During my recent excursions to Orlando, FL, one of the most fun things I did was taste some of the best dishes offered by a few restaurants found in the various theme parks.
I have had a few bad culinary experiences at theme parks before, and am not much of a giant turkey drumstick eating type of gal. So, to experience some new, more sophisticated places when at the parks was a huge treat. Here is a list of my favorites:
Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano, Disney Hollywood Studio: though at first I was doubtful that I would have a positive experience here because of the rude host, it turned out that aside from her, it was a great place to eat. Our waiter was friendly and knowledgeable, even made several great wine recommendations which we enjoyed. The menu had a nice selection, and the ambiance was comfortable and casual, but still nice and sophisticated.
I ordered a Caesar Salad and Charred Sirloin Steak from their Dinner Menu. The steak was perfect, and so delicious! For dessert I tried their Warm Chocolate Truffle Cake. Divine!
Mythos at Islands of Adventure, Universal Studios Orlando: This restaurant has been named the world’s “Best Theme Park Restaurant” six years in a row by Theme Park Insider, and well-deserved. It was a surprisingly good destination.
I started my meal ordering from their diverse Lunch Menu. A vegetable soup, which is far more than that and was so good, I still salivate when I think of it. And the grilled salmon dish that followed was also delicious. However, their menu changes about every two months, so not sure what you will find upon your visit there.
One thing that I’ve heard is always on the menu is the Chef’s Signature Pizza, which is a Marguerite pizza, at least it was when we were there, and was a favorite among the diners who ordered it. In truth, none of their dishes, from the soups to the burgers were bad. Everything tasted fresh and really brought the feel of gourmet dinning to our palates. I highly recommend it.
Also note, you don’t have to purchase tickets to eat here, but reservations are required and info of such will need to be given at the gate entrance to the park.
(The following were specialty dishes offered during an exclusive Disney Chef’s Special event during the 44th Pillsbury Bake-Off)
Le Cellier, Epcot
Chef Joe Ahmed served the Porcini-dusted Beef Tenderloin with wild mushroom risotto and truffle-butter sauce. Sommielier Christina Benamati complimented the dish with a Château des Charmes St. David’s Bench Merlot, V.Q.A. St. David’s Bench ’07.
Le Cellier is known for its steaks and successfully catering to red meat lovers, though non-meat lovers also have their choice of Pan-seared King Salmon, or Porcini Mushroom Ravioli.
In general, I am not a Merlot drinker at all. Not sure why I have not really acquired much of a taste for red wine, however, with this wonderful dish it was amazing. The beef tenderloin was made to perfection, and I really liked the truffle-butter sauce (I mean, really. What is there not to like about truffle-butter sauce?). But it was the wine that really complimented the dish, making me go for seconds (of the wine) and reminding me that a good steak should always, always be married to a even better Merlot…and in this case, it was a marriage made in heaven.
Chef Dee Foundoukis served the Fisherman’s Stew, a wonderful dish made of grouper cheeks, shrimp, and scallops with fennel confit and ouzo butter. Sommelier Felipe Poma complimented the dish with his selection of Coronation Chardonnay, Russian River Valley ’08.
I LOVED this dish. With seafood stews one always runs the risk of ending up with something too “fishy” or too salty. This was neither. As a matter of fact, what I most loved about the dish was how the first bite took me back to being on the beach in Santo Domingo, under the shade of a straw roof from a fisherman’s hut-eatery tasting the catch of the day. That is what I think about when I think of this dish. It’s a regular on Kouzzina’s menu, so if you go there give it a try.
Also note, Disney’s BoardWalk is gorgeous, especially at night. It’s a beautiful place to visit, dine, shop, and go for a stroll.
Chef Bob Getchell served Shrimp in Green Curry Sauce with Fragrant Basmati Rice, Pappadum, and Cucumber Raita. Sommelier Kristie Jones complimented the dish with a J. Moeau & Fils Vonray ’06.
Had this been an official contest, THIS would’ve been the winner hands down. Everything was perfect about this dish, which you absolutely must have with the wine. Alone, the wine would’ve been too sweet for me, but when combined with the spiciness of the dish it is sheer perfection. I must’ve had 3 servings of this dish alone. And I wasn’t the only one. If curry is your thing, this is your dish! And what’s best, this item is both on the lunch AND dinner menu at Sanaa, for double the pleasure! (Hey, I did, so why not?)
Lastly desserts were served from Disney’s Hollywood Studios Bakery.
My absolute favorite treat from there: the Grapefruit Pistacio Tart with Crème Fraîche. It does contain artificial coloring, so beware if you have allergies, and though it has mint garnish, I barely tasted it, but was still really good…and I only had one!
So there you have it, my favorites of all the theme park foods I tried during my recent travels to Orlando. All the restaurants offer children’s menus, though I would recommend, if you are feeling oh so adventurous, to maybe ditching the chicken fingers and french fries for the kids, even if just for one day, and introducing your child to some of the amazing choices all these eateries offer. And note: reservations are highly recommended, especially for dinner.
I hope you enjoy your next trip to Orlando and have yourself a delicious culinary adventure!