Every Disney restaurant has some great menu items that keep guests coming back over and over again, but there are some dishes that are actually legendary.
The heyday of the original Brown Derby restaurants was the golden age of Hollywood, when Mary Pickford, Clarke Gable, Spencer Tracy, and the young starlet, Lucille Ball, among others, frequented the lush booths in the hat-shaped buildings. Disney World’s Hollywood Brown Derby is fashioned after the Hollywood Brown Derby on Vine Street (there were three other Brown Derby restaurants as well), and bears an incredible resemblance inside and out. But what I find truly fascinating about the restaurant are the stories it’s keeping alive.
One of my favorites is about Louella Parsons, who worked for William Randolph Hearst and was considered one of the most powerful gossip columnists in Hollywood for many years (to the dismay of her colleague and rival, Hedda Hopper, who often held court on the opposite side of the Derby from Parsons).
One day, Parsons complained to Derby owner Robert Cobb that all of his desserts were too fattening and requested something healthier. Cobb quickly told the chef “to put grapefruit on something, because everyone knows it’s slimming.”
So the chef invented his Grapefruit Cake, a dessert with multiple layers of cream cheese frosting that are anything but slimming, and it’s gone down in the history books along with several other Derby-invented classic recipes.
Have you tasted the Derby’s famous Grapefruit Cake, or have you tried making the recipe? What did you think, and how did it go? Share your thoughts in our comments section below.
For more information, to book online, and for menus at the Disney World Brown Derby, see our Brown Derby Info page.