Spice Road Table – Chef’s Special (news!) Seafood Paella

This dining experience took place on Thursday, May 1, 2014

By now, we’ve been to Spice Road Table at the Morocco Pavilion at Epcot MANY MANY times. So many times, that we have a favorite table and we’ve come to know many of the Cast Members there (in fact, today, one of the regular cast members asked us to stop so that she could get HER photo taken with US – first time that’s ever happened to us!).

There will be a regular series of posts about Spice Road Table on Saturdays in the coming months. The initial responses on the internet (when Spice Road Table first opened in January) weren’t uniformly positive – although it’s worth noting that most of those reviews came out within the first seven to ten days that the venue was open. We’ve been pleased, if not downright delighted with the food and service at Spice Road Table.

Okay, enough with the introduction stuff…

Today, we went to Spice Road Table with the intent of having a light lunch and sort of kind of celebrating Nora’s birthday fortnight (yeah, I get a whole two weeks for my birthday, well h*ll, it used to be a whole month!) – no Happy Birthday Buttons were on display and we didn’t say anything to the Cast Members, we just really like the place and it was going to be my day to pick and chose.

Nada (hostess) and Zineb (weekend hostess weekday server) sat us at our regular table and since your server is determined by who’s up next on the rotation, we had Yassine (young man) as our server. When we told him that we thought he’d served us before (and Zineb had a quick conversation with him), he began explaining that there were some Chef’s Specials not on the menu…

Did you catch that?

CHEF’S SPECIALS NOT ON THE MENU

Okay, so, all plans were thrown out the window and Yassine went to talk to Chef and find out if they still had the trout (OMG) and the mushroom sandwich (not as excited about this one) from yesterday… Nope. All gone. But wait! The Chef’s Special today is Seafood Paella!!!

Yum! We don’t often eat paella (we’ve probably had it three or four times in our past) but we love rice dishes and we’re completely into seafood – especially seafood dishes from Spice Road Table because they’re all cooked perfectly. Now that Raglan Road Pub has stopped making Calamari (just learned this on Sunday April 27), the best calamari at Walt Disney World is at Spice Road Table (yes, there are reviews coming in the future).

So, we order an Estrella Damm beer for Nick and a glass of Marques de Caceres Rose for me and a large bottle of water to share. I thought that the wine had a nice fruity and citrusy nose and the taste was a little tart and crisp. Nick really liked it, he said that it smelled and tasted sweet to him.

At Spice Road Table, the whole concept is small plates a.k.a. tapas. This means quick service, you should order and have it on your table in 10 minutes or less. Please don’t expect this with something like seafood paella – and we didn’t … however, the cooks felt bad that it was taking so long, so they sent us the hummus and olives with pita bread with zatar spices…

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Hummus and Olives from Spice Road Table

We’ve had this numerous times and we like it very much. The rose went very well with the green olives. The tomato hummus was exceptionally good today (it was a bit thicker than we remember on other visits) and so was the “plain” hummus. This was all very good, it usually is, but today it was REALLY good (maybe we were hungry?).

Back to the seafood paella… Yassine described it as saffron rice, mussels, shrimp, clams, calamari, fish (grouper), and lemon… Take a look…

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Seafood Paella for Two from Spice Road Table

This was a good sized serving – although Yassine said it was for two and we managed to eat nearly every morsel, it could easily serve 4 as part of a tapas sharing.

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The smells coming from this were amazing, we even had a lady from another table come over and ask us what we were eating

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Look at all that lovely seafood and the roasted red pepper pieces…

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Delicately cooked grouper piled in the middle…

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The calamari was perfectly tender and soft (not overcooked at all!)

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Beauty shot… I’m hungry again…

 This was amazingly good. The seafood and the rice were cooked perfectly (this dish takes longer because all components are cooked and sauced separately and then combined at the end, it’s worth the wait!). This is the best paella we’ve ever had… And we counted…

  • 8 large pieces of skinned roasted red pepper (these weren’t your usual plump italian roasted red peppers, they were thinner and had a distinctly different yet familiar flavor)
  • 10 mussels
  • 6 clams
  • 8 shrimp
  • 12 calamari rings
  • 4 to 6 ounces of perfectly cooked grouper (this is important, the fish fish wasn’t overcooked)
  • slices of garlic
  • bits of chives
  • crushed red pepper
  • peas
  • olive oil
  • lemon slices
  • saffron rice

For $35, this was worth every single penny. And the flavors and satisfaction of eating it, they were worth every single calorie!

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There were even browned bits along the edge of the paella pan – super duper yummy!

empty shells!

empty shells!

As we were leaving, we saw Abdou (Food & Beverage GM for the Morocco Pavilion). We’ve met him numerous times and have always been honest and timely with our comments. So, we had to let him know how wonderful the paella was… he wanted us to meet the Chef and while we waited he told us that the Chef’s Special was a new concept and that it was really important that the cast members communicate to guests that it would take a bit longer if they wanted the special. Chef Samad came over from the main kitchens, another nice friendly man. He was very pleased that we enjoyed the paella so much and asked us questions about specific elements… Glad we were able to answer them!

Abdou also told us that the seatings for the Epcot After Hours Wind Down had been up this past weekend (that’s good to know because on the first weekend, they had one night with only one guest!). We hope to do this at all four pavilions at some point before Food & Wine causes them to stop the program… something else to look forward to!

We had a lovely time this afternoon and look forward to our next visit!

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