Kouzzina Grand Opening at Disney World’s Boardwalk

Mickey and Cat

Mickey and Cat

Kouzzina (Greek for “Kitchen”) was opened this morning by Chef Cat Cora and her staff, to a huge cheer of “Opah!” Believe it or not, this is Cora’s FIRST signature restaurant — I’m so excited it’s at Disney World!

Celebrity chef Cat Cora prepares dishes prior to the grand opening of her first signature restaurant

Celebrity chef Cat Cora prepares dishes prior to the grand opening of her first signature restaurant

Kouzzina Exhibition Kitchen

Kouzzina Exhibition Kitchen

Open for breakfast and dinner, the Kouzzina’s menu includes “time-honored recipes passed down from my ancestors, as well as my favorite Greek and Mediterranean dishes that my family loves,” Cora told Disney PR. For breakfast, try steel-cut cinnamon oatmeal, blueberry orange granola pancakes, or the stacked Kouzzina breakfast with two poached eggs, kalamata olive toast, artichoke spread, sweet potato hash and bacon or chicken sausage.

Prior to dinner, sample “Cat’s Ouzo-tini,” Mediterranean sangria, and her own wine label, Coranation, featuring California wines. For an appetizer: calamari, goat cheese-stuffed grape leaves, spinach pie, and Spiro’s (Cat’s Dad!) Greek Salad. Entrées include cinnamon stewed chicken, traditional whole fish, and Pastitisio — a Greek “lasagna.” (See full Kouzzina menus here.)

Kouzzina Ouzo-tini featuring Absolut vodka, Metaxa ouzo, pineapple juice, fresh lime juice and pomegranate served in a sugar-rimmed martini glass shaken and served tableside

Kouzzina Ouzo-tini featuring Absolut vodka, Metaxa ouzo, pineapple juice, fresh lime juice and pomegranate served in a sugar-rimmed martini glass shaken and served tableside

Kouzzina Spiro's Salad: tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions, kalamata olives and feta

Kouzzina Spiro's Salad: tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions, kalamata olives and feta

Kouzzina Spanakopita

Kouzzina Spanakopita

Kouzzina Cinnamon-stewed chicken, with tomatoes, herbed orzo and Mizithra cheese

Kouzzina Cinnamon-stewed chicken, with tomatoes, herbed orzo and Mizithra cheese

Kouzzina Whole Fish

Kouzzina Whole Fish

Kouzzina lamb burger, dressed with olives and feta, with a side of sweet potato fries

Kouzzina lamb burger, dressed with olives and feta, with a side of sweet potato fries

Kouzzina Pastitisio, with bucatini pasta, cinnamon-stewed meat sauce, and béchamel sauce

Kouzzina Pastitisio, with bucatini pasta, cinnamon-stewed meat sauce, and béchamel sauce

Kouzzina Baklava with Pistachio Gelato

Kouzzina Baklava with Pistachio Gelato

The restaurant replaces another Mediterranean spot on the Boardwalk, Spoodles, recently closed to make way for Cora’s new spot. The kitchen will be presided over by Chef Dee Foundoukis.

Kouzzina Chef Dee Foundoukis

Kouzzina Chef Dee Foundoukis

According to Disney’s press release, Cora began working with Disney in 2008 by creating a Disney Video on Demand series to showcase ways to help families develop more healthy eating habits. Cora has been a featured chef at the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival and at Disney’s California Food & Wine Festival at Disneyland Resort.

Be sure to check out other Kouzzina Food Photos from the restaurant’s soft opening in August!

All images copyright Disney.

Pool Bar Series: Uzima Springs Pool Bar

Uzima Springs Pool Bar

I’m not sure about you, but a fruity drink in hand, a thatched roof over my head, and a few flamingos frolicking in the background is just about all I need on vacation ;) If that’s your dream come true, you can have it! Even the flamingos! Just stroll out to the Uzima Springs Pool Bar at Animal Kingdom Lodge, Jambo House.

View of the Pool Bar Across Uzima Springs Pool

View of the Pool Bar Across Uzima Springs Pool

Relaxing at the Pool Bar

Relaxing at the Pool Bar

Besides the thatched roof and generous umbrella-ed seating, what makes this spot so enticing is the enchanting themeing around the pool. Animal Kingdom Lodge is one of Disney World’s best-themed resort hotels, without a doubt. From the indentations of leaves, brush, and children’s footprints in the red dirt-tinted cement, to the whirlpool spas hidden by foliage, to the numerous savanna ponds scattered around, the Uzima Springs Pool area is a jungle of fascinating imagineering touches.

Even if you’re just there for a drink, it’s impossible not to go peek behind that grove of trees or jagged fence to see what treasures (and you KNOW there are treasures) lie beyond it! The place is a mini-theme park in itself.

Behind Curtain Number One...A Whirlpool Spa!

Behind Curtain Number One...A Whirlpool Spa!

Behind Curtain Number Two...Hakuna Matata Playground!

Behind Curtain Number Two...Hakuna Matata Playground!

Although we’re having fun exploring the pool grounds, let’s head back to the bar! In addition to the ubiquitous Disney Pool Bar standard menu, Uzima Springs Pool Bar also features some wonderful African beers and South African wines. And don’t forget, they’ve still got that rolodex of old recipes back there, too; if there’s something you’re pining for, be sure to ask!

Pool Bar Menu

Pool Bar Menu

And once you have your delicious bevvy, head over and find those elusive flamingos!

Ah Yes...the Flamingos.

Ah Yes...the Flamingos.

I told you so!

Thanks to AKLResort.com for contributing photos for this blog post! Also, quick reminder — there’s no pool hopping to Uzima Springs, so although you can visit the pool and get a drink, don’t swim unless you’re an AKL guest.

“Is This Place Ever Open?”: Tomorrowland Terrace Noodle Station

Tomorrowland Terrace Noodle Station

Let’s just start out by saying: if you have eaten here, let us know how it was and what you ate (and send a photo if you’ve got it!).

The Tomorrowland Terrace Noodle Station is located in Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, nestled between the Plaza Restaurant on Main Street, USA, and Monsters, Inc. Laugh Factory in Tomorrowland. It’s a full-fledged counter-service restaurant, serving Asian cuisine including noodle bowls (natch), salads, and stir-fry.

(Note: Don’t confuse the Noodle Station with the Tomorrowland Terrace Cafe, which is also rarely open — though you can book for the buffet on September 13th, 20th, and 27th!)

Ordering Stations

Ordering Stations

Ordering Station

Ordering Station

The seating areas are largely outdoors, covered, and accessible to anyone walking by. And because this restaurant is only open seasonally, these seating areas do some pretty good double duty as a spot to get in out of the rain, or just to take a breather in the shade during a long Magic Kingdom day.

Seating Area

Seating Area

Outdoor Seating

Outdoor Seating

Seating Area

Seating Area

It’s also a favorite spot for some to sit and catch the Wishes fireworks show at night. Tinkerbell flies right over your head in this location (she lands right past the Noodle Station!).

In fact, the Wishes Dessert Party takes place right here at the Tomorrowland Terrace Noodle Station!

Wishes from the Dessert Party Vantage Point

Wishes from the Dessert Party Vantage Point

So, have you had the luck to dine here? Let us know what you thought by leaving a comment here on the blog!

Thanks to Zapperz at My Disney Mania for the Wishes Dessert Party photo!

Olivia’s at Old Key West Resort

Tucked into the beautiful dock-side Turtle Krawl district at Disney World’s Old Key West Resort is Olivia’s restaurant. This relaxed table-service spot is probably one of the more underrated dining spots in Disney World.

One of the Photo Walls at Olivia's

One of the Photo Walls at Olivia's

The atmosphere is right-off-the-beach — casual and classic Florida keys. The walls are covered with memorabilia, including sections dedicated to the Old Key West Resort’s Disney Vacation Club family album. After all, Old Key West was Disney’s premier Vacation Club property and has quite a family tree by now!

Serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, you can stroll in anytime for a bite. And although you can make advanced dining reservations for Olivia’s, you may not need them during less busy seasons at Disney World.

Dining Table and Photo Wall

Dining Table and Photo Wall

Olivia's Has a Relaxed, Casual Atmosphere

Olivia's Has a Relaxed, Casual Atmosphere

Olivia's Menu

Olivia's Menu

The menu is just as casual as the decor, and there are some delicious options to try. For breakfast, consider the Banana Bread French Toast with Bahamian Banana Rum Butter Sauce and Vanilla Whipped Cream; for lunch, consider the Key West Salmon Salad; and for dinner, try the crab cakes and pork chop with barbecue sauce and cheddar grits!

Crab Cake Appetizer

Crab Cake Appetizer

Mixed Greens Salad

Mixed Greens Salad

Grilled Pork Chop with Chipotle Barbecue Sauce and Smoked Cheddar Grits

Grilled Pork Chop with Chipotle Barbecue Sauce and Smoked Cheddar Grits

Finish off your meal with a yummy dessert. My mom’s favorite is the Key Lime Tart!

Key Lime Tart

Key Lime Tart

Key Lime Tart on the Inside

Key Lime Tart on the Inside

And, after your meal, take a few minutes to wander around the grounds of this beautiful resort, or jump on the next boat for Downtown Disney — the Disney Transportation boat will bring you to Disney World’s shopping and entertainment district in no time! Have a great time!

D23 Expo Reveal: Be Our Guest Restaurant and Gaston’s Tavern!

UPDATE: Read about the Opening Date for Be Our Guest Restaurant and Reservations Info!

The rumors from this summer are true! By now, many of you have heard about the incredible re-vamp in store for Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom Fantasyland. You’ve heard about Dumbo expanding, the Ariel attraction, and dancing lessons with Cinderella. But what WE like to hear about is the FOOD! And Disney has happily included some new dining establishments in its Fantasyland plans: Be Our Guest Restaurant and Gaston’s Tavern!

Be Our Guest Restaurant:

Be Our Guest Restaurant Concept Art, Beast's Castle

Be Our Guest Restaurant Concept Art, Beast's Castle

Both dining spots will be in the new Beauty and the Beast area of Fantasyland, and we know for certain that Be Our Guest Restaurant will be a three-room, themed, table-service restaurant in the “Beast’s Castle.” Speculation is that this may be the re-emergence of a restaurant slated for Disneyland Paris’ fantasyland a while back.

Michael, over at Progress City, U.S.A., hypothesized even more for the restaurant in his July 16th, 2009, blog post. This came soon after the initial blueprints for the fantasyland plans were leaked earlier this summer:

What’s really mysterious is the “Be Our Guest Restaurant.” … Could this new restaurant be a revived version of the unrealized dining concept for Disneyland Paris’s Fantasyland, which would feature an animatronic dinner show based on Beauty and the Beast? In that attraction, guests would dine while the Beast’s castle slowly came to life around them; it would be as if they had combined the Enchanted Tiki Room with an actual restaurant. It would certainly be a nice addition to the park.

This sounds like an amazing dining experience. My fingers are crossed!

Gaston’s Tavern:

Gaston's Tavern Concept Art

Gaston's Tavern Concept Art

Also new on the scene is Gaston’s Tavern, which looks like it might be a counter-service or less-expensive table service location. You can see, as Jay Rasulo quipped in his description, Gaston said he likes to decorate with antlers…

From The Source
Here’s the YouTube video of Jay Rasulo’s speech on the subject! Enjoy!

Other info welcome!
If you were at the Expo or know anything more about these two dining spots, let us know. I can’t wait to hear more.

You can contact me via facebook, twitter, or email. Thanks!

Food Post Weekly Round-Up: Sept. 13

Animal Kingdom eat hereHowdy, all! I’ve been on vacation this week and might have missed a few food posts; if you’ve caught some that aren’t mentioned here, drop me a line and I’ll add them! In the meantime, these ones are pretty fantastic:

Jim Hill Media essays about Cap’n Jack’s Menu Change and La Cava del Tequila: As we’ve come to expect from Jim Hill’s site, there are some fantastic photos here, along with pics of the new menu at Cap’n Jack’s Restaurant in Downtown Disney!

The Disney Chick whips up some Guinness Stew from Rose and Crown Dining Room: This favorite from Epcot’s local pub is another Disney Chick hit. As usual, she includes photos of each step of the recipe (great for all the visual learners out there, like me!).

Theme Park Mom lists Four Sandwiches To Try at Disney World: Nom, nom, nom! Put these on your list to grab on your next trip!

Recipe: Potatoes With Afritude

Boma's Potatoes with Afritude

Boma's Potatoes with Afritude

I thought this would be a really fun one to make at home this weekend! Be sure to let me know if you try it out :-)

POTATOES WITH AFRITUDE, Boma, Animal Kingdom Lodge
Yield: 10 servings

Ingredients:
5 lbs. Red Skinned Potatoes (any variety of potato may be used)
2 ounces Olive Oil
3 T. Curry Powder
2 T. Turmeric
1 T. Garlic Powder
1 T. Paprika
To taste Salt and Pepper

Method:
Wash potatoes well, and cut into wedges. In a large bowl mix the spices and olive oil. Add the raw potatoes. Coat the potatoes with the spice mixture. Place the potatoes on a baking sheet, place in a preheated 350 degree oven and bake for 30 minutes.

Recipe Credit: DisneyRecipes.homestead.com

Cantina de San Angel’s NEW Menu

Many thanks to Amanda Tinney, writer of the rockin’ new blog DisneyEveryDay.com, for guest blogging about this new menu! Can’t wait to try it! (Scroll down to the bottom of the post for the full menu)

While wandering the World Showcase promenade yesterday I passed through Mexico, and something strange caught my eye. It was the round menu plaque, whose twin hangs on the pillar flanking each side of the entrance to the Cantina de San Angel Inn (Mexico’s Counter Service Restaurant). Chilaquiles! Chilaquiles, caught my eye! I have passed by these pillars many times before and have never seen that word. I have only had the pleasure of sampling Chilaquiles (pronounced cheela keeleez) at Mexico’s booth during the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival and they were delicious…spicy but delicious. Looks like they have taken up a permanent residence here at the Cantina de San Angel.

New Menu at Cantina de San Angel

New Menu at Cantina de San Angel

My guest and I decided that we would have to go check out the new offerings that very day. We had already eaten lunch and it was not quite time for dinner yet so we settled on an order of Guacamole with Corn Tortilla Chips. This turned out to be a fantastic choice! The price was just right at $5.50 and the portion size was large enough to fill both of us up. The guacamole was smooth and buttery with just the right portions of heat and tang. It was topped with fresh, diced tomatoes. The ratio of chips to dip was also portioned out so that “no chip was left behind”. The dish was made to order so that the chips on the bottom stayed crisp and did not get soggy under the dip. You can definitely taste the onion in this dish so if you are on a date, either bring a breath mint or make sure your other half eats their fair share. This item is also NOT part of the Disney Dining Plan, but is certainly enough for two people.

Cantina Chips and Guacamole

Cantina Chips and Guacamole

I asked a cast member when the menu had changed and was told that it had been about two months ago. I also asked if the Chilaquiles on their menu were the same as the Chilaquiles served at the Food and Wine Festival. I remembered that the Food and Wine Festival version had a green tomatilla sauce. She informed me that the sauce for the Cantina de San Angel version was topped with a red sauce.

Everything on the new menu looked delicious! The cold beer, margaritas, and churros are still a mainstay on the menu along with the newer items, which round out the offerings. The next time you visit Epcot make sure to stop by the Cantina de San Angel and turn your meal into a Fiesta!

Cantina de San Angel Menu and Prices:

Chilaquilies con Pollo – $9.99 – Fried corn tortillas with melted Monterey Jack cheese, chicken and red sauce, topped with onions and sour cream, served with black refried beans and rice.

Burrito de Carnitas – $8.99 – Flour chipotle tortilla filled with pulled pork, black beans, rice, shredded lettuce, cheese and salsa.

Cantina Nachos – $8.75 – Tortilla Chips with beef, cheese, tomatoes, jalapeno peppers and sour cream.

Guacamole with Corn Tortilla Chips – $5.50 – Avocado dip mixed with onions, cilantro, chile serrano and lime.

Kids Picks – $4.99 – (for our guests 9 years old and younger) Choice of grilled cheese quesadilla or chicken nuggets. Served with corn chips with cheese sauce and carrots. Includes choice of 1% milk, bottle of water, or small soft drink.

Churros – $3.25 – Fried dough rolled in cinnamon sugar.

Bunuelos – $2.95 – Round fritter sprinkled with sugar.

Beverages – from $2.19 to $2.49

XX Lager Draft Beer – $7.50

Frozen Margarita – $8.99 – Tequila, Triple Sec and Lime Juice

Frozen Pina Colada – $8.99 – Rum and Pina Colada Mix

Best Disney World Restaurants When You Don’t Have A Reservation!

It’s happened to all of us — you need some eats and have no advanced dining reservation (ADR) for a meal at Disney World. No matter if it’s on purpose or by accident, sometimes those nights you have to “wing it” can end in a loaf of bread and a jar of peanut butter from the Hess Station if you’re not prepared (speaking from experience!). DisneyFoodBlog readers have pulled together their suggestions for the best Disney World restaurants they count on when they’re starving and minus a reservation (thanks again for everyone who contributed)! Quick reminder, though, when Disney World’s busy, you’re probably going to have a wait everywhere. These might get you in a little quicker…

Best Disney World Restaurants for When You Don't Have a Reservation

Marrakesh
Restaurant Marrakesh, Morocco, Epcot’s World Showcase
Coming in strong at the top is Restaurant Marrakesh, serving authentic African Mediterranean dishes in a beautiful setting. Wind through Morocco’s medina to the back of the pavilion to find the small door of the restaurant. The King of Morocco sent his own artisans and tile-workers to create the Morocco pavilion, and Marrakesh’s decor is stunning. (Even if you’re not dining there, head in to take a picture or two!)

Marrakesh Dining Room

Marrakesh Dining Room

Marrakesh Decor

Marrakesh Decor

The Dinner Menu at Marrakesh includes plenty of couscous, the National dish of Morocco, along with chicken, mussels, and other authentic cuisine.

Atlantic Salmon

Atlantic Salmon

Sampler Platter

Sampler Platter

For more food photos, just visit the umbrella’d podium at the front of the Morocco pavilion; they’ve set up a cast member with a large photo album of food pictures of the dishes at Restaurant Marrakesh in hopes of driving more traffic to the establishment.

Bonus: There’s some great entertainment — belly dancers! — at Restaurant Marrakesh!

Biergarten, Germany Pavilion, Epcot’s World Showcase
Biergarten in Epcot’s Germany was a shock to me when it came in at the number two spot for places to go without an ADR (good to know that I can head over there anytime!)! Every review I’ve seen of Biergarten has been positive, and with family-style seating (meaning you’ll probably be seated at a long table with one or two other parties) and some fantastic entertainment, the restaurant offers great opportunity for fun.

Celebrating With Steins!

Celebrating With Steins!

Christmas Entertainment

Christmas Entertainment

Dancing the Night Away

Dancing the Night Away

Riiiiiiiicolaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

Riiiiiiiicolaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

Not sure the menu will agree with you? Biergarten is a buffet, which means there’s something for everyone! Lots of spaetzel, wurst, pretzel, and sauerkraut, but there’s mac n cheese, too, just in case!

Famous Pretzel Bread Rolls

Famous Pretzel Bread Rolls

Wurst and More

Wurst and More

Carving Board

Carving Board

Maya Grill, Coronado Springs Resort
Maya Grill came in a distant third in the poll, but it was mentioned several times and deserved a spot in the blog. This restaurant is located in Coronado Springs Resort and serves dishes representative of the resort’s southwestern USA and northern Mexico theme.

Maya Grill

Maya Grill

As a general rule, restaurants at Disney’s moderate-level and Disney Vacation Club resorts don’t fill up as fast as the theme park and regular resort restaurants, so these are good spots to stop for an unplanned meal.

Other Suggestions
While these three were the most-suggested, there were several others mentioned that you should keep in the back of your mind as “just-in-case” locations. Thanks again to everyone who contributed ideas!:

Captain’s Grille, Yacht Club Resort
Olivia’s, Old Key West Resort
Rainforest Cafe, Animal Kingdom Theme Park
Kona Cafe, Polynesian Resort
San Angel Inn, Epcot’s World Showcase, Mexico
Yak and Yeti, Animal Kingdom Theme Park
Turf Club, Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa
Mama Melrose, Disney’s Hollywood Studios Theme Park
Nine Dragons, Epcot’s World Showcase, China
Trails End, Fort Wilderness Resort
Grand Floridian Cafe, Grand Floridian Resort and Spa
ESPN Zone, Disney’s Boardwalk
Big River Grille and Brewing Works, Disney’s Boardwalk
Fulton’s Crab House, Downtown Disney
Raglan Road, Downtown Disney
The Plaza Restaurant, Magic Kingdom Theme Park

Let me know your thoughts (and YOUR top spots for grabbing an unplanned meal!) via facebook, twitter, or email!

Check out the other “Best Disney World Restaurants” in our series!

“Is This Place Ever Open?”: El Pirata y El Perico

There are a couple of dining spots in Disney World that seem to always be closed — at least when I’m there — and El Pirata y El Perico is one of them!

El Pirata y El Perico

Located near Pirates of the Caribbean in Magic Kingdom’s Adventureland, El Pirata y El Perico (The Pirate and The Parrot) is themed to represent a Caribbean village eatery, and with dark woods, beautiful tiles, and mosaics, it seems to be an extension of the ride itself!

El Pirata y El Perico themeing

El Pirata y El Perico themeing

El Pirata y El Perico Ordering Area

El Pirata y El Perico Ordering Area

It is considered to be “open seasonally,” which can mean just about anything! In the past several years, it’s occasionally been open during Disney’s busy seasons (summer and Christmas season), and most often serves counter-service meals. Usually the restaurant serves Mexican food, including tacos and taco salads (see the DisneyWorld.com Magic Kingdom dining page for this description), but the day I was there, the restaurant was standing in for the closed-for-refurbishment Pecos Bill’s Tall Tale Inn and Cafe next door. Thus the menu below displays foods better associated with that establishment.

El Pirata y El Perico Board (standing in on this day for Pecos Bill's)

El Pirata y El Perico Board (standing in on this day for Pecos Bill's)

The open-air seating areas are the perfect place to relax and take a break from the Florida heat. Even when the restaurant isn’t open, a lot of these seating areas are still accessible for relaxing and people-watching.

El Pirata y El Perico Seating Area

El Pirata y El Perico Seating Area

El Pirata y El Perico Seating Area

El Pirata y El Perico Seating Area

When I was wandering around taking photos, the restaurant was actually just about to open believe it or not. Because it was “standing in” for Pecos Bill’s, there was a “fixin’s bar” for the burgers:

El Pirata y El Perico

Have you ever eaten at El Pirata y El Perico when it was serving its Mexican menu? What did you think? Let me know via facebook, twitter, or email! Also let me know of places that never seem to be open when you’re in Disney!