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!

Dining in Disneyland: Seasonal Eats at Hungry Bear Restaurant

The Hungry Bear Restaurant in Critter Country is what I’d consider a hidden gem of Disneyland.  The counter service restaurant is nestled way in the back of the park along the Rivers of America.  The lines are never too terrible, there’s plenty of seating, and more importantly the food is quite wonderful!

Hungry Bear Restaurant

Hungry Bear Restaurant


[Read more…]

Review: Lunch at Tangaroa Terrace in the Disneyland Hotel

Today, we’re heading into one of my favorite places — the Disneyland Hotel — to enjoy lunch at Tangaroa Terrace.

The counter service spot, billed as “casual island dining”, is a newer addition to this landmark. While the hotel has been around since the beginning of Disneyland time, Tangaroa Terrace opened only a few short years ago as part of a massive renovation.

Tangaroa Terrace

Tangaroa Terrace

Early reviews weren’t extremely positive. But after the kitchen staff settled in a bit, our Dining in Disneyland columnist Heather Sievers visited and had a mostly positive experience here.

Fans of Captain Cook’s Snack Company in Walt Disney World’s Polynesian Resort (nope, apparently the name hasn’t officially changed yet) are going to find the place very familiar. Time to show you around a bit!

Atmosphere

Tangaroa Terrace isn’t just a renovated space — they built it from the ground up. The standalone spot is located adjacent to the hotel’s three pools, making poolside dining for guests of the hotel a snap.

Enter the restaurant, and you’ll see immediately that ordering your food is going to be an interactive experience. That’s because guests CAN place their orders at kiosks. The concept is a familiar one for veterans of Walt Disney World. But kiosk ordering is still pretty rare around Disneyland Resort.

Ordering Kiosks

Ordering Kiosks

The kitchen offers the same open concept like so many other Disney kitchens these days. It’s also worth noting that the staff here service not only Tangaroa Terrace, but Trader Sam’s and poolside orders as well.

A Closer Look at the Kitchen

A Closer Look at the Kitchen

Indoor seating is extremely limited…but hey, the restaurant isn’t called Tangaroa Terrace for nothing.

Taking a page from the Polynesian Islands, they meld the indoor with the outdoor here. Inside, soaring ceilings and big windows let in plenty of light.

Indoor Seating

Indoor Seating

But as far as seating goes, [Read more…]

Top 10 Disneyland Fast Food Joints

Most of the time when I visit Disney, I indulge in a mix of meals. I may book a table service advance dining reservation for one part of the day, and leave the rest to chance — looking to discover new things at the parks’ kiosks and counter service spots.

Top 10 Disneyland Fast Food Restaurants

Today, I’m counting down my favorite places in Disneyland Resort to grab a quick meal!

Disneyland is second to none (yep — even compared to Disney World) at putting together truly outstanding counter service, quick service, and fast food meals. And the one consistent theme that you’ll find in Disneyland counter service spots — a lot of the time, the food and venues feel like table service quality (right down to real plates!)

Let’s get started!

Plaza Inn

The Plaza Inn is legendary for its beautiful atmosphere. Located where Main Street and Tomorrowland intersect, this charming spot has been open forever — and it’s been pleasing guests in search of a good meal all the while.

Even Walt was a fan!

Walt Disney enjoying a cup of coffee at Plaza Inn in 1966

Walt Disney enjoying a cup of coffee at Plaza Inn in 1966

A character meal table service location for breakfast, it morphs into a counter service buffet (sans characters) for lunch and dinnertime.

The Roast Beef and Pasta dishes here are both good choices. But ask most Disneyland food fans what the must-have dish here is, and you’ll get a resounding response: the Fried Chicken! The huge — and I mean HUGE — platter comes with three pieces of Fried Chicken, Mashed Potatoes, a Vegetable, and a Biscuit. I shared this with a friend the last time I got it, and we still couldn’t finish!

Plaza Inn Fried Chicken

Plaza Inn Fried Chicken

Incidentally, you should try and save room for dessert, too. (I know…I know.) When strawberries are in season, I’d definitely recommend the luscious Strawberry Shortcake!

Strawberry Shortcake at Plaza Inn in Disneyland

Strawberry Shortcake

But the Carrot Cake is pretty awesome, too.

Flo’s V-8 Cafe

Dining at Flo’s V-8 Cafe within Cars Land at Disney California Adventure is an immersive experience. As with the rest of the spots in this newest Disneyland Resort section, you feel like you’ve wandered right into the animation!

But step inside the enormous restaurant, and you see all kinds of kitschy fun, inspired by the roadside diners that once peppered legendary Route 66.

Flo's V-8 Cafe

Flo’s V-8 Cafe

The name of the game at Flo’s is the kind of comfort food that you’d expect to find in such spots, with spit-fired meats dominating the dinner menu. There’s also an inventive vegetarian option here — the Veggie Tater Bake!

But it’s Flo’s breakfast that we love love LOVE the most!

For a super sweet start to your day, you’ve gotta try the Brioche French Toast with Salted Caramel Sauce and Bananas. (Dessert for breakfast? you ask? Well, yeah; pretty much! But…bananas!!!)

Brioche French Toast with  Salted Caramel Sauce and Bananas

Brioche French Toast with Salted Caramel Sauce and Bananas

Or, try the option that serves up a delicious Mexican food-inspired twist — the Chicken Tamale Breakfast with Scrambled Eggs and Salsa Verde.

Chicken Tamale Breakfast with Scrambled Eggs and Salsa Verde

Chicken Tamale Breakfast with Scrambled Eggs and Salsa Verde

And be sure to stop back by later in the day for dessert — Flo’s Signature Apple-Cheddar Pie-O-Rama is spectacular!

Apple Pie at Flo's

Pie at Flo’s

Rancho del Zocalo

The beautifully themed Rancho del Zocalo, located in Disneyland Park’s Frontierland, is a feast for the eyes as well as the stomach!

Gorgeous murals and lighting fixtures dominate the walls inside, while a beautiful patio covered with gauzy awnings wins our vote for best place to sit here.

Outdoor seating at Rancho del Zocalo

Outdoor seating at Rancho del Zocalo

Following the pattern of many Disneyland counter service spots, Rancho del Zocalo is counter service with the feel of a cafeteria. Guests order their main entree, and then visit stations to pick up extra courses, like salads and desserts.

The Mexican influenced menu is small, but the ingredients and preparation are always high quality, and a cut above what we think of as fast food. One of my favorite options here is the Soft Tacos Monterrey with Fajita Chicken. (You can also get them with beef.)

Soft Tacos Monterrey with Fajita Chicken

Soft Tacos Monterrey with Fajita Chicken

The addition of Peppers as well as Sour Cream and Guacamole on the side makes this a winner for me. I look forward to having it whenever I have a chance to visit Rancho del Zocalo!

Hungry Bear Restaurant

If you like eating in a treehouse, then I have just the Disneyland spot for you! Hungry Bear Restaurant in Disneyland’s Critter Country recently underwent some renovations and [Read more…]

Disney Food Post Round-Up: February 5, 2012

Super Bowl Cupcakes at Main St. Bakery

Welcome to the SUPERBOWL EDITION of the Disney Food Post Round-Up!!

Does this mean that these articles are particularly football-related? No. But it does mean that I’m probably prepping to watch some football while you’re reading!! ;-) Here we go!!

Disney Food News

Get your news hot and fresh this week!

  • Watching the Big Game in WDW? Check out some Super Bowl eats! Main Street Bakery is even offering those Pats and Giants cupcakes you see in the pic! (Thanks to @PlazaandMainSt for the photo!)
  • Flavorful popcorn (including test flavors) are popping up around the Disney Parks. There’s also Vinylmation Popcorns coming up soon!
  • Disneyland Cupcakes are back in Disneyland’s Downtown Disney! Yummy pictures included. ;-)
  • Earl of Sandwich has a new “for a limited time” french dip sandwich! Check out a photo here!
  • The Landscape of Flavors food court at Art of Animation resort will open this summer! Check out these newly revealed menu items!
  • There’s lots of news from Raglan Road at Downtown Disney including St. Patrick’s Day luncheon with Chef Kevin Dundon and new gluten free items on the menu!

For more sweet and savory food news, stop by our Disney Food News Pin Board, where Disney Food News is updated on a regular basis!

The Disney Food Blog Mini-Guide to Magic Kingdom Snacks e-Book

The DFB Mini-Guide to Magic Kingdom Snacks e-Book is proving invaluable to food-lovers headed to Disney World!!

We couldn’t fit this detailed information into our overview book, The DFB Guide to Walt Disney World Dining, so we’ve created an entire guide detailing over 70 Magic Kingdom snacks!

You’ll see photos, reviews, costs, and Disney Dining Plan snack credit information about each featured snack! Be sure to check out http://DFBMiniGuides.com for details about the e-Book, sample pages, and even a list of the bonus items in the book!

To grab a 20% discount today, use code MAGIC at the check-out!! We hope you enjoy!

And don’t forget to pick up the 250-page, picture-packed DFB Guide to Walt Disney World Dining while you’re at it! :-) Thanks for supporting the Disney Food Blog!

On to the Round-Up

Yesterland bids farewell to Bur-r-r-bank Ice Cream in Disney California Adventure.

WildernessLodgeSite.com makes the Artist Point’s Berry Cobbler. Yum!

Main Street Gazette heads to Sunshine Seasons for a vegetarian review of the S’mores Brownie.

Orlando Sentinel talks turkey — and confirms that those popular turkey legs being served in the parks are definitely not emu legs.

AllEars.Net‘s Deb Wills reviews eats at the Magic Kingdom and Contemporary Resort.

Eating (and Drinking) Around the World takes a look at new adult beverages in Epcot’s World Showcase!

a Mouse and a Dream discovers sweet potato fries at Cafe’ Orleans in Disneyland. Thanks to DFB reader Alex for letting me know about this site!

Have a great week!! May the best team win ;-)