Review: Crossroads at House of Blues at Walt Disney World’s Downtown Disney

So the big news from last week was the opening of a brand new counter service spot at Downtown Disney’s House Of Blues — the Smokehouse!

While we’ll be sure to stop by from time to time, it’s been a while since we reviewed the main house here as well! Let’s check out the dining room at Crossroads at House of Blues at Walt Disney World’s Downtown Disney for lunch.

We were surprised by the quality of food on our first visit. While just about everything was good, the classic Buffalo Chicken Wings and the White Chocolate Bread Pudding were the real standouts.

But since our last visit, House of Blues has partnered with celebrity chef Aarón Sánchez to completely overhaul the food offerings. While the emphasis at House of Blues is still on live music, the new Crossroads menu has taken the previously Southern-tinged menu in a slightly different direction.

Atmosphere

As I mentioned, if you haven’t been to House of Blues since the Crossroads menu came to the Walt Disney World location, you won’t find the surroundings to be much different than before. The menu didn’t coincide with a revamp of the restaurant itself.

In Blues We Trust!

Funky, rustic, slightly dark, and whimsical…those are the words that come to mind. You’re supposed to feel as though you happened upon House of Blues on some country road while traveling through the Deep South. And they succeed with transporting you.

Folk Art Outside

Like other Downtown Disney restaurants, House of Blues features multiple bars. The outside bar is a great spot to grab a drink and hang out with friends before or after a performance. It features “hand-lettered” menus and tole painting, as well as brackets and other finishes that appear to have been salvaged and repurposed.

Outdoor Bar

Next to Crossroads Restaurant, you’ll find the Club, which is the main performance venue for House of Blues. The hall holds up to 2,000 guests, and draws top-name talent regularly. It’s a great place to see a show if you haven’t had the chance.

Club — House of Blues Concert Venue

In addition to other performances, House of Blues also offers a regular Gospel Brunch. Held each Sunday at 10:30 am and 1:00 pm, you can read our review of Kirk Franklin’s Gospel Brunch in Disneyland’s Downtown Disney District here.

Gospel Brunch Information

But, snazzy musical performances would have to wait for another day. We were here for lunch, and we were hungry.

We made our way into the restaurant and were greeted with more folk art. At the hostess stand, you get a healthy dose of this interesting fusion. Gothic arches and cherubim call to mind a place of worship.

Entrance

Seating is nothing fancy — just utilitarian wooden chairs and tables.

Seating

Even booths are wooden. Nothing cozy here in the way of seating, but the booths are [Read more…]

Guest Review: New Earl of Sandwich Macaroni and Cheese!

Welcome DFB guest author Jenna G. as she tells us all about the brand new Winter Special at Earl of Sandwich in Disney World’s Downtown Disney — Mac and Cheese!

For those of us braving the wintry weather in most of the country, there are some new cozy comfort foods at Earl of Sandwich that may make us all feel better!

Check out these Earl of Sandwich Winter Time Specials, available for a limited time only.

We tried the macaroni and cheese, which was medium in size and was a sharable snack between two.

Winter Time Specials -- Get 'Em While You Can!

As a connoisseur of great Walt Disney World macaroni and cheese (my favorite being the Truffle Mac & Cheese from Yachtsman Steakhouse) I will say that this wasn’t the best mac ‘n’ cheese. But I can easily see it being a favorite with children.

Macaroni and Cheese

For the price of $3.99, it provides great value and [Read more…]

Guest Review: Sunshine Seasons in Epcot

Please welcome guest author Sarah Gurung as she explores Sunshine Seasons in Epcot’s Future World.

When touring the Disney parks, my family tends to gravitate to the same dining locations. But over the years, I’ve come to crave foods that are a little more unusual than the hamburgers and chicken fingers we have always enjoyed.

At Epcot, Sunshine Seasons offers fresh and unique dishes that appeal to a wide range of palates. For this reason, I all but insisted that we stop for lunch at Sunshine Seasons food court during our visit last month.

Atmosphere

Sunshine Seasons is a quick service dining location in The Land pavilion beneath a massive glass roof where sunshine streams through (and, as we found, thunderstorms roar through!).

Here you also find the Living With the Land, and Soarin’ attractions as well as Garden Grill restaurant. Many of the foods grown in the gardens featured in Living With the Land end up in Sunshine Seasons and Garden Grill dishes!

Sunshine Seasons

Sunshine Seasons is organized like a typical food court with different food stations specializing in a variety of foods, a beverage bar, and grab-and-go options.

The food stations include The Grill, Soup & Salad, Asian Noodles, Sandwiches, The Bakery, and Breakfast.

Menu Board

Beverage Area

Each food station features creative flavor combinations [Read more…]

Review: Disney World’s Flying Fish Cafe

Ah, yes — I get to write about one of my very favorite restaurants in Disney World today!! Flying Fish Cafe is located on Disney’s Boardwalk in Walt Disney World, right next to the back entrance of the Boardwalk Inn.

The entrance is adorned with a giant neon sign complete with flying fish! You can’t miss it. ;-) And once inside, you’ll be treated to whimsical decor, an incredible seasonal menu, and an awesome view of Chef Tim Keating’s open kitchen.

Atmosphere

I think this restaurant is the perfect mix of Disney magic and star-quality food. Plus, the place is just fun to look at. There are shiny things and smooth things and fun things and colorful things all around you when you walk in. Don’t miss the jumping fire at the grills in the open kitchen!

Flying Fish Chef's Counter

From the parachuting fish on the ceiling to the colorful circus-themed mural on the walls there’s always something you missed the last time you were there. And let’s not even start talking about the draped “circus-tent” room in the back of the restaurant where you get to eat if you’re really, really lucky!

Flying Fish Cafe Tables and Murals

Parachutes and Flying Fish

Can you see the hidden Mickey in this mural? I know, I know — I point it out all the time, but I [Read more…]

Review: Yachtsman Steakhouse

Awesomeness! It’s been a long time since we’ve reviewed Yachtsman Steakhouse at Disney World’s Yacht Club Resort, which is a real shame considering how much I like this restaurant! (Meat? Good! Butter? Good! Habanero-Infused Flourless Chocolate Cake? Good!)

But on this visit, I broke away from my standards and tried some new items! Can’t wait to share them with you! Let’s get started…

Atmosphere

Yachtsman Steakhouse has very clean, traditional lines when it comes to decor.

One of the Yachtsman Steakhouse Dining Areas

Guests enter into a foyer where they’ll encounter a large picture window looking into the steak trimming room, then they’ll pass by the open kitchen and into the dining room, which is furnished in light woods and tasteful artwork from top to bottom. Craftsman style chandeliers hang over the white-clothed tables.

Restaurant Entrance

Chandelier in the Two-Story Dining Room

My favorite room in the dining area is a [Read more…]

Review: California Grill

When planning meals for our October trip to Walt Disney World, I realized it had been a LONG time since we’d visited California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort! And I haven’t reported on it here on the blog for over a year, so I figured it was time to get a little updating in!

Let’s head over to the check-in desk, shall we…?

Atmosphere

To access California Grill, guests need to head to the 2nd floor of the Contemporary Resort and visit the restaurant’s check-in desk (you can get here by elevator, or by taking the stairs/from the back of the lobby).

Once you’re checked in, you’ll be waved over to a special elevator — one used only for California Grill guests — and taken up to the restaurant itself on the 15th floor of the hotel!

Entry from Elevators

I’m always immediately impressed by the nearly 360-degree view of Walt Disney World. The gorgeous, sprawling Grand Floridian Resort in front of you; the spires of Cinderella Castle, Big Thunder mountain, and Space Mountain to your right; and the Wilderness Lodge and Epcot to your left will make it difficult for most folks to tear themselves away from the walls of windows to take a look at the menu!

When you walk in, you’ll be greeted at the podium and (likely) handed a pager. No worries; there’s lots to do while you’re waiting. Start walking toward the windows and you’ll pass the California Grill Bar and head into the lounge area.

California Grill Bar

California Grill Bar

California Grill Lounge

Here’s a tip! If you don’t have a [Read more…]

Review: Disneyland Soundsational Menu Items…Will They Become Permanent?

Welcome back Carrie Hayward as she returns to show us specialty menu items from Disneyland’s Soundsational Annual Passholder event! And don’t forget to read Carrie’s bio at the end of this post — she’s pretty amazing!

Over the last week, Disneyland has hosted two after-hours parties to give annual passholders an up-close look at the new Soundsational parade and how it was created. Four special menu items were introduced for the events, each available at a different location and only between the hours of 4pm and midnight that day. However, word on the street is that one or more of them may have been a test for future inclusion on park menus.

Soundsational Eats

Let’s see how the four potentially new menu items stack up!

Mac & Cheese Hot Dog – Main Street Refreshment Corner
Definitely the most talked-about special menu item, this diet-busting snack featured one of Disneyland’s new larger — and reportedly more flavorful hot dogs — smothered in neon macaroni & cheese and topped with bacon bits.

The last Disney hot dog I ate was at Walt Disney World (at Disneyland, I go straight for the corn dogs) and it didn’t seem particularly puny or bland, so I can’t comment on whether the new dog is an improvement.

Disneyland’s has a snappy casing and a salty, beefy taste. The macaroni and cheese was not quite up to par with my beloved Walt Disney World Mickeyroni — more plasticky and less cheesy — but it still had that satisfyingly creamy quality that tells you you’re eating a hot dog covered with mac ‘n’ cheese!

The bacon crumbles were the packaged kind you can buy at the market and didn’t taste like much of anything… think of them as savory sprinkles.

Mac n Cheese Hot Dog

Soundsational “Cupcake” – Blue Ribbon Bakery
As it turned out, there was no Soundsational cupcake at Blue Ribbon Bakery on either party night, and at the first party, bakery cast members acted as if the sign announcing the cupcake was the first they’d heard of it. By the time the second party rolled around, the chef had pulled something together on the fly — a chocolate-chocolate chip muffin topped with cream cheese frosting and a white chocolate Mickey pumpkin.

This sounded like it might be weird, but the muffin was so [Read more…]

Would You Eat a Cars 2 Car?

Disney Food for Families columnist Erin Foster weighs in on Cars 2 Merchandise!

Back on Valentine’s Day, I was lucky enough to attend a D23 member event in New York City in conjunction with the annual Toy Fair. Attendees witnessed the unveiling of the range of toys that would be licensed for the June 24 Cars 2 film release. At the event, Disney Consumer Products Senior Vice President of Global Toys (cool title, eh?), Vince Klaseus, announced that Cars 2 would have more branded toys than any previous Disney/Pixar [Read more…]

Delicious Disney Just for Kids Cookbook Now Available

Great news for those of you who have kiddos clamoring to try their favorite Disney dishes in their very own kitchen!

On the heels of Chef Mickey Treasures From the Vault and in addition to the other wonderful Disney cookbooks, Pam Brandon and the Disney Chefs have released another new set of recipes that’s been in the pipeline for the past year! Delicious Disney Just for Kids inspires even the littlest chefs to innovate and create like a Disney imagineer!

The book includes recipes from Disneyland, Disney World, and the Disney Cruise Line — including some of your favorites like Jiko‘s Mac and Cheese and Sci-Fi Dine-In‘s BLT Tomato Soup! Expect lots of [Read more…]

Disney Food Trends: Gourmet Mac and Cheese

Even Chef Mickey is in on the trend...

I’ve been noticing a few food trends while traipsing through Disney parks, and I think they’re important to mention — especially since they seem to be popping up on every menu re-vamp out there.

First, we gotta take a gander at good old macaroni and cheese. When I asked Disney World’s Sanaa Chef Bob Getchell about the gourmet mac and cheese trend that seems to be taking over Disney restaurants, he mentioned that chefs like to make food they themselves love; many have fond memories of mac and cheese while they were growing up, and they want to create new and improved contemporary recipes for the dish. Here are a few of our favorite versions on and around Disney property:

Yachtsman Steakhouse
Yacht Club Resort’s Yachtsman Steakhouse gets a nod due to a relatively new mac and cheese dish I found on the menu in October. Their truffle mac and cheese uses huge orecchiette noodles and Reypenaer cheese with a touch of truffle oil and a topping of crunchy onions. It’s served in a cast iron baking dish that lends a rustic look — very fun! The best part — it tastes amazing. Rich, tangy, creamy sauce nestles into those pasta pieces and serves as the perfect accompaniment to the meal. This is sold as a side dish only, so be sure to look for it at the bottom of the menu.

Yachtsman Steakhouse Mac and Cheese Side Dish

Le Cellier
Not to be outdone, Epcot’s Le Cellier Steakhouse has also introduced some mac and cheese on the menu. Served in a cast iron skillet, elbow macaroni is [Read more…]