We’ve just started a fun new series based on the Food Network’s (very cool) show, The Best Thing I Ever Ate. Due to some keen suggestions from readers, we’re splitting our series up into different sections: breakfast, appetizers & side dishes, snacks, entrees (lunch & dinner), and desserts & drinks.
Today, we’re taking a look at Appetizers and Side Dishes! I’ve done my favorite brand of informal polling (i.e. posted questions on twitter and facebook ) to find out others’ experiences of the “Best Thing They Ever Ate” as far as appetizers and side dishes at Disney.
Soups were by far the #1 mentioned appetizer/side when I reached out to facebook and twitter folks for their favorites.
- Most beloved are the soups found at Boma in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. These vary every day, but the varieties specifically mentioned by readers as the Best Thing They Ever Ate! were: Mushroom Soup, Mulligatawny Soup, and Butternut Squash Soup. (Personally, the chicken corn chowder is my favorite!).
- Of course, you can’t post a series like this without a few votes for Le Cellier Steakhouse‘s famous Cheddar Cheese Soup! This comes heartily recommended by Disney Food Blog readers — and yours truly, of course!
- The Grand Floridian also racked up a couple of votes from our readers! The cashew cream soup from Victoria and Albert’s comes was noted, as was the cheesy tomato soup at the Grand Floridian Cafe (yum — doesn’t that sound good?!?).
- Finally, that delicious Mushroom-Soup-That-Doesn’t-Taste-Like-Mushrooms was voted into the top few appetizers! You can find this at Artist Point in Disney’s Wilderness Lodge.
Breads and Spreads
Disney restaurants do some surprisingly wonderful things with themed breads and flatbreads! Here are a few of the favorite unique varieties brought up in our poll:
- Another big favorite was the pineapple bread at ‘Ohana in Disney’s Polynesian Resort. This delicious, slightly sweet bread is plated by your host as he brings you to your table. It’s considered a “welcome” to you — part of the family — as you take your seats for dinner. (Don’t fill up on it though — there’s plenty more to come by way of tummy-filling food!)
- Tart a la Flamme Alsacienne at Chefs de France in Epcot. This is an item close to my heart, as I was addicted to a dish in Switzerland called flammenkueche gratinee, a thin pizza/flatbread with “crème (creme fraiche), oignons blancs (white onions), lardons (bacon), and fromage râpé (grated cheese),” which is a lot like the Tart a la Flamme Alsacienne — a flatbread with creme fraiche, onion, and bacon — at Chefs de France. Y-U-M!
- The hummus varieties at the Animal Kingdom Lodge were highly recommended, and this isn’t the first time I’ve heard praise for these spreads. You can find several different variations at Boma, Jiko, and the Mara (to go!).
- Last, but not least, in this category are the breadsticks at Le Cellier Steakhouse. Served all-you-can-eat, the pretzel, multigrain, and sourdough breadsticks are one of the favorite “free” bread baskets you can find in Disney restaurants. Read more about the significance of the breadsticks here!
Potatoes, Polenta, Pasta, and Poutine
May the starches reign supreme! While many of us have minimized too many starches in our diets, we still love ‘em when they’re packed with butter, cheese, gravy, and other delicious add-ons! I know…it’s a curse. Here are a few of the favorites that stick out in the memories of Disney Food Blog readers:
- Potatoes came out on top in this category! Recommended in our poll were the garlic butter mashed potatoes at Wolfgang Puck Express in Downtown Disney; the mashed potatoes at the Grand Floridian Cafe; the Maui Potatoes at ‘Ohana (sadly, these have been discontinued); and the Parmesan Mashed Potatoes at Chef Mickey’s (dinner). Of course, let’s not forget those gorgeous pommes frites at Cafe Orleans in Disneyland!
- Also highly recommended in this category is the salmon polenta at The Hollywood Brown Derby. I’ve never tried this one, but it sounds divine! Thanks for the suggestion, guys!
- Here’s one of my personal favorite “Best Thing I Ever Ate in Disney!” additions, which was also corroborated in our poll: The Goat Cheese Ravioli in Disney’s California Grill. One of only a couple of items that have been on the menu since the restaurant’s inception 15 years ago, this delectable ravioli is a truly amazing start to your dinner.
- Finally, a controversial dish that’s often questioned for its authenticity. Personally, we think it’s pretty good no matter what. Le Cellier Steakhouse has introduced Poutine, a classic French-Canadian dish consisting of french fries (steak fries), melted cheese curds, and gravy. I mean, how can you go wrong with that?!?
Salads and Veggies
Disney’s got some great options for salads and side dishes that are good choices for your heart and your waistline — even though you’re in a theme park! Check out these green veggie suggestions:
- The Asian Chicken Salad at Pop Century comes highly recommended by many folks. In a place where breaded chicken cutlets and tie-dye cheesecake reign, sometimes it’s nice to find a filling, healthy salad in place of even more greasy food (not that we don’t like greasy food…or tie-dye cheesecake…around here).
- Also, the mushy peas at Rose and Crown Pub and Dining Room seem to be a big hit with Disney guests. Be sure you know what you’re getting before you order, though — for those of us on the USA side of the pond, mushy peas are pretty different from regular peas…
Other Yummy Apps and Sides
A few other suggestions in our Apps and Sides list are as follows:
- The mushroom risotto at Yachtsman Steakhouse is out of this world. Rarely on the menu, if you can catch it, I guarantee you’ll be pleased!
- The delicious cheese plate at Chefs de France (a truly incredible way to start your meal!)
- Egg Rolls at Yak and Yeti Restaurant in Disney’s Animal Kingdom (again, another that’s been mentioned several times!)
- Yellow Fin Tuna Three Ways at California Grill (check out a review here!)
- Scotch Egg at Rose and Crown Pub and Dining Room in Epcot’s World Showcase
What’s The Best Thing YOU Ever Ate in Disney?
Now, this is by no means an exhaustive list of the delicious appetizers and side dishes available in Disney restaurants! Just in case you didn’t get a chance to chime in with your favorite appetizer or side dish in Disney restaurants, you can add to the list now in our comments section! Have you had a not-to-be-missed appetizer in Disney? Let us know your “Best Thing I Ever Ate in Disney!” below!
And stay tuned next week for the continuation of the series with the “The Best Thing I Ever Ate in Disney!”: Snacks!