Ready for an emotional roller coaster? Because we have some good news and some bad news regarding Wolfgang Puck Grand Cafe and Dining Room.
I always think it’s best to get the bad news out of the way first, don’t you? So, here goes…
The bad news is that Wolfgang Puck Grand Cafe will be closing up shop on August 1st.
And now, for the good news! Wolfgang Puck is not leaving Disney Springs entirely! In case you missed the news, he’ll be opening a brand new, modern restaurant in the Town Center of Disney Springs. Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill will open in 2018, and it will still feature some of the world famous chef’s most popular dishes. PLUS, the West Side location will be revamped into Jaleo, a Spanish tapas-style restaurant by Celebrity Chef Jose Andres, which will open in 2018. So two restaurants for the price of one!
So even after that announcement, I kept my recent Advance Dining Reservation at the Grand Cafe, since there will still be plenty more where this came from. AND I wanted to point out which items I most hope to see on the menu at the new digs!
First, though, let’s check out the old haunt before saying good-bye to the West Side space.
Wolfgang Puck Grand Cafe and The Dining Room are in the same general building, but there’s a cafe and a sushi bar downstairs, and a formal dining room upstairs. Plus, we can’t forget the Counter Service option with The Wolfgang Puck Express. (And don’t you worry, Express fans… the Marketplace Express location isn’t going anywhere!)
The decor is… umm, how do I say this?
TOTALLY SAVED BY THE BELL. I thought it the first time I walked in so many years ago, and it hasn’t changed an ounce. But, hey, it’s consistent — from colorful light fixtures to Formica tabletops.
By the way, Zach Morris called. He wants his pastel colored triangles back.
So, admittedly Puck’s does need a legitimate style overhaul. So in that sense, we are happy about the upcoming rebranding. But until August, guests can still enjoy the cheerful mosaics of the open kitchen.
Even if you’re dining in the Cafe, you are in view of the staircase that brings guests to the more formal Dining Room.
But we’re staying downstairs to check out what’s up at the Grand Cafe one last time!
The Cafe menu consistently features guest favorites (like PIZZA!!), though you’ll typically spot a few changes among the items surrounding the best known dishes, showcasing kitchen creativity alongside the greatest hits.
If you’re thinking, “but, hey… where’s the Sushi?!” Fret not. It’s got its own menu.
In fact, if your primary objective is grabbing some Sushi, you can even sit at the Sushi Bar.
I bypassed the Sushi, though, in favor of the Butternut Squash Soup for my appetizer. This long-time Puck favorite deserves every positive thing that’s ever been said about it.
The base is creamy, smooth, and sweet, relying on the dense flavor of the squash. The cream features a subtle hint of cardamom, which is a warm spice that pairs exceptionally well with the squash.
I cannot stress this enough: ORDER THIS. As you may have already guessed, this is one of my hopeful picks for the new location.
Next, I simply had to order some pizza. First up is the Italian Meats, topped with salami, pepperoni, soppresatta, and mortodella paired with cheese and red onion.
The combo of salty, spicy meats and creamy cheese works very well, and the Italian meats were super flavorful. This was, honestly, one of my favorite bites of the night.
And since Chef Puck is known as the original creator of BBQ Chicken Pizza, I had to get in on that, too! BBQ chicken, caramelized onions, and mozzarella. I ordered it as is for you, even though the final topper is my nemesis: cilantro.
Fortunately, it was easy enough to pick off, and other than that, it’s nothing surprising or crazy. This was fine, and I know it’s a Puck signature. But I just didn’t love this one. The flavors didn’t work for me, and I kept going back to the Italian Meats pizza.
That said, since Disney has stated that the upcoming Bar & Grill will “highlight the best of Puck’s signature dishes,” I’d be pretty floored if we don’t see this again. (Plus you can find it at the Marketplace Express.)
My final entree selection was something that’s reached acclaim on the interwebs: Bacon-Wrapped Meatloaf. A big slice of savory meatloaf is wrapped in smoky bacon and perched atop mashed potatoes. The finishing touches are crispy onion strings and a port wine reduction.
While I totally get why people love this (bacon wrapped around meatloaf — it’s sort of a no brainer!), I’m just not a huge fan.
I found the port wine sauce to be overpowering, so while the other components were certainly tasty, they also got a little lost in that sauce. I only managed a few bites and had to call it quits as I really wasn’t enjoying it at all.
BUUUUT…now for the real winners of the night.
Yeah. The plan was to go out big here!
The Key Lime Pie looks like a simple little circle of softly-colored creamy lime custard and a swirl of Swiss meringue. Because… well, that’s what it is 😉 .
But y’all. It’s amazeballs! Tart. Sweet. Creamy. Textural. Beautiful. And, yes, I hope it’s at the new location (IMHO). I was wowed by this one — the tart/sweet balance was spot on.
But I couldn’t stop there because I would have to be crazy to leave this restaurant without eating its best dish: Classic Carrot Cake. Of course, I order Carrot Cake anytime it’s on any menu. But here?
This one is exceptional. It always has been. This was one of my favorite desserts in Disney World even way back before I started the DFB. The moist cake is packed with flavor, and the cream cheese frosting is smooth and sweet. And those candied pecans on top? Sigh.
As much as I enjoy Carrot Cake pretty much anywhere, this one is really in a league of its own.
I have to move on or I’ll be daydreaming about that cake for the rest of the day. So: Creme Brûlée, it is! This is another Puck signature.
Crackin’ sugar crust, juicy berries, sugary crisps, and some powdered sugar for kicks. Simple, but solid. That said, I’m not a huge creme brulee fan, so I probably wouldn’t order it again.
The last dessert of the night was a surprise. I’d expressed interest in the Dining Room’s Salted Caramel Pudding dessert item, and my server told me that I could order it downstairs!! So here you have salted caramel pudding, chocolate crumble (like cookies but more dense), and house-made whipped cream. So simple, but pretty amazing.
It’s a pretty classic combo, and with good reason. The Carrot Cake is still THE must-get, but there’s something for pretty much everyone on that short list.
Wolfgang Puck Grand Cafe, I owe you an apology. I didn’t make near enough time for you over the years. All I ask is that you keep my favorite foods on your upcoming menu, and I promise — really! — that I’ll do better in the future.
When I’m not at Homecomin’. Or Morimoto. Or BOATHOUSE. Wow. Even though it’s not news anymore, it’s still pretty impressive when you consider all the excellent dining additions that have joined Disney Springs over the last couple years. And this last meal at Wolfgang Puck Grand Cafe has given me high hopes for the upcoming Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill to be another great addition to the ever-growing list.
Last chance, folks! If you’re in the Orlando area before the Grand Cafe closes its doors in August, you gotta get over there and order up. And I’ll leave you with just two words: CARROT CAKE.
Are you a Wolfgang Puck fan? Let us know about your favorites in the comments!