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Review: Epcot’s Garden Grill Restaurant

Based on a previous guest review of this restaurant, I couldn’t wait to go try it out!

Now, to be fair, it’s not as though I’d never been to the Garden Grill Restaurant before… Well, that’s not entirely true. Before this visit, I hadn’t been to the current incarnation of the restaurant. In fact, back in the 80′s, I went to The Land Grille Room, which was what the restaurant was called before its renovation into the Garden Grill Restaurant. (Check out my friend Andy’s creation of a recipe from The Land Grille Room here!

Born as the Good Turn Restaurant and then morphed into The Land Grille Room, this restaurant has had many personalities (my memories include dark red booths and full-blown sculptures of Mickey Mouse made out of butter). Today, it’s a family-style character dinner featuring Chip, Dale, Mickey, and Pluto!

Garden Grill

Atmosphere

Perhaps the most impressive attribute boasted by Garden Grill is that it’s a rotating restaurant. That’s right — you go around in circles while you’re eating!

But don’t worry; this isn’t as though you’re having dinner on the Teacups. The restaurant rotates s-l-o-w-l-y during your meal, allowing views of the different scenes from the Living With the Land ride taking place below the restaurant.

There are two seating styles in the restaurant, and…listen up — it makes a BIG difference where you sit. I know I’m picky about seating, but in this case, I strongly suggest that you request a semi-circular booth on the lower level of the restaurant.

Seating

This isn’t just for comfort’s sake (though the cushioned booths ARE more comfortable than the hard chairs at the tables). The booths give you an unobstructed view of the scenes you’re passing by from the ride below, and the high backs also drown out some of the clattering noise from around the restaurant.

That said, if you’re dining with several kiddos who will want to climb out of the booth to see the characters as they walk by, be sure to put the kids on the outside seats! :-)

Table

Sadly, we were seated at a table. (I can promise you that I’ll be requesting a booth from now until eternity.) But how can you be upset for long when you see this cute table-setting? Clearly this is meant to remind you of a certain mouse you might have heard of? ;-)

Table Setting

But more on the characters later! First of all, let’s look at the view! The ride below travels through different outdoor scenes showing how plants grow in many different climates and weather. While you dine, you’ll rotate through scenes that include a desert, a prairie, and even a rainforest!

Views from the Rotating Restaurant

Prairie View

Rainforest View

One of my favorite scenes includes this farmhouse. I love that they included a view into the windows from the restaurant side of the “set.”

Farmhouse View

Inside Farmhouse Windows

There are even fresh strawberries and eggs being harvested (and a fire alarm on the rock??).

Farmhouse Strawberries

So there’s definitely lots to look at as you’re rotating through your meal!

Characters

But that’s not all you’ll have to steal your attention! This location has been a character meal for quite some time, now, and is the only place where you can have your photo taken with Farmer Mickey! :-)

Mickey

But don’t forget Pluto! He’s eager to share whatever table scraps you may have!

Pluto

Of course, Chip and Dale are the hosts for this “Harvest Feast,” but that doesn’t make them any less of a troublemaking duo! When we were there, Dale got his hands on a Donald Duck beak toy and hilarity ensued. ;-)

Chip

Dale

So once you’re all tired out from the fun, it’s time to tackle the food!!!

Eats

As I mentioned above, the food here at Garden Grill is served family style. This means that you don’t really get much choice about what you eat, but you can have as much of it as you want!

Menu Cover

Check out the “organically grown” wines!

Menu - click image for larger version

We started out with what I consider to be one of the true stars of the meal — these rolls with maple butter. The butter is super-sweet, so if you’re not a fan of flavored butters, be sure to ask for some regular butter as well.

Rolls and Maple Butter

Personally, I dug right in. The rolls were soft and warm, the butter was easily spreadable, and the taste was out of this world. Granted, I’d had a long day and was very hungry, but still. ;-)

Honey Butter

The salad is a winner for many guests as well. It’s a “harvest-inspired” salad, which means you may get different ingredients depending on what’s in season. Perhaps some of the veggies are pulled directly from The Land’s hydroponic plants downstairs!

Salad

The main courses include Turkey with lemon caper sauce and artisan bread pudding, Mahi Mahi with roasted tomato and pepper compote and fresh vegetables, and filet of beef with red wine butter and buttermilk mashed potatoes.

The turkey was good, but I wasn’t impressed with the overall flavor of the meat, sauce, and bread pudding. I would have preferred a saltier or more savory sauce over the lemon caper version.

Turkey, Mahi Mahi, and Beef

My favorite here was the beef with red wine butter and potatoes. Very flavorful and not overdone! I’m used to meat being overdone at family-style meals, so this was a nice surprise. I just wish we’d had more. By the time our server got around to bringing us a second serving, we were ready to leave the restaurant.

Beef and Potatoes

The mahi mahi was flaky and fresh. It didn’t taste at all fishy, and was quite refreshing with the veggies.

Mahi-Mahi

Dessert at the Grill is a fresh fruit cobbler, which can change seasonally. Ours included a variety of berries, including raspberries and blueberries.

While I’m usually not a huge fan of “bready” cobblers, this was delicious!

Berry Cobbler

The one minus in this dish is that I wish it had been served with ice cream instead of just whipped cream (though the whipped cream was delicious and added a lot of good flavor).

Inside of Berry Cobbler

Our server also dropped off one of the kids’ red velvet ladybug desserts! This included cream cheese frosting decorations!! Yum…

Red Velvet Ladybug Kids' Dessert

Overall

I think Garden Grill has a LOT going for it. As a character meal and a rotating restaurant, your kids will be in heaven, let’s be honest. And the views of the ride scenes below is very cool for those of us who grew up going to The Land when we were kids.

I also always enjoy character meals that don’t force me to head to a buffet constantly, potentially missing my time with the characters.

The food isn’t spectacular, but it’s better than average for a family style restaurant (or even in comparison to many buffet restaurants). We were very pleased with the special touches made to the menu to make it stand out as a bit more high end than one would expect (red wine butter? nice touch!).

The cost at around $35 for adults and $17 for kids may sound high outside of Disney World, but it’s actually pretty moderate for a restaurant inside the big purple gates — especially when it’s a character meal that’s all-you-care-to-eat. Plus, it’s ROTATING!! Come on. Your inner kid HAS to love that. ;-)

Have you been to Garden Grill or are you planning on visiting? Let us know what you think of the menu!

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38 Comments

  1. Marc says:

    AJ, are these also the lunch menu items? It’s been a few years since we went to the Garden Grill (we’ve only done lunch there, twice) but I do recall chicken and…me brain thinks it was along the same lines as Hoop Dee Doo.

  2. Amber says:

    Ever since going to Garden Grill three summers ago for the first time, it has become a must go to place for us! With or without kids. It’s a good meal and we have always had such amazing character interaction! Each visit has been memorable! We look forward to going back this August!

  3. Aubrey says:

    Marc: Garden Grill is open for dinner only. :)

    We are planning a trip to WDW over Thanksgiving and I think this will be our Thanksgiving meal. So looking forward to it!

  4. One of the only restaurants at Epcot I’ve never eaten at! I’d love to give it a try – does anybody happen to know what the vegetarian option would be?

  5. Jayme says:

    This is one of our family favorite character meals. I am little sorry to see the Mickey “mousse” has been replaced, but the replacement red velvet cupcake looks great. I did want to mention that Garden Grill has been a fantastic restaurant to dine at as a vegetarian as well. I always end up with SO much that my family helps out with mine as well. Last year it was some sort of veggie stew with couscous. Very different, but very good.

  6. NT3 says:

    @Marc
    I too remember going there for lunch back in the day (definitely over 10 years ago) and the fare was a bit more along the lines of a Hoop De Doo/Whispering Canyon type of place….I think chicken, some type of bbq meat (maybe ribs or brisket), and I specifically remember some amazing fried catfish. I see things have now changed. Those 3 items don’t really float my boat so I’ll probably be skipping the Garden Grill for the time being. It is a cool place though with the rotating and all.

  7. Courtney says:

    Any tips for this place for a vegetarian?

    I have always wanted to go here, but was afraid I would be hungry..

  8. AJ says:

    Marc — Nope — no lunch any longer. I think it was discontinued in 2008. :-(

    Amber — That’s great! Thanks for your review!

    Aubrey — Cool! This is a great one for Thanksgiving!

    Jasmine — I can’t remember what the vegetarian option is, but I’ve heard that it’s good! Looks like Jayme has a bit of info as well!

    Jayme — Thank you SO much for the details on the vegetarian-friendliness of this restaurant! :-) And the red velvet ladybug is VERY good.

    NT3 — Just an FYI that the fish changes often and they do have catfish from time to time I hear! ;-) Thanks for the trip down memory lane; I’m sad that fried chicken is gone!

    Courtney — See Jayme’s info below. I’ve heard great things about this spot for vegetarians.

  9. Kristi says:

    We had a great meal here last September. Pluto even helped to “sing” happy birthday to my daughter. For adults that are a little pickier they will happily serve you the child’s platter which was a roasted chicken leg, real macaroni & cheese, sweet potato fries and broccoli. My daughter got a kick out of going on “Living With The Land” right after dinner and seeing where some of her fruits and veggies were grown.

  10. Thanks for this review, how have I never even heard of this place??!

  11. Lori says:

    I went here on my honeymoon for Dinner,back in 2004. The food was great my husband loved the catfish they had as well as the salad. I remember our salad had mickey shaped cucumbers! They also used to offer a “rehitching ceremony” where one of the waiters/waitress’s performed a “Wedding Ceremony” MICKEY MOUSE was the Best Mouse for ours. Sadly they discontinued that….. I have been wanting to go back again with my 5 y.o. son.

  12. Carrie says:

    OK, you’ve convinced me! The food here has never appealed to me, but I do have fond memories of the rotating-restaurant experience from childhood, so we’ll have to give it another try.

  13. Pam says:

    I was planning to make reservations here for an upcoming trip, so thanks for the review! We will be a party of 3 adults, and three kids (ages 11, 7 and 6). Do you think we would fit comfortably in one of the booths you suggested?

  14. Carol says:

    Thanks for the review AJ! We’re planning on trying GG during our visit this fall. Can’t wait to try it out as we’ve never been.

  15. Elizabeth says:

    We went there for a character BREAKFAST when my niece was turning 4…she’s now a month shy of 18! She was terrified of either Chip or Dale, I can’t remember which one, but she would hide from the same one EVERY TIME. And Minnie was there back then, we have some adorable pics with her in a gingham trimmed outfit.

    I may have to give a try again one of these days.

  16. Shayne says:

    AJ, I too have fond memories from days gone by of Mickey statues made of butter and some really delicious food (this was back when the restaurant was sponsored by Kraft).

    After some heavy-duty pleading from my children, we ate at Garden Grill on our trip last December. While all of us loved the rotating-ness of the restaurant and the fabulous character interaction, the food was just ok. I thought the fish was the standout among the 3 adult choices (frankly, I could have just kept eating the salad — it was quite yummy). My kids, who are admittedly on the picky side, really only ate their macaroni & cheese. I was surprised that even the chicken drumsticks were pushed aside after only a few bites. So, I don’t think we’ll be back here anytime soon (esp. now that one kid is an “adult” in Disney’s eyes), just because it’s not worth the price for what my family ate.

    Nonetheless, for those who have never been, I recommend eating there at least once. The atmosphere is really darn cool, and we saw each character at least twice during our dinner.

  17. Jayme says:

    AJ -

    Happy to help! I also wanted to mention that the server brought out two salads since normally the salad would have bacon. Our table was literally loaded with food, it was hard to find an empty place for anything. I was also told by our server that they would be more than happy to bring out full size macaroni and cheese if I wanted as well. I definitely did not leave hungry!

  18. Courtney says:

    Thanks for the help! I need to read better before I post :P

    Keep up the good work!

  19. Gaylin says:

    I had a terrific gluten-free meal there a couple of years ago, including a great dessert!

  20. Julie says:

    I think we will give this place a try. I always skip it bc I love the countries so much, but seems like a nice change of pace for a character meal

  21. Galloping Gourmand says:

    I’m particularly upset that the Grill doesn’t serve breakfast any more. I consider my breakfast there sometime around the turn of the century to be among the best meals I’ve had at Disney. Surprisingly, though, for a peak summer season character breakfast the place was nearly empty. The room was maybe half full so the writing must have been on the wall at that point. Still, I’m surprised they aren’t open for lunch considering the extra traffic in the area now that Soarin’ is there and how hard it can be to get reservations when free dining is in effect. It might be because they really want to push people into World Showcase. Well, Disney is as Disney does.

  22. chrisvanv says:

    On our last trip to Disney we went to 6 different character meals and this one was the only one that the entire family decided we HAD to do again on our next vacation. Part of the reason I liked it was that when we went the food was excellent. My husband is a meat and potatoes guy and he had 3 helpings of the salad. My son was thrilled because there were no princesses and he just loved the way the resturant rotated, and my daughter loved the fact that the characters came to her and spent quiet a bit of time at our table. At Chef Mickey, Crystal Palace and 1900 Park Fare you are lucky if you get 60 seconds with the characters, but at Garden Grill Mickey actually sat down at our table and played with kids. My son had a copy of the Disney Junior Encyclopedia of Animated CHaracters that he was using as an autograph book and when he handed it to Dale he ran off with it and came back with his brother. Both of them kept pointing at the pictures in the book and then at themselves.

    I do agree – you must insist on a semi circular table. Much more relaxing and much quieter. We plan on doing the Behind the Seeds tour earlier in the day and then having dinner at Garden Grill.

  23. chrisvanv says:

    At Jasmine and Courtney – you can get the salad without bacon bits, the meal always comes with fish, and they also had a delicious Veggie Pot Pie. Be sure to call ahead and let them know that you want a vegetarian meal.

  24. I am loving your blog! Thanks for all the detailed info! I’m in full planning mode for a trip this fall and just booked this restaurant after my first choice (Le Cellier) wasn’t available. After reading this review and another post on your site, I’m really looking forward to this restaurant! We have five kiddos and I know they’ll love the fact that it rotates, as well as the dinner with the characters! My kids are little (9,6,4,2 &2). Do you think my husband & I and our kids (so 7 total) could fit in a booth on the lower level, or will we be seated at the tables just out of necessity for space?

  25. Jamie in Jax says:

    My wife and I dined here for our Anniversary a few weeks ago. We had a great time! The whole rotating idea added a nice layer of fun while we ate. The food was descent and our waitress was always restocking our plates. By the time we left, we were stuffed! I highly recommend eating here… at least once… you’ll be happy you did. ;)

  26. Lauren says:

    My kids love the Garden Gril, but they will be disappointed that the Mickey Mousse is no longer the dessert! We find that this meal always has great character interaction. Thanks for the review!

  27. Jill says:

    dramamine please!

  28. rosalie says:

    We have ADR for The Garden Grill in April 2013. Thank you so much for the seating tip! I have never read this anywhere else, and having a great spot is important to our family. Fortunately, we booked our reservation at 4:00, right when they open, so I plan on getting there 20-30 minutes early to be one of the first in line to ask for a bottom level booth. I’ll be sure to send the hubby to ride Living with the land with the kids so they don’t get antsy :)

    Can’t wait, we’ve never dined here before!

  29. The Garden Grill has long been my favorite restaurant at Walt Disney World! The food is, as you say, good (if not great) but the characters and the atmosphere are wonderful. I recommend it to all my clients!

  30. Jennifer says:

    We ate at The Garden Grill the week before Thanksgiving 2012. It was great! I have a picky husband and two boys, ages 9 & 5, who loved it. We were seated at a table on the upper level and honestly I did not mind it. It was easier with the kids and characters. Also you can still see the view just fine.

    The food was fab! The salad, fish, meat, rolls…..everything! I thought is was great because the kids meals and the adult meals were both served family style so we basically shared everything and there was plenty to go around. As for the desert, it was awesome!

    I highly suggest this restaurant!

  31. Carolyn says:

    How many people can fit in the booths? We have a party of 6 going in June. ..

  32. AJ says:

    Carolyn — Great question! I think six might be too many. My guess is five at most, if you have a couple of kids who don’t take up too much space; but you MAY be able to do six. This is a great opportunity to contact Disney Dining and check with them.

  33. Jeanine says:

    One question about this restaurant, do you have to pay the entrance to Epcot in order to get in?

  34. AJ says:

    Jeanine — Yes, you do have to pay Epcot admission to get in.

  35. Joni says:

    Oh yes Kraft. Back in the day they had the best Breakfast we always ate ther for Breakfast. I got the Sunrise “” Eggs, Bacon can’t remember if there were grits or potatoes. And a little basket with “THE Best Mini Muffins Ever” not sure if they were carrot or what but they were the bomb I think they sold them down stairs at the “Bakery” When they had the Bakery, Baked Potatoes, Subs, etc. They use to give you “straw” cowboy hats too. Fun place. Wish you could order off a menu though, this menu doesn’t do much for me.

  36. Tom says:

    Garden grillmis a great place to eat, it is sad that they are dinner only but the higher ups wanted more business for the quick service down stairs, that’s why they are dinner only, I say people write Disney telling them that we want garden grill open for lunch and dinner

  37. Joshua says:

    I don’t like the Garden Grill at all. All of the meat was dry, we were never served any cobbler either. We just got some of the cakes that WDW restaurant staff gives out when someone has a birthday. The setting was nice and the characters were fun, but it was a waste of money since I barely ate anything because the food quality was so poor. I just ate other food at a counter service restaurant after the meal. I highly recommend not going to the Garden Grill.

  38. Mary Smith says:

    We ate at the Garden Grill last night and it was a dissappointment. We are a family of 5. The menu included Talapia, beef, mashed potatoes, veggies, turkey, stuffing, salad and rolls. The rolls with the maple butter were excellent and virtually all I filled up on. For 40 bucks per adult, I told our server we could have gotten bread and water in jail-true, but just a little humor to make light of an extreme dissappointment. The beef was med. rare and bleeding into the mashed potatoes they were served on. Now this may be appetizing for some but our family only eats med well to well done beef. So, for us it was nauseating. Regardless of how the beef was prepared, it was chewy and lacked flavor entirely-even the A-1 didn’t help. The stuffing was terrible. The salad was delicious. The macoroni and cheese (is it Kraft with the powder packet?) my three year old said “yuck-disgusting” and that is a direct quote. She only ate the goldfish crackers on top which I thought was cheap and grossed but she liked those. Finally, the Talapia… Undercooked and over salted. What a waste of that beautiful fish!!! The talapia was not opaque throughout- it was slimy and gooey…I am not kidding. The chef came out to assure us that it was prepared properly. I photographed it to show a few of my friends who are chefs and also a few who work at the health dept. that was the biggest dissappointment. We pretty much stopped eating after the server showed the talapia to the chef right in front of us and he continued steadfast in his claims that it was properly cooked. Chef…no offense, but in case you missed this in culinary school, fish should be flaky when properly prepared not slimy!!! The manager came out to adjust our bill as my 15 year old son hardly ate anything then he took him downstairs and provided him with food and dessert of his choice. That was so kind and excellent customer service!!! I would have paid the price charged at garden grill for the food downstairs. That food looked excellent. Anyway, hopefully this was a random bad experience. It was truly a bad experience. I wish more people would speak up when they have substandard experiences. Speak up to management. Don’t say it’s great and worth $$$$$ all the money you pay just because you are hungry, hot, tired, frustrated and just wanting to get that shot with your kids and chip n dale, Pluto and Mickey! Demand to get what you pay for so wonderful places like WDW stay wonderful!!!

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