Review: Chip ‘n’ Dale’s Harvest Feast Dinner at Garden Grill in Epcot

Today, we’re sharing with you our latest visit to Garden Grill Restaurant for Chip ‘n’ Dale’s Harvest Feast Dinner!

Garden Grill is basically one of my favorite character meals. First, it’s a character meal with really great interaction. And while Chip ‘n’ Dale are the headliners, here, you also get to hang out with Farmer Mickey and Pluto!

But beyond the characters, we enjoy the unique ambiance that Garden Grill offers. If you’ve never visited the restaurant, wait ’til you see what it does! Yes — DOES!

We’ve also had some pretty fantastic meals here. Breakfast is virtually a tradition for my family.

But today, we’re visiting in the evening. We’ve enjoyed past dinners here. Let’s see if the trend continues.

Atmosphere

Looking for Garden Grill Restaurant? Hang a right after Spaceship Earth and head toward The Land Pavilion in Future World West.

The Land Pavilion

The Land Pavilion

Walkways line the perimeter walls inside the building and lead you down to the pavilion’s three levels, which host The Circle of Life film on the right, and Living with the Land, Soarin’, and Sunshine Seasons (one of our favorite counter service spots) on the bottom. There’s also an elevator if you’d prefer it to walking.

The Land Ceiling

The Land Ceiling

You’ll find the Garden Grill directly across from the entrance.

Garden Grill Sign

Garden Grill Sign

And here’s where we talk about what Garden Grill does: it rotates. In fact, it’s the only restaurant in Orlando — and only one of a handful in the world — that spins.

Now, just in case the thought of a rotating restaurant doesn’t sound all that appetizing, we promise you that Garden Grill spins at a snail’s pace. We aren’t talking spinning teacups here.

Garden Grill Wide View

Garden Grill Wide View

Why does it spin? Well, there’s more than one way to check out the attractions within Living with the Land! As the restaurant rotates, guests are treated to scenes from the ride. This mural acts as sort of a gateway.

Garden Grill Mural

Garden Grill Mural

You’ll visit a farmhouse — or see it from above, anyway. I think this scene is particularly fun, because you get to look inside one of the windows from this vantage point!

Farmhouse Scene in Living with the Land

Farmhouse Scene in Living with the Land

You’ll also see extremes in landscapes. As you view a rainforest scene, and watch it morph into a desert scene as you travel.

Rainforest

Rainforest

Transition from Rainforest to Desert

Transition from Rainforest to Desert

Living with the Land as seen from Garden Grill

The Desert

Your vehicle for sightseeing is your table, of course.

Tables are arranged in a sort of stadium seating pattern on two levels around the restaurant. Top tier tables are your garden variety rectangular tables, like you see here.

Table and Seating

Table and Seating

On the lower level, semi-circular booths face out, giving you the best view of the scenes you pass.

Garden Grill booth

Garden Grill booth

Larger Booth -- Family Side

Larger Booth — Family Side

And did you notice? Mickey makes an appearance before your meal ever starts! :-D

Mickey Table Setting :)

Mickey Table Setting :)

And that brings me to Reason Number Two that you might want to visit Garden Grill: the characters. Let’s check ‘em out.

Characters

One of my top reasons for visiting Garden Grill is the character interaction. In fact, it’s one of my Top Two Favorite Character Meals in Walt Disney World! Of course, I love when I can see Mickey during a character meet and greet. And here, he’s dressed in his farmer finest.

Mickey Mouse

Mickey Mouse

Mickey is joined by his faithful pup sidekick, Pluto.

Pluto

Pluto

But this is, after all, Chip ‘n’ Dale’s gig. So you’re sure to see the playful pair as you enjoy your dinner.

Chip

Chip

Sad Dale

Sad Dale

And that’s one of the coolest things about Garden Grill — it’s not just the stellar character interaction, but the amount of interaction you get. The restaurant is fairly small in size, so that means you normally have the chance to visit with characters more than once during your meal.

Eats

So we’ve talked about the fact that Garden Grill rotates, thus making it something kinda special. And, of course, any day that you can share your meal with Chip ‘n’ Dale and Friends is gonna be a good one.

But how about the food? Well, the good news is — that’s pretty great, too.

Garden Grill serves its meals family style, meaning that shareable platters are brought to the table, and you can ask for more of anything you like. That also means that everyone dining has the choice of a non-alcoholic beverage as part of the prix fixe price of his or her meal. But if you’d like, you can also order from a list of special drinks, including cocktails, mocktails, beer, and wine.

Special Drinks Menu -- Click to Enlarge

Special Drinks Menu — Click to Enlarge

Wine Menu -- Click to Enlarge

Wine Menu — Click to Enlarge

You don’t really choose what you’re getting at Garden Grill (unless you have special dietary needs; talk to your server in that case). The offerings are pretty much standard. You’ll start with warm Dinner Rolls, served with a side of Whipped Butter.

Rolls with Whipped Butter

Rolls with Whipped Butter

Next comes the Harvest-Inspired Farmer’s Salad. During our visit, the salad included greens, hard boiled egg, radishes, and grape tomatoes. It’s lightly dressed with a creamy dressing.

Harvest-Inspired Farmer's Salad

Harvest-Inspired Farmer’s Salad

The main course is the combination platter with sliced Homestyle Pot Roast, sliced Turkey Breast, and Italian Sausage served with sautéed Peppers and Onions. Sides on the platter include Mashed Potatoes and Bacon and Leek Stuffing.

The Italian Sausage is new, having replaced the previously served Sustainable Fish of the Day.

Platter of Meats, Mashed Potatoes, Dressing, and Gravy

Platter of Meats, Mashed Potatoes, Dressing, and Gravy

But that’s not all. You get additional veggie sides, like Green Beans and Sweet Potatoes, plus Macaroni and Cheese.

Platter of Sides -- Mac & Cheese, Green Beans, and Sweet Potato Fries

Platter of Sides — Mac & Cheese, Green Beans, and Sweet Potato Fries

For dessert, it’s a shareable Short Cake topped with Fruit Compote and Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream.

Short Cake

Short Cake

Some folks may call this a cobbler. Whatever name you give it, the rich cake and super saucy berry topping is a winner with everyone at the table.

Nosh or Not?

You’ll enjoy Garden Grill if:

  • You’re looking for a great character meal that combines great food, MICKEY, and more fun aspects
  • You have a nostalgic affinity for Epcot (Living with the Land!!!)
  • You’re touring Epcot with small children. The rest of the table service restaurants in Epcot can be ho hum for little kids.

You may want to skip Garden Grill if:

  • You’ve got a busy touring day and would rather stick to counter service
  • You’re in an adults-only party and nobody much cares about characters

Overall

After lots of visits, I still love Garden Grill Restaurant.

I think I’ve laid out a pretty convincing argument. When you visit Garden Grill, you’re getting a three-way combo of unique environment, great characters, and excellent (and plentiful) food. And when it comes to characters and kids, I personally lean toward a character meal where the food comes to you, because it’s so much easier to juggle kids, characters, and food when you don’t have to worry about visiting a buffet.

But even beyond the convenience of Garden Grill, the characters, and the novelty of the place, I think this place just offers really great food. It may be kind of standard fare, but it’s thoughtfully prepared. And when you’re paying Disney prices, it’s great when you can enjoy a character meal as much for the food as for everything else.

If you haven’t tried it before, book an advance dining reservation for Garden Grill Restaurant. I think you’ll be pleased.

Read Our Review of Garden Grill’s Breakfast Options Here!

Now, I’d love to hear from you! Is Garden Grill Restaurant one of your favorites? Let us know in comments!

DFB Video: All the Mac and Cheese in Walt Disney World!

Happy Monday! We’re back this week with another DFB Video, and today we’re digging into one of my favorite dishes: Macaroni and Cheese!

Mac and Cheese at The Boathouse

Mac and Cheese at The Boathouse

Wait… did I say “one”? Scratch that. Because not only are we checking out several of our favorite versions of Disney Mac and Cheese… we’ll also tell you how you can get a list of EACH and EVERY  Mac and Cheese in Disney World! Basically, if I see Mac and Cheese on any Disney World menu, I order it so I can let you know where you can find your ideal dish. Does Mac and Cheese topped with pulled pork, coleslaw, AND onion rings appeal to you? How about shrimp-topped mac and cheese? Or are you more of a purist? No matter what, you’re bound to find at least one version (and probably more) that you’ll need to try on your next Disney World trip!

[Read more…]

Review: The Polite Pig (Including BRAND NEW Buttermilk Chess Pie) in Disney Springs

Three words: Buttermilk Chess Pie.

And three more: The Polite Pig. That’s where you’ll find it!

The Polite Pig is a fast-casual dining location serving up “modern barbecue” in the Town Center neighborhood of Disney Springs. It’s got a fantastic pedigree, being owned and operated by James Beard-nominated James and Julie Petrakis and James’ brother Brian — all of whom own restaurants in Winter Park and Orlando.

One of their restaurants — The Ravenous Pig — is The Polite Pig’s hungry older sister. And the reputation earned by that restaurant followed to the smaller Disney Springs location. And if you’re wondering where the politeness comes in, it’s everywhere.

The Polite Pig Insists

The Polite Pig Insists

Even on the walls!

Atmosphere

The Polite Pig decor story is an eclectic mix of polished subway tile, industrial lights and rails, and colorful wood. It’s definitely the kind of place where you feel like you can kick back and relax. [Read more…]

Review: New Baked Macaroni and Cheese with Pulled Pork at Animal Kingdom’s Flame Tree Barbecue

Picture it: A plate full of Baked Macaroni and Cheese.

On top of that, a pile of Flame Tree Barbecue’s Pulled Pork.

On top of THAT, another Flame Tree favorite: Onion Rings!

And on the side? Just a bit of coleslaw to provide a hint of cooling tang to the entire dish.

Well, guess what? You don’t have to simply imagine it — because the fine folks at Animal Kingdom’s Flame Tree Barbecue have made it a reality!

You’ll see it on the updated menu, where the Baked Macaroni & Cheese with Pulled Pork Topped with Onion Rings and Coleslaw has replaced the Smoked Turkey Sandwich.

Flame Tree Barbecue Menu

Flame Tree Barbecue Menu

You’ll notice a difference in presentation, though, from the menu.

[Read more…]

Disney World Mac and Cheese Gallery

Mac and Cheese, the go-to meal of toddlers everywhere, has become a bit of a phenomenon at Walt Disney World. Everyone loves it. It comes in a bevvy of styles. And it’s almost always totally awesome.

So here’s a gallery of our favorites!

Mac and Cheese — Polite Pig

The Polite Pig Mac and Cheese is one of the newest additions to our gallery, and it’s divine. We love the shell pasta and how it holds all that tasty cheese sauce. Mmmm.

Mac and Cheese

Mac and Cheese

Baked Mac and Cheese Varieties — Eight Spoon Cafe

It’s impossible for us to choose just one of the mouthwatering options at Eight Spoon Cafe in Animal Kingdom, so we suggest getting one of each. The simple Baked Mac and Cheese is creamy and delish, while the Pulled Pork and the Sweet and Spicy Shrimp versions are interesting and satisfying. [Read more…]

Review: Dinner at Homecomin’ in Disney Springs

We’re back at Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’ Florida Kitchen for another visit today!

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. :-)

Atmosphere

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.

Outside View

Outside View

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. [Read more…]

New DFB Video: Eight Spoon Cafe in Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Was your mouth totally watering a while back when we gave you a first look at the Baked Mac and Cheese creations at Eight Spoon Cafe in Disney’s Animal Kingdom? Mine totally was. And today, we’re back to share more — in our latest DFB Video all about this special little corner of the ‘World.

Eight Spoon Cafe Thumbnail

I seriously lie awake at night, planning the very next time I get to take in one of these Baked Mac and Cheese treats. Can’t you practically smell that melty cheese and tangy barbecue? Sigh.

[Read more…]

First Look and Review: The Polite Pig in Disney World’s Disney Springs!

UPDATE: The Polite Pig takes one quick service credit on the Disney Dining Plan. (So glad this was changed!)

_________________________

We’re at The Polite Pig, where “Please and Thank You are still magic words!”

The newest fast-casual spot in Disney Springs is now open in the Town Center! The Polite Pig is the latest restaurant venture by James and Julie Petrakis in partnership with James’ brother, Brian. James and Julie Petrakis are the James Beard-nominated owners of The Ravenous Pig and Cask & Larder, both based in Winter Park, Florida (and Brian owns and operates Greens & Grille in Orlando).

Like its big sister, The Ravenous Pig, The Polite Pig focuses on local flavors and ingredients, and the emphasis here is on wood-fired, smoked “Modern Barbecue” with all drinks in the establishment on tap.

So let’s brush up on our manners and mind our p’s and q’s with our very first visit to The Polite Pig!

The Polite Pig sign March 2017 copy

The Polite Pig

Atmosphere

Coming from the World of Disney Store in the Marketplace, head towards Amorette’s Patisserie in the Town Center. You’ll find The Polite Pig just a few more steps from there. Another landmark for you: it’s directly to the right of the stairs coming down from the Lime Parking Garage. [Read more…]

Best and Worst of the Fest: What to Eat (and What to Skip) at the 2017 Disney California Adventure Food and Wine Festival

Greetings from sunny California! We’re coming to you from Disneyland where the 2017 Disney California Adventure Food and Wine Festival is in full swing!

The 2017 Disney California Adventure Food and Wine Festival Has Begun!

The 2017 Disney California Adventure Food and Wine Festival Has Begun!

And the Festival is running EVERYDAY this year. So that means you’ve got from now through April 16th to try your top picks at this year’s FOURTEEN Festival Marketplace Booths.

To help you make your list, I’ve tackled each and every food item at ALL of them. Well, with the help of our Dining in Disneyland columnist and best west coast dine-around pal, Heather Sievers, of course!

Click here to check out photos AND prices of ALL the food at the Festival! (Allergy-Friendly Menus, Too!)

Overall, we found the food to be fantastic. It was much better than last year, and much MUCH better than Festival of Holidays. They’re thinking outside of the box and experimenting a little with flavors, and I commend that. [Read more…]

News and Review: Columbia Harbour House Shrimp Fest

OK, so Columbia Harbour House doesn’t really have a “Shrimp Fest.” I just sort of created one on my recent visit by ordering ALL. THE. SHRIMPS!!!! ;-D Coming right up? Shrimp and Chicken, Fried Shrimp, and Shrimp Mac & Cheese! (Yes, I forgive you if you scroll ahead to see that last one.)

Tucked into a perfectly themed corner of Liberty Square in the Magic Kingdom, Columbia Harbour House has a strong and devoted following.

With its menu of consistently popular choices — lots of healthier, lighter, vegetarian choices along with some hearty fish and chips — and its impeccable theming, Columbia Harbour House is a great place to cool down and fuel up when you’re touring the Magic Kingdom.

And its location is ideal. It’s a short walk from Frontierland, a stone’s throw from the Haunted Mansion, and holds court in Liberty Square (just before it morphs into Fantasyland around the corner).

Columbia Harbour House

Columbia Harbour House

This place is Americana architecture at its finest.

Atmosphere

The interior of Columbia Harbour House reinforces the exterior theming (at least that part of the facade that faces Liberty Square). It heavily features wood, from the furniture to the walls.

[Read more…]