Guest Review: ‘Ohana at Disney’s Polynesian Resort

Join us in welcoming guest author Kevin Carpenter with a dinner review of ‘Ohana. This Polynesian Resort restaurant at Walt Disney World is popular for its all-you-care-to-eat fare served family-style. Aloha!

Dining at ‘Ohana is not an experience entered into without expectation. The restaurant regularly claims a spot among the best table-service venues on Disney property and it enjoys word of mouth that is nothing short of exemplary. As such, reservations go quickly.

After years of close calls and near misses, I finally secured a dinner reservation – for a party of nineteen, no less – and my hopes were sky high for my first visit to ‘Ohana.

The Entrance to ‘Ohana

As we arrived at Disney’s Polynesian Resort, a large crowd already milled about outside ‘Ohana’s entrance. Seeing this, I feared our large group would be in for quite a wait. After all, our party – extended family members enjoying a Disney vacation together for the first time in many years – was well used to lengthy waits for tables. And this night looked to be no different.

We checked in and, much to my surprise, were immediately whisked to our table. I should have known that there is very little the Cast Members of Walt Disney World are not prepared to handle.

Atmosphere

From my very first steps past the Tiki idols guarding the entranceway, I was impressed by ‘Ohana’s ambiance. In true Disney style, the interior theming strikes a fine balance between subtlety and traditional Hawaiian decor.

Tiki idols stand watch as you enter ‘Ohana

As we reached our long table, one thing became abundantly clear – we had made the perfect choice for our trip’s centerpiece meal. The word ‘Ohana, meaning family, would prove to be more than simply the name of the restaurant. Everything – from the unending salads and appetizers to the main course and dessert – would be served family style. Even the servers are considered honorary “cousins”. What place could be better for a large family meal?!

While we had many cousins gathered around our table, it was our server, “Cousin” Candy, who stood out the most. She may have been a member of the family for just this one evening, but she fit right in with remarkable warmth and attentiveness.

Where all the magic happens – ‘Ohana’s grilling area

Eats

We had scarcely taken our seats before the table was filled with the incredibly tasty Welcome Bread and bowls of salad with passion fruit dressing. I could have been quite content to savor the bread’s rich tones of pineapple and coconut all night, but the few ‘Ohana veterans among us had warned not to fill up on the bread.

Welcome Bread

Salad with Passion Fruit Dressing

Next came plates of honey-coriander chicken wings and pork dumplings. These were labeled appetizers, but they could have sufficed as meals unto themselves. Especially as everything was all-you-can-eat!

Tangy and delicious, the trays of wings and dumplings demanded refilling several times. Thankfully, my seat at the end of the table afforded an excellent view of the grilling area, where skewers upon skewers of meat and shrimp delivered a firm reminder that the best was yet to come.

Chicken Wings & Pork Dumplings

Several of us requested drinks from the bar, including one who chose to fully immerse himself in the evening’s Hawaiian spirit by ordering the Lapu Lapu. This blend of rum and fruit juices comes in extravagant style – served inside a hollowed-out pineapple.

Much to the chagrin of the one who ordered it, the Lapu Lapu made its way around the table as everyone wanted a taste. It received high marks from all who sampled it. And, honestly, our meal just felt that much more traditionally Hawaiian for having the Lapu Lapu on the table!

Lapu Lapu

One important consideration to note is that it was not only the size of our party that posed a challenge, but that we were a motley crew of adventurous and picky eaters, with a dietary restriction thrown into the mix as well. One family member suffers from gluten intolerance and required special dietary accommodation. The chef came out to speak with her before any food arrived on the table, and he promised to keep her well-stocked with an assortment of gluten-free alternatives (including gluten-free bread, noodles, and dessert).

The ‘Ohana chefs worked hard to ensure that she did not miss out on any aspect of the meal and she could not have been happier with the results.

Gluten-Free Bread

Gluten-Free Dessert

“Cousin” Candy soon delivered [Read more…]

Review: Breakfast at Boma in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

Mention that you’re looking for a breakfast restaurant during a stay at Walt Disney World, and you are bound to be met with this piece of advice: “You MUST go to Boma.”

It’s true! This buffet restaurant is among the most favorite options for lovers of Disney food, myself included. We’ve even named it as one of our most favorite Disney brunch destinations!

But even though dinner offers an amazing spread, your Disney friends will tell you that breakfast is the “can’t miss” meal here.

It was a shock to me when I realized that I had never actually reviewed this all-important meal on the blog! Time to remedy that right now!

Atmosphere

Boma is located at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. You’ll find it below the lobby on the ground floor, adjacent to other AKL restaurants The Mara and Jiko.

There’s one pretty important distinction that sets Boma apart from other very popular buffets at Disney. Many of the others are primarily character dining experiences. But you won’t find any characters at Boma. That’s an important detail to keep in mind when planning your advance dining reservations.

Boma Background Information

“Boma” is actually an African term for a fence made of sticks that forms a safe enclosure for gathering. Throughout the entrance of the restaurant, you see the stick fence motif captured in different materials.

Here, Imagineers used wrought iron to line the bridged walkway leading into the space.

Entrance to Boma

Beautiful statuary decorates the low wall that separates the buffet from the seating area.

Statuary and Decor

Ceilings are lined with large pieces of [Read more…]

Review: “Best of the Fest” at the 2013 Epcot Food and Wine Festival Marketplace Booths!

It’s here! The 2013 Epcot Food and Wine Festival is officially underway!

We’ve been super busy over the last couple of days, taking in low-cost demonstrations and special events. I can’t wait to share all of it with you (FYI: Parisian Breakfast = AWESOME!)!

But first, while opening weekend was a whirlwind of activity, we made it a point to check out every Marketplace Booth and try it all! It’s always our goal to do this so that YOU know which dishes are not-to-be-missed and can plan accordingly.

2013 Best of the Fest Marketplace Booth Dishes

While this “Best of” list started out a lot longer than this, we wanted to give you a breakdown of the cream of the crop — our very favorite dishes so far from the 2013 Marketplace Booths. Some of these are returning from past years, and some are brand new! Let’s go with the Best of the Fest for 2013!

Belgium: Potato and Leek Waffle with Braised Beef

Belgium features three different waffles in their lineup this year — one savory and two sweet. This Potato Leek Waffle comes with Braised Beef that reminds me of Sunday roasts.

Potato and Leek Waffle with Braised Beef

The waffle is delicious by itself — but top it with the braised beef and MELTED BUTTER!!!! and it’s heavenly!

South Korea: Kimchi Dog

We’ve been raving about the South Korea Kimchi Dog since we first sampled it at the preview event for this year’s festival. The Spicy Hot Dog (which is specially made for Epcot just for the festival!) is topped with a fresh Kimchi Slaw and drizzled with a Spicy Mustard Sauce.

Kimchi Dog with Spicy Mustard Sauce

It has a bit of a kick, but it’s [Read more…]

Review: Chef Mickey’s Dinner at Disney World’s Contemporary Resort

It has been too long since I’ve taken a trip to Chef Mickey’s in Disney World’s Contemporary Resort!

We’ve shared with you our review of their breakfast buffet. But today, we’re heading there to see what’s new for dinner!

When many people think about a Disney character dining experience”, they immediately think of Chef Mickey’s. This one has it all — the Fab Five, a sprawling buffet of family-friendly foods, regular raucous celebrations, and monorails whizzing by.

But in the past, the food has had a reputation for being a little lackluster. Time to see how things are looking these days… . We have a lot to cover, so let’s get started!

Atmosphere

One of the coolest things about Chef Mickey’s is its location. You’ll find this well-known character meal at Disney’s Contemporary Resort.

Chef Mickey's Sign

This place is a stone’s throw from the Magic Kingdom in Disney World, which makes it a great place to stop and eat before heading into the park, or after a long day of rides and attractions.

Once you enter the hotel’s main floor lobby, take the elevator to the fourth floor. Chef Mickey’s is located on the south end of the concourse, right below where the Disney World monorail enters the building. (You can also arrive at the Contemporary via said monorail, of course — in which case you’d take an escalator down to the 4th floor).

The Grand Canyon Concourse at the Contemporary

Head to the central desk to let the hostess know that your party has arrived. You can’t miss it — Mickey is smiling down with his fork and spoon, ready to greet you!

Central Desk Check-In

If your table isn’t quite ready, you can wait until your party is paged in this comfortable seating area. This spot features a view of Bay Lake and the resort’s pool patio — and offers plenty of room for running off excess energy.

Waiting Area

Before you’re seated, your party will [Read more…]

Guest Review: Captain’s Grille Breakfast Buffet at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort

Today, we’re welcoming back Emma Snobbish with a review of the Captain’s Grille at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort. Her review highlights the breakfast buffet!

When you’re contemplating breakfast choices around Walt Disney World Resort, the Captain’s Grille may not be on your radar.

“Oh, yeah – that one at the Yacht Club?” you might say.

That’s what I said, but on my family’s trip this January we wanted to try something new — someplace where we would be able to get a walk-up reservation. We had also heard tell of the Captain’s breakfast buffet, so we decided to give it a try.

Atmosphere

The Captain’s Grille is just off the Yacht Club Resort’s lobby. You’ve passed it if you’ve ever taken the stroll from the Beach Club to the Yacht Club.

Outside the Captain’s Grille

Behind its fresh, white French doors you’ll see soft nautical stripes, and model boats and paintings of seaside scenes hanging on the walls.

The Main Dining Room

Once inside the restaurant, you’ll see a kid-sized waiting area complete with coloring sheets and crayons!

Children’s Coloring Area – the Crayons are Kept in a Little Boat!

The themeing here is subtle but still charming. I loved the compass design on the center of the tables and the beach waves etched on the chairs.

Big arched openings at the edges of the restaurant look out over the hallway leading to the signature restaurant — Yachtsman Steakhouse — and Stormalong Bay, the giant pool and play area shared between the Yacht and Beach Club Resorts. Kinda fun for people watching during your meal, although if you’d rather something more quiet there are plenty of [Read more…]

News and Review: Introducing ‘Host the Roast’ at Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant (Plus New Desserts!)

We recently gave you all the details about Raglan Road’s brand new Rollicking Raglan Sunday Brunch.

And today, we’re back with more great news from our favorite Irish pub in Walt Disney World’s Downtown Disney!

Raglan Road debuted their awesome new “Host the Roast!” feast on February 3rd, and it’s available every Sunday going forward.

Created to honor the custom of Sunday Irish lunch, “Host the Roast!” is a full traditional meal, centered around premium signature roasts. And this is an option that’s priced for groups of six, which means this should definitely be on your list for your next family reunion in Disney World. (Note that if you’re not interested in Hosting the Roast while you’re there, you can always stop into Raglan Road on Sunday to enjoy the Sunday Brunch!)

Master Chef Kevin Dundon

Are you intrigued? I was! Guests can choose from several roasts, but you need to book at least 48 hours in advance!:

The Roast Rib of Beef, Yorkshire pudding, horseradish cream and rosemary jus, Balsamic glazed carrots, Green beans, roasties and pomme au gratin plus family style dessert.   $55 per person

Beef Rib Roast -- Up Close

The Roast Pork loin, pork crackling, cider port jus, apple sauce & apple chutney, Balsamic glazed carrots, Green beans, roasties and pomme au gratin plus family style dessert.   $47 per person

The Roast Leg of New Zealand Lamb, stuffed with sage & onion, mint sauce and red wine jus, Balsamic glazed carrots, Green beans, roasties and pomme au gratin plus family style dessert.   $45 per person

The Roast lemon thyme Chicken, Bread sauce, red wine jus and a family style Chicken & Wild Mushroom Pie with Balsamic glazed carrots, Green beans, roasties and pomme au gratin plus family style dessert.   $35 per person

All roasts include a family-style dessert! Choices are:
Gran Marnier Fruit & Custard Trifle or Baked Strawberry & Apple Crumble (gluten free option available)

But enough talking — time to see some pics!

How to “Host The Roast!”

So here’s how it all works: you book your “roast” with Raglan Road (at least 48 hours in advance), then show up at the correct time on Sunday afternoon. And the fun begins!

The roast is carved table-side (very fun), so the carving cart is wheeled out to the head of your table.

Carving Cart

Next, servers bring out an enormous cart laden with the roast and all the trimmings. At our gathering, we were fortunate to have two different roasts: the Beef Standing Rib Roast and the Bone-In Pork Roast.

Each roast is accompanied by many of the same items, but there are a few differences in side dishes and sauces (see the menu listing above for details). Horseradish Cream and Rosemary Jus perfectly accented the beef roast and its side dishes.

Beef Standing Rib Roast Host the Roast Platter

The Pork Roast comes with a [Read more…]

Guest Review: Trail’s End Restaurant at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort

Join me in welcoming back guest author Julie B.!

She returns with a review of Trail’s End Restaurant in the Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground. The journey to this restaurant is part of the experience, right?!

Howdy folks! Even though we’re on vacation, sometimes you just want the comforts of a home-cooked meal. Trail’s End Restaurant at Fort Wilderness Campground brings all the happiness of home to its dinner buffet.

Remember, this spot is a little distant from some parks and resorts. You can reach Trail’s End at Fort Wilderness by taking a boat from Magic Kingdom, Contemporary Resort, or Wilderness Lodge; or by taking a bus from any park or Downtown Disney to Fort Wilderness. Note that if you take a bus, you’ll have to transfer to the Fort Wilderness internal bus system to get to Trail’s End. (DFB recommends taking a boat if possible — so much easier.)

Trail's End Sign

Atmosphere

Trail’s End is a cute little restaurant, featuring the theme of a cabin in the woods. It blends perfectly with the campground!

Welcome Mat

The walls are adorned with the best of the outdoors and the back country. Large wooden beams finish setting the scene for your meal in the wilderness.

Holiday Decor

Dining Room

On the lower level (just down a small half-flight of stairs), Trail’s End is also home to Crockett’s Tavern.

The bar is themed the same way as the restaurant and even features a [Read more…]

Dining in Disneyland: Holiday Treats in Disneyland and DCA

With a few weeks left of the Disney Holiday Season, you still have plenty of time to head on over to the Disneyland Resort to taste some of the special holiday offerings. Read about some of the fun eats and events happening this year on our 2012 Disneyland Holiday page, and check out even more below…

And even if you aren’t a candy cane or egg nog fan, it’s worth a trip just to see the decor. I mean come on, look at this:

Sleeping Beauty's Winter Castle

I recently visited Disney’s California Adventure to get a sampling of all the yumminess the resort has to offer this season — and let me tell you, there are some pretty tasty treats.

A sampling of this year's holiday goodies.

Both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure are carrying a line of holiday caramel apples.  Choose from a festive Mickey or Minnie, or go for the cute snowman complete with chocolate Mickey ears and a sour belt scarf!

Festive Mickey & Minnie Caramel Apples

Snowman Caramel Apples

Both parks are also carrying a variety of Christmas Cupcakes, including this chocolate peppermint one! The frosting is whipped and infused with peppermint flavor.

It was by far my most favorite part of the cupcake. Warning though: with that bright green and red frosting, your tongue stands no chance against staining…

Chocolate Peppermint Cupcake

Traditional chocolate cake cupcakes with red & white vanilla frosting topped [Read more…]

Dining in Disneyland Review: The Earl has Finally Arrived!

With an original opening date scheduled early last Summer, Southern California sandwich lovers have been abuzz about the new Earl of Sandwich restaurant not opening their doors on time. 

I am ecstatic to announce that the doors have been opened and those lovely golden bricks have been flying through that little toasty oven faster than you can say “Holiday Turkey Sandwich, please!”

Earl of Sandwich Downtown Disney

Atmosphere

Located directly next to the AMC Theater Complex across from The Rainforest Cafe, the Earl of Sandwich has replaced the Compass Cafe and Bookstore. 

And although the bookstore was fun to browse and the cafe sold Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, I’d much prefer a sandwich from Earl any day. Last week the doors soft opened with a 25% discount on all menu items, and then “officially” opened this past Friday. I snuck over Thursday to get my fix.

Main Entrance

The soft opening was no secret, and with the entire menu being 25% off I expected there to be a pretty substantial line. And I was correct.

When my boys saw the line they about had a panic attack because A: It was already 1:00 and they were beyond ready to eat lunch and B: They had never been to an Earl of Sandwich, so they had no idea how quickly the line moves. After visiting the Orlando and Vegas locations, I was fully aware of how well-oiled this sandwich making machine was

I assured them that we’d move quickly and that it would be well worth the wait. I also bribed them and told them they could pick whichever dessert they wanted…

Hallelujah!

Menus While You Wait
My guess is that there were approximately 100 people in front of us in line, but we managed to order and have our food on the table in about 25 minutes. The line was outside the building and wrapped back to the temporary ice skating rink, but there were friendly Earl helpers [Read more…]

Guest Review: California Grill at the Contemporary Resort

Today, we’re welcoming Alex F. with a signature dining review. Alex takes us with her to the top of the Contemporary Resort for dinner at the California Grill! Let’s go…

I have been to Disney World over 20 times and I have always wanted to write a review. So, finally I decided that on my latest trip, I would take pictures and review California Grill at the Contemporary Resort. I hope that this review is helpful and enjoyable!

Atmosphere

California Grill, a signature dining restaurant located on the 15th floor of the Contemporary Resort, features unique views through the walls of windows and the two observation decks.

While dining here, you can either have close up aerial views of the Magic Kingdom from one side of the dining room, or distant views of Epcot and Hollywood Studios from the other (you can see Spaceship Earth, the Swan and Dolphin hotels, and even the Tower of Terror).

Table by the Window with Magic Kingdom View

To access the California Grill, you must check-in on the 2nd floor to the right of the escalators. Years ago, you were able to simply go straight upstairs and check-in, but that has all changed. Now, once you have checked in, you can head over to a special elevator just for [Read more…]