We’re stepping well outside our usual stomping grounds today…
… to pay a visit to The Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen at Universal Studios Florida’s CityWalk!
Now really, can you blame me? When I heard about this new steampunk-inspired restaurant with over-the-top sundaes and shakes — along with a full menu that includes ALL-DAY BRUNCH — I just knew I had to make it happen. Forgive my moment of weakness, my Disney friends.
But if you’re so inclined, please join me inside The Toothsome Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen!
The Emporium and Kitchen come to us on behalf of Professor Doctor Penelope Tibeaux-Tinker Toothsome, who traveled the globe in the early 19th century learning ways to infuse chocolate into all sorts of dishes.
Upon returning home to London she discovered that her family had departed in an attempt to find her and join in her adventures. So she decided to establish one spot — the “world’s foremost chocolate emporium” — to share her knowledge of chocolate.
The Professor’s place has been quite the hit since it opened at Universal’s CityWalk in September. My friends and I arrived promptly at 11:00 am (when it opens daily) and had no trouble at all getting a seat. We were told by our server — and knew already from other sources — that it was a good thing we got there early because this place is still filling up quickly. Just be prepared to wait if you go later in the day. (Currently, the location is not taking reservations.)
Once inside, our eyes were greeted by Steampunk Decor Galore!!!
There are gizmos aplenty! (You can take the girl out of Disney World, but… )
This huge restaurant (that has an ENORMOUS menu to match — you’ll see what I mean soon) is two stories, each with their own main dining room.
Smaller dining rooms are surrounded by windows for a more brightly lit atmosphere.
I thought the bar areas were especially fun!
If you don’t have time to sit for a meal (or if the wait is too long), you aren’t left without a chance to enjoy some Toothsome goods. There is a Confectionary serving Milkshakes, Sundaes, and Crepes at a counter that you can take along.
Or you can just grab some chocolate from the same general merchandise area to enjoy later.
For all the fun scenery, though, this is a Savory Feast KITCHEN. So let’s see what Professor Doctor Penelope Tibeaux-Tinker Toothsome has in store for her guests at her Emporium!
Okay, as always, we’re going to start with a look at the menu… which is seriously gigantic. Like…it’s a serious BOOK. SO gigantic, in fact, that we’re going to take it section by section along with our food choices starting with the list of Libations, where you’ll notice chocolate playing a major role in several of the cocktails (for any of the menu pages, just click the image to enlarge).
My friends and I actually just had water… which would typically make for an incredibly boring picture if not for the super cool glasses it was served in.
Appetizers at the Emporium are referred to as Temptations… and when we looked at the list, we realized that was a pretty appropriate title. Take a gander!
We knew we had to try the Totchos, because I’d heard good things. And I probably would have chosen them anyway, given that Totchos are fried tater tots topped with spicy green chili, andouille cheddar cheese sauce, and crispy pork belly.
The substantial pile of tots stayed crispy even with the cheddar cheese sauce topping it. That said, I didn’t think there was enough of that sauce, so I requested more on the side for dipping.
Can’t say we picked up any heat from the spicy chili, but the pork belly gave it such a wow factor on its own that I didn’t miss it. If you have someone in your group who really isn’t into the idea of pork belly, it’s prepared and diced in such a way (more reminiscent of thick-cut bacon) that this may be the dish to turn them around.
We also got the Philly Cheesesteak Rolls, which are served with a cherry pepper aioli on the side.
We got them just for fun, but seriously, these were SO good. The crunchy, golden-fried shells are filled with beef and plenty of cheese. They’re reminiscent of the tasty Cheeseburger Spring Rolls in Magic Kingdom.
You receive four full-sized rolls so this is about perfect for a party of four. Since they’re filling, you don’t want to ruin the rest of your meal by having more than one, but they are so yummy that it’s hard to hold back if there’s any left on the plate. This was probably the only item we purchased that we finished completely. SO wow.
The Baked Brie was probably the least exciting of the appetizers we picked.
I had high hopes, and the brie was strong and tasty, but there nothing noteworthy about it.
It is served, though, with some of the Emporium’s Chocolate Almond Bread, which you do have to purchase separately here; it’s not brought out as a complimentary precursor to the meal. That bread turned out to be the highlight of this appetizer, with just a subtle hint of sweetness and otherwise almost akin to rye.
Even though it’s a pet peeve of mine when bread isn’t included with your meal, I would consider getting this one on its own.
We’re moving on to the Flatbreads next, including some unique choices like a Duck Confit Flatbread and Forest Mushroom.
Ultimately we went with the Blackened Steak and Blue Flatbread, with crimini mushrooms, caramelized onions, spinach, and Wisconsin blue cheese.
This was definitely a crowd-pleaser at the table. It was simply well-executed. Whenever I see steak listed as an ingredient (as opposed to being an entree, where it receives much more attention) I assume it’s going to be a little tough or chewy. That wasn’t the case here. The steak was very tender.
I also appreciated the mild flavor of the blue cheese and the hint of sweetness from the caramelized onion. And I was impressed at how the VERY thin, almost cracker-like flatbread was still able to withstand the hearty toppings.
The Professor Doctor made sure to include some Salads and Soups on the menu.
We didn’t get any . I’m telling you, the menu was so huge we really had a hard time narrowing it down! And when I go somewhere and don’t get any cocktails or soups, you KNOW there’s a lot more on the menu I had to manage! ;-D
Would you believe we’re only just now arriving at the Entrees? The Entree page is interesting in that it runs the gamut from a couple of chicken options starting at $14.95 to a few choices that — in Disney-speak — would be considered “Signature.”
We all leaned, though, towards options from the Sandwich and Hamburger selections, along with a Pasta dish for our main courses.
The Blue Plate Burger is a half-pound patty topped with grilled meatloaf, garlic mashed potatoes, cheddar cheese, sweet corn, and bordelaise sauce on toasted brioche. We ordered it with French Fries (the other side choice is Kettle Chips).
For me, there was a bit too much going on here, and it turned out to be a pretty messy burger. While I like brioche, there is too much sauce and topping on this burger for a soft bread to withstand it.
But it’s fun. And I didn’t mind the presence of the corn as much as I thought; the sweetness helped to break up the other ingredients a bit.
We also got the May Contain Bacon Burger… mostly for the fun name , but also because it’s topped with thick cut bacon and grilled pork belly along with pineapple chutney and chipotle Jack cheese — this time on a pretzel bun.
Here’s a close-up of the tasty house-made Kettle Chips.
Though the burger sounds over-the-top, it really just turned out to taste like your basic — and really good — bacon burger with a nice fruity taste from the pineapple.
In both cases, though — and this is important — the burger patties themselves were terrific, and prepared nicely to our medium rare requests. In fact, in every instance where a dish involved meat, it was well prepared, flavorful, and tender.
That remained the case with the chicken in the Gnocchi. It’s served with grilled chicken, sweet peppers and rapini (the broccolini you see), with a mole cream sauce — that’s where the bit of chocolate is in this dish! (And, no, there’s not chocolate infused in every dish.)
It comes together as a kind of Mexican-Italian fusion with the dumplings meeting the mole sauce.
Oddly, though, I almost picked up a subtle red curry taste to it. Maybe that was due to the cumin, which is found in both mole and red curry sauces? Whatever the case, the dish was packed with flavor, and unique. Some at the table found this to be very masala-like.
Oh, and I did mention ALL-DAY BRUNCH earlier, didn’t I?
We ordered the Banana and Nutella French Toast, made with Challah and a banana mascarpone filling, topped with bruleed banana.
Lots of macadamia nut pieces were sprinkled on top, too.
Prepare yourself: this dish is not moist and eggy, like your typical French Toast. It’s actually rather dry, which is where that Nutella Cream comes in handy.
But once I mentally adjusted to the difference this dish completely won me over when I realized exactly what it tasted like: FUNNEL CAKE. So, yeah, it’s Brunch, but really… it’s dessert . And it WORKS.
Oh, what’s that? Did somebody say “Dessert?!”
Well, there’s more than a few to choose from, so let’s start with the Sundaes!
Our choices were the Banana Cream Pie Sundae and May Contain Nuts.
At a glance, the sundaes look completely enormous, and they are generously sized. But in essence they’re three scoops of ice cream each with one fairly large dessert-type piece. For instance, it’s the slice of banana cream pie— natch — in the Banana Cream Pie Sundae.
The cream pie was the highlight of the Sundae, which is otherwise comprised of pretty standard, traditional sundae flavors.
The piece of Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie in the May Contain Nuts was pretty awesome, too. These large pieces are served along with some smaller “accent” items like the peanut butter cups and brittle, and a few piles of garnished whipped cream.
In both cases, it’s the plating that makes the sundaes seem bigger than they are. That said, they are still PLENTY big, and great for sharing around the table. Of all the sweet treats we tried, the May Contain Nuts was the all-around favorite due to the delicious chocolate peanut butter pie and heavenly peanut butter drizzle.
More intriguing than the Sundaes, perhaps, is the enormous selection of Milkshakes.
We saved just a wee bit of room for the Red Velvet, Strawberry Cheesecake, and Bacon Brittle Milkshakes!
The components of the Bacon Brittle Milkshake are bacon ice cream and bacon caramel.
It’s topped with bacon brittle and a slice of chocolate-covered bacon.
Bacon Ice Cream, in case you’re curious, is just really… weird. Not the most professional description, I know, but “weird” is the word for it. There was some maple and vanilla to deliver some sweetness when you took your first sip, but what made it so unusual was the prominence of a back-end smokiness that was unexpected, and didn’t completely work, in my opinion. It’s fun to try a sip or two, but I can’t imagine drinking an entire one by myself.
What stood out the most with the Red Velvet Milkshake was the cupcake topper.
It was full sized, and actually quite good. They probably could’ve gotten away with making the cupcake something that was more about looks on top of the shake, but it was moist and tasty and stood on its own as a dessert.
Getting into the shake itself, though, I could not get past the texture. Red Velvet cake was blended in with the vanilla ice cream and raspberry sauce and ended up making the shake itself very grainy.
It was like drinking cake, if you can imagine that. (A word to the wise: DON’T imagine that.) Pass.
The base of the Strawberry Cheesecake Milkshake is Sour Cream Ice Cream.
And though it’s also topped with cheesecake, whipped cream, graham crackers, and a chocolate dipped strawberry, that straight-up taste of sour cream is definitely the most prominent, with just a mildly sweet aftertaste.
As for our table, the jury was divided: one of us absolutely hated it, one thought it was interesting but couldn’t drink a full glass of it, and one said it was her favorite. So, if you REEEAAALLYYYY enjoy sour cream, have at it! If not, steer clear .
Either way, that is how we ended our very first visit to The Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen!
I gotta give credit where credit is due. Universal Orlando has created a spot not only with a terrific atmosphere custom-made for Steampunk fans, but they deliver here with the food as well. Though I’d have to say that for a place that is marketing up the over-the-top sweet stuff, I very much preferred the savory fare with some truly creative and well-prepared dishes.
The Emporium is located at Universal Orlando’s CityWalk, so you don’t need park admission to visit. However, if you drive yourself you will need to park your car. And even though CityWalk is Universal’s shopping and dining destination, parking is not free as it is for Disney Springs. At the time of this writing, parking for Universal is $20.00 (the fee is lifted for Florida Residents after 6:00 pm). So that’s something to consider. We at DFB all agreed that we wouldn’t be willing to pay 20 bucks just to go to this restaurant. But if your Orlando vacation plans include a trip to Universal (perhaps to get your Harry Potter fix) and you’re already on property, I’d gladly recommend a trip to The Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen!
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Sooo… whaddya think? Would you like to dine at The Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen? Please let us know with a comment!