The Hollywood Brown Derby

Disney’s Hollywood Studios • Walt Disney World Resort • Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830 • (407) 939-2267 • disneyworld.disney.go.com/dining/hollywood-studios/hollywood-brown-derby

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Ever since I used to work at Disney’s MGM Studios (now Hollywood Studios) as a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, and yes, that sentence just came out of my mouth, I have always wanted to eat here. Widely considered to be the best restaurant in all of the theme parks combine (not including hotels).

Well, some 25 years later, and no longer a turtle, I finally made it to lunch here, and I’m happy to report that it was worth the wait. Well, at least the food is, the service quite annoyingly slow. But after waiting 25 years, what’s another hour, right?

In terms of décor, while fake to the bone like all things Disney, it still passes as MUCH nicer than any other restaurant in all of Disney, hotels included this time, with the only exception being Victoria and Albert. Set to make you feel like you are back in the 50’s, eating at some Hollywood movie star favorite, the Derby delivers an experience that truly rivals The Palm. Granted I don’t love The Palm, so perhaps that isn’t saying much.

Now on to the grub! Which is more surprising than learning that Mickey Mouse is more often than not played by a girl. For example, their waygu beef burger holds its own amongst many of the so-called best burgers in the country. Topped with gruyere, pastrami, Cognac mustard and a fried egg this crazy-ass messy burger will take you right to the threshold of embarrassment as you will meld with this bun-filled beacon of beef like you were soul mates. Also, it comes paired with a beer called La Fin du Monde, which I also highly recommend for the melding process. It’s a French Canadian tripel, which means it’s a very strong ale… which means 9% alcohol… which is nearly twice that of a regular beer… which means you’ll need a nap later.

And equally impressive, but vastly different was the andouille crusted chicken sandwich with smoked bacon, white cheddar and veggie slaw all sitting on an onion Kaiser roll.

Now I’m not about to run back to Disney again anytime soon, but if I do, this will be higher on my list than that 3-D Buzz Lightyear shooting game, which really is quite fun, I have to admit.

4 teeth

 

Coral Reef

Epcot’s Living Seas Pavilion • Walt Disney World Resort • Lake Buena Vista, FL 32856 • (407) 824-4321 • disneyworld.disney.go.com/dining/epcot/coral-reef-restaurant

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When you enter a theme park the likes of Disney, your expectations quickly plummet somewhere between high school cafeteria and prison food, so much so that sustenance takes over as the main objective. Almost as if you were on the show Survivor. And if you’ve ever done Disney with two children under the age of six, it’s a lot like Survivor in more ways than one.

But the touristy masses of chicken nuggets, hot dogs, burgers and turkey legs, were no match for the Ferocious Foodie, who saw past the sea of crap food to a different kind of sea, of the food variety.

Yes, there’s actually a decent seafood restaurant tucked away in a corner of Epcot right next to the Nemo ride. I know, part of me is dying inside just having to type these words, but truth be truth.

Inside the restaurant the décor is too cavernous to ever be considered nice, but the novelty of giant fish tanks that would make most major aquariums swoon, certainly adds a little something extra to the experience.

As for the “decent” food I mentioned, the rainbow trout was surprisingly moist, with a nice balance of flavors between the starch of the white beans and the salty, savory accent of bacon.

Unfortunately, the other fish, the Mahi Mahi, wasn’t quite at the same level, being more what you might expect from a place founded on the fame of a six-foot mouse.

And while the kids had a typical children’s menu staple, mac and cheese, they licked the bowls clean, so I’m assuming that it’s pretty damn good, at least by the standards of my Ferocious progeny (when they order mac & cheese they usually never finish).

Shockingly enough, the cupcake that came with the kid’s meal was also surprisingly good. Moist and not too sickly sweet on the frosting.

Now don’t get me wrong here. It’s not like I’m comparing this to the likes of La Chevre D’or in the South of France or anything, but amidst the recalibrated expectations of theme park cuisine, it’s gourmet.

3 teeth