Happy (almost) First Birthday, Spice Road Table!
Spice Road Table
Spice Road Table hit the scene in Epcot’s Morocco Pavilion almost one year ago now, so we thought it would be a great time to pay another visit to this beautiful restaurant and see how things are going.
Since it’s opening, this Table Service location has offered Mediterranean tapas (small plates) and a unique wine and beer list. However, Spice Road Table recently changed its approach a bit with the addition of Advance Dining Reservations and acceptance of the Disney Dining Plan, as well as a new focus on entree-sized menu options.
So now is a great time to show you what’s evolved, and what’s remained the same at Spice Road Table!
While we will be discussing some of the recent changes at Spice Road Table, the atmosphere definitely falls under the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” category.
The decor remains stunning, from the restaurant itself to the waterfront views it provides of World Showcase Lagoon. You can get an idea of those views as you approach Morocco from the bridge that connects Epcot’s France and UK Pavilions.
The first thing to greet you as you step inside is the bar area, made remarkable by bold blue on the walls and the view of the water wheel outside.
From here, you’ll be seated either indoors or outside (preferences can be stated at the check-in podium, and are honored as availability permits). While the indoor seating area is small and narrow, it is beautiful, featuring intricate woodwork surrounding the booths.
Gorgeous — there’s no other word for them — Moroccan lanterns and decorative items are on display near the ceiling.
But the most striking decorative element is the view of the water from the large windows lining the inside of the restaurant. (It’s worth noting that most of the indoor booths, with a few exceptions, are situated facing the windows for great water views from just about anywhere in the space).
But Spice Road Table might be best known for it’s outdoor seating area, offering prime views for the nightly IllumiNations fireworks spectacular (and likely the very reason Spice Road Table began offering Advance Dining Reservations, since the spot is in higher demand in the hour before IllumiNations begins).
Beautiful lighting fixtures are key decorative elements outside as well.
And it’s a cool fact that the tables and chairs (as well as the lamps and lanterns), were all custom made in Morocco and shipped to Disney World for use at Spice Road Table.
During my visit, however, it was raining to beat the band, so it was great to have the option to sit inside for my meal. The rain made everything inside seem downright warm and cozy, in addition to being beautiful.
Safe from the downpour and settled in, it was time to make my selections.
Since its opening, the menu at Spice Road Table has revolved around a selection of small plates. But we mentioned earlier that Spice Road Table recently started accepting the Disney Dining Plan, requiring one Table Service Credit. You may wonder how this works with a menu focused on tapas? Well, that’s where the recent addition of full entrees comes into play. Check out the new menu! (Just click on the image to enlarge.)
The new entrees include Coriander-crusted Rack of Lamb, Yellowfin Tuna, All-Natural Roasted Chicken, and a Mediterranean Vegetable Platter. The Mix Grill Skewers, previously available as a tapas option, have been transformed into a full entree dish with the addition of Rosemary-roasted Potatoes. Ditto with the Lamb Sliders, except Hummus Fries are the side option instead of the potatoes.
Of course, my visit happened literally just days before this change (we got the low-down from the manager while we were there!). Still, I really enjoy tapas-style dining so it’s likely what I would have gone with anyway, even with the additions of entrees. And the good news is, everything I tried is still on the menu in some form or fashion. (I’ll be sure to note where things have changed.) So, let’s begin!
Spice Road Table is a great place to enjoy a drink, and wine fans will be especially pleased thanks to the selection of Assorted Mediterranean Wines.
While the Apertif Flights are popular, I went with the Spice Road Signature Sangria (Certified Organic), which my companion and I decided to try in both red and white.
Something good to know about the Signature Sangria: it’s nowhere near as sweet as what you’ll find with the Sangria typically served throughout Disney World bars and lounges. The flavors are more robust. Personally, I liked that aspect of it, but that’s something to be aware of if you prefer your Sangria on the more customary sweeter side.
I began my Mediterranean food tour with the Hummus and Imported Olives. Two types of hummus accompany the cornichons and marinated olives you see in the center of the dish: tomato, and a standard garlic hummus.
Aside from the addition of olive oil and olives garnishing the top, the hummus isn’t altogether unique. What made it a little more special was the nicely spiced Za’atar flat bread it comes with — small pitas, essentially. You can see the bits of sesame and and herbs (basil, oregano, thyme) on the bread. The smell was divine!!
Simple, but fresh and well-made.
Next up were the Rice-Stuffed Grape Leaves. Say what you will about food at Disney World, but you won’t find these on a menu at too many other theme parks.
This dish offers an array of flavors, topped with fried capers and raisins, and sprinkled with a very generous dose of nutmeg. But here’s the thing: the rice-stuffed grape leaves are served cold and I have to say, this was a surprise that wasn’t altogether pleasant. The rice inside is essentially a risotto, and a cold risotto just feels wrong to me.
According to our server, it’s not uncommon for this dish to be served warm in other restaurants, and I really would prefer it served that way here, too. IMHO of course.
Moving on… you all know I’m not huge into seafood, right? I think I’ve mentioned that a few times. But here’s an exception: Fried Calamari. And, yes, that’s probably because it’s fried ;). And it’s often a show stopper at Spice Road.
(An aside — check out the stunning metal table top here. I so want one in my house!)
I found the breading on the calamari to be crisp and delicious. (Truth: I try not to think about the whole fried squid thing while I’m eating it. I mainly enjoy the breading and crunch and then move on with my day, so that’s what I’m focusing on here). The calamari has a bit of spice on it’s own from the black pepper, but the accompanying sauces (a spicy Harissa and capers aioli) add another layer of kick that I really liked.
Speaking of seafood, I hope you’re proud of me for my next order: the Spicy Garlic Shrimp. I’d heard good things about this dish, and thought I’d give it a go.
I am so glad I did. I’ll say it again — I don’t care for shrimp. But thanks to a ton of butter, terrific spice (check out the red pepper) and generous amount of garlic, I walked away with this dish being one of my favorites. And that’s saying something.
Now, this next dish is where I want to be sure to note a change: with the recent menu changes noted above, the Mix Grill Skewers are now offered solely as an entree, served with Rosemary Roasted Potatoes. I tried the Mix Grill Skewers when they were part of the tapas menu, so that’s what you see here.
I won’t vouch for the coriander dipping sauce, since it’s chock full of cilantro which is Not. My. Thing. But the chicken and beef skewers? Pretty great! Not over-cooked or over-spiced, but with great flavor.
Again, I like tapas-style dining because it gives you a chance to try so many things, but I am kind of bummed I missed these as an entree by merely days, because I would love to make a full meal out these. It’s tender meat, well-flavored with garlic, and I especially enjoyed the marinade on the chicken. If anyone tries this dish as an entree, I’d love to hear what you think!
I have a mix of emotions when it comes to the recent changes at Spice Road Table. On the one hand, I was really happy that there was another space like one of my other favorites at Epcot, Tutto Gusto, with a focus on tapas where anyone could stroll in on their own timetable without concern over having an Advance Dining Reservation. I found that to be a ton of the original appeal as a very frequent visitor.
That said, I can obviously understand how guests on the Disney Dining Plan would have little desire to make a special trip to visit a place where it’s not accepted. So if the addition of entrees brings more guests into this restaurant, then ultimately I can be okay with that. Because considering the quality of the food in such a uniquely beautiful setting, Spice Road Table is a place that should definitely be visited and enjoyed.
Have you visited Spice Road Table? If so, I’d love to hear about your experience with a comment!