Guest Review: The Hollywood Brown Derby at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Guest author Rebecca Dolan returns today with a restaurant review from Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Let’s join her at The Hollywood Brown Derby!

Recalling the golden days of Tinseltown, The Hollywood Brown Derby sits just beyond where Sunset and Hollywood Boulevards converge.

A replica of the once iconic California restaurant, where famous faces of the day met to see and be seen, it exudes ‘30s/’40s style. “Meet me at the Derby” and let your inner star or starlet shine.

Meet me at the Derby

Atmosphere

The restaurant is located in a Mission-style building complete with tile roof and crawling bougainvillea. The building is fairly understated, but a neon Derby sign on the roof gives it away. A long awning-covered walkway leads the way into the small check in area. It’s in here that guests get their first glimpse of the Derby’s iconic caricatures. Everyone who was anyone was represented on the walls – see how many stars you can spot.

Dining Room

Beyond the hostess desk, guests emerge from the unassuming lobby into the cavernous dining room, which feels like entering into a glamorous Hollywood club. The main floor is flanked on two sides by double rows of booths, the outer two being raised above the rest of the room.

Large art deco-esque chandeliers light the room and rich wood accents the walls. Entrants step first onto one of the overlooks, allowing a full view of their dining companions – famous or otherwise.

View of Dining Room

The constellation of stars’ caricatures continues onto these walls, from which bronze derby lamps hang over tables.

Brown Derby Decor

If you can, try to take a seat in one of the rounded booths – perfect for canoodling with your Hollywood heartthrob or generally enjoying a touch of seclusion.

Eats

The Brown Derby’s contemporary American menu isn’t lengthy, but provides a nice amount of variety. Don’t be put off by the level of detail when it comes to its descriptions; the food’s not too hoity toity. (Note: This is a two-credit restaurant on the Disney Dining Plan.)

Menu — click image for larger version

Bread service, with sea salted butter

As this is the birthplace of the Cobb salad, it felt like a must to order the appetizer size as one of our starters. It won’t look like a typical salad, however, since the lettuce and the toppings are all chopped so finely you could, no kidding, eat this salad with a spoon. The kitchen is generous with said toppings; so two people could eat this comfortably.

Cobb Salad

The lobster bisque was a bit on the salty side, and nothing too exciting. I’ll give it points for being the thickest lobster bisque I’ve ever had. Don’t expect true ravioli to be floating on top, the “ravioli” were more like little dumplings.

Lobster Bisque

The clear winner in the appetizer category was the andouille-crusted prawn, which sat on a bed of greens and grits. This dish stole this Southern gal’s heart, and I would like to lobby the restaurant for an entrée version.

The large shrimp was perfectly cooked, the greens tender, and the grits creamy. There’s only enough here for one, so don’t plan on sharing!

Andouille-crusted prawn

For the next course: [Read more…]

Review: Les Chefs de France in Epcot’s France Pavilion

Bonjour, Mes Amis! We are heading to the City of Lights today for a luncheon at one of Epcot’s most iconic eateries, Les Chefs de France!

The bistro, located in the France Pavilion, has been a fixture of World Showcase since Epcot’s earliest days. It’s served thousands of meals to Epcot guests, and you’ll still find its tables full if you visit today.

Les Chefs de France has had the happy distinction for me of providing consistently decent food and friendly service — something that can’t always be said about Disney restaurants. Since I’ve had some truly fine meals here, I was ready to head back for lunch with AJ’s Mom and Dad (whom many of you know!).

Atmosphere

The food has been good to great during every visit that I’ve made in recent years to Les Chefs de France — but that’s only part of the story. Because I would be in love with this restaurant based upon looks alone.

Menu and Place Setting

That’s because I personally think that Les Chefs de France represents some excellent restaurant themeing. If it weren’t for the kid in Mickey ears at the next table, it’s very possible that you’d forget you’re actually in Florida.

We visited during the day, but I just couldn’t help but show you this gorgeous view of Les Chefs de France at night.

Front of Les Chefs de France at Night -- My Favorite View!

It reminds me so much of my first trip to Paris that I wanted to share it with you.

And that’s the beauty of this restaurant. If you’ve had the pleasure of a trip to Paris, you will probably have eaten in (or at least seen) a spot that looks Just. Like. This.

Inside Les Chefs de France

Photos of the original “Les Chefs de France” team — Paul Bocuse, Gaston Lenotre, and Roger Vergé — line the walls. These days, Chef Bocuse’s son, Jerome Bocuse, runs the France Pavilion restaurant empire. (Check out the photo of Chef Bocuse on opening day in front of Les Chefs de France that hangs upstairs in Monsieur Paul. You can see it in our review here.)

Decor Featuring Photos of the Founding Chefs

The color palette in Les Chefs de France tends toward [Read more…]

Guest Review: Seafood Dine-Around at Walt Disney World

Join us in welcoming guest author KJ Simpson with a Walt Disney World Seafood Adventure!

Crab Cakes at Narcoossee's

A recent trip to Walt Disney World opened up a whole new world of culinary delights for me: seafood!

In my many previous visits, I had never tried any seafood dishes. This year, for a variety of reasons, I began incorporating seafood into my diet. As part of this new culinary adventure, I decided to sample some of the many dishes from the sea that are available throughout the parks and resorts.

If you’re curious about some of the offerings that can be found throughout Walt Disney World, read on as I embark on this seafood adventure…

And don’t forget to share your favorite Disney seafood dishes in the comments below!

Yorkshire County Fish Shop

No seafood tour would be complete without a stop at the very popular Yorkshire County Fish Shop, in the United Kingdom area of Epcot’s World Showcase, for an order of Fish & Chips.

There’s often a line at the Yorkshire County Fish Shoppe- this is a popular spot!

It’s a classic — two pieces of battered fish, served in a quick-service style over chips (also known as fries, here on this side of the pond). It’s even wrapped in faux-newspaper to give it a whimsically authentic appearance.

While not the healthiest of seafood meals, it was certainly one of the tastiest! There’s not a lot to go wrong here, and this was a perfect afternoon snack to share. The malt vinegar — a traditional accompaniment to the English fish fry — added the perfect tang and gave a whole different taste dimension to the fish.

The classic - Fish & Chips.

Sharing this while sitting in the seating area off to the side overlooking World Showcase Lagoon was a splendid afternoon respite! If you eat outside here, be forewarned: enjoy the view, but beware of the aggressive birds, ducks, and squirrels. They apparently love the food here as much as we do, and are not shy about wanting you to share.

Les Halles Boulangerie Patisserie

Next was a visit to the newly-refurbished bakery in the France pavilion, Les Halles Boulangerie & Patisserie.

The expanded menu has a new seafood offering: Bisque de Homard, or Lobster Bisque.

Les Halles

This was a satisfying soup, smooth and creamy without being too heavy. Tomato was the more dominant flavor here, but the seafood added a richness and [Read more…]

Review: “Dine with an Imagineer” Opportunity at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Finally! One of my Disney dining bucket list items has been crossed off of the list! Along with some wonderful friends, I got the chance to attend a “Dine With an Imagineer” lunch at Disney Hollywood Studios’ Hollywood Brown Derby earlier this month.

Details About Dine With an Imagineer

In case you haven’t heard of it, Dine With an Imagineer is a spectacular opportunity offered for lunch at the Hollywood Brown Derby, and for dinner (on select nights) at the Flying Fish Cafe.

Up to 10 guests get the chance to dine with a real live Walt Disney Imagineer. Your Imagineer will tell you about the work that he or she does, then answer any questions you might have about that work…or anything else that has to do with Disney Imagineering!

Place Setting and Personalized Menu

Cost per person is $60 (taxes and gratuity are added at the table), and the experience has been designed for guests aged 10 and older. You can book this event 180 days in advance, and it’s suggested that you do. It sells out quickly.

We had a gaggle of about 9 Disney fans who attended the lunch, including one VERY smart 11-year-old who had some great questions for the Imagineer. Don’t worry if your group can’t fill the room; Disney will keep taking reservations until the event is at capacity. That means you might have the chance to meet a few new Disney fans!

Now, the first question everyone asks about Dine With an Imagineer is… [Read more…]

Review: Raglan Road Tables in Wonderland Dinner

Thanks to Julie Strachan Haiber for reporting on the recent Tables in Wonderland dinner at Raglan Road in Downtown Disney’s Pleasure Island! Julie is a WDW annual passholder, past Disney bride, and moderator on Disneymooner.com, a site dedicated to Disney Weddings and honeymoon planning. Thanks for taking the time to write up your review, Julie! Take it away!

My husband Rory and I recently had the opportunity to enjoy the “Tables in Wonderland” special event dinner at Raglan Road in Downtown Disney. We have dined at Raglan Road many times and were eager to meet Chef Kevin Dundon as well as sample the evening’s special cuisine.

Atmosphere
A back room in the restaurant was set up exclusively for the event, with flowers and candles on the tables, and about 60 people in attendance. We were seated at a table for six and dined with two local Orlando couples. We are annual passholders and travel to Orlando several times a year, and we very much enjoyed the company and conversation at our table. Each place setting had a menu tied with a flower and a signed copy of Chef Dundon’s cookbook, Great Family Food. [Read more…]