The Best Thing I Ever Ate…@WDWPosted by Affording the Mouse
One of the things I enjoy most at Walt Disney World is having my favorite treats…and seeking out new favorites! On this trip, I had several new experiences. Out of these, I found one restaurant that now makes my “never miss” list, and one that falls into the “don’t bother” category. Here’s the basic run-down of our food adventures, starting with snacks and treats:
- You still can’t beat the classic Mickey Ice Cream Bar for a cool, creamy afternoon snack. Current price is $3.50, which isn’t terrible by theme park standards. (Of course, you can get a whole box of frozen treats at your local grocery store for that price. Kind of puts things into perspective and might help you resist having one every day.)
- I was slightly less enamored by the School Bread at Norway’s Kringla Bakeri than I had been in years past. Perhaps the pastry isn’t quite as attractive because it has gone up in price to $2.87 (with tax included), but mine was a little dry, even with the creamy custard center. Just didn’t quite do it for me this time.
- The bakery in France, however, did not disappoint. Where else in the World can you get a filling ham and cheese croissant for a mere $3.25? Seriously, this could be a meal! And the chocolate mousse is as good as ever–and only $3.35! Note to self: never, NEVER skip this yummy eatery!
- The carrot cake cookie at Writer’s Stop (Disney’s Hollywood Studios) was as yummy as I remembered it, but at $3.95 it’s a bit pricey–especially if you’re not sharing it. Oh, it’s definitely big enough to share! But I’m really the only one in my family who likes carrot cake (and all the bakery treats at WDW are off limits for my oldest daughter because of her tree nut allergy and the possibility of cross-contamination–boo). So spending nearly $4 and eating the whole cookie myself was a bit extreme–and, yet, I did. Twice. Yep, it’s that alluring…irresistible, even. I just couldn’t help myself. On the bright side, the coffee at Writer’s Stop is excellent (fresh-brewed–not that Sanka junk) and inexpensive at $1.99.
Now, on to more substantial fare:
- We ate at our favorite Animal Kingdom counter service restaurant, Flame Tree BBQ, and were completely satisfied. It was just as we had remembered–a lot of tasty food, and the prices had not increased much since our last visit. The four of us shared two adult entrees, a half chicken meal ($9.69) and a rib meal ($10.69), and all of us were full when finished.
- Another favorite that did not disappoint was Tortuga Tavern (formerly El Pirata Y El Perico) in the Magic Kingdom. When you receive your tray, you might think, “This cost me how much?” Basically, you get a taco shell (or taco salad shell…or burrito…you get the picture) with only meat inside. But, don’t panic! You will get your money’s worth at the elaborate condiment bar. Pile that $8.19 taco salad as high as you can and enjoy! Beef nachos run $7.29, and the kids meals are $5.49. Our girls shared one meal (it comes with 2 sides!), and we drank water–allowing us all to eat our fill for around $22.
- On a different day at the MK, we tried out the new dogs at Casey’s Corner. (By the way, if you arrive at opening, as we did, you might be chosen to throw out the “first pitch” to Casey. And even if you’re not chosen, everyone gets to sing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” and the Cast Members throw Cracker Jacks to waiting guests!) We were actually planning to just have a snack here (mostly to spend time with a CM friend who was on her lunch break), as we had late lunch reservations for my birthday in Epcot. Thinking of one of Casey’s hot dogs as a snack was a mistake! They are HUGE! My husband and I should have shared one…but we didn’t. He had the Chicago Dog and I had the Chili Cheese Dog. We had a party of 6 (our family of 4, plus my cousin Camille who is in the College Program at Disney, plus our CM friend Conny), and we all ate here for under $40. And, again, we were full. Here’s the price list for a few items: $8.59 for specialty dogs (fries or apple slices included); $6.49 for an order of corn dog nuggets; $2 for an order of fries; and $5.19 for a plain hot dog. If you like typical American fare that is filling, Casey’s Corner is a great choice.
- Our family has yet to find a favorite eatery at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. We fare OK at Studio Catering Company (the turkey club and fries are pretty good at $9.99) and ABC Commissary (the Asian salad isn’t bad for $6.89), but there’s no restaurant in the Studios that makes it to our favorites list.
- At Epcot, Sunshine Seasons has consistently been our favorite counter service eatery because of its many choices, especially in the grab-n-go sections. However, this trip was a bit disappointing. The side salad remains a bargain $2.99–but it has decreased in size by at least 1/3! And the selection of grab-n-go items has decreased significantly. The freshness, flavor, and quality of the food, however, was still top notch. All-in-all, this is still a great eatery…just not as great as it once was.
Finally, let’s talk table service. These fall into the categories of Not Worth the Hype, Consistently Delightful Experience, and New Favorite. Here are my assessments:
- Les Chefs de France. This one has received pretty mixed reviews on fan sites, and I can see why. I, myself, am conflicted. This is where I chose to have my birthday meal, partially because I wanted a new experience with rich food, and partially because I knew the girls would enjoy seeing the animatronic Remy. The service was more than adequate (I had read about snotty servers, and we encountered none of that), and we were seated quickly. As for food, we were not very hungry (see above mention re: Casey’s Corner), so we decided to have an appetizer for the table and order one round of the pre-fixe menu ($23.99) and share it. (Two of the items we were considering were on the pre-fixe menu, and added up to around $22, so we would be getting dessert for $2–a great deal, right?) Knowing it was my 40th b-day, and that I had noted this on my reservation (and I was wearing a ridiculous b-day hat as well–not subtle at all!), I fully expected an additional free dessert, which would be more than enough for our entire party to enjoy. We were seved baguettes in a paper bag–cute presentation–which were warm and yummy. We took the plunge and ordered the escargot–I can’t resist the opportunity to try something new! At $12.99 for 6 small snails, this was a splurge. I choose to think of it as buying an experience, because…well…they just weren’t good (mostly a texture thing). But I was very proud of my picky husband and children for at least trying them (the girls left about $4 worth of chewed up snails in their napkins). The French onion soup was tasty, but not especially rich in flavor. There was a LOT of cheese, but it was not quite as hot as I would have liked (a common problem at Les Chefs de France, if guest reviews are to be trusted). My husband enjoyed the quiche Lorainne and salad. Again, the word adequate comes to mind. Finally, it was time for dessert. I was happy to be serenaded by half a dozen French men. What didn’t make me happy is that I was served, as my birthday dessert, the dessert that I had already paid for. No free b-day dessert. Seriously disappointing. I mean, crushing. (Have I mentioned that I love free food?) This might have colored my whole experience. We were nearly finished with our meal and dessert when Remy made a very brief appearance at our table. He was adorable, but it was clear that his “handler” was in a hurry. Definitely not worth the expensive meal simply to experience Remy. Lesson learned.
- The day before my birthday, my girls and I had tea at the Garden View Tea Lounge (Grand Floridian Resort & Spa). This has become a tradition for me–first with my dear friend Nori, then with my oldest daughter, and this time with both daughters. Tea at the Grand Floridian is a consistently charming exercise in tradition and grandeur. The atmosphere is quaint, the food scrumptious, and the entire experience delightful! It’s affordable, although not cheap. But this time, it was especially affordable and delightful. My friend, Nori, although not able to join us on this trip, called ahead and paid for our tea as a birthday gift! What a fun surprise! In addition, I received a yummy birthday cupcake and a rose from the tea room. This was a much better birthday celebration than my actual birthday meal at Les Chefs de France!
- Finally, our new favorite: Kona Cafe. We visited Kona on a day we weren’t going into the Parks, so that we wouldn’t feel rushed. Having visited Hawaii in my twenties, I was eager to try their version my favorites–Kona coffee and macadamia pancakes. I had also read rave reviews about the Tonga Toast. Our server confirmed that two adult entrees would likely feed our family of 4, so we ordered Tonga Toast with ham and Pineapple Macadamia Pancakes with bacon.
I am the lone coffee drinker in the family, so I wasn’t able to order the French pressed pot for two. Still the carafe of Kona/Columbian blend was pretty awesome. Can’t imagine it being any better! And the food…oh, the food. The pancakes were heavenly! And the Tonga Toast is over 3 inches thick! So very good…and filling…I’d even say fulfilling! Add in a coke for my husband, and we spent around $35 including a tip. Worth. Every. Penny! Add this one to the “must do” list.