Guest reviewer Bill Iadonisi is back with another great counter-service review! This time, Bill takes us to a beloved Animal Kingdom eatery — Flame Tree Barbecue. Take it away, Bill!
Hello again Disney Food lovers! As promised, here is the second in the continuing reviews of Disney’s amazing quick-service restaurants. From our last review of the Columbia Harbor House, we trek over to Disney’s Animal Kingdom to talk about a personal favorite of mine, the Flame Tree Barbecue restaurant. Located in Discovery Island on the path to Dinoland U.S.A, you will find nothing but hearty, stick-to-your-ribs fare offered here. If you like the taste of good old American Barbecued Ribs and Chicken, look no further.
The first thing you will notice about the eatery is its colorful and festive paint; and adorning the building, ordering kiosks, condiment stations and even the dining pavilions, are equally colorful animal carvings — birds, spiders, butterflies, owls and reptiles. Even the backs of the chairs have carved figures in them. This is a visible feast for the eyes to draw you to it. (Editor’s note: check out our post about the Circle of Life theme at Flame Tree Barbecue)
Joining me for lunch today was my wife, Donna, and good friend, Joe. I love this restaurant because of the menu… no burgers or chicken fingers served here. You will find tender barbecue chicken, ribs, a pulled pork sandwich that can stand up to any eatery in the area, and even a BBQ hot dog. In addition, the key lime and chocolate mousse desserts are to die for. We arrived at opening time, 11:00am, to beat the crowds. Because of its popularity, Flame Tree Barbecue gets pretty busy around lunchtime.
Click the Menu for a larger image:
My wife ordered her favorite the Pork Sandwich ($8.69), which is accompanied by a side of baked beans. The sandwich roll is soft and fresh, and the pork has just the right amount of BBQ sauce on it. We think it takes away from the sandwich when it’s drowned in sauce.
I am not a big bean fan, but these served here are outstanding. There are bits of pork meat and a hint of bacon in them, but the flavors are nicely balanced and the beans are very tender. The sandwich is filling and very satisfying, and the BBQ flavor was not overwhelming.
Joe ordered the ½ slab of St. Louis Ribs ($10.69), which also comes with the beans and a side of slaw. Joe is a huge rib fan and has sampled them from all over the country, and he was very surprised with his meal. The meat was very flavorful, and like the pork sandwich, had just the right amount of smoky BBQ taste. But he would have liked the meat a little more moist. The slaw was good and he gave his meal a solid “8”!
For myself, I just love the BBQ ½ chicken ($9.69), also served with beans and a side of slaw. If you remember the Tusker House before it changed to a buffet, the chicken is almost identical to the one served there. The BBQ flavors and spices are complex, but nothing overshadows anything else. The meat is very moist and falls right off the bones. In fact, the chicken is so flavorful, I find myself eating the skin! And like Joe, I enjoyed the coleslaw.
There are other goodies on the menu here. All are solid comfort food. A Smoked Turkey Breast Sandwich ($8.09) on Sunflower Bread with Cranberry Mayo and fresh fruit is a good choice for the lighter eater — very tasty — and the Cranberry Mayo is really different and unique. And for the salad lovers, a Barbecue Chicken Salad ($7.79) with, what else, BBQ chicken and tossed greens is a great choice. And for the very health-conscious, a refreshing Fruit Plate ($6.99) with seasonal fruit and Honey Yogurt are offered. For sides, you can order an Onion Ring Basket ($3.79), which has a generous portion of rings, and the rings are real onions, not processed. A French Fry Basket ($3.99) is also available.
For the 9 and under folks, a choice of a Baked Chicken Drumstick ($4.99), which, parents, is a nice break from the usual chicken fingers or Mac and Cheese; and a good old American Hot Dog ($4.99) is also available. These picks include grapes, carrot sticks, and your choice of 1% Mickey Milk, small bottle of water or 100% Apple juice. You even substitute a Cookie or Soft Drink.
And what’s a meal without Dessert? The Flame Tree offers two creamy, tasty choices. A Chocolate Mousse or Key Lime Mousse Cup, each $3.59. The Chocolate Mousse is rich and very creamy and was topped with sweet chocolate syrup. The Key Lime offering was just excellent! In fact, Joe, who had ordered it, said that it would be great if Disney actually froze the dessert and offered it up like a Popsicle!
For beverages, you have the standard sodas, lemonade, Hot Tea and Coffee and even Hot Cocoa. For Adults, Beer and Wine can be ordered.
Where to eat your meal? Well like the Yak and Yeti Local Food Cafes, only outdoor seating is available. Around the restaurant to the left of the ordering area are pathways to covered pavilions, which like the restaurant, are brightly painted with animal carvings all over. The pavilions offer covered seating, but there are also areas in the open — some with two, three or four tables for a more private meal.
The entire seating section is tree covered and is very beautiful. Several of the pavilions have a majestic view of Everest, and in the middle of the area is a large, quiet pool, complete with lily pads, stone walls and magnificent foliage around. In my opinion, it is the prettiest place to dine on property.
The only negative is that on very warm and muggy days, even with the trees and covered pavilions, some may find it uncomfortable for dining. So if you are looking for a respite from the heat, you might want to go to Pizzafari or Dinoland’s Restaurantosaurus.
So overall what do I think about the Flame Tree? With nice-sized portions, over the top BBQ and a really beautiful dining area, we have to rate it a solid 7.5 out of 10! The only thing that kept it from 8 and above would be the dining area in summer. This is a wonderful eatery with a nice change of pace menu, visually enticing and best of all: you will not go away hungry. Next time we will explore yet another of Disney’s fabulous Quick-Service restaurants.
Have you tried Flame Tree Barbecue? Let us know your favorite items or what you’d like to try next time in our comments section below!