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Review: New Lunch Menu at Whispering Canyon Cafe in Disney’s Wilderness Lodge

For years, the Whispering Canyon Cafe at Disney World’s Wilderness Lodge has been known for bottomless milkshakes, all-you-can-eat skillets, and a rowdy atmosphere due to the fun antics of the servers.

And with a pretty drastic menu overhaul last month, I was eager to try some of the new dishes on the now skillet-less lunch menu!

Atmosphere

Whispering Canyon Cafe is located just off of the lobby in Disney’s Wilderness Lodge resort. This is the Wilderness Lodge’s moderately priced restaurant, and it’s definitely got a lot of personality!

Honestly, the fact that the restaurant is open to the lobby has pretty much required a noise ordinance to be placed due to the raucous (though good-natured) behavior that has characterized the restaurant in the past.

Reflecting the Cowboy-and-Indian days of the old West, just about anything goes here. From hobby-horse races around the restaurant to servers interrupting cell phone calls, and pledges to “never, EVER go to Universal Studios,” Whispering Canyon has always been a laugh and a half.

warning sign - click image for larger version

naughty people riding hobby horses

In my own experience at WCC, I’ve been brought a bucket of Diet Coke after asking for too many refills…and after drinking it all, I received my very own “fastpass to the bathroom” from my server! ;-)

However, recently the antics have been toned down a bit. Keep in mind that lunchtime guests seem to have a much quieter experience than breakfast or dinner visitors do.

Seating is pretty much all in one massive dining room, though there is one smaller (quieter) dining room toward the back of the restaurant.

Seating

cowboys and indians on back of chairs

Whispering Canyon Cafe New Lunch Menu

As I mentioned before, we were here to try out the brand new lunch menu just revealed in late September 2012.

New Whispering Canyon Cafe Menu Graphics

In the past, the lunch menu has consisted of the all-you-care-to-eat skillet full of barbecue goodies and side dishes, along with some a la carte options.

Now, lunch guests have a choice of assorted appetizers (the yummy spring rolls are still available) and entrees, but the skillet has been removed from the options list as we mentioned in our earlier post.

Whispering Canyon Cafe Lunch Menu 2012 -- click for larger image

On our visit, we wanted to try as many new things as possible. I started out with the Moonshine Margarita — made with real Moonshine! This was a great eye opener, sweet and tart, and a rockin’ way to start out the meal.

Moonshine Margarita

With a little moonshine under my belt it was time to start eating — and quick, before I ended up on the floor! To begin, we sampled the Flash Fried Navajo Bread. I had really been looking forward to trying this ever since I saw it on the menu, and it was worth waiting for.

Flash Fried Navajo Bread with Citrus-Honey and Tomato Jam

I really picked up the sweet note from the honey in the tender fried dough. The Tomato Jam had a slight sweetness as well, although it was balanced by a little bright acid from the tomato. I could have easily eaten this whole basket by myself, and it got a thumbs up from everyone at the table! But there were more treats to be sampled…

Next up were the Western Chips with a trio of dips, which included Buffalo Chili, Cheese Dip, and Fresh Salsa. This was good, fresh, and — although pretty standard — just fine. The queso was slightly plastic cheese-ish, which is always good.

But overall, I’d prefer the chips and trio of dips at Territory Lounge!

Western Chips with Buffalo Chili, Cheese Dip, and Fresh Salsa

And because I love you, I tried something I wouldn’t normally eat: the Chuck Wagon Angus “Bacon & Egg” Burger. I’m not a big fan of fried eggs. But for you guys? Anything! ;-)

And actually, it was quite good!

Bacon and Egg Burger

The burger itself was well seasoned, flavorful, and cooked to perfection. The egg can get a little messy, but hey! That’s what a bun is for! The Tillamook Cheddar Cheese is a delicious touch, as is the smoky Chipotle Ketchup. I’d recommend this one.

We also tried the Slow-Smoked Pulled Pork Sandwich. Served on a Brioche Roll with Sweet Ancho-Barbecue Sauce, I had high expectations for this one.

Pulled Pork Sandwich

And it was good. It didn’t bowl us over or anything, but it was just fine, and we enjoyed it.

Now, let’s talk dessert. Many of the menu offerings were pretty standard, with one obvious exception: Jalapeño-Lime Cheesecake. I wanted to get this because I knew it was one of the standard, comes-with-your-meal desserts on the new dinner menu, so I thought it would be helpful to give you a review.

And this is where the meal took a turn for the…well…weird.

Whipering Canyon Dessert Menu 22Sep12 -- click for larger image

This absolutely did NOT work for me. I like lime, and I like cheesecake. Heck, I even like jalapeños. But I am convinced that the three should not be combined in dessert form — at least not this way.

It wasn’t just the flavor, either; the texture of the cheesecake was off-putting as well. And as if it couldn’t get worse, the chunks of candied jalapeño were the nail in the dessert coffin. I would definitely pass on this one.

Jalapeño-Lime Cheesecake

But we’ll end with a high note. I’m just pleased that the awesome caramel apple pie made the cut on the overall dessert menu!

Caramel Apple Pie

This stuff remains an incredible dessert, and it’s the one I’d recommend from the menu here…hands down. (Along with those all-you-can-drink milkshakes, of course!)

Overall

If you have your ADRs scheduled for lunch at Whispering Canyon — or you need a Magic Kingdom midday escape break — I would still recommend this as a good meal to seek out. I really like the shift toward the upscale for lunch, something that we’ve seen on the Territory Lounge menu as well. Although I will miss the lunch skillets and will sigh with wistful affection when I think of them. (Sigh.)

If the skillet experience is what you’re after, be sure to head to Whipering Canyon for dinner, where it’s all-you-care-to eat served family style, similar to ‘Ohana or Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue Dinner Show.

Lunch is quite good though. We enjoyed the dressed-up menu and quieter atmosphere, and we’ll most certainly be back.

What looks good to you on the new Whispering Canyon Lunch Menu? Let us know below!

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16 Comments

  1. Logan says:

    The Wilderness Lodge is our DVC home resort. :) I’m a bit disappointed that they moved the a la carte menu to lunchtime, as we are much more likely to eat at Whispering Canyon for dinner. Maybe we’ll have to take a mid-day break!

  2. Jenny says:

    Thank for your review, and thank you so much for going out of your norm and trying the burger with fried egg. My hushand really likes them that way. As for the jalapeno-lime cheesecake, its a shame that it don’t go over well…. the name sounded good.
    :)

  3. Aydin says:

    Did you like the egg on the burger? I’m a very adventurous eater, but the idea of a fried egg on non-breakfast foods really doesn’t appeal to me. It’s one thing if it’s a beef tartare with a quail egg yolk on top – that becomes a needed sauce. But I don’t know A.J., something about the combination of flavors doesn’t gel in my brain – like the dripping yolk’s texture would be unsettling. Plus, eggs have such a subtle flavor, it seems like a waste of calories, like the flavor of the cheese and bacon would overpower the egg.
    Thoughts?

  4. Anastasia says:

    Yeah the cheesecake was a bit weird. Flavor-wise I actually really liked it but the texture was off and the way it was served in a mason jar made it hard to get a good ratio of crust:filling:whipped cream. I think if it was served more like a regular cheesecake I could have handled it.

  5. Chris says:

    Thanks for the review !!! I have stayed at the Wilderness Lodge a couple of times, and have dined at the Whispering Canyon Cafe each time, as well as visiting when I stayed at other Disney resorts. The food has always been great, and the service even better. I will make a point to visit for lunch on my next visit !!!

  6. Alan says:

    I’ve never eaten here and the food looks interesting to me, but I guess I’m getting old and cranky as I prefer to let the food do the entertaining and not the patrons and wait staff. There – that’s one long run-on grouchy, grumpy sentence.

  7. Beiji says:

    What happened to the vegan quinoa cakes? :(

  8. Janna says:

    Any idea if kids can get the skillet at dinner? Every menu I’ve seen does not have this option listed.

    It may be worth a trip to just have the caramel apple pie…;)

  9. AJ says:

    Logan — It’s worth a shot! We enjoyed the new menu. Let me know if you try it out; would love to hear what you think!

    Jenny — Glad I could sample something that you guys might try! Agreed on the cheesecake. I LURVE cheesecake and anything lime-flavored; and everyone knows I’m a huge hot pepper fan. So I was really unhappy when I didn’t like that dessert…at all.

    Aydin — For me, the flavor of the egg was an afterthought. The whole combination of elements seems a bit more like a “wow factor” than a flavor factor here. I think the burger would be just as good without the egg, but then it wouldn’t be a challenge to eat. ;-)

    Anastasia — SO glad to hear another person’s review of this. Agreed that the mason jar element really didn’t add to the dish overall. They could have given it a “western” twist by serving it in a metal bowl like they do the shortcake at Hoop Dee Doo and it would have been much easier to eat.

    Chris — Thanks! Let us know what you think!

    Alan — Ha ha! Definitely go for a late lunch, then, Alan. The servers are much more subdued when they don’t have a big audience. Also, hit Territory Lounge for a beer before heading in…that will help. ;-)

    Beiji — Unfortunately lots of “favorite items” have been taken off the menu in this overhall. :-(

    Janna — Hmm… looking at the dinner menu it looks like they can’t (if they’re ordering from the kids’ menu): http://i1.disneyfoodblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Whispering-Canyon-Cafe-Dinner-Menu-2012.jpg. I guess you could always pay the adult price for them to have the all-you-can-eat option with mom and dad…but that sort of stinks, eh?

  10. Catherine says:

    According to a message-board poster wh said they were a server at whispering canyon, kids 3-9 can get the dinner platter for $15.99′ although it is not listed on the menu and they have a kids menu. Plus you can ask for the quinoa cakes.

  11. Joan says:

    Do they still do the Ketchup Antic,s at lunch as they do at dinner. We are bringing a group of
    11 in mid January & would rather do lunch. Is a reservation recommended for 1:30??

  12. AJ says:

    Joan — Not as much, but if you tell your server ahead of time that you’d like to see some antics, they’ll deliver! As for time, I’d recommend going at the height of lunchtime so there are more people for the servers to work with — maybe 12:30 instead of 1:30?

  13. Rachel M says:

    We visited on our last trip for dinner having never eaten there and I was kind of disappointed. We were seated in the quieter dining area, maybe because they saw our anniversary buttons and asssumed we wanted to dine more alone. We could hear all the antics but felt kind of left out. When we were almost finished three other tables came in. Suggestion – if you want to be part of the fun ask to be seated in the main dining area.
    To me the food was ok – I don’t know what all the fuss is about. I’d like to try it for lunch though. Maybe something other than the skillet would be better. The beef and chicken were very dry. I have to agree about the cheesecake – while the taste was a bit intriguing – the texture was awful.

  14. Marci C says:

    I just had to comment as we just visited Whispering Canyon in September and had the misfortune to experience the new menu for dinner. Having been one of our favorites in past years, we eagerly brought our first time visit friends to Whispering Canyon. Big mistake. We did not know the menu had changed and all I can tell you was it was the worst meal I have ever had at Disney. The beef was very rare and placed directly over the potatoes, thus leaving blood on the potatoes (not good for those of us who do not eat red meat), the chicken was dry. The potatoes were adequate at best. Since they offered squash as the veggies which few of the party liked, I asked for spinach (which I had done in the past). Nope couldn’t do it. I asked for steamed broccoli-they checked and found some to make for us. I was thankful for that. However all 8 of the entire party were very unhappy with the meal. The worst part was the desserts which left us all wanting to run as fast as we could to escape the lime/jalapeno cheesecake and cranberry something (so unappetizing and forgettable that I can’t even remember what it was called). Things wouldn’t have been so bad had they had what was one of the best desserts in all of Disney-the apple pie on a sugar cookie crust–but unfortunately that was dropped from the menu as well. So the new menu, the terrible desserts, the lack of antics from the wait staff has left our family vowing to never return to what was once one of our favorite restaurants.

  15. Jayme says:

    My family and I due to eat at Whispering Canyon on 12/12 – I’m a vegetarian and never had a problem eating here before, but with the new menu changes, I have to admit I’m nervous. Does anyone know what vegetarians/vegans are currently being served for dinner?

  16. Kris B says:

    The Jalapeño-Lime Cheesecake was really…………really awful!!! I took one bite and almost spit it out. The Moonshine Margarita on the other hand was a big hit for me!! On our arrival in October, we had been on the go since 4am, had trouble getting registered into our room at our resort (due to the system overhaul)….and had to rush to our dinner ADR here at WCC. I really….needed that cocktail! Our server gave me the recommendation to try it….and she said if I didn’t like it, she would not charge me, and get me something else. Well…….we paid………’cause I loved it!!!

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