One of my new favorite restaurants on Walt Disney World property is one I’d never set foot in during all my trips to Disney World: the Hollywood Brown Derby in Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
I’d always looked at the menu and figured, “Too expensive. Too hoity-toity,” and never gave it a second thought. But since starting the Food Blog — and embarking on an adventure of eating in every Disney restaurant I could — I was excited to finally have a reason to try this place out. After all, I’ve always heard glowing reviews. And, let me tell you, they’re deserved.
Disney’s Hollywood Brown Derby is a replica of the famous Vine Street Brown Derby, originally built in 1928 and home to dozens of famous Hollywood rumors and stories, including Clark Gable’s proposal to Carole Lombard in booth #5 and Lucille Ball’s dinner roll food fight. Disney World’s Brown Derby is an officially licensed Brown Derby Restaurant, and is the fifth Brown Derby Restaurant to be built.
The likeness to the original restaurant is uncanny — the covered entryway, signage, dining room, and even decor are identical to the namesake. And those well-known caricatures grace the walls here just as they do there. (The black and white images are copies, but the gold-framed ones are original!) Even down to the tiny brown derby lampshades, the imagineers have outfitted this place with an eye to detail. (Be sure to click the images to see larger versions!)
Head out to the lobby to see incredible images from the original restaurant…and on your way to the restroom, don’t miss the sign on the big double doors leading to the theater. You really are in Hollywood!
On our visit, we were seated in one of the cozy corner booths, which are upholstered in deep maroon leather and lit by small stained-glass-and-iron-shaded lamps. We could see the whole restaurant from where we were sitting, and though I’ve always loved how intricate Disney can get in its detail, the history of this place — and the knowledge that it was licensed to be a true Brown Derby restaurant — made it a pretty special “first visit” for me.
But of course, while I was completely absorbed in the decor and the history of this place, we had to decide what to order! Luckily, we had some bread to much on prior to the big decision…
You know I’m a soup-lover, so I had to order the soup of the day — Asparagus Soup with a Lump Blue Crab crostini and a drizzle of sherry Gastrique — and we also ordered the famous Cremini Mushroom Chevre Tortelloni with tomato-fennel sauce and shaved parmigiano-reggiano.
I ordered the soup sans the crostini and the flavor suffered a bit. The creaminess and rich taste of the soup was good, but it did need some extra flavors — I learned my lesson.
But the Tortelloni was phenomenal! We practically licked the plate when we’d finished and easily could have dined on that alone for our meal. The mushroom and chevre flavors blended perfectly with the tomato sauce, and the added curls of cheese gave the perfect sharp, salty flavor to balance the sweet tomato.
Our next course was Sterling Silver Pork Tenderloin with Black Diamond Cheddar herb spaetzel, swiss chard, sweet onion marmalade, and cider jus; along with the Char-grilled Filet of Beef with herb-roasted fingerling potatoes, Cremini mushrooms, Cippolini onions, and Cabernet wine syrup.
The pork was, as I usually find in fine Disney restaurants, outstanding. I could have eaten that dish for days at a time and never gotten tired of it. The meat was cooked perfectly (I ordered it medium rare), and the taste as coupled with the Black Diamond Chedder herb spaetzel (!!!!!!!) was out of this world. I’ve noticed that the menu has changed to exclude the Cheddar herb spaetzel at this time (now serving a bacon and potato hash), which is quite unfortunate, indeed.
The Filet of Beef was our second favorite during this particular meal, but it was still delicious. The wine syrup was a bit overwhelming in this dish.
Finally, it was time for dessert (though I was very sad to see my pork dish dwindle down to nothingness…). We, of course, had to sample the famous Brown Derby Grapefruit Cake, and for our second dessert, we chose the Banana White Chocolate Toffee Tower on cocoa-almond cookie and bananas “foster.”
Surprisingly, we weren’t thrilled with either dessert, but our favorite of the two was probably the Grapefruit Cake. It took some “getting used to,” but the cream cheese frosting eventually won us over!
The restaurant is gorgeous, the service was outstanding, and the food was to die for. I’m ashamed that it took me so long to finally venture into this restaurant, but take a lesson from me — book your table ASAP. 😉
This is probably one of my favorite Disney Theme Park restaurants (even compared to Epcot!), hands down. The Brown Derby won itself another convert, and I’m equal parts thrilled and terrified that I’ve found yet another Disney signature dining restaurant where I can gladly empty my pockets and fill my stomach.
What do you think? Have you dined at the Hollywood Brown Derby? Where does it stand in your “top Disney restaurants” list? Let me know in the comments below…
Answers to last week’s Food Photo Quiz: