Review: The Dining Room at Paddlefish in Disney Springs

With so many new (and not-so-new, but still greatly loved) dining experiences in Disney Springs, it can be tough to decide where to make your precious Advance Dining Reservations.

So on a recent visit to Disney Springs, I checked out Paddlefish — this time in the dining room (as opposed to the top deck bar) to get an overview of some of the menu’s most popular items. And while most of it was good, some of it was great (and one item — spoiler alert! — was just bad).

Paddlefish is a brand new restaurant in an old, established building. You’ll recall that Fulton’s Crab House used to reside here, in the docked, multi-storied Empress Lily on Lake Buena Vista; and actually this spot has been a restaurant since 1977. When Paddlefish opened, guests were greeted with a combination of old and new. Neutral and trendy gray paint gave the restaurant a streamlined look, but some details of old remained, like brass railings and the fabulous sternwheel.

So what do you say? Shall we paddle in?

Paddlefish

Paddlefish

Atmosphere

The first floor bar at Paddlefish is a beautiful space, with its curved, recessed ceiling, wall of windows, and various seating arrangements. Definitely a comfortable place to grab a drink or two! [Read more…]

Review: Floridian Pancakes and Lobster Thermidor Burger at Grand Floridian Cafe

With so many dining options to try at Walt Disney World, it’s not every trip that I’m able to return to some classic Resort restaurants — particularly if I’m not staying at the Resort in question.

But on a recent visit, I had a meeting that was (thankfully!) at the Grand Floridian Cafe. Located off the lobby in the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa’s main building, the Grand Floridian Cafe offers lovely views of the rose garden and courtyard pool beyond. It’s nice and tranquil, but not at all stuffy. So if you want to check out the Grand Floridian with your entire crew (including kiddos), this is a great place to try it.

The Cafe menu serves up traditional American dishes with a few nods to seafood and Southern fare in celebration of the Sunshine State, and our most recent trip here was for dinner. But a great feature at the Grand Floridian Cafe is the brunch-style menu offering breakfast dishes (in addition to the lunch offerings) through 2:00 pm. Hence the “Pancakes and Burger” mashup we’re reviewing today!

And there’s another big boon for the Grand Floridian Cafe: since it’s on the Resort Monorail loop, it’s easily accessible from Magic Kingdom and a terrific get-away if you need a little break from the park.

Atmosphere

Like every restaurant at the Grand Floridian, the Cafe is simple and elegant. You won’t find over-the-top, Disney-fied theming in terms of characters or bright colors. But you will feel as though you’ve gone back to the Victorian Era (minus all the stiff social constructs). Check in takes place at a desk with white columns and great trim details.

Grand Floridian Cafe Entrance

Grand Floridian Cafe Entrance

Right away you’ll notice the lattice-and-flowers carpeting, which carries throughout the restaurant. The wood trim also continues into the dining room, where floral wallpaper and tasteful seating await.

[Read more…]

News! New Steak (With NO Mac and Cheese) Debuts at Mama Melrose in Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Update: As of January 2018, mac and cheese has returned! See our note at the end of this post! 

Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano at Disney’s Hollywood Studios has been a guest go-to for years, and the Strip Steak with Mac and Cheese has — by far — the most fans (yours truly included).

Strip Steak and Mac and Cheese at Mama Melrose's

Strip Steak and Mac and Cheese at Mama Melrose’s

Which is why it pains us to report that the steak has changed. And the Mac and Cheese? It’s disappeared, and has been replaced with… a bed of potatoes. (Whaaaat?!) The new dish is a Grilled Flat Iron Steak with Fingerling Potatoes. [Read more…]

Review: My Favorite Food in Disneyland

OK, for serious. I’m just going to say it. This is the BEST food in Disneyland. Believe me, Napa Rose is incredible, Steakhouse 55 slays, and Club 33 is amazing. I’ve been to all three many times. But if I only have one meal to eat in Disneyland, it’s going to be this one.

We all know that Disney restaurants can be maddeningly inconsistent, but this one? Always good. And these particular menu items are home-runs every single time. It’s a good day for a visit to Cafe Orleans in Disneyland, don’t you think?

Located in New Orleans Square, this casual Table Service restaurant serves consistently killer NOLA French Quarter-inspired fare with a little bonus panache.

New Orleans Square

New Orleans Square

New Orleans Square, for those who haven’t been, is so fun. It’s always Mardi Gras here, people! Big masks, oversized beads, and beautiful architectural details make this place a magnet for visitors to the Happiest Place on Earth.

And Cafe Orleans is right in the heart of things.

Atmosphere

Cafe Orleans is a pretty classy joint. Think stained glass and elegant decor (by theme park standards). It all starts outside. [Read more…]

Review: Yak and Yeti Restaurant in Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Since its earliest days, I’ve always enjoyed a stop at Yak and Yeti Restaurant.

Yak and Yeti is located in Animal Kingdom’s Asia (you’ll pass it on the corner on your way to the Maharajah Jungle Trek) in the fictional village of Anandapur. Like Tiffins and Restaurantosaurus — and pretty much any restaurant in Animal Kingdom — theming is key here, with decor that is immersive and memorable. While you dine, you are surrounded by images and icons of Asian culture. Even the brightly painted exterior mimics that which you might see on the colorful village streets of Northern India or Nepal.

And as for the food? It’s also usually — dare I say it? – consistent here. Consistently GOOD. If you’ve been reading DFB for any length of time, then you’ll know that is a compliment I rarely bestow, as it’s so rarely earned in any Disney World Table Service restaurant.

So… I headed to Yak and Yeti ON MY BIRTHDAY, because I reeeeally wanted those firecracker shrimp on my special day. Did my most recent visit likewise measure up?

Atmosphere

Once you’re on the right continent in Animal Kingdom, the bright purple stucco exterior that makes up Yak & Yeti Restaurant is accented by arched windows, intricate corbels, and beautifully carved doors.

Yak and Yeti Restaurant

Yak and Yeti Restaurant

The backstory here is that the owner of this building in Anandapur is a man named Arjun, a former merchant who’s turned his opulent home into lodging for travelers. These details account for the eclectic mix of statues, wall hangings, and furniture. The bar area you see below features examples of these details. [Read more…]

News: Disneyland Bids Adieu to Disney Legend Chef Oscar Martinez

If you’ve enjoyed a meal at Carnation Cafe on Main Street, U.S.A., in Disneyland, you’ve likely been in the midst of real Disney royalty –perhaps without even knowing it.

Carnation Cafe

Carnation Cafe

Chef Oscar Martinez has been working in the Cafe for half a century — and he has been working at Disneyland for over sixty total years. This makes Chef Oscar the longest tenured Disneyland cast member ever.

Carnation Cafe's Chef Oscar

Carnation Cafe’s Chef Oscar

But after decades of turning out “Oscar’s Potatoes” and his Loaded Baked Potato Soup, Chef Oscar retired on September 27. (And may we say that it is a well-deserved break?!)

Chef Oscar with his New Penguin Buddies

Chef Oscar

Chef Oscar has been a touchstone for visitors to Walt’s park, often seen first thing in the morning, waving to guests as they entered the park. He was always game for a chat, as our Disneyland correspondent Heather Sievers (@diningindisney) found out one morning.

Oscar started as a bus boy and worked his way up the restaurant ladder, finally achieving fame as a connoisseur of comfort food at Carnation Cafe. It was here that Oscar spent the last fifty years of his service to the Walt Disney Company and to the guests he loved so much.

Chef Oscar

Chef Oscar

And while Oscar has more recently spent his time as an ambassador in the dining room rather than as a chef on the line, his influence will continue to be felt in the Carnation Cafe and in the Company for years to come.

We wish Chef Oscar all the best in his retirement — and thank him for spreading so much Disney magic over the past six decades.

Have you met Chef Oscar? Share your story in the comments below! 

Review: Plaza de la Familia at Paradise Garden Grill at Disney California Adventure

Zocalo Park in Disneyland’s Frontierland has honored Dia de Los Muertos for some time now, featuring specialty displays and even snacks in honor of the annual Mexican celebration.

Dia de los Muertos Krispy Rice Treats

Dia de los Muertos Krispy Rice Treats

But things have gotten a lot bigger and better. Because this year’s Disneyland celebration extends to Disney California Adventure! Running now through November 2nd, the all-new Plaza de la Familia seasonal celebration offers live music and entertainment, interactive activities, and special decorations to enjoy. [Read more…]

DFB Video: Best to Worst — Magic Kingdom Restaurants RANKED!

Hey Guys! We’re back with another DFB Video today, and we’re getting down to the serious business of RANKING Magic Kingdom restaurants!

magic kingdom restaurants ranked

With so many new and classic Magic Kingdom restaurants to choose from, it can be nearly impossible to know what’s what! That’s why we’re here to help! We’re reviewing all the greats (and the not so greats) in this video and ranking the Magic Kingdom restaurants best to worst.
[Read more…]

Review: Dinner at ‘Ohana in Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort

We’re at ‘Ohana!!  And ‘Ohana means FAMILY.

From the moment you enter ‘Ohana, you’re informed (or reminded, for returning guests) of the meaning of the restaurant’s name. This family-friendly spot is perched atop the Great Ceremonial House at the Polynesian Village Resort, and it’s become a must-dine for guests of all ages — including Disney World first timers!

The warmth of the atmosphere at ‘Ohana really makes you feel like you’re part of a massive extended family (where your server is your cousin), and that’s a really good thing.

‘Ohana has two dining experiences. Breakfast features characters with Lilo, Stitch, Pluto, and the Main Mouse himself. Dinner, on the other hand, is not a character meal, but still includes entertainment (which I’ll show you in this post). In either case, meals are all-you-care-to-enjoy. And while I really do love breakfast here, my most recent visit was for dinner.

'Ohana

‘Ohana

You are very welcome here at ‘Ohana! [Read more…]

Review: Dinner at Liberty Tree Tavern in Disney World’s Magic Kingdom

Time to go back in time and dine with the Founding Fathers… . Or, at the very least, settle for the next best thing: dinner at Liberty Tree Tavern in Walt Disney World.

Liberty Tree Tavern has long held a special place in my heart — and in many of yours as well, I know. If you’re one of many longtime Tavern devotees, you already know that for years this Magic Kingdom Table Service has offered an a la carte menu for Lunch, while dinner has featured an All-You-Care-to-Enjoy meal served family style.

Both of those things are still true. But some notable changes to both the lunch and dinner menus took place just a couple months ago. For instance, Lunch still offers a la carte options (with some returning favorites among them), but you can also order the All-You-Care-to-Enjoy Bill of Fare, if you wish.

And the changes to Dinner? Well, there was only one. But it was a pretty darn big one, and I had to experience it for myself.

Liberty Tree Tavern Sign

Liberty Tree Tavern Sign

So please join me, my fellow citizens… .

[Read more…]