Review: The Hollywood Brown Derby Lounge

Cheers from The Hollywood Brown Derby Lounge!

The Brown Derby Lounge sits just outside The Hollywood Brown Derby Restaurant in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Its reputation stems from that of the original Brown Derby Restaurant in the City of Lights — a hot spot of the 1930s and 40s where stars of the Golden Age of film came to “see and be seen.” The outdoor lounge (which was added to the Disney World location in 2013) offers a spot for walk-ups without Advance Dining Reservations to enjoy a taste along with a bit of the ambience of the signature restaurant.

The Lounge serves food along with cocktails and bar service. And with some new items added to the menu this summer, we thought it was a good time to travel back to Hollywood’s heyday with a visit to the Hollywood Brown Derby Lounge.

Atmosphere

For a newer location, The Hollywood Brown Derby Lounge blends so seamlessly within its surroundings that its hard to remember that it hasn’t been here all along. And, to be fair, the patio and tables HAVE been here all along, but they weren’t functioning as a lounge at the time.

Below is a shot from its opening day in October 2013.

Hollywood Brown Derby Lounge

Hollywood Brown Derby Lounge

Not much has changed in the past almost-two years, except for [Read more…]

Review: Lunch at The Hollywood Brown Derby in Disney’s Hollywood Studios

We’re dining with the stars at THE place to “see and be seen!”

Welcome to The Hollywood Brown Derby! We’re enjoying lunch while taking a trip back in time to the elegance of the “golden age” of Hollywood. For fans of classic films, even within Hollywood Studios this signature restaurant is a destination in its own right.

A replica of the original Hollywood Brown Derby  (a fine dining establishment for the likes of Clark Gable, Lucille Ball, and Bing Crosby back in the day), the Derby of Hollywood Studios offers park-goers a touch of refined elegance in the midst of a busy park day. In fact, I’d say that once you enter the doors of the Brown Derby, it’s a little bit difficult to remember that you’re in a theme park at all.

Let’s step inside…

Atmosphere

I mention taking “a trip back in time” because I feel as though the setting of The Hollywood Brown Derby transports guests to another place and era better than just about any place in Disney World, starting with the outside entrance.

Brown Derby entrance

Brown Derby entrance

Brown Derby entrance

Brown Derby entrance

A plaque on the outside gives guests a tiny bit of the history and inspiration for the Hollywood Studios location, though many may stroll right past and miss it.

Plaque noting the inspiration for the building

Plaque noting the inspiration for the building

There are two defining features, I think, to the Brown Derby. One is [Read more…]

Guest Review: The Hollywood Brown Derby at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Guest author Rebecca Dolan returns today with a restaurant review from Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Let’s join her at The Hollywood Brown Derby!

Recalling the golden days of Tinseltown, The Hollywood Brown Derby sits just beyond where Sunset and Hollywood Boulevards converge.

A replica of the once iconic California restaurant, where famous faces of the day met to see and be seen, it exudes ‘30s/’40s style. “Meet me at the Derby” and let your inner star or starlet shine.

Meet me at the Derby

Atmosphere

The restaurant is located in a Mission-style building complete with tile roof and crawling bougainvillea. The building is fairly understated, but a neon Derby sign on the roof gives it away. A long awning-covered walkway leads the way into the small check in area. It’s in here that guests get their first glimpse of the Derby’s iconic caricatures. Everyone who was anyone was represented on the walls – see how many stars you can spot.

Dining Room

Beyond the hostess desk, guests emerge from the unassuming lobby into the cavernous dining room, which feels like entering into a glamorous Hollywood club. The main floor is flanked on two sides by double rows of booths, the outer two being raised above the rest of the room.

Large art deco-esque chandeliers light the room and rich wood accents the walls. Entrants step first onto one of the overlooks, allowing a full view of their dining companions – famous or otherwise.

View of Dining Room

The constellation of stars’ caricatures continues onto these walls, from which bronze derby lamps hang over tables.

Brown Derby Decor

If you can, try to take a seat in one of the rounded booths – perfect for canoodling with your Hollywood heartthrob or generally enjoying a touch of seclusion.

Eats

The Brown Derby’s contemporary American menu isn’t lengthy, but provides a nice amount of variety. Don’t be put off by the level of detail when it comes to its descriptions; the food’s not too hoity toity. (Note: This is a two-credit restaurant on the Disney Dining Plan.)

Menu — click image for larger version

Bread service, with sea salted butter

As this is the birthplace of the Cobb salad, it felt like a must to order the appetizer size as one of our starters. It won’t look like a typical salad, however, since the lettuce and the toppings are all chopped so finely you could, no kidding, eat this salad with a spoon. The kitchen is generous with said toppings; so two people could eat this comfortably.

Cobb Salad

The lobster bisque was a bit on the salty side, and nothing too exciting. I’ll give it points for being the thickest lobster bisque I’ve ever had. Don’t expect true ravioli to be floating on top, the “ravioli” were more like little dumplings.

Lobster Bisque

The clear winner in the appetizer category was the andouille-crusted prawn, which sat on a bed of greens and grits. This dish stole this Southern gal’s heart, and I would like to lobby the restaurant for an entrée version.

The large shrimp was perfectly cooked, the greens tender, and the grits creamy. There’s only enough here for one, so don’t plan on sharing!

Andouille-crusted prawn

For the next course: [Read more…]

Guest Review: The Hollywood Brown Derby at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Join us in welcoming Guest Author Trish M. with a mini-review of The Hollywood Brown Derby at Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World. She utilized the Fantasmic Dining Package!

I just got back from Walt Disney World and I did the Fantasmic Package at Brown Derby. This was a cost of $56.99 plus tax and gratuity. And it was so worth the money!

We arrived about 15 minutes before the show and got awesome seats. This was amazing to me considering people line up 2 hours before!

So let’s get down to the food…

Eats

I started with the Blue Lump Crab Spring Rolls, along with Snow Crab Claw, and an Asian Slaw with spicy Miso Aïoli. These were good, but I think I may have preferred to try the Cobb Salad like my fellow diners did.

I’m not a huge fan of Asian slaw or the miso aioli, but there was plenty of crab in the spring rolls.

Blue Lump Crab Spring Rolls.

Next up, I sampled the Char-glazed Filet of Beef with a Red Wine Reduction, topped with a Cabernet and Roasted Shallot Butter, over White Truffle Oil Wild Forest Mushroom Mashed Potato, Sautéed Haricot Verts, and Golden Beets

This whole dish was AMAZING! I was completely shocked to love the golden beets as much as I did.

Char-Glazed Filet of Beef

For dessert, it was the Chocolate Three Ways, which included Praline Milk Chocolate Cream, crunchy Ganache, and Orange-Chocolate Mousse.

As much as I wanted to try the famous [Read more…]

DIY Disney Recipe: Cobb Salad from The Hollywood Brown Derby

We’re thrilled to welcome back DFB guest chef Carol E.! This week, she shows us how to create the famous Cobb Salad from The Hollywood Brown Derby. Get your forks ready!

One of our favorite parks at Walt Disney World is Disney’s Hollywood Studios (or MGM if you still can’t get over the name change ;). And the Hollywood Brown Derby restaurant is one of the main reasons we LOVE this park.

You walk in and it feels like old Hollywood! It’s fun to see all the sketches of famous celebrities lining the walls.

Stars like Lucille Ball, Bette Davis, Charlie Chaplin, John Wayne, and hundreds of other actors of an era gone by have dined at the original restaurant in Hollywood and made it the place to be in that town.

The sketches lining the walls are one of the things that made the original Hollywood Brown Derby famous worldwide!

The Hollywood Brown Derby's Dining Room.

But it’s not a trip to the Hollywood Brown Derby without trying the Cobb Salad! As the story goes, owner Robert Cobb was raiding the fridge at the restaurant late one night seeking to put together a midnight snack for theater magnate Sid Grauman (you know, the famous Grauman’s Chinese Theater).

He chopped up a little bit of this lettuce and that lettuce. Then he took leftovers of bacon, egg, avocado, blue cheese, turkey, and whatever he could find in the kitchen. He chopped it all up, mixed up his own dressing, and threw it all into a bowl. Cobb’s salad became an overnight sensation when Sid came in the next day to order it again!

Cobb Salad served tableside.

I was so excited to find the original Hollywood Brown Derby Cobb Salad recipe in the Cooking with Mickey and the Disney Chefs Cookbook! Let’s make it!

Salad Ingredients

*See below for the A Few Lessons I Learned section for more about these ingredients.
-1 cup chopped iceberg lettuce leaves, washed and spun dry
-1 cup chopped chicory leaves, washed and spun dry*
-1 cup tender sprigs of watercress, washed and spun dry
-1 pound poached turkey breast, finely chopped*
-2 medium-sized, ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and finely chopped
-1 avocado, peeled, seeded and finely chopped -½ cup crumbled blue cheese (about 2 ½ ounces)
-6 strips bacon, cooked crisp, drained, and crumbled*
-3 hard boiled eggs, peeled and finely chopped
-2 tablespoons snipped fresh chives
-1/2 cup bleu cheese, crumbled
-½ cup The Hollywood Brown Derby Old Fashioned French Dressing (not the orange French dressing we are used to, more like a vinaigrette). See Recipe below.
-Chicory and watercress sprigs for garnish!

Yield: 4-6 Servings

Cobb Salad Ingredients.

Salad Dressing Ingredients

-2 tablespoons of water
-2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
-1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
-½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
-½ teaspoon salt, or to taste
-½ teaspoon minced garlic (one clove)
-¼ teaspoon of sugar
-1/8 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
-1/8 teaspoon dry English mustard
-1/3 cup vegetable oil
-2 tablespoons olive oil

Yield: About ½ Cup

Ingredients for dressing for Cobb Salad.

Instructions

Step 1-Bacon and Hard Boiled Eggs:

-Definitely start by getting your bacon and hard boiled eggs finished. Skip to the bottom of this post to the A Few Lessons I Learned section to find a quick and easy way of making bacon in the oven. You have a lot more important stuff to do than stand over a [Read more…]

Guest Review: Disney’s Least Ordered Menu Items

Join me in welcoming guest author Tracy Antonioli to the Disney Food Blog!

While we usually review menu items that are commonly ordered and enjoyed, Tracy is turning the tables with an interesting experiment! She wanted to find out what some of Disney World’s least ordered menu items were like… Read on to find out the results…

My last trip to Disney World happened to fall over One More Disney Day, the 24-hour celebration of Leap Day that occurred in the Magic Kingdom and in Disneyland on February 29th. In thinking about what I’d do with one more day, all the things I’d eat came immediately to mind.

Of course, the hardest part about dining in Disney World is deciding what to have. There are so many great choices, from food on a stick to filet mignon. But I wanted to do something different. And so, a rather bizarre experiment was born — the least ordered item experiment.

Popular Dishes

You see, there are many dishes in Disney World that are well-known and sought after. The dole whip float. A hot dog from Casey’s. The cheddar cheese soup from Le Cellier, the wings at ‘Ohana, and the ubiquitous turkey leg.

Cheddar Cheese Soup at Le Cellier Steakhouse

And while there’s likely a good reason for the popularity of these items (all but two of which I also enjoyed during this trip), I imagined that there were just as many amazing — yet unknown and under-appreciated — menu items in Disney World. So I set out to find them.

During my trip, at two different restaurants — one counter service and one table service — I chose to sample the least-ordered menu items. Of course, this was in no way a scientific study. I didn’t ask for ordering statistics or an ‘items sold’ pie chart.

I simply asked the cast member taking my order ‘What item on the menu is ordered the least?’ Yes, they both looked at me kind of strangely at first, but so what? I was also walking around sporting gold sequined, feathered Mickey ears.

Least Ordered Dish — Counter Service

Because I was super excited to get this experiment underway — and I had an early morning flight and skipped breakfast — my first stop after getting off of the Magical Express was the closest counter service location, which in my case was The Mara, at Animal Kindgom Lodge Jambo House.

Entrance

Unsurprisingly, the least ordered dish at this counter service location is the most exotic-sounding dish — the [Read more…]