Join me in welcoming guest author Tracy Antonioli to the Disney Food Blog!
While we usually review menu items that are commonly ordered and enjoyed, Tracy is turning the tables with an interesting experiment! She wanted to find out what some of Disney World’s least ordered menu items were like… Read on to find out the results…
My last trip to Disney World happened to fall over One More Disney Day, the 24-hour celebration of Leap Day that occurred in the Magic Kingdom and in Disneyland on February 29th. In thinking about what I’d do with one more day, all the things I’d eat came immediately to mind.
Of course, the hardest part about dining in Disney World is deciding what to have. There are so many great choices, from food on a stick to filet mignon. But I wanted to do something different. And so, a rather bizarre experiment was born — the least ordered item experiment.
You see, there are many dishes in Disney World that are well-known and sought after. The dole whip float. A hot dog from Casey’s. The cheddar cheese soup from Le Cellier, the wings at ‘Ohana, and the ubiquitous turkey leg.
And while there’s likely a good reason for the popularity of these items (all but two of which I also enjoyed during this trip), I imagined that there were just as many amazing — yet unknown and under-appreciated — menu items in Disney World. So I set out to find them.
During my trip, at two different restaurants — one counter service and one table service — I chose to sample the least-ordered menu items. Of course, this was in no way a scientific study. I didn’t ask for ordering statistics or an ‘items sold’ pie chart.
I simply asked the cast member taking my order ‘What item on the menu is ordered the least?’ Yes, they both looked at me kind of strangely at first, but so what? I was also walking around sporting gold sequined, feathered Mickey ears.
Least Ordered Dish — Counter Service
Because I was super excited to get this experiment underway — and I had an early morning flight and skipped breakfast — my first stop after getting off of the Magical Express was the closest counter service location, which in my case was The Mara, at Animal Kindgom Lodge Jambo House.
Unsurprisingly, the least ordered dish at this counter service location is the most exotic-sounding dish — the Falafel pita. The pita is accompanied by either fries or couscous — so of course I had to ask which one of those was the least popular, though I could have guessed correctly that the couscous would be the winner.
The Verdict — The Mara’s Falafel Pita and Couscous
Falafel is one of those dishes that’s condiment-dependent: the things that you put on the falafel are almost as important as the falafel itself. Which is good for the falafel at The Mara, because the toppings were delicious.
I dare anyone to eat this with their hands, because the thick, warm pita was slathered with an ample portion of both cucumber sauce and hummus and was topped with a mountain of greens. The hummus had a bit of a spice to it, which I appreciated. But do not fear the spice — it was balanced out well by the coolness of the cucumber sauce.
The falafel itself was flavorful, though the texture was a bit mushier than I would have liked.
However, the star of this dish was the couscous. It almost makes me sad that the majority of people elect to have fries with their pita, because the couscous at The Mara is surprisingly good.
First, it is a cold dish — like an exotic pasta salad. Second, it is not just couscous, but more of a couscous pilaf. It was mixed with corn and finely diced peppers, mushrooms, and raw red onions, and cooked in a flavorful, salty-yet-sweet stock that I’m pretty sure included a dash of curry powder.
It was an enjoyable and filling meatless meal. I’d gladly recommend it to others. So next time you’re at The Mara, skip the burger and try the falafel pita. And be sure to order that with couscous.
Least Ordered Dish–Table Service
I took a big risk in my selection of a table service location for this experiment. You see, the restaurant I chose is one of my favorite Disney restaurants — and one of the most expensive to boot: The Hollywood Brown Derby in Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
Add to that the fact that The Brown Derby is already home to several iconic dishes — the Cobb salad, specifically, as well as the grapefruit cake — and I honestly didn’t know what I’d end up with here.
As it turned out, what I ended up with was an appetizer.
Originally a main course but then relegated to the appetizer menu, the least-ordered item on the Brown Derby menu is currently the Andouille Crusted Prawn. The prawn is crusted with a mix of panko bread crumbs and crumbled Andouille sausage and then fried.
It is served over a bed of cheesy grits and garnished with some greens and what is described on the menu as ‘ancho oil.’
The Verdict — Brown Derby’s Andouille Crusted Prawn
This was an amazing dish. As soon as I took my first forkful I was immediately thankful that I decided to run this strange experiment. The prawn was crunchy and savory on its own, but when mixed with the cheesy grits…oh my!
I realize that shrimp and grits are pretty standard fare in some parts of the country, but I’ve never had them like this.
The sausage-crusted prawn was crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside, a perfect example of what fried shrimp should be. The cheesy grits were exactly that–cheesy. I could have eaten a bowlful of them on their own. And the greens cut through the richness of the cheese perfectly. My only warning — the greens were cooked with a lot of garlic. So if you’re going to be breathing near anyone for the rest of the day, you may want to warn them.
I kind of hate to say it, but this dish might be the best dish I’ve ever had at the Brown Derby. And that’s including the goat cheese cannelloni that stole my heart on my first visit as well as The Derby’s signature dish.
Sorry Cobb salad — you have some serious competition.
Would you be willing to run an experiment like this? Which of these dishes would you rather sample?
An avid traveler, food-fanatic, and life-long-learner, Tracy Antonioli didn’t catch the Disney bug until she was 30 years old. A year and a half and four trips later, she’s a full-fledged Disney nut. You can read about all of her travels at www.suitcasescholar.com or visit the Disney blog she runs with friend and fellow Disney nerd, Melissa Sue, at www.mouseonthemind.com.