We’re heading back to Epcot’s Future World for dinner at Garden Grill Restaurant!
Garden Grill Restaurant
This is a DFB favorite, and it comes together as Chip ‘n Dale’s Harvest Feast. The dinner features an all-you-care-to-eat meal served Family Style.
If you’ve ever shied away from eating in Future World in favor of the more varied cuisine available in World Showcase, it may be time to give Disney World’s only rotating restaurant a chance.
Please join me, Chip ‘n Dale, Pluto, and the main Mouse himself (MICKEY!) at the Harvest Feast for some food and fun!
The atmosphere? Well, that depends… You see, the Garden Grill rotates over the various scenes of the Living with the Land attraction, so what you see depends on where in the rotation you are in the moment.
It takes about one hour to make the full rotation, so it’s slow enough that you don’t really notice the feel of it while you are dining — at least, I didn’t. I was too busy enjoying the views! Take a look…
We enjoyed all of this from our table on the lower level of this two-level restaurant. It’s definitely a score if you are seated on the lower level, which is fashioned with booths as opposed to the chairs and tables on the upper level.
The booths provide more of a “front row seat” experience for the attraction, so it’s worth asking at check-in to see if you can get one. I wasn’t expecting a booth since it was just my husband and me, but several of the booths are divided with drop-leaf tables, allowing for a larger family on one side, and a pair on the other. The drop-leaf, of course, can be raised to accommodate a larger group, if needed.
Of course, the special touches are in full effect here — check out this table setting! Remind you of a certain character?
Speaking of… The one thing with the ability to distract you from the attraction views is… well, it’s actually FOUR things: the Characters!
Here’s Chip striking a pose in front of the Prairie Desert.
Pluto stopped by to say “Hello!”
Dale plotted how he might sneak some of our food…
… but I informed him it was people food, and not well-suited for chipmunks. (That makes for a sad chipmunk!)
Okay, this next shot is not a shining example of terrific photography 😉 . But I hope it conveys that moment of excitement when you first spot THE EARS over a nearby booth (c’mon, you can admit it!), and realize who will be at your table shortly…
Farmer Mickey Mouse — in OVERALLS, no less!!!
At the start of the meal, I was a bit disappointed because the characters came by very quickly… just a brief hello, really. I’m more accustomed to meals like Chef Mickey’s where the characters stop by once – maybe twice — but spend a fair amount of time interacting with each table.
What I hadn’t realized is that they would keep on returning throughout the entire meal, with the interaction increasing every time! I actually lost count of the number of visits! I thought this was great for the families with little ones who might start to lose patience – they never have to wait very long. When all was said and done, I think we experienced MORE character interaction here than at any other meal on property.
Now, this might not be your experience. It depends on how many people are dining in the restaurant, and who’s behind those costumes that night. But we had a fun time seeing the characters over and over again.
The food at Garden Grill is served Family Style (everything comes to you), and the dishes are pre-fixe.
The meal includes your choice of non-alcoholic beverage (for example: soda, milk, juice, or iced tea). There are options on the menu in case you wish to enjoy wine or beer with your meal at an additional charge.
Everything starts with an ample serving of bread and maple butter. The rolls arrived nicely warm and fresh.
The maple butter – which was previously served as a sweet butter – is now served a little differently. The unsalted butter arrives dusted with coarse salt, and a maple drizzle. So, if you’re strategic, you can have it however you want.
The other starter is the “Living with the Land” Harvest-inspired Farmer’s Salad. The salad derives its name from its source: if you’ve experienced the Living with the Land attraction and have seen the plants and gardens, now you know where some of the salad ingredients come from!
Garden Grill sources whatever it can from The Land Pavilion, though they sometimes need to supplement additional ingredients depending on what is available that day (the greens, our server explained, always come from The Land).
The salad tasted unbelievably fresh and delicious, with a light Ranch dressing (by “light” I mean not overly-poured, as opposed to a “lite” dressing as in calorie content).
When I commented about the freshness to our server (who offered a wealth of friendly information), she noted that the extra-clean taste is one of the effects of hydroponic gardening, because the greens have never touched soil.
At any all-you-care-to-eat environment, I typically reserve room for the main entrees and don’t fill up on salad. But this one tasted so great that I just went to town!
The main meal consists of three entrees: Char-grilled Filet of Beef with Red Wine Sauce, Roasted All-Natural Turkey Breast with Lemon Caper Sauce, and the Sustainable Fish of the Day with Roasted Tomato and Pepper Compote. In our case, the Fish of the Day was Tilapia.
A note for our vegetarian friends before we cover each dish: you can also enjoy Garden Grill if you wish 🙂 . Just inform your server — no advance notice required — and you can receive the vegetarian entrée: currently a Polenta Cake served primarily with Portobello mushroom, eggplant, and zucchini (subject to change).
Our server said that they prefer, if possible, to have advanced notice for special diets and guests with allergies (no worries if this isn’t possible for you — they’ll take care of you no matter what!). This can be noted on your Advanced Dining Reservation online or via phone. Garden Grill requires 24-hour notice to prepare a kosher meal.
We started with the Filet of Beef with Red Wine Sauce.
The beef was wonderfully tender, and served medium rare (much to my liking!). I think it shows up a bit more pink in the picture than it was in reality, but you can certainly tell it’s not overdone, and the sauce was lovely. The potatoes were a hit, too!
Remember, this is an all-you-care-to-eat meal. We could have requested more of anything and everything, but because the beef and potatoes were such standouts, we asked for more of this dish only, which worked out great for us.
I found the Fish of the Day (Tilapia, for our visit), to be well-prepared. However, I felt that the Roasted Tomato and Pepper Compote nearly overpowered the dish. The compote itself was tasty, but a bit too powerful for the delicate flavor of the fish.
I was least impressed with the turkey breast. While the flavor was good, it was on the dry side. I tried to doctor it up with more gravy, but still found it to be dry.
A funny note on the Artisan Bread Pudding (well, I call it “stuffing,” some may call it “dressing.” Is that a regional thing or a family-by-family thing?). Anyhoo… I’m not typically into stuffing, but my husband loves it.
Oddly, he didn’t particularly enjoy this blend, whereas I did. The flavors are milder than a sausage stuffing, but I enjoyed the herbs and the texture.
The finale of the meal is Harvest Skillet Cake served with Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream.
The incredible fragrance alone made this a happy ending, but the taste was great, too. The cake carries a lemon flavor, and, as you can see, there was no skimping on the blueberries and raspberries inside the dish!
As others have mentioned, I would prefer to have this one served with ice cream instead of whipped cream, but I can understand the choice. You may be able to spot the napkin wrapped around the handle of the skillet… this thing comes out plenty hot, and I’m assuming the ice cream wouldn’t stand a chance for a second.
I have to share a couple of shots of the Kids’ Dessert, too, simply because it’s pretty cute… a yellow cupcake cone topped with chocolate frosting and crunchy garnish. I thought the wrapping was a great touch!
One final note on the restaurant’s actual physical rotation: the only time I noticed the feel of it at all, surprisingly, was when I exited the restaurant. As I walked down the exit ramp (which doesn’t move), my eyes continued to take in the rotation of the floor next to the ramp. It was kind of like Epcot’s version of “sea legs” ;-D) .
For our evening, the price for adults at the Garden Grill was $38, with the price for children at $19. Please note, prices here do fluctuate a bit depending on season (with “peak” seasons yielding the highest price). Eating here on the Disney Dining Plan will utilize One Table-Service Credit (making it a great deal on the Dining Plan). Garden Grill accepts Tables in Wonderland.
In the days before I lived in Florida and only vacationed in Disney World, I didn’t typically eat in Future World, simply because I craved the variety of cuisine to be enjoyed in World Showcase. But at some point during our meal at Garden Grill, I realized that, had I chosen to eat here on vacation, it would have likely become a return stop.
Thanks to excellent character interaction, the immersion in an actual Disney attraction (an EPCOT original — formerly “Listen to the Land”), and hearty helpings of flavorful food with the option of filling up on more of your favorites, the combined experience is a winner in my book.
Have you dined with Chip n’ Dale at the Harvest Feast? Please let us know your thoughts with a comment!