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Review: Olivia’s Cafe at Disney’s Old Key West Resort

Olivia’s Cafe over at Old Key West in Walt Disney World is just about the most homey restaurant in Walt Disney World. Its only rival would be Trail’s End, and I see them both as a great place to meet up with old friends year after year.

These are the types of restaurants that inspire memories of heading off on summer vacation, reuniting with friends you haven’t seen in a while, and enjoying some good food together in an atmosphere that’s as familiar to you as your own kitchen. I guess that’s what Disney was going for with the Disney Vacation Club, and they’ve achieved it at Olivia’s.

Atmosphere

In fact, when I walked into Olivia’s, it almost felt as though the needle scratched off of the record in the jukebox and everyone turned to stare at the newcomer. Because I’m not a regular at Old Key West, it really did feel like I was a bit out of place at this restaurant that’s frequented by Disney Vacation Club members who are owners at Old Key West.

Olivia's Sign

Olivia's Open Sign

Of course, that was only my perception. After checking in, we were quickly seated in a wide open dining room covered with nautical themeing and Disney Vacation Club member family pictures. That’s right — they hang family pictures sent in or delivered by Disney Vacation Club members who own at Old Key West. I think it’s a neat tradition!

Dining room

Family Album on the walls

Themeing and Family Album

Overall, the dining rooms are a hodge podge of booths, tables, ocean-worthy decor, and happy customers. That works for me!

Nautical Themeing

Eats

Olivia’s specializes in home cooking with a taste of the Florida Keys. There’s lots of seafood (including conch dishes), key lime accents, and down home favorites.

Olivia's Menu - click image for larger version

Olivia's Menu - click image for larger version

We snacked a bit on the yummy bread we were served, and then got down to the business of ordering.

Bread

For appetizers, we tried the Soup of the Day (broccoli cheese), the caesar salad, and the Island BBQ ribs (really more of an entree than an appetizer).

The soup was delicious. Creamy, rich, and served in a portion size that still allowed me to have an entree and a dessert!

Soup of the day

The caesar was fresh and crisp, with plenty of cheese and just enough dressing. The croutons were nothing special, but we liked the addition of the lemon half.

Caesar Salad

The BBQ ribs were, surprisingly, quite good! Who knew they did ribs so well in the islands? ;-) Moist, fork-tender, and served with a spicy-sweet and tangy BBQ sauce. These were probably one of my favorite parts of the meal. Next time, I’ll get them as my entree.

Island BBQ Ribs

For entrees, we ordered the grilled pork chop with chipotle barbecue glaze and smoked cheddar mac and cheese, and the daily special — meatloaf!

The words “chipotle” and “mac and cheese” sold me on the pork chop, and it was actually pretty good.

I loved the choice of shell pasta for the mac and cheese (how apropos!), but I did need to add salt to the side dish.

The chipotle barbecue sauce could definitely have been spicier, but was a decent addition to the pork. This dish wasn’t a superstar in the Disney food arena, but it was definitely something I’d pop in to get if I were staying at Old Key West.

Pork Chop with chipotle bbq sauce and mac and cheese

We loved that meatloaf was the daily special. It just fit the vibe of the restaurant — a family gathering place.

While the meatloaf was a little crumbly, it tasted great, and we were big fans of the side dishes — mashed potatoes and green beans. These are dishes that can be done well, or very, very badly, and at Olivia’s, they were great. Crisp, steamed green beans were a great compliment to the creamy, buttery potatoes.

Daily Special Meatloaf

I couldn’t help ordering a side order of Olivia’s Potatoes. I’d heard people rave about them, and they’re worth the hype! Basically, these are scalloped potatoes with some cheese added, but they’re done very well. I definitely wanted another order!

Olivia's Potatoes

For dessert, the key lime tart and the bananas foster bread pudding sundae were no-brainers for us!

The bread pudding was — to quote “Jem!” — truly outrageous. Just look at that thing! We were very impressed with every component of this dessert, and we couldn’t get over the way the sauce formed a fun hot-cold coating on the ice cream. For some reason, I love it when sauces do that!

Bread Pudding

And we couldn’t leave without the key lime tart. I am a HUGE key lime pie fan, and I’d heard so much about this fantastic dessert that I could hardly wait to dive in.

Key Lime Tart

It absolutely lives up to the hype, my friends. Thing about what you want in a key lime dessert: 1. Lots of graham cracker crust, 2. Awesome key lime filling that’s both sweet and mouth pucker-ing-ly tart, 3. Lots of graham cracker crust, 4. Lots of graham cracker crust. Well, this one delivers!

Key Lime Tart Cross Section

The addition of the meringue on top is genius as well. A smooth, light, super-sweet topping for the tart filling is the perfect counterpart in taste and texture.

Overall

Despite the slight awkwardness of walking into a restaurant where everyone seems to know everyone else…except me…, dining at Olivia’s is a treat. While the menu might be considered a bit plain Jane, you could also see it as good home-made cookin’ and just indulge in your comfort food inclinations for one night.

We loved that there was a daily special every day, that the servers knew the menu backwards and forwards, and that there were plenty of fun options to choose from.

And while we might not have fit into it…exactly…we liked the feel of being somewhere that people “come back to” year after year. Olivia’s is clearly a “neighborhood” restaurant around here, and we hope it gets to keep that kick-back-and-relax kind of feeling.

Have you eaten at Olivia’s Cafe? Let us know your favorite menu items, or your thoughts on the restaurant, in the comments section below! Thanks!

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16 Comments

  1. Alan says:

    I’ve always enjoyed this restaurant when we are looking for a less hurried and relaxed meal. It doesn’t give you the rushed feeling you sometimes get at the restaurants in the parks. The food is on a par with most of the single table ticket resort eateries, good most of the times and never really too many misses. Any time my wife can get scalloped potatoes or mac and cheese as a side dish she’s in.

    I’ve never gotten the same vibe here that AJ felt, but we tend to eat dinner early and most of the times we eat, restaurants aren’t really that crowded.

  2. Olivia’s seems to be bubbling up as a hidden “Jem”. I’ve been hearing more an more great things about it lately. They’d better be prepared for more newcomers!

  3. Aubrey says:

    We ate at Olivia’s on our honeymoon back in 2008 since we were staying at OKW. I honestly wasn’t expecting much based on the review from a few friends, but we thouroughly enjoyed our meal. It was nice and quiet since we were doing an early dinner and my husband especially appreciated that the menu here had some unique flavors we hadn’t gotten at any of the other restaurants throughout the week. He actually recommends this place to people going to WDW now (especially if it is a last minute trip, seeing as how there is rarely a problem getting ADRs here).

  4. Marc B says:

    We don’t typically do dinners here unless we can’t get in anywhere else, but we eat breakfast and lunch here almost every trip. Its sort of become an arrival day tradition to go to Olivia’s for lunch and get a Cuban sandwich and a turtle crawl. They used to have a french toast with rum sauce that was killer. As for everyone knowing you and the menu, it’s because most of them have been there for years, gotta love Jerry!!!

    I wish they had left the pictures up in the main dining room, it looks sort of bland to me now since they took them all down and “decorated”. You can almost ALWAYS get a seat here quickly without a ressie though I wish they had some type of sound dampening in there, with tile floors and wood panel walls, it doesn’t take many people to make it sound like a school lunchroom. They also accept Tables in Wonderland (formerly Disney Dining Experience) and you can order drinks from the Gurgling Suitcase in the restaurant.

    Overall we love Olivia’s, I wouldn’t be the mayor there for no reason ;-)

  5. Mark D. says:

    Olivia’s is terrible! Don’t go there!

    psst……AJ, don’t ruin the secret of us Old Key West owners. We love Olivia’s and think it is Disney’s true best kept secret.

  6. Dottejean says:

    Shhh!!! This is our hidden treasure!!! You were so right. It is home to us whether we are staying at OKW or not; the husband and I have to go to Olivia’s for at least one breakfast, lunch and dinner! Maggie always greets us as if we have just come home and dinner wouldn’t be dinner without John always being point-on with his dinner recommendations!

    Couldn’t have felt more “at home” than we did lChristmas Day 2010 at dinner with Lillianna taking care of us. But then John topped it when we visited in June 2011. John found out (’cause we were talking about it!) that our son was visiting in July to “pop the question” to his girlfriend and suggested a champagne toast surprise at Olivia’s during the trip. (Where else in WDW or any other vacation spot would that happen???) We arranged it and Cris and Ashley were thrilled! Everyone ‘on stage’ that night at Olivia’s made them feel oh-so special.

    The fancy-dancy restaurants have their time and place but Olivia’s is special in and of itself. Enjoy the experience and the food! We always do!

  7. Jeff says:

    Love, Love, Love Olivia’s.

    We own DVC at Old Key West, and are so happy our “home” restaurant is so great.

    Your perception of everyone knowing each other???? Yeah right!! Ridiculous!

    I’ll assume that’s a joke………..or you’re real, real insecure.

  8. Sara says:

    Olivia’s has always intrigued me, but we’re rarely in the vicinity of OKW (we usually don’t spend too much time at DTD), so it’s usually skipped. It does seem to have a nice “homey” atmosphere for the OKW usuals though!

  9. V says:

    Oh my God, I love this post so much. Purely and solely for the Jem quote. AMAZING! LOVE!

  10. Afoodie says:

    Great review … absolutely LOVED the “Jem” reference. For us ’80s kids :)

  11. Heather says:

    Love Olivia’s, it’s so good and the people are always so nice. Last time I went I got the Mahi mahi (great sweet and savory combination and one of my favorite Disney meals) and the banana bread pudding which was amazing.

  12. AJ says:

    Thanks guys!! I’m so glad you liked the post!

    Heather — thanks for the recommendations!

  13. Neil says:

    We stayed at Old Key West for a 16 night vacation and it was absolutely superb. This was back in 2010 and I’ve only just seen this review.

    There were three generations and we decided to eat at Olivia’s for the last night. The idea of us all being able to walk there and back was the clincher.

    The food itself was pretty good. The kids had pizza and chicken nuggets and fries that were like the pizza and nuggets that you get at a million other Disney restaurants. The grown-ups had the ribs and the soup to start – now the soup was weird but lovely…chicken with jalapenos. It was like someone had opened a tin of Heinz soup and added a few jalapenos to it. But you couldn’t see the peppers. I’m going to try it at home. The ribs were good if a little dry.

    The mains were just as good. NY strip steak, fish (yahoo fish – a bit like swordfish) with rice and beans and fried chicken with mash and gravy.

    I had the chicken and it was superb. What I’d expect from a good Southern restaurant. It was the special and wasn’t on the menu – but what impressed me most was that it was one of the cheapest things when the bill came – something like $15.00. The cynic in me normally expects the unadvertised daily special to be the most expensive item.

    Key Lime Pie for afters was great. It’s been a fair few years (nearly 10) since I’ve been further south than Orlando but it reminded me of some of the best that I’ve had in previous holidays in Miami and the Keys.

    The area around Olivia’s is exceptionally pretty and very safe indeed and we were happy to let our 7 and 5 year old run outside to the games room which gave us a bit of peace to enjoy a very nice meal.

    As an aside – we also came here for breakfast. The food was good but not brilliant but again the peace of the room and the service was excellent which made for a good start to the day.

  14. Moonbeam says:

    Try the shrimp and grits – wonderful! Salmon salad and Cobb salad are also great, followed by that oh-so-perfect Key lime tart. Love the wait staff! Great place to be Welcomed Home to Old Key West.

  15. DisneyFan says:

    We stayed here as DVC owners because we had heard the rooms were nice and they had the best value per point. This is the worst restaurant on property. I actually couldn’t believe how bland the food was, some of our food came out cold. Perhaps we just had a bad experience but it seemed like everything was just off. They food did not taste fresh and actually seemed like maybe it was just microwaved and served. For a sit down restaurant this is a fail, plus if you are staying at OKW it is the only restaurant option. Just save yourself the time and money, go to the parks. The resort was nice but we like to eat at the resort at the end of the day and this was just a deal killer for us.

  16. Samantha P says:

    We love the food. The first year we only went there cause our daughter that was 20 months at the time is named Olivia, but ended up liking it. Plus the waitress brought her very on bowl of ice cream. The waitress was extremely nice. So of course we decided to go back this time. Our Olivia is 5yrs old now. The waitress was so nice and made my daughter’s night. When before we left the restaurant she brought over a menu signed by the chef and other staff and the staff called her boss the whole time. She would not put that menu down. We have yet to have a bad meal or bad service. Wonderful place ! We will be going there in the future.

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