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Review: Dinner at Garden Grill Restaurant in Disney World’s Epcot

We’re heading back to Epcot’s Future World for dinner at 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!

Garden Grill Sign

Garden Grill Sign

The Atmosphere

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…

Living with the Land as seen from Garden Grill -- The Farmhouse

Living with the Land as seen from Garden Grill — The Farmhouse

Living with the Land as seen from Garden Grill -- The Farmhouse

Living with the Land as seen from Garden Grill — The Farmhouse Dog!

Living with the Land as seen from Garden Grill -- Rainforest

Living with the Land as seen from Garden Grill — Rainforest

Transition from Rainforest to Desert

Transition from Rainforest to Desert

Garden Grill Mural

Garden Grill Mural

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.

Garden Grill booth

Garden Grill booth

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.

Larger Booth -- Family Side

Larger Booth — Family Side

Larger Booth -- Side for a pair

Larger Booth — Side for a pair

Of course, the special touches are in full effect here — check out this table setting! Remind you of a certain character?

Mickey Table Setting :)

Mickey Table Setting :)

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.

Chip strikes a pose

Chip strikes a pose

Pluto stopped by to say “Hello!”

Pluto!

Pluto!

Dale plotted how he might sneak some of our food…

Dale Plotting...

Dale Plotting…

… but I informed him it was people food, and not well-suited for chipmunks. (That makes for a sad chipmunk!)

Sad Dale

Sad Dale

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…

EARS!

EARS!

Farmer Mickey Mouse — in OVERALLS, no less!!!

Farmer Mickey

Farmer Mickey

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.

Eats

The food at Garden Grill is served Family Style (everything comes to you), and the dishes are pre-fixe.

Garden Grill Menu

Garden Grill Menu

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.

Garden Grill Wine Menu

Garden Grill Wine Menu

Everything starts with an ample serving of bread and maple butter. The rolls arrived nicely warm and fresh.

Fresh Rolls

Fresh Rolls

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.

Maple Butter

Maple Butter

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).

Garden Grill Salad

Garden Grill Salad

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.

Garden Grill Salad

Garden Grill Salad

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.

Garden Grill Entrees

Garden Grill Entrees

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.

Filet of Beef

Filet of Beef

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.

Sustainable Fish of the Day

Sustainable Fish of the Day

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.

Turkey Breast

Turkey Breast

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.

Stuffing (unless you call it "Dressing")

Bread Pudding, or Stuffing (unless you call it “Dressing” ;)

The finale of the meal is Harvest Skillet Cake served with Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream.

Harvest Skillet Cake

Harvest Skillet Cake

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!

Harvest Skillet Cake

Harvest Skillet Cake

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!

Kids Dessert

Kids Dessert

Kids Dessert

Kids Dessert

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.

Overall

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!

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40 Comments

  1. Rachel says:

    My family and I ate here for the first time 2 years ago and have been back two times since! The bread and butter are so yummy – you could just eat that and salad and be happy. And we found the characters to be the best we’ve ever experienced. Very ‘on’ and entertaining. Worth it just to see them! Someone is running the Garden Grill well – to have such happy employees!

  2. Kristi says:

    We love Garden Grill and go every trip! At least one (if not more) of the characters sit down at the table with us to play and eat. My daughter and I always travel on her birthday and the servers always grab a character to help sing during the cupcake delivery which they don’t do at other character meals unless you hit a lucky moment.

    As a note, the kids plate has a roasted chicken leg, broccoli, macaroni & cheese and baked sweet potato fries…adults can request any of these items too…they will mix and match for the whole table :-)

  3. Miles says:

    My fiancé, her mother, and I recently dined at the Garden Grill and it was incredibly fun. We have a bunch of great pictures with the characters and I really enjoyed the food. This is definitely worth the experience.

    Plus, the Land pavilion is our favorite pavilion. So there’s that.

    Make sure you are ready to eat a bunch!

  4. Stephanie says:

    We have eaten here several times over the last 10 years. We miss the braised red cabbage they used to serve. This is a very fun unique dinning experience.

  5. I went here as a kid and loved the rotating restaurant. Living with the land is one of our favorite attractions. I really want to go back but I’m wondering how good it would be for a vegan meal. I am planning on talking to a cm next trip about it, has anyone experienced a vegetarian meal here? I know their menu is very meat based.

    I just want to see farmer Mickey :)

  6. NJ2WDW says:

    Great review! Garden Grill is one of my favorite restaurants in Epcot and my family always visits it on our annual visit to WDW. Your pics are also great. I wondered if you realized that in your pic of Mickey’s Ears (behind the counter) that you also have captured a great picture of old fashioned Mickey hidden in that mural on the wall. There are a number of hidden Mickey’s in that restaurant and this particular one in my opinion is one of the hardest to see. For those of you who haven’t seen it yet if you look at the picture in mention there is a tall fern on the left side of this pic, count 6 leafs up on the right side of that fern and you will find old fashioned Mickey peering out.

  7. Louisa says:

    I’m also a big fan of the Garden Grill! We don’t have kids and my husband and I love to eat here. We just dined there in February with my 63 year old mom in tow and we had a blast. You are spot on about the characters — we always go to character meals when we are at WDW and DL and, especially when you are an “adults only” table, the characters seem to rush right by. That’s not the case here! I’ve dined here 3 times over the last couple of years and the character interaction has been AMAZING! The food is decent and the service is great too — and you can’t beat the view!

  8. Rick says:

    We had a group of about 10 eat at the Garden Grill in November 2012. We all enjoyed it. Food was good and kept bringing us much as we wanted of everything. Kids were happy with the character interaction. I would definitely recommend taking your kids.

  9. Paul says:

    Dined here with my family a few years ago. I have to agree with the character interaction comment. The Garden Grill and Chef Mickey’s have the best character interaction of any of the character meals in Disneyworld (and I have been to almost all of them!).

  10. Marci says:

    I ate here years and years ago and they used to bring you the butter in the shape of a 3D Mickey.. it was so cool! Looks like I need to visit again.. just seeing the scenes from the attraction would make me happy and I love Mickey in his overalls!

  11. Jana says:

    One of our favorites, a must have every time we visit WDW, love love love it!

  12. Sarah says:

    My Mum and I eat here every trip. The characters do always spend some good quality time and Farmer Mickey always sits down and shares some of my dinner. Have to love the food too.

  13. Rachel says:

    The Garden Grill was our first table service character dining experience 7 years ago. We loved it. Will always be special because it was our first. We like to try different restaurants each year. Last year it was my family of 3 and 10 extended family members that went, due to my recommendation. I was nervous about what everyone would think cause I was the one who recommended. Everyone loved! Definitely will go back!

  14. gillian Blundell says:

    Am I wrong in believing they used to get children at the table to dress up as chef and make the salad. I reccomend this place it is wonderful, couldn’t get fresher food. :)

  15. Amanda says:

    I ate here with my 8 yo DD in September 2013. She loved the rotating scenes. She loved the kids food-especially the Mac & Cheese and the cupcake. I thought the adult meal was mostly delicious (the turkey was dry, and the compote on the fish was overpowering), and so much food for one person! They brought out the tray and I thought surely that was enough for 2! I’m sure the restauraunt rotates faster than one revolution in an hour-but I was amazed that you don’t feel it. DD tried counting the times we saw the dog-she lost count. The characters were wonderful. The place was packed when we were there for dinner, & they spent plenty of time with us-plus I think we saw each character 3 times. I’m excited to hear they have a vegietarian option. Maybe I can convince my fiancé to eat there on our next trip!

  16. Kathy says:

    My niece and I love eating here but have 1 complaint!! They used to serve some AWESOME catfish but have removed it from their menu. When I was there about 4 years ago I filled out the form to get a copy of the recipe but unfortunately never received it.. :( Felix and his wife are our favorite servers and we ask to either sit in their section or to have them stop by whenever we go there. They are great!! Now if I could only get the recipe….

  17. Michal says:

    We almost always eat at the Garden Grill during our time at WDW. We find it to be very good food and they’re very accommodating about giving our youngest child macaroni and cheese which is part of the child’s meal. Did I mention he’s 33?

  18. Diana says:

    My hubby and I LOVE LOVE LOVE Garden Grill. We’ve been three times, (09, 10 and 12) and it is on our must go list. The Land is pretty high on our list of favorite attractions and I love how we rotate through it. I could spend half the night there!

  19. Holly says:

    We LOVE Garden Grill. The food is amazing, the rotational dining concept is really cool, and we agree that these are the best and most comprehensive visits that we’ve experienced during a character meal. We love that the chefs actually use the food grown in the LwtL greenhouse. We’ll be there in May–can’t wait!!

  20. Lisa N. says:

    Random question: AJ, did you move to Florida? I thought you lived in Texas… did I miss an announcement about the move? Not that you have to share everything with us readers. Sorry if I’m prying too much.

  21. Paula H says:

    I have to ask, can you request the cook on the beef roast? I won’t eat anything below a medium cook, but prefer well done. Hope it’s an option.

  22. AJ says:

    Lisa N. — This post was written by Wendy, our Orlando-based DFB writer! :-) I’m still in Texas!

  23. JoAnn says:

    I haven’t been here yet but plan on it this year.

  24. Keith says:

    Garden Grill used to have a fantastic breakfast…probably the best on property. They also had a great lunch…but alas, they only serve dinner now. Although the food is quite tasty and the scenery/theme is neat, there are just too many better places for dinner. I would love to see them open up again for lunch or breakfast.

  25. sam winston says:

    Do they still have a lunch that’s not family style character meal?
    I ate their in the 90′s and they had wonderful fresh veggie plates.
    I’d like to go again but really don’t want a full all you can eat character meal.

  26. Stacy says:

    We always plan a visit to the Garden Grill on every visit. My son(11) is quite picky yet he liked all the offerings. We even requested the child’s chicken drumstick even though he was technically considered an adult on the dining plan. The server brought it, and seconds, no problem!

  27. Toni says:

    First off I just want to say I love this blog! I have been lurking on here for about 6 months and I just had to comment on the Garden Grill. This has been a family favorite restaurant for 10 + years. On our last visit in September 2013 we had a party of 7 adults, we loved the food (as always), the character interaction and the service was some of the best we have had at Disney. When we asked for our second helping of roast beef I asked if a few pieces could be well done and they did it. As others have mentioned we also asked for the macaroni and cheese (from the kids menu) and they brought out an adult sized portion for our table. Don’t miss out on the wonderful mac and cheese just cause its on the kids menu! We commented on how much we loved the Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream and our waiter told us he used to be the chef there and it was his recipe! He gave us the recipe and told us how to make it at home. He also gave us a lot of fun facts and trivia about the restaurant, where they get their food, and where all the leftovers and waste go. It was very fascinating. He also showed us the hidden Mickey in the Garden Grill Mural (it is only visible in the second picture captioned “Ears”).
    Sorry for the long post. Love this blog :)

  28. Bob Connell says:

    Spot on review! We have been here about 5 times since 2006. I too miss the catfish but the Taliapia is very good. We love it. The teens did order the mac an cheese.

    The only complaint I had is that the family booth that sits 6 was a little uncomfortable on the seem.

    No lunch… I wish they had lunch because that was definitely more affordable.

  29. Barbara says:

    I’m confused: you said you preferred the ice cream to the whipped cream, but the pictures ARE of ice cream, not whipped cream. Does this mean they ask you to chose one? Also, a shout out to the coordinator there: Claire! Best in the house!!

  30. Patty Valenti says:

    We ate at the Garden Grill many years ago when we are children were younger. Now we are returning for our 25th wedding anniversary and are taking our son and his girlfriend with us. The food was awesome last time we dined at Disney and can’t wait to have our meal with Chip n Dale! I like the family style and the variety of foods!

  31. Mark says:

    Eaten here a few times over the years. Always enjoyed it. Quality was always excellent. Too bad they don’t do lunch any more. Sam and Keith are right, the good old days were better. A lot of dining options went down hill when the dining plan was introduced.

  32. Elaine says:

    I loved the red cabbage too! and the little pats of butter shaped in Mickeys (3D)…I haven eaten there since 1989, I am ashamed to say. But, I loved it then and when I go back in September, I will definitely be going there to try the “new” menus. :)

  33. Kristie says:

    I have a question…not sure if anyone would have the answer? We have a dining reservation here in May. Do the waiters ask how you prefer your meat cooked or if you do not want any of the three selections? I would prefer beef well done and neither of us eat fish.

  34. Amy says:

    I had to comment – I had the BEST experience the last (and only) time I was at Garden Grill. I had planned on eating here with my mother, who is not too adventurous with International food and whose favorite characters are Chip and Dale. Well, mom ended up getting sick and I almost cancelled this reservation in favor of something more exotic and more fitting for a solo diner. I was SO HAPPY that I did not. First of all, the characters were great! When they heard about my mom, they let me take photos of them in all sorts of dramatic and sad poses, devastated that they couldn’t see her. And, they all signed a big Get Well card for her. I sent it to her with the photos and it made her day! And the food was great! I wanted to jump into a tub of the salad and chow down. It was beyond fresh and amazing. Family style dining is a bit much for one person, but I loved that even though it was just me, I got some of everything. It was all so good. This is one meal that I have overlooked for years, but it has become one of my favorites – I’ll definitely be back.

  35. Marcia says:

    Oh my…next time I am going to try this wonderful place

  36. Sarah C. says:

    This is one restaurant I haven’t been able to try out yet. I have heard mixed reviews of it and always skipped over it. Now, your post is getting me revved up about it. :-) we just got home 2 weeks ago from the “World”, but will DEFINITELY make this a priority next trip.:-)

  37. Kathy K says:

    Well, I’m one very sheepish local – admitting I’ve never tried Garden Grill, mostly because I love the San Angel Inn in Mexico so darn much that I always eat there when at Epcot. This review will put it on my list of things to do, though!

    One comment on the stuffing vs. dressing question. The way I’ve understood it, it’s called “stuffing” when it’s cooked in the bird, and “dressing” when you bake it on the side. I’m no foodie so I could be wrong, but thought I remembered seeing that somewhere.

    FWIW, my fam always said dressing, however it was cooked. :0)

  38. Wendy says:

    NJ2WDW – No way! I hadn’t noticed the Hidden Mickey! It’s funny, because we were seated first in front of the mural, and I remember thinking, “I bet there are a ton of Hidden Mickeys in there…” but I never spotted any! Your description was brilliant – I can totally see it now! Thank you!

    Paula – I didn’t request a specific preference on my visit, but in reading Toni’s comment (thanks so much, Toni! :), it appears they honored the request for well done when it was made :).

    Sam – It’s just open for dinner these days (you may have read that from Mark and Bob’s comments, too – thank you both!). I’ve heard great things about their other meals in the past, sounds like it was a great option.

    Barbara – Hi! The pic is actually whipped cream, but you’re right… it really does look like ice cream, especially considering the vanilla beans (it’s pretty terrific whipped cream – smooth and creamy like ice cream!). Thanks for giving me the chance to clarify :)!

    Kristie – I’d say it definitely wouldn’t hurt to ask… one of our other readers requested their beef well-done, and it wasn’t a problem. I’m not sure about leaving off the fish, but since they bring seconds of just one item if you want (for instance, we only wanted beef for our second round), then I don’t think requesting one item to be left off would be problem. Hope you have a great time in May!

    Amy – I’m so sorry your Mom was sick, but am glad you had such a good time!

    It has been so fun reading everyone’s memories and thoughts about Garden Grill – thanks so much, everyone, for the comments and for sharing your experiences here!

  39. NJ2WDW says:

    Well I’m so glad I mentioned that hidden Mickey. Next time you go you will have to look for the others. I have to admit I did not find that one on my own. One of the cast members pointed it out to me. Just ask them next time your there and they will happily show you where they are hidden. Now all I can think about is a warm roll with maple butter :-/

  40. Shayne says:

    We ate at Garden Grill for a Candlelight Processional dinner package in 2011. It was absolutely the best character interaction of the trip, particularly Chip and Dale!

    For us, however, the food was just ok. Honestly, I could have eaten just the salad all night long. But as for the main dishes, he turkey was dry, the fish and beef were so-so. The kids weren’t overly fond of their food either.

    I first ate here in the early 1990s when it was still sponsored by Kraft. That was truly an outstanding meal, and perhaps because that is the basis of comparison in my memory bank, nothing will ever quite live up!

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