So the big news from last week was the opening of a brand new counter service spot at Downtown Disney’s House Of Blues — the Smokehouse!
While we’ll be sure to stop by from time to time, it’s been a while since we reviewed the main house here as well! Let’s check out the dining room at Crossroads at House of Blues at Walt Disney World’s Downtown Disney for lunch.
We were surprised by the quality of food on our first visit. While just about everything was good, the classic Buffalo Chicken Wings and the White Chocolate Bread Pudding were the real standouts.
But since our last visit, House of Blues has partnered with celebrity chef Aarón Sánchez to completely overhaul the food offerings. While the emphasis at House of Blues is still on live music, the new Crossroads menu has taken the previously Southern-tinged menu in a slightly different direction.
As I mentioned, if you haven’t been to House of Blues since the Crossroads menu came to the Walt Disney World location, you won’t find the surroundings to be much different than before. The menu didn’t coincide with a revamp of the restaurant itself.
Funky, rustic, slightly dark, and whimsical…those are the words that come to mind. You’re supposed to feel as though you happened upon House of Blues on some country road while traveling through the Deep South. And they succeed with transporting you.
Like other Downtown Disney restaurants, House of Blues features multiple bars. The outside bar is a great spot to grab a drink and hang out with friends before or after a performance. It features “hand-lettered” menus and tole painting, as well as brackets and other finishes that appear to have been salvaged and repurposed.
Next to Crossroads Restaurant, you’ll find the Club, which is the main performance venue for House of Blues. The hall holds up to 2,000 guests, and draws top-name talent regularly. It’s a great place to see a show if you haven’t had the chance.
In addition to other performances, House of Blues also offers a regular Gospel Brunch. Held each Sunday at 10:30 am and 1:00 pm, you can read our review of Kirk Franklin’s Gospel Brunch in Disneyland’s Downtown Disney District here.
But, snazzy musical performances would have to wait for another day. We were here for lunch, and we were hungry.
We made our way into the restaurant and were greeted with more folk art. At the hostess stand, you get a healthy dose of this interesting fusion. Gothic arches and cherubim call to mind a place of worship.
Seating is nothing fancy — just utilitarian wooden chairs and tables.
Even booths are wooden. Nothing cozy here in the way of seating, but the booths are generous. Even with four adults, you aren’t likely to feel cramped or crowded.
Beyond the seating area, there’s a small stage in the dining area, which plays host to free live musical performances nightly.
Meanwhile, the B. B. Blues Bar takes center stage at the far end of the room. More gothic arches and whimsical paintings decorate the front of the bar, while ceiling murals echo sacred works of art.
After our little tour, I was ready to sample the new menu. We were anxious to see if our favorites had made the cut.
As before, the menu at House of Blues continues to be extensive. Most will surely find something appealing to order.
But there is a subtle shift in the food’s context. Previously, the emphasis on the Mississippi Delta and Cajun flavors was unmistakable, although the menu revolved around mainstream favorites, like spinach dip and pastas. Still, there were several nods to Louisiana cooking, with dishes like Gumbo, Etouffee, and the like.
Chef Aarón Sánchez has taken the menu in a decidedly different direction. While there are still some of the original, Cajun-inspired dishes, there are also many ingredients commonly found in Mexican cuisine. Guests will find chipotle peppers and Cotija cheese, in addition to other traditional Mexican ingredients.
The menu was hard to photograph with the layout, but I wanted you to see the whole thing. I’ve got some close ups of it below.
The menu is arranged vertically, but in three columns. You’ll see that it’s roughly divided into appetizers and starters on the left, main dishes in the middle, and sandwiches on the right.
On the flip side, you’ll find everything else, including sides, desserts, the kids’ menu, and beverages of all types.
Whew!! That’s a LOT of menu!
We knew that one thing was for certain — we had to start with the Cornbread! It’s not the same Rosemary Cornbread that everyone loved from the old menu. But with jalapeno peppers and cheese in the mix, and served with a side of maple butter, this new iteration had a lot of promise.
The presentation, served in an iron skillet, was very nice, and consistent with that down-home feel of the food.
A cross-section of the bread shows the fresh jalapenos and the fine, almost cake-like crumb. This is definitely not a dry version of cornbread.
You know how much I love good cornbread! But nobody at the table that day was a big fan of jalapeno cornbread, including me. We took a few bites for research purposes, though, of course! Golden on the outside and moist on the inside, with good flavor and a rich texture from the jalapenos and cheese, it’s worth the price if jalapeno cornbread is your thing.
A selection of “Hand Stretched Flatbreads” replace the previous flatbread and pizza that were part of the appetizer menu. We went for the BBQ Chicken Flatbread, and it was quite good. Savory cheese and flavorful toppings made it a memorable version of the dish.
My husband often prefers to start his meal with a salad, and today was no exception! So he opted to add a Caesar Salad to his entree. The version here looked really great as salads go — creamy Caesar dressing liberally coated the romaine lettuce, and it’s served with crostini, which features a bit of cheese on top.
We started our entrees with the French Dip. The interpretation here is fairly traditional, but with some attention to detail. The slow-roasted roast beef is thinly shaved and topped with onions sauteed in bourbon.
The whole thing is smothered in a good amount of provolone. Which is awesome. The ample serving of creamy horseradish sauce was served on the side, along with enough au jus to give the sandwich a good soak! Which is the right way to eat it, of course.
Unfortunately, the flavor just wasn’t there for me on this one. It looks awesome, but the roast beef fell flat.
The Fries have that handcut, peels-on, fancy look that’s all the rage these days. And they were served hot, fresh, and well-seasoned.
I decided to give the Buttermilk Fried Chicken a try, because you should always order fried chicken when it’s available ;-D. The generous portion of chicken was gorgeous! All golden brown and crunchy! Not dry at all, and the breading was flavorful, with black pepper and other spices.
The chicken was served with two sides — Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Cole Slaw. While I’m not a big slaw fan, this looked really fresh. And the garlic mashed potatoes were rich with lots of good flavor.
But I had to save a little room for a side dish that I couldn’t pass up. Make way for the Mac and Cheese!!!
This is a dish that can go so wrong, so fast, though. I hoped this one, with a rather hefty pricetag as side dishes go, would be worth it. And it was! Served in (yet another) cast iron skillet, the pasta had a crunchy breadcrumb topping that was a promising start.
But once I dove beneath the surface, I found a wonderfully creamy white cheese sauce that didn’t disappoint. Big enough to share, I really didn’t want to.
With our main meal wrapped up, it was time for something sweet. During my last meal at House of Blues, dessert was one of my favorite parts! So I was kinda bummed to see that the White Chocolate Bread Pudding was no longer part of the lineup.
But I pulled it together, and decided to try the new version, Bourbon Bread Pudding. A closer look at the menu description indicated that there was still a little white chocolate and banana involved here, and the bourbon was in the caramel sauce. Could it be that it just underwent a makeover, a sauce revamp, and a name change?
Welp, not really. While this was OK; I missed the white chocolate sauce and ice cream that came with the last version. This definitely fell flat for me.
My husband went for the Triple Chocolate Cheesecake. It’s kind of an ordinary dessert, as such things go, but it was creamy and not overly sweet.
And all of those fresh raspberries were a nice little bonus, too!
I wasn’t terribly enthusiastic when I heard about the new Crossroads menu at House of Blues. I have nothing against Aarón Sánchez, but I was worried that his style would be out of place in a restaurant that was suppose to be Deep South with Cajun and Creole influences.
So we were pleasantly surprised when we truly enjoyed our meal! Not getting too worked up over the changes helped, since the dishes that we sampled were pretty delicious.
I continue to think that House of Blues offers good, solid food if you’re looking for a table service meal at Downtown Disney. Head over for happy hour and stay for a meal!
Now I’d really like to hear from you. Have you dined at House of Blues recently? Leave a comment and tell us your impressions of the new menu!
I ate here just over a year ago, and it was the single worst dining experience I’ve had on Disney property. I was with three friends, two of whom had just arrived from out of town a few days prior, and my infant nephew. The service was very poor. The food was not at all good — I had jambalaya, and I ate some of it despite not caring much for it. Two of my friends shared the fried chicken and they didn’t enjoy either, they found the breading tasteless, and I forget what the third friend ordered. That night all four of us were sick. I know food poisoning or whatever doesn’t kick in that fast, but Crossroads at HoB was the only thing we had in common, as we’d only met up together for dinner. I vomited several times, and I’m never sick like that.
I will definitely never give this place a try again, and if a friend mentions wanting to go there, I highly discourage it. There are too many other good options at WDW, and I’d much prefer to eat at Raglan Road or Earl of Sandwich or WPE at DTD.
We have House of Blues lined up ready to make a ADR in September. I was so excited for it now even more so seeing that fried chicken! It looks so yummy.
I might be cheeky and ask to sub the garlic mash for sweet potato fries as they are my absolute favourite food right now.
I had also considered the french dip sandwich, so I think in the toss up chicken will win hands down.
Great review 🙂
We tried HOB in September for the first time. The atmosphere wasn’t really our familys thing – it was very loud, music etc… My neice was a little freaked out by all the pictures on the ceiling – she felt like they were all staring down at her.
However the food was excellent. I had the Lobster Mac & Cheese – Yum! Others had steak, jambalaya, fried chicken and everyone liked their meals. Our server was great.
We ate at House of Blues just over a year ago and I still have fond memories of the fried chicken. The ribeye steak also is worthy of a mention. It was well seasoned and cooked to perfection. It truly was the most wonderful fried chicken I’ve ever had and such a generous portion. It is worth mentioning also that House of Blues is one of the places you can often pick up restaurant.com certificates, which can make dining there very reasonable indeed.
Best resturant in Orlando! I live about an hour away from Orlando and occasionally make the trip over. Me and my husband stumbled onto this place and love it! The food is great! Amazing menu, great service and I love the atmosphere. The street tacos and the bread pudding are my favorites. If you are in the area it’s definetely work it.
I ate there with family and friends last November. I was so glad that the Voodoo Shrimp had returned to the menu. It is a bit different from the original but I still love it. We had great service. I can’t wait to try the Smokehouse when we visit Disney this Spring! 🙂
This is easily one of my favorite dining experiences in Downtown Disney. I especially love the jalapeño corn bread…I never had the Rosemary and, therefore, I am not attached. I am a huge Chopped fan as well so having Aaron Sanchez on board is a huge plus for me. The turkey burger here is one of the best burgers on the planet IMO. Definitely worth a try _and a return trip!
If I ever eat here I would def get the fried chicken; it looks very good. The triple chocolate cheesecake looks tasty, too.
Patrice H says
My husband and I were passing through Orlando from Miami and decided to have dinner a the house of blues. We had the cornbread appitzer. YUM!! He Had the jambalaya and I had the shrimp and grits. Amazing!!!
In Feb. my family went to Disney for a once in a lifetime vacation. On our first night after a very long flight, we ate at the HoB. Our server, PJ, was fabulous. The BEST I’ve ever had. Our drinks were never empty and he listened to what we liked and made some fabulous suggestions. The shrimp and grits was the best!! My teenage liked the lobster mac and my fiance and other daughter had gumbo, seasoned to each of their likes. I read many mixed reviews and I think they would have had a better night if PJ would have been their server. Thanks for making my vacation memorable