I have a confession to make: I’m not in love with the ABC Commissary, and I haven’t been for a while now. So when I’m on the Backlot at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and I’m looking for a bite, I tend to head over to Backlot Express.
I also find the general atmosphere here kinda boring, which is clearly a sign of superior themeing, since it’s supposed to be…basically…someone’s work cafeteria, right?
Well, armed with an enthusiastic menu recommendation from my friend Matt Hochberg of Studios Central, I headed over there on a recent trip to see if I’d find anything I liked.
As you approach the ABC Commissary, you really do feel like you’ve stumbled onto a block of buildings occupied by the people who run this “studio.”
A palm tree promenade (that’s admittedly kind of cool) and marble flooring ushers you into the restaurant.
The walkway is also lined with these glass partitions etched with the ABC logo and interspersed with memorabilia from the network’s shows.
If you look hard enough, you might just see an autograph of one of your favorite celebrities here.
There are also some wardrobe pieces from one of ABC’s hottest shows, Modern Family. Recognize any of these outfits?
The seating area here is huge — practically cavernous — but since it’s just one big rectangular room split down the middle with the entrance walkway, this dining room doesn’t have the same attraction as the more themed counter service spots like Restaurantosaurus or Flame Tree Barbecue.
Maybe that’s why I find it so boring here — it just doesn’t seem as “Imagineered” as other great spots around the parks.
Since the themeing centers around television, you can watch snippets of shows and other interest pieces while you eat. Posters of ABC shows also line the walls.
There is also covered seating outside if you prefer it.
While the set up for the counter service ordering area is pretty standard, the decor continues to feel almost posh. The art deco theme is carried through here as well, with marble floors, a collage that looks like a bronze sculpture, and the ABC logo and menu boards in shiny stainless.
The menu boards are the changeable “TV” screen types, appropriately. They also feature pictures of the menu items, which is something we’re seeing more often these days.
OK, so here’s what sometimes happens here at the DFB: I go to Disney World at eat at a restaurant I don’t really love so that I can get a review for the blog. The week after I return back home in Texas from the trip — and, of course, before I can get the review written up — the menu changes. And this is what happened here at ABC Commissary.
I know what you’re thinking: “DRAT! Absolute HOGWASH! How could they DO that to AJ?” But, not to worry, all is not lost. At least one of the items I tried is still on the menu. But let’s take a quick look at this new, updated menu before we dive into the reviews…
Thanks again to Matt Hochberg and StudiosCentral.Com, we have these pics (used with permission, of course).
What’s different, you ask? The seafood platter has added shrimp; the regular cheeseburger is now a 1/3 pound Angus cheeseburger; and the chicken curry has been traded in for the couscous, quinoa, and arugula salad.
The commissary’s “gourmet burger”, part of a foray into fancy fast food that Disney made last year, is the Angus Cheeseburger and Fried Shrimp. This was on the previous menu and has made the cut onto this menu as well.
While the Kids Picks of Chicken Nuggets and Cheeseburger are pretty standard, there is the “healthier for you” Turkey Sandwich option. You can also score one of those nifty Power Packs, which are especially great if you know your kiddos won’t finish the entire meal. Since everything in the Power Pack is individually wrapped, you can take the leftovers with you.
Head over to the condiment bar for your very-neatly-arranged standard sauces and plastic utensils.
So having had my fill of burgers already during this trip, I tried the weird-looking, but decent sounding Chicken Blue Sandwich. I opted for Apple Slices on the side.
Served on a multi grain bun, this grilled chicken sandwich comes with a slice of Swiss cheese and a bleu cheese dressing that is thick and heavy on the bleu.
While it’s extremely messy to eat — wait…let me say that again: it’s EXTREMELY MESSY TO EAT — it was quite good! It may not look like much, but it was surprisingly delicious. Arm yourself with a serious amount of extra napkins and you’ll be fine.
Next, I decided to take Matt’s suggestion and opted for the no-longer-on-the-menu (gah!) Chicken Curry. I figure I’ll tell you about it just in case you see it pop up on any other counter service menus in the future.
It was a fairly straightforward dish: half curry, half rice, with a little cilantro (which went directly onto the side of the tray.)
This was good. It had a very mild spice to it, so I don’t think it would be too spicy for children or others who might not like a lot of heat. If you’re a big fan of curry, though, this probably won’t knock your socks off.
We skipped dessert here; nothing looked super appetizing. Did I miss the mark? Weigh in below in the comments if that Strawberry Parfait or Chocolate Mousse are hidden gems!
I have to say, ABC Commissary was not as bad as I expected it to be, and that’s almost good, right? Before this visit, I had only been there a couple of times, and I was not impressed. So it took me a while to get back.
But I’m glad I headed over there on this visit. While the surroundings aren’t terribly interesting, this is still a great place to stop in, spread out, and cool off if you happen to be at the Studios. I would still recommend Backlot Express or Studio Catering Co. over ABC Commissary, but if you need a break and you’re walking by — make it happen.
Which dish sends you to ABC Commissary? Let us know in the comments!