We’re back at Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’ Florida Kitchen for another visit today!
Homecoming Florida Kitchen and Southern Shine
So…I’m noticing we’ve been there kind of a lot. It’s turning into my go-to restaurant — the place that pops to mind if I have a meeting, or a date night, or just get kind of hungry. And, you know…that’s saying something.
From the surroundings, to the service, to the food (and drinks!), this place is…pretty great. They offer fantastic cocktails and a decent counter service menu; and their table service options are some of the best in Walt Disney World.
I was recently in Disney Springs on a family trip, and decided that my traveling companions needed to check out this place for themselves. Wanna come along? I thought you might. 🙂
And oh, hey, it’s Homecomin’ now, y’all. Not Homecoming. To drive home that down-home, rural Florida feeling, Chef Art Smith officially decided to drop the “g”. Just FYI.
We’ve shown you around a couple of times, so I’ll just give you the highlights during this visit. For a full look at the space, inside and out, be sure to check out our very first review of Homecomin’ that shares our first impressions from our first two visits.
You’ll be greeted by hostesses at the podium just as you enter.
Inside, the restaurant is basically one open room with vaulted ceilings. The space feels open, airy, and casual…but there’s a touch of industrial. The mural above the kitchen and large photos along the walls drive home the farm to table theme.
The bar occupies the area of the restaurant to the left of the front door. And in fact, there is a separate entrance for the “Shine Bar” (so named for its emphasis on drinks made with moonshine).
The back of the bar actually extends onto the porch for a kind of inside/outside, Florida living feel.
At the inside bar, there’s comfortable seating and again that slightly industrial, or raw feel.
A porch to one side overlooks the newly renovated Disney Springs.
Be sure to click over to the first review for a full tour. But now that we’ve had a bit of a look around, let’s take a closer look at the menu.
As I mentioned earlier, Homecomin’ devotes a lot of space in their liquor cabinet to moonshine. It makes sense, since the grain spirit has gained popularity the last few years, and has gone a little upscale, with artisans and small craft production.
But in addition to ‘shine, Homecomin’ offers beer and wine as well. There are also a line of “resort drinks” — cocktails that feature other liquors, like rum and vodka.
My husband decided that a draft beer would hit the spot. And it did.
Homecomin’ also features cocktails on tap, so I opted for the Moonshine Margarita, a mix of tequila, moonshine, lime, and orange juices. This wasn’t wow and it wasn’t bad. It was a standard margarita, but nothing to write home about. Go for one of the more interesting cocktails instead, y’all.
With the whole family along for the ride, I was excited to share some of my favorites, but also to try some new things!
We decided that we’d begin with some appetizers. We’d had the Church Lady Deviled Eggs and the Bee Haven Bay Fried Green Tomatoes on previous visits, and loved them both. This time, we tried a few new items and revisited some past favorites.
First, let me proudly introduce you to Chef Art Smith’s Thigh High Chicken Biscuits.
Fried chicken thighs are served on homemade cheddar cheese drop biscuits. The chicken is topped with bread and butter pickles and it’s drizzled with hot honey (which is honey mixed with Homecomin’s house made hot sauce). And OH. MY.
You must get these. You must. Let me reiterate: fried chicken thighs. hot sauce + honey. cheddar drop biscuits. For real — this needs to be on your bucket list!!!! My husband and I went gaga over these…and we will be getting them again!
We also couldn’t pass up the Bunch of Puppies.
We’ve had these house-made hush puppies before. They’re studded with pimento cheese and served with red jalapeño jelly, but we couldn’t resist ordering them again.
And I had a killer idea at this point, everyone! I ordered a little side of the “hot honey,” and tried dipping these little guys in that. And it’s highly recommended! 😉
I was also previously impressed with Homecomin’s take on charcuterie, the Jasper Board. We decided to revisit it as well and see if there’d been any changes. The assortment includes pimento cheese, smoked sausage, shaved ham, bread and butter pickles, and candied pecans. It’s served with a side of buttermilk crackers.
This is a great option for sharing because there’s actually plenty to go around. (Not that you’ll want to share the pimento cheese.) But, yes, please do share. It’s $15, which is pricey for a one-person appetizer.
As soon as my husband saw the Addie Mae’s Chicken and Dumpling Soup, he was all in. I’m used to chicken soups having all the flavor in the broth, but the flavor was killer in the chicken itself here!
For all intents and purposes, this is chicken and dumplings in gravy — so don’t fool yourself that there’s actual broth, my friends. This “appetizer” is a full-on meal. If you’re a chicken pot pie fan, you’ll love this.
After thoroughly enjoying our starters, we turned our attention to the main course. I couldn’t resist having the Fried Chicken again. (And you shouldn’t resist, either. It’s fantastic.) Fresh, buttermilk-brined fried chicken comes with a side of mashed potatoes and a cheddar drop biscuit.
This isn’t that super hard breading like you’ll find on the Disney chicken nuggets, but it’s still a serious must-eat. (Yes…Disney chicken nuggets are a must eat to me. You got a problem with that? ;-D)
(Oh, and FYI — use the hot honey on this, too, OK? OK.)
The mashed potatoes come with that awesome gravy that you know is actually made, not poured out of a jar. Nope. There’s someone in the back with an iron skillet, and this is the result. (And please…if this is not what’s happening in the kitchen, I beg you not to ruin it for me.)
Next, on the recommendation of our server, we tried the Braised Short Ribs. The fork tender short ribs were basically the best pot roast ever, with a thick brown gravy. They were served over mashed potatoes with a side of broccoli rabe, which served as the seasonal vegetable. (Swanky, Chef Art.)
And I must say, these were the winner of the night!! The flavor was through the roof! PSA — always ask your server what’s good!
Note that these currently don’t show up on the official DisneyWorld.com menu, but our server told us that they come and go. If they’re there on your visit, get ’em.
And, since this is DFB, we had to order another entree. (DFB rule: always order at least one more entree than there are people at the table.) And this time it was the Chopped Pork Barbecue Plate.
The plate comes with Momma’s Mac and Cheese (more about that in a sec) and a cheddar drop biscuit. What’s not on the menu is that it also comes with house made bread and butter pickles and a little cole slaw as well.
The super tender meat was finished with a drizzle of HFK’s sweet and spicy barbecue sauce. And what can I say? I ordered this on the recommendation of friends, and it was spot on. Tender, super flavorful, and infused with a tangy-savory-sweetness that is exactly what you want when it comes to Barbecue pork.
I had the Momma’s Mac and Cheese the last time I was here, and I thought it needed salt. Once again, this just didn’t do it for me. Maybe I just have a pedestrian palate, but I really need more flavor…more creaminess…more *something* here.
I know this is beloved by so many Homecomin’ guests, but it just falls a little flat for me each time. Please leave a comment here and tell me why you love it!
We also got an order of Fries…’cause why not? These are pretty standard, but nothing to go out of your way for. If they don’t come with your meal, no reason to order them. (Unless you have a fries-obsessed 3 year old like I do. Then order them.)
We decided to get a little green as well, and ordered a side of Snap Beans. While healthy and crunchy and fresh, we weren’t complaining that they were garnished with crispy, salty bacon.
Since we all cleaned our plates (seriously, those short ribs!!), we felt perfectly justified in ordering dessert. 🙂
Of course, we had to start with Chef Art’s signature Hummingbird Cake. Moist cake, full of pineapple and banana, is layered with cream cheese frosting. If this description inspires cravings, be sure to check out the recipe.
This is as good as you want it to be…though there’s not as much frosting as you want there to be. ;-D It’s super sweet, but there’s the interest of the pineapple flavor. Definitely shareable. Definitely a must-eat.
I also couldn’t wait to share another of Homecomin’s famous desserts, their Shine Cake. Rich butter bundt cake is soaked in simple syrup with a heavy dose of moonshine. I love that they were extra generous with the glaze this time.
This one won the dessert contest for me on my last visit, but this time it was a little too shine-y and not buttery enough. ;-D Still good, but I’m not someone who loves alcohol-soaked desserts, so the alcohol taste turned me off a bit this time around.
But we also wanted to give the Hamilton County Chocolate Pecan Pie another try. Any dessert that’s the product of a 100-year old recipe deserves a place on the table, I think. This one was the favorite this time around! We were fighting over the last bite! So while it may be small, it is MIGHTY. ;-D
It’s worth noting that all of our desserts included a scoop of vanilla ice cream served on the side. Why do some restaurants not do this? Seems like an obvious choice to me. Even though these desserts were super sweet, we still appreciated the ice cream.
Nosh or Not?
Homecomin’ may be right for you if:
- You’re a person who’s breathing. Honestly, I haven’t been able to find a solid criticism for this restaurant, yet (except for the mac and cheese). The food is polished comfort food that should please just about anyone…even the kiddos. And the atmosphere is laid back enough that your energetic 2 year old (I speak from experience) won’t shatter the ambiance.
- You love fried chicken. Or cake. Or freedom.
- You’re a moonshine fan and want to try some out of the ordinary mixology.
- Date night, family reunion, solo dining, work trip, impressing a new colleague, birthday celebration, anniversary. Seriously, this one works for any circumstance.
- You’re looking for vegetarian fare. There are multiple non-meat appetizers and side dishes here that can be combined into a meal, and it will probably be one of the best of your trip.
You may want to skip Homecomin’ if:
- You’re looking for very inexpensive options. Homecomin’ is on the high/moderate price scale. You can get great fried chicken for less over at Trail’s End in Fort Wilderness, too.
- You want Victoria & Albert’s level romance and finery. Homecomin’ is casual, not frou frou. So if you’re looking for that once-in-a-lifetime dining experience, skip this.
- You want to see fireworks. Ain’t no fireworks here.
Homecoming, Homecomin’. Potato, potahto. However you say it or slice it, this place is quickly growing into one of our favorites.
Let’s address the top concern first, though: the sticker shock. It is kind of an odd thing to eat a meal of humble, rather homespun food, and pay these kind of prices. But let’s establish this is not the country buffet out on Route 23. The food may have similar names, but that’s where the similarities end. Yes, the food is simple. But I can’t stress it enough: simple food is rarely prepared perfectly. This food is prepared perfectly.
And I believe that Chef Art Smith has a commitment to using local ingredients whenever possible, and to honoring the heritage of Florida agriculture. So everything about Homecomin’ just works.
We’ve been here at least three times since the restaurant opened a little less than a year ago. And if they keep this level of quality up, I’m likely to continue that trend.
Ok! So now it’s your turn. Have you had a chance to visit Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’? Leave a comment and let us know what your favorite dishes are!