First Look! Chef Art Smith’s Homecoming Florida Kitchen in Disney Springs

We’re here for a FIRST LOOK at Homecoming: Florida Kitchen and Southern Shine!

Newly open in the Town Center of Disney Springs (yesterday was Opening Day), Homecoming is the latest venue opened by a Celebrity Chef in Disney World.

While the restaurants backed by Chef Morimoto (Morimoto Asia) and Rick Bayless (Frontera Cocina) make up other terrific recent additions to Disney World’s shopping and dining district, Homecoming is especially significant to Disney World and Florida as Chef Art Smith has strong connections to both.

Hailing from Jasper, Florida, Chef Smith is also a former Disney Cast Member via the Disney College Program! So, as you can imagine, even though Chef Smith heads up restaurants in other areas of the country, the name Homecoming has an extra special meaning.

Homecoming sign

Homecoming sign

We’ll be back with our full review of this new spot next week, but in the meantime, we couldn’t resist sharing this FIRST LOOK with you.

Oh, and just look who dropped by to say, “Welcome!”

Chef Art Smith on Opening Day

Chef Art Smith on Opening Day!

(If only I had asked him about that awesome shirt that he and some of the other staffers were wearing! But we DID get another special souvenir… you’ve got to read on, though, to find out about it!)

Atmosphere

Not only does the name “Homecoming” reflect Chef Smith’s Florida roots — even the design of the restaurant itself is something of a tribute to the Sunshine State.

Homecoming

Homecoming

Lots of windows bring in plenty of Florida sunshine, making the large indoor seating area (with Florida cypress used throughout) bright and cheerful.

Indoor Seating

Indoor Seating

The Floridian theme extends to much of the artwork in and around the building. And it’s worth noting that the murals were created by an artist from Tampa.

Homecoming Mural

Homecoming Mural

The Shine Bar has its own entryway to the left of the main entrance.

Shine Bar

Shine Bar

Both the walk-up bar and the seating area on the wraparound porch are covered, and offer some fantastic waterfront views.

Shine Bar

Shine Bar

You can also access the beautiful porch from the inside of the main area of the restaurant.

Porch

Porch

While sleek has been the name of the game in many new locations in Disney Springs, the look and feel at Homecoming is welcoming and charming, while retaining a modern aesthetic.

Now that we’ve taken a quick look around, let’s check out the menu…

Eats

It’s not just Southern fare at Homecoming… it’s Chef Smith’s take on Florida fare, too (click the menu image below to enlarge)! Church Lady Deviled Eggs and Bee Haven Bay Fried Green Tomatoes are among the strong list of Starters (and I’m already partial to the Bunch of Puppies — there are nowhere near enough Hushpuppies in Disney World, and these are made with pimento cheese!).

Menu -- Click to Enlarge

Menu — Click to Enlarge

There’s a nice selection of Sandwiches and Salads alongside the Main Plates (which is where you’ll spy Art’s Fabulous Fried Chicken!), allowing for a decent variety of price options. And did you see those Sides? Items like KC Greens (kale and collards), Momma’s Mac and Cheese, and Cheddar-Cheese Drop Biscuits are all up for grabs.

Of course, you’ll need to wash it all down (click the image below to enlarge)! Draft Beer is available along with Cans & Bottles, and altogether four Florida breweries are represented. These are offered alongside Wines and a whole slew of “Crafty Moonshine & Resort Cocktails” which come together to make a pretty huge Drink Menu.

Menu -- Click to Enlarge

Menu — Click to Enlarge

And the Chef probably wouldn’t want you to leave without a little Dessert ;). Chef Art’s signature Shine Cake, Hummingbird Cake, and mini Orange-Sugar Doughnuts are a few of the options. And, of course, Key Lime Pie.

Dessert Menu

Dessert Menu

Again, we’ll be back with our full review next week, but here’s just a little glimpse of what we tried, starting with The Local cocktail: coconut rum, lime, and simple syrup with a pineapple and coconut garnish.

The Local

The Local

Our starters included the Jasper Board (an assortment of pimento cheese, smoked sausage, shaved ham, bread and butter pickles, and candied pecans).

Jasper Board

Jasper Board

And how about a batch of those Church Lady Deviled Eggs?

Church Lady Deviled Eggs

Church Lady Deviled Eggs

And, yeah — we just HAD to… Here’s the Fried Chicken & Doughnuts (it’s served with a side of the KC Greens)!

Fried Chicken & Doughnuts

Fried Chicken & Doughnuts

The Fried Chicken is buttermilk-brined for 24 hours.

Fried Chicken & Doughnuts

Fried Chicken & Doughnuts

But the fare doesn’t end there… Momma’s Mac and Cheese and the Iron Skillet Sweet Potatoes with Caramelized Cane Sugar were our substantial Sides.

Momma's Mac and Cheese

Momma’s Mac and Cheese

Iron Skillet Sweet Potatoes

Iron Skillet Sweet Potatoes

As an aside… I just love the doilies under the side dishes!

Momma's Mac and Cheese

Momma’s Mac and Cheese

Our desserts were served up with a couple of stories…

Shine Cake and Hummingbird Cake

Shine Cake and Hummingbird Cake

First, we tried the Hummingbird Cake. Chef Smith first made this pineapple-banana cake with cream cheese frosting for Maya Angelou’s 75th birthday. Then he made it again for Lady Gaga’s 25th.

Hummingbird Cake

Hummingbird Cake

Chef Art’s signature Shine Cake is for adults only… this Butter Cake is soaked with – are you ready for this?Moonshine Syrup!

Shine Cake

Shine Cake

Before we wrap up our sneak peek here, I’ve got a little tale to tell… on Opening Day, Chef Art Smith was kindly stopping at tables to say hello and chat. I mentioned how much I enjoyed the homemade Hot Sauce that sits on the tables, and asked if it might be for sale (because if it was, I would TOTALLY buy it. This stuff ROCKS).

Bottle of Homemade Hot Sauce

Bottle of Homemade Hot Sauce

I couldn’t believe what happened next. That bottle you see above? The Chef himself brought it to me to keep! Talk about being made to feel right at home… :)

Overall

Before we go, there is an anomaly with the rollout of reservations for Homecoming that we’d like you to know about. During these opening weeks, this Table Service location will be available only to walk-up guests. Advance Dining Reservations, however, will be available via the Disney World reservation system beginning later this month for dates beginning on August 15th. And Homecoming is One Table Service Credit on the Disney Dining Plan.

We are VERY happy to say “Welcome” — or “Welcome HOME,” rather ;) — to Chef Art Smith and Homecoming! We’re looking forward to sharing much more with you soon when we present you with our full review of the newest eatery in Disney Springs. In the meantime, though, we’ll leave you with this: it’s a pretty neat and uplifting thing to have a restaurant dedicated to celebrating the Sunshine State — no matter if its a place you call home all the time, or simply when you pay a visit to Disney World. After all, there’s a lot that’s worth celebrating here.

Contributing to this post: Tina, Wendy, and AJ

First Look at Homecoming in Disney Springs

Are you excited to pay a visit to Homecoming? Please let us know with a comment!

Comments

  1. Patrice says

    I can’t wait to try the Fried Chicken & Donuts!!! I think this is the place I am most excited to try on my next Disney Adventure :-)

  2. Dalissa says

    Looks great! Any word on whether there are choices for
    kids? Looking forward to this in August! ☺️

  3. Frank says

    Fried Chicken & Doughnuts (it’s served with a side of the KC Greens)!
    Did I read that right???? $ 25 ….for 2 (TWO) pieces of chicken????

    Oh my goodness!!!!!!
    Frank

  4. Kathy C says

    Art looks great! Neat to hear about his early Disney days. I love deviled eggs, especially ones I don’t have to make! I would love to check out the porch on a cooler Florida day. Thanks for sharing can’t wait to see it myself.

  5. Brenda Clendenin says

    We are vacationing at WDW starting September 9th – 17th. 58 days to go! We are going to try and change one of our reservations we already have and book at Homecoming! I am so impressed with the menu! Wish us luck on getting in. :-)

  6. Joni says

    Looks great !
    You Need to review the fried green tomatoes next .
    Hoping to get in next month

  7. Karlotta says

    So looking forward to eating here. The dessert selections look great. Do they have a children’s menu?

  8. says

    Brenda — Best of Luck!!! Here’s a tip, though — if you can’t get an ADR for dinner, try a walk in for lunch. We always have great luck going to our favorite Disney Springs restaurants that time of day.

  9. Brenda says

    Brooke, yes we will do that for lunch, but only if we can’t get in for dinner. Thank you for the tip!

  10. Patrick Butler says

    While the menu looks tempting and tasty, the prices are inflated for what you get. $18 for a fish sandwich? $25 for two pieces of chicken, a few mini-doughnuts, and greens? I realize Disney eateries–both in the parks and other venues–are expensive, but this pricing is strikingly high given it’s comfort food: burgers ($16), deviled eggs ($10), and hushpuppies ($9). Just wow.

  11. Cody says

    My wife and I just got back from eating at Homecoming. We just walked up at about 7pm, not expecting there to be any chance of getting a seat but were seated immediately at a great spot straight ahead of the front door. There was apparently someone of importance right behind us because Chef Smith hovered around their table and walked by us several times — a really nice guy! There also seemed to be several managers walking around checking on things. The restaurant was never what I would consider to be crowded but did stay consistently busy during our time there.
    The service was excellent – especially for it being only the second day of operation. We loved the decor – the article describes it perfectly. We are from Atlanta so especially loved the southern flavor and food. We tried the hush puppies, which are awesome. The jelly that comes on the side is sweet with a kick. My wife had the catfish sandwich with a side of mac and cheese, and I had Art’s Fabulous Fried Chicken. The chicken was amazing, and I especially liked the gravy that came on the mashed potatoes. We finished with the pecan pie, which was also great. We were impressed how smooth the operation was, considering the place just opened. Overall, a fabulous experience that is highly recommended.

  12. Mike V says

    EHHHHH….
    I am gonna contradict myself here and comment how this menu just doesn’t “do it” for me….
    I am one that usually gets upset at commentors that speak out and say how they just won’t give it a try.
    But there I go…..
    Nothing WOWs me….

  13. Anna says

    Once again, I’m disappointed by the apparent lack of options for vegetarians on the menu itself. We can eat more than just salads and desserts! I’m sure that there will be some sort of accommodation, but it’s sad that there’s no entree listed on the menu.

  14. Mike V says

    Anna must have never watched the TOP CHEF Masters episode when the contestants, Chef Smith included, had to make a vegetarian option…..
    Let me sum it up…..HE HATED IT…
    So, sorry Anna!

  15. Kimberly says

    We went Wednesday, July 13, and while the service was excellent, I did notice one difference from your review. We loved the hush puppies and shrimp & grits and fried chicken & doughnuts, but my doughnuts looked VERY different from yours. All 6 were tiny and skinny, and chewy with no puffiness at all. Also, we heard the people at the next table, who had ordered the doughnut dessert, complain about only getting 2 tiny doughnuts in it. Maybe something went wrong with the recipe that night, but it’s disappointing that I missed out.

  16. Jeff says

    This place looks fantastic.

    I get a kick out of the same 2 annoying complaints that pop up after virtually every single new table service restaurant opens in Walt Disney World.
    1. They complain about prices, ignorant to where this new place is located.
    2. They whine about vegetarian options, ignorant to the fact that it’s a meateater’s world.
    Just deal with it while nibbling your salad…….hippie.
    Lol

  17. Frank says

    Jeff,
    Sure glad paying $ 25 for 2 pieces of chicken doesn’t bother you.
    Please let me know when you will be at Homecoming.
    I’ll join you…. you can buy!!!

    “Discontent is the first necessity of progress.” Susan B Anthony quoting Thomas Edison in the American Adventure!!

    Frank

  18. Regina High says

    When can you make dining reservations.? We will be there in August and would like to try it out. We have eaten at Arts restaurant in Chicago and loved it.

  19. Sherry says

    Just curious, some one wrote & said they changed their reservation to Chef Art Smiths, I tried to get reservation last week & was told, by a Disney phone call, they were not taking reservations until July 21, so just wondering how this person got one.

  20. says

    Sherry — We aren’t sure! We understand that Homecoming is walk up only at present and that you won’t be able to make reservations for next month until sometime later in July.

  21. Amy says

    Ok, let’s start off with their food is really good! Service is good as well!
    However, this is my complaint…
    We, annual pass holders, come to Disney all the time and I usually do not speak up with complaining…but I am this time. So, my husband and I went and had dinner and drinks which was great! So when we went to pay, we gave our annual passes for a discount as we usually do. The waitress came back with our ticket that had already added in an 18% gratuity. She told us that being we used our annual pass discount that they automatically at the 18% tip. We have NOT EVER been somewhere that added that just because we use our annual pass discount. We are big tippers, however we do not agree with them basically saying we have to tip a certain amount just because we used our discount. The waitress/bar tender was great but I think she was taught to do that. So anyways! I think it is totally wrong to do that. They do not do it anywhere else at Disney World. Just thought I needed to share that to all the annual pass holders out there so they won’t be blind sided as we were.

  22. says

    Awesome! Thanks for taking the time to go and review this place. I have heard about it, but haven’t visited yet. Now I’m hungry

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