for travelers and explorers to indulge in exotic dishes from the four corners of the globe. This is accurate in a way. Their menu sports a diverse and eclectic array of dishes that would be sure to please globetrotters of varied tastes. Sadly, the meals fall well short of their descriptions. Now perhaps I am being a bit hard on Confisco Grille, seeing as how I actually enjoyed my entrée, but I seem to be the exception in my dining group. We had a party of five, and much like the television show Party of Five, our experience was underwhelming and forgettable. I will give you a breakdown of our midday meal, and explain why I would advise any world-weary traveler to travel just a bit farther to one of the other eateries the Universal area has to offer.
Let us begin our journey on a positive note; I appreciated the design of the place. The restaurant stresses its eclectic nature by decorating with pieces from all of the Islands in the park it inhabits. The walls have a mishmash of paraphernalia that is less busy and jumbled than might be expected, and it works well for the place. The main dining area has a high ceiling, and the horizontal windows above let in enough light to easily read a menu yet retain a cozy ambiance. We were seated at a circular table out in the open and I still felt quite comfortable. Figuratively comfortable anyway; the chairs are not the most forgiving on the backside.
Appetizer: Moroccan Fried Calamari
As a staple appetizer of most Italian restaurants, as well as many others, I am no stranger to fried calamari. I enjoy eating seafood, and I enjoy eating clever animals, so squid is always a first choice for me. This particular squid was done very well, and I have no complaints on quality, preparation, or flavor. It was lightly fried though, so the batter was very soft. If you are like one of those at my table, and prefer a crunchy batter to contrast with the natural chewiness of the calamari, this may not be the dish for you. The plate is padded with rice noodles to give the appearance of volume, but at $8.99 it is a two person split at best. The lemon garlic aioli gets points for flavor but loses some due to the small amount that is served.
A staple appetizer of Middle Eastern restaurants, as well as many others, hummus is usually a simple and enjoyable dish. This particular hummus was decent and freshly made, but not memorable in the least. The main draw for most was the oven baked lavosh. Lavosh is a Middle Eastern bread that is thinner, airier, and more flavorful than the pita bread we had assumed they would serve. If the focus of your postcards is usually restaurant appetizers, this was nothing to write home about. Still, at $6.99, if you want some hummus for you and a friend then this won’t be your biggest financial regret.
Entree (Part 1): Southwest Chicken Salad
This dish is where things turn dark. This is the point on our cross-the-world adventure where we realize the directions we had been given are false, and we are now cornered in a Moroccan back alley surrounded by bandits and cutthroats; and they are serving terrible salad. The verbatim menu description is, “Grilled fajita chicken tossed over romaine lettuce with tomatoes, cucumbers, roasted corn, crunchy tortilla strips, salsa and tobacco onions. Served with chipotle ranch dressing.” Nothing in this dish resembled any of the nouns or adjectives associated with it. The quality of lettuce was subpar, which is a shame considering that there was not much else on the plate. The bare minimum amount of chicken they thought they could get away with was paper thin and unappetizing. The numerous listed vegetables were not only diced to a minuscule degree, but so few that when asked if they even existed my friend was able to count them out individually in single digits. The crunchy tortilla strips either did not exist, or were a euphemism for the soft pita wedges that inhabited one edge of the plate. The dressing was not poured freely. If anyone ever offers you this salad, turn and run. “It’s a steal at $12.99” they’ll say. Don’t listen. You’re smarter than that. Turn, and run.
Entree (Part 2): Buffalo Shrimp and Chicken Sandwich
While almost taken in by the description of this sandwich, I instead trusted my traveler’s instinct and decided to try something else instead. That, or someone else had already ordered it and I needed to be different. Either way, it was a good call. The version of grilled Buffalo chicken, popcorn shrimp, lettuce, tomato, and cheese on a challah bun was not what I had envisioned and looked a bit disappointing on first sight. It proved to be even more disappointing on first bite. My dining companion’s first complaint was that the bread had obviously been frozen and reheated, making it stale and difficult to get through. The rest of the sandwich suffered the same problems as the salad: bad chicken and skimping on the other ingredients. Although it may sound like a tempting choice, the safe bet is to spend your $13.99 elsewhere.
Entree (Part 3): Chicken Curry Chakra
A bed of coconut jasmine rice holds up this Caribbean spiced chicken curry. The curry itself possesses carrots, onions, peppers, sweet raisins, and a scant amount of chicken. Although the flavor of the dish was not unacceptable and the portion was not insubstantial, the same complaints surface where the chicken is concerned: lack of amount, and lack of quality. As the friend who ordered this dish stated, “It may have been worth the $13.99, but not a penny more.
Entree (Part 4): Chicken Valhalla Pasta
The portions and flavor of this fusilli pasta dish were spot on. Crispy cabbage tops this dish of kale, artichoke hearts, fresh tomatoes, lemon caper rosemary sauce, and presumably chicken. The artichoke hearts were flavorful and gave my fellow diner a positive impression of the dish. So, can you guess what the flaw is yet? You have been around this article long enough to know: it’s the chicken. While Norse Mythology is known to be dour at times, I never realized that Valhalla, the hall of gods and fallen warriors, had so little poultry to look forward to. This dish comes at a moderate price of $13.99.
Entree (Part 5): Salmon Santa Maria
This was my entrée and it was our server’s recommendation. It was also the most expensive dish on the menu, along with the Portside Beef Medallions. Taking those facts in to account, it is probably no coincidence that I came away the most satisfied. Still, judging the meal on its own merits, it was extremely well prepared. The Salmon was grilled perfectly and very flavorful. The applewood smoked bacon and Mediterranean caper sauce were welcome additions and supplemented the salmon’s flavor nicely. The fish was served directly over roasted Brussel sprouts, and fingerling potatoes formed a perimeter around them all. The proportions of each ingredient were balanced and I completed the meal feeling satisfied yet not stuffed. The complaints about the other dishes were not present here; as they did not skimp on ingredients or quality thereof. Although at the apex of the menu price-wise, at $21.99, I can’t say it was not worth it. If I do ever find myself in Confisco Grille in the near future, I will make sure to spend the extra cash to guarantee a satisfying meal.
Dessert: Peanut Butter Diamond and Chocolate Cheesecake
This is the part of the journey where, after so many ups and downs, you realize that this big world of ours still has the ability to surprise you. Confisco knocks desert out of the park. The Peanut Butter Diamond was enjoyed by everyone, and if you dig peanut butter and chocolate it will be enjoyed by you as well. The cheesecake was very flavorful, but the top is far softer than the bottom, so there is a bit of a textural difference there. The main draw to these are the prices. At $5 for the cheesecake and $2.89 for the diamond, these have an outstanding flavor-to-price ratio.
The total was $122.33 and includes all you have read here split between five people. Our annual pass discount cut that down to $103.98, tallying a savings of $18.35
The service was good overall. Our server was helpful and pleasant, and the turnaround time from order to service was not long. Waiting for the bill took a little longer than expected, but at that point the restaurant was starting to fill up a bit more so that can easily be forgiven.
So, is this the perfect culmination of styles and spices from the four corners of the globe? Obviously not, but it is not the worst decision you will make on your journey either. The appetizers are fair, the deserts are a bargain, and the entrees follow the old adage, “you get what you pay for”. If there is one piece of advice I picked up on this trip it is this: do not order chicken! That seemed to be the one consistent complaint among many of the meals we ordered. Although this limits your choices slightly, there are still plenty of options on the menu to choose from that won’t put you in a foul mood (can’t help it sometimes). If you need to satisfy your hunger I would recommend one of the other eateries right around the corner at CityWalk, but if you are nearby and too ravenous to stray father, Confisco Grille is still a valid option. Safe travels.