Review: Tokyo Dining in Epcot’s Japan Pavilion

It’s been a while since we enjoyed a dinner in one of the many, many restaurants located around World Showcase. So today, we’re stopping in to Tokyo Dining!

Tokyo Dining is one of two table service restaurants that you’ll find in the beautiful Japan Pavilion, which happens to be a pretty great place to hang out. Mitsukoshi Department Store offers an endless of supply of intriguing merchandise, and the shop in the back is a wonderful spot to discover a new favorite snack. I don’t care if you can now score Pocky at Target — I still can’t resist grabbing some when I’m here!

I could go on. The Sake Bars (yep, there are two…this one and this one), counter service at Katsura Grill and Kabuki Cafe, Kakigori…there is SO much good food here!

But it’s been a while since we’ve taken in a meal at the table service spots. And while I love me some Teppan Edo (read our latest review here), things don’t change much at that Habachi Grill spot. So we decided to check back in with another favorite, Tokyo Dining.

Let’s head in. Or rather, up.

Atmosphere

I say “up” because you’ll actually find both Teppan Edo and Tokyo Dining on the second floor of Mitsukoshi Department Store. Whether you’re checking in for an advance dining reservation or you’re checking availability for walk up spots, start at this booth located just to the right of the steps leading up to the restaurants.

Guest Check In for Teppan Edo and Tokyo Dining

Guest Check In for Teppan Edo and Tokyo Dining

Entrance

Entrance — Up the Steps

As I mentioned, Tokyo Dining and Teppan Edo are both located here. Teppan Edo occupies the back of the second floor, while Tokyo Dining is located to your right at the top of the stairs — in the front of the building. [Read more…]

News: ABC Commissary Offers New ‘Fast Casual’ Dining and Dinner Menu

ABC Commissary at Disney’s Hollywood Studios hasn’t often wowed us in the past. But that may be changing.

The dining spot has previously been strictly counter service in the classic Disney sense of the word. (Check out a recent review here.) You know the set up — order your food from the overhead menu boards, and then step forward with your receipt to collect your tray of drinks and food.

These days, however, ABC Commissary is trying a slightly different approach.

Billing the spot as “fast casual” for the dinner hour, the restaurant takes the same tack as one of our favorites, Wolfgang Puck Express in Disney Springs. The concept is pretty simple: order your food from a cast member and receive a pager. But unlike spots that expect you to come collect your food when the pager goes, off, your food will find you.

Ordering stations

Ordering stations

Guests choose a seat once they’ve ordered their food, and cast members will deliver the food and drinks to their table. Cast members are also available for other needs during your meal. Flag them down for condiments or anything else you might need. [Read more…]

Review and Preview: The Swan and Dolphin Food and Wine Classic Causeway Booths

We’re gearing up for one of our favorite weekends of the year — the Swan and Dolphin Food and Wine Classic!

The Causeway

The Causeway

The event is in its seventh consecutive year, and promises to be bigger and better than ever. In 2016, the Food and Wine Classic will include 50 food and wine stations, 10 seminars, fun themed areas, and opportunities to meet some of the award-winning chefs who bring their artistry to life in the resort’s 17 restaurants! [Read more…]

News! Chef Mickey’s Brunch to Begin May 31; Reservations Open May 22

Fans of Chef Mickey’s — get ready for a whole new meal option!

The SUPER popular (and we are not even exaggerating a little there) character dining experience at Disney World’s Contemporary Resort has always offered breakfast and dinner. But now, it’s expanding to offer brunch daily!

Get ready to dial — Advance Dining Reservations will open on Friday, May 22. Seating for brunch at Chef Mickey’s will begin on Sunday, May 31.

But I think the really cool thing here is that this is brunch, rather than lunch. Fans of Chef Mickey’s breakfast spread can continue to dine on all of their favorites, like Mickey Waffles!

Mickey Waffles!

Mickey Waffles!

But the menu will also include lunch goodies such as soups and lots of salad options. In addition, look for Seafood Étouffée, Barbecued Ribs, and Baked Salmon. The sweets team will also feature [Read more…]

2014 Epcot Food and Wine Festival: NEW Menu Item Spotlight

The 2014 Epcot Food and Wine Festival is RIGHT around the corner! With the countdown at just about a week now, we know that you’re just as excited as we are.

food and wine festival logo

Today we wanted to spotlight the NEW items that are coming to the menus at the World Showcase Marketplace booths this year. And with more than 30 new dishes and sips to sample this year, there’s plenty to experience!

We have a TON of stuff to cover, so to keep it all straight we’re gonna go alphabetically! Ready? Here we go! (And don’t forget, you can check out ALL of the menus from the World Showcase Booths — and many food photos — at our World Showcase Booth Page.)

Africa Marketplace

We had the chance to try a sample of the brand new South African Bobotie with Turkey and Mushrooms from the Africa Marketplace and loved it! The egg dish packed a spicy punch when we tried it at a preview.

South Africa Bobotie with  Turkey and Mushrooms

South Africa Bobotie with Turkey and Mushrooms

Lovers of South African wines will also appreciate the addition of the Fairview Pinotage to the menu.

America Adventure Coffee Cart

If you love the flavors of Fall, get ready to try the Apple Maple Spice Latte at the America Adventure Coffee Cart in the America Pavilion. It’s available hot or cold!

Joffrey's kiosk to the left of American Adventure

Stop by the America Adventure Coffee Cart for an Apple Maple Spice Latte

Australia Marketplace

Always a fan favorite, the Australia Booth will feature a new lineup of beverages this year, including Cooper’s Brewery Original Pale Ale, Chateau Tanuda Grand Barossa Dry Riesling, St. Kilda Chardonnay, and Nine Stones Shiraz. The menu looks to complement classic Food and Wine Festival dishes like the Grilled Lamb Chop with Mint Pesto and Garlic Shrimp with Roasted Tomatoes, Lemon Myrtle and Rapini.

Grilled Lamb Chop with Mint Pesto and Potato Crunchies -- Australia Booth

New Beverage Selections Complement Classic Dishes, Like Grilled Lamb Chop with Mint Pesto and Potato Crunchies

Belgium Marketplace

At the Belgium Marketplace, we’re seeing another hot trend — hard cider. We think that the Stella Artois Cidre will be a big hit with festival goers who are looking for a refreshing alternative to beer.

Stella Artois Cidre

Stella Artois Cidre

Block & Hans Kiosk

The Block & Hans Kiosk features a regular assortment of craft beer, but for the festival, they’ll add wines to the mix as well. Enjoy a bevy of American wines, which will include all of the following!

  • Robert Mondavi, Fume Blanc
  • The Great American Wine Company, Chardonnay
  • The Great American Wine Company, Red Blend
  • Robert Mondavi, Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Domaine Chandon Brut Sparkling Blanc de Noir
  • Still River Winery Apple Ice Wine
Chandon Blanc de Noir at Block & Hans

Chandon Blanc de Noir at Block & Hans

Great American Wine Company by Rosenblum -- Chardonnay -- at Block & Hans

Great American Wine Company by Rosenblum — Chardonnay — at Block & Hans

Brazil Marketplace

While Brazil brings back a favorite menu item from 2013, the Pork Belly, there are several new items to savor as well.

Moqueca de Pescado: Regal Springs Premium Tilapia with Coconut Lime Sauce and Steamed Rice

Moqueca de Pescado: Regal Springs Premium Tilapia with Coconut Lime Sauce and Steamed Rice

  • Moqueca de pescado: Regal Springs Premium Tilapia with Coconut Lime Sauce and Steamed Rice
  • Pao de Queijo: Brazilian Cheese Bread
  • Cocada: Brazilian Coconut Candy
  • Tannat Reserve

We enjoyed the [Read more…]

Guest Review: Dinner at Les Chefs de France in Epcot

Join us in welcoming guest author Eric Lane! Today, he’s sharing a review of Les Chefs de France in Walt Disney World’s Epcot. Bon Appetit!

Based on its location and consistently solid food quality it’s no wonder that Les Chefs is one of the most popular establishments in Epcot.

Atmosphere

Sitting right on the promenade of World Showcase Lagoon, Chefs de France is a prominent restaurant. Built to replicate a French bistro, the large open interior is fronted by a long, glass sunroom. Those walking along the World Showcase Lagoon can see the diners all the way in the back, and those in the back can see all of those walking by.

Les Chefs de France Window Tables

Our reservation was at 8:50PM and a positively bubbly maître d’ seated us right in the middle of the sunroom window. Seats against the glass were for two, we were one row away from the window. Because the whole restaurant is an open room, you can see all the waiters, everyone getting up and down, and all the people walking outside.

Les Chefs de France Back Sunroom at Night

A large floodlight outside provided an amber warmth that calmed all the hustle and bustle.

Front of Les Chefs de France at Night

We ate as the restaurant closed and slowly cleared until it was just our table and about 5 others when we were finished at 9:45PM.

Eats

Since we were at a French restaurant I decided to start with the French onion soup. The cheese was a little sharper than I thought it would be, which caught me off guard. Although unexpected it added a welcome bite to the flavor. The onion and beef flavors were much more subtle, but the cheese didn’t overpower them.

French Onion Soup

French Onion Soup

Another unusual touch was that I got the heel of the bread, which made it a little difficult to cut out a good hunk of bread with my spoon. Overall good, but not enough to stop me from sampling another appetizer next time I eat here.

The next dish was the ungainly titled “Filet de Saumon, pommes de terre ecrasess, au buerre et chboulette, sur coulis de tomate et poivron rouge.” That was the bold faced name of the dish, but instead of saying it while ordering or the direct English translation of “broiled salmon, smashed potatoes with butter and chives, served on a tomato and red pepper sauce” I was able to get away with just asking for the salmon filet. I appreciated that the sauce was not served on the salmon, but placed on the plate before the potatoes and salmon. It let me dip the salmon in the slightly spicy sauce and get just the right amount on the fish for my taste.

Salmon

Salmon

The salmon itself was perfectly cooked and seasoned with a little black pepper and just enough other spices to bring out the flavor of the fish. The potatoes were simple and added nothing of note to the dish other than a starch. It was a good, straightforward main course. (Note; the accompaniments on this dish have changed on the menu since the review was written.)

My friend, who despite not being a foodie is my BDFF (best Disney friend forever), had the baked macaroni with cream and gruyere cheese. She enjoyed it but I absolutely loved it. Flavorful, simple, and among the best [Read more…]

Epcot Food and Wine Festival Recipe: Grilled Verlasso Salmon with Quinoa Salad and Arugula Chimichurri

If you’re like us, you’re already counting down the days until the Epcot Food and Wine Festival Begins!

food and wine festival logo

If you haven’t already done it, mark your calendars for September 19 — the date that the food and fun gets underway!

Recently, we had the opportunity to see and taste some of the brand new dishes that will be featured at this year’s festival.

Today, we have a recipe for one of our favorites — Grilled Verlasso Salmon with Quinoa Salad and Arugula Chimichurri. The dish will be featured at this year’s new Patagonia Booth.

It’s an especially interesting dish, because the Salmon is sustainably farm-raised. In fact, it’s the first and only ocean-raised farm fish to receive the “Good Alternative” buy ranking from the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Watch Group.

Salmon Quinoa Salad with Chimi-Churri Will Be Featured at the NEW Patagonia Marketplace Booth

Salmon Quinoa Salad with Chimi-Churri at the NEW Patagonia Marketplace Booth

And the Quinoa Salad is absolutely delicious, and among our favorite dishes that we tried!

And now you and I can make it at home with this handy recipe.

Grilled Verlasso Salmon with Quinoa Salad and Arugula Chimichurri

2014 Epcot Food and Wine Festival’s Patagonia Marketplace Booth
Serves 6

Ingredients: [Read more…]

Review: Lunch at Crystal Palace in Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom

Welp, boys and girls — it’s time to head into Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom and take in lunch at Crystal Palace! This is a beloved character spot for many Disney fans, and a must-do character experience for lots of you.

Me? I hadn’t been to Crystal Palace in foreva…not since an ill-fated late-night visit a couple of years ago when the food was AW-FUL! Yep, it was the end-of-the-night dregs of the buffet and we were pretty much just grossed out. (Have you ever seen a buffet about 15 minutes before a restaurant is about to close? Not pretty.) We ate very little and left as soon as we could. Sad, since we do love dining with Pooh and friends.

But it was time to revisit the 100 Hundred Acre Wood — after all, we’d had lots of great meals here previously — and I made reservations with some friends for lunch.

We have tons of shots to show you, so let’s get started!

Atmosphere

You’ll find Crystal Palace to the left of Main Street USA’s end, just as you approach Cinderella Castle. The beautiful glass building, inspired by ornate conservatories of the late Victorian Age, is a slice of Disney history as well. The restaurant has been around since opening day in 1971.

Entrance to Restaurant

Entrance to Restaurant

And here’s a tip if you’re looking for an extra-special experience during your Disney vacation: try and book Crystal Palace for an early breakfast. You’ll be one of the first guests into the Park when you do this, and visiting a nearly empty Magic Kingdom is an event to remember.

Once you step inside, you’ll see whitewashed walls that carry the bright, light decor throughout. Artwork depicting inspiration for the architecture as well as photos of lush palms cover the walls.

Artwork and Framed Photos

Artwork and Framed Photos

The soaring atrium above is gorgeous — especially on a sunny day!

Crystal Palace Atrium

Crystal Palace Atrium

After you check in, you’ll wait for your table outside on the shaded veranda. But once you step in, pause a moment to take it all in.

Dining Rooms

Dining Rooms

Tons of windows and glass domes allow for plenty of natural light in the two dining areas.

Dining Room from Another Angle

Dining Room from Another Angle

And really — look up. Because the windows are really stunning. I love the beautiful stained glass detail.

Stained Glass Windows

Stained Glass Windows

The decor puts you in mind of a Victorian conservatory, with its outside-but-inside feel. Lush flowers and what reminds me of patio furniture finish the area.

Evening Light

Afternoon Light

Crystal Palace is, of course, a character dining experience, and you’ve stumbled onto a party!

Center Atrium -- Up Close

Center Atrium — Up Close

In fact, visit here, and you’ll take part in a Friendship Day Celebration with Winnie the Pooh and his friends.

Banner -- Up Close

It’s Friendship Day!

Just check out these gorgeous flower topiaries of the whole gang!

Pooh and His Hunny Pot

Pooh and His Hunny Pot

Eeyore Topiary

Eeyore Topiary

The sweet little figures appear to be made of dried roses, and foreshadow the characters you’ll meet while you dine.

Piglet Topiary

Piglet Topiary

Bouncing Tigger Topiary

Bouncing Tigger Topiary

And beautiful hanging arrangements of tropical flowers complete the classic conservatory feel.

Fresh Flowers

Fresh Flowers

Seating is standard and fairly comfortable. Heavy, padded chairs share the space with booths, but some tables are situated a bit too closely for our comfort.

Seating for Two

Seating for Two

Seating along windows gives you a glimpse of guests waiting to be seated! But beyond them, you’ll also see a beautiful view of [Read more…]

Review: Cape May Cafe at Disney’s Beach Club Resort

We are heading to the quaint New England shore today for a breakfast buffet at Cape May Cafe!

The expansive restaurant, located at Disney’s Beach Club Resort, is a favorite among guests for a couple of reasons: 1.) You get to see Minnie, Donald, and Goofy in their BATHING SUITS! SO FUN! (OK, that sounds weird as I read it over, but you know what I mean, right?), 2.) It’s slightly easier to get an advance dining reservation here than at one of the other, more well-known character breakfasts, like Chef Mickey’s or Crystal Palace.

We hadn’t been back to Cape May for breakfast in quite a while, so on a recent trip, we headed over one morning pre-park with AJ’s Mom and AJ’s Dad to see what was new.

Atmosphere

You enjoy the same open, airy feeling at Cape May that you sense throughout the rest of the Beach Club Resort. The stick-style architecture (I totally learned that from Samantha Brown back when she was doing “Great Hotels” on the Travel Channel…remember?) brings to mind Victorian beach house themes.

Entrance

Check in at the podium, and soon you’ll be making your way to one of two dining rooms — a large main room, or a smaller one adjacent to the restaurant’s entrance. I much prefer the large main dining room since it has a lot more to look at and has slightly easier access to the buffet. ;-)

Check In Area

The palette is pastel, and vintage-style beach umbrellas and chairs adorn the space to drive home the seaside feeling. The colorful carpet depicts beach umbrellas, too.

Seating

Seating is comfortable, with a mixture 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…]