April 6, 2008
Disney Food Experience
Yes, you can find reasonable food in the Disney parks (Reasonable: not all fried, some greens or at least fruit, not ultra fatty). Our usual “Don’t eat bad food” rule has to get suspended a bit (note, bad doesn’t mean expensive – it just means to make food part of the experience – trying to eat as local, or at least as well as possible given the locale).
Here’s where we ate::
Nacho’s Grill – near the Outlet Malls, in Orlando
– Reasonably authentic Cuban and Mexican food… even given the cheesy name, this place was good – the nachos were fresh, the rice was good, and the service quick!
Tomorrowland Terrace and Noodle Station
– Who knew? Asian in Disney… A reasonable simulacrum of Chinese/Asian food, but better than a burger (we had noodle soup, teriyaki chicken/beef with rice – all not bad!)
Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Café
– There were three “bays” here (Its “Tomorrowland” after all) – “Burger”, “Chicken”, and “Soup/Salad”. We had “Bay 2 – Chicken”, and there was roti chicken and ribs, served with green beans (canned) and also mashed potato. The chicken was moist, and Samwich was loving the green beans. Mmmm… fiber!
El Pirata Y El Perico
– Ok, sounds super cheezy. They have three things basically – beef tacos, vegetable tacos, taco salad (all in hard shells). The cool thing is that they have a “topping bar” with lettuce, tomato, onion, cheese, salsa and hot sauce, so you can salad-ify virtually everything. For kids meals, they had cheese quesadillas which were clearly microwaved, because they got hard instantly (a definite pass).
Disney’s Hollywood Studios (aka Disney/MGM)
– Home of the Cobb Salad (the real one in California at least)…. We did have the Cobb Salad, I thought it was ok, Anh thought they crossed the “chopped/minced” line, and it tasted like tabbouleh.
– The couscous here was “The Best Couscous I Ever Had” according to Peri. Now, take this with a grain of couscous. When Peri likes something, its generally “The Best X I Ever Had”… but, still, high praise. We had couscous with both lamb and chicken (the chicken was whole, and the lamb was a roasted shank, which was moist). Anh had the chicken kabobs which were well flavored, but were dry.
– One of two higher end restaurants at the GF (The third, ultra high end place is “Victoria and Alberts, which is prix fixe ($125/pp), and has its own reservation line, no kids allowed, and a jackets/cocktail dresses dress code. Not owning a cocktail dress, this was right out.) We had dinner here with all the kids, and to start with, the service was very kid friendly, and very good. Drinks (mixed) were also surprisingly good (pomegranate cosmo for Anh – nice and bitter). John had shrimp which were sautéed – he loved it – although it looked a little rich. I had the braised veal, which was reasonable, but could have been more tender and more extreme in its flavors (more of something – more wine, more garlic, more something – it didn’t stand for much). All up, this was a good choice with kids though – the service saved it, as did the “make it your own” sundae’s for the them. From a food point of view, it was ok, but from an experience point of view (with all three kids), it was good.
– We actually ate here twice. The first time, we had “adult dinner’, and the second time, we brought back the whole family. Note that this place is “on the lake”, and has a view of the fireworks, so tables tend to be held through the fireworks (i.e., it’s hard to get a reservation, or have the reservation work well if its 60-90 mins before fireworks time – since fireworks were generally at 10pm when we were there, this meant that 830-9pm was crunch time there).
Fundamentally, the reason why we ate here twice was the staff. The first night, our server was Diane, and we struck up a lively conversation with her about wine. The fried calamari was fresh and tasty, served with onions, olives and hot peppers. Over the two nights, we had the steak (fair), as well as tilefish, lobster tail, and a couple of other things. However, the real killer here (for the kids at least) was dessert. They had a “make your own S’Mores” big kid dessert, which they *loved* (we brought them in for dinner after we ate the first night). Diane and Sam made us a reservation for the next night (and Sam got us a wine list from Victoria and Albert’s, which we ordered from). If you go, say hi to both of them for us, they were both sweethearts.
When we went to “adult dinner”, Peri and John were at “The Mouseketeer Club” at the GF, which was a room with toys/games/movies/crafts that was attended and had about 6 other kids there when we dropped them off. Reservations for this can be made through the Disney Dining line (800-WDW-DINE). This was $11/hour per kid. Samwich had an in-room sitter that we arranged through the resort. They charged $16/hour. This has to be made through a separate service, but was backed by Disney.
The Yuk List
Magic Kingdom: Columbia Harbor House
– All fried, all the time. Fried chicken, fried fish… we didn’t have a lot of options. They did have two salads, and they would make them fresh (you can remove stuff…)
Kennedy Space Center: Café
– Going here made me appreciate the organization that Disney brings to the table for food service for a lot of people.
A special note of our favorite snack at the Magic Kingdom – “Pineapple Dole Whip” – which is pineapple soft serve ice cream. Yum. This can be found right across from the “Swiss Family Robinson” tree house, in Adventureland.