Disney World Dining – I Love Appetizers!

Given the choice between appetizer and dessert, I’m choosing the appetizer every time.  That may be hard to imagine for those of you will a sweet tooth, but I’m all about the starter!  Be it soup, salad, cheese plate, or something more exotic, the way I kick off a Disney table service dinner makes all the difference to my meal enjoyment.

Disney World Dining – I Love Appetizers!

It doesn’t much matter where we go.  My eyes are drawn to the top of the menu and the appetizer section.  I tend to avoid heavy-sounding, fried items and favor more unusual choices.  I want to kick off a good meal while not completely ruining my appetite.  Sometimes Raymond and I order and appetizer or salad (or both) to share.  In cooler months, I’m a sucker for a soup or bisque.  The perfect appetizer takes the edge off my hunger while leaving me wanting more (and I’ll have room for my entrée!).

Here are some of my favorites…

The Wave (Disney’s Contemporary Resort) – Seasonal Soup.  When I last had the soup, it was a heavenly sausage, gnocchi, and spinach concoction with a cheese crust on top.  I reproduced it at home and have enjoyed it many times since.  My friend Gaylin recently told me about another Wave appetizer called “Bacon and Eggs” (“Maple-lacquered Pork Belly with Perfect Egg and Tillamook Smoked Cheddar Grits“) and now it’s on the top of my must-try list.  I hope it stays on the menu long enough for me to get there!

Shula’s Steak House (Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort) – Sure, everyone goes to Shula’s for the beef, but before I slice into that perfectly cooked filet, I’m opting for the “Barbequed Shrimp Stuffed with Basil” (“Stuffed with Basil, wrapped in Applewood Smoked Bacon tossed in a Tangy BBQ Sauce“).  Disney World Dining - I Love AppetizersIt’s the perfect combination of flavors and the sauce is fantastic.  Share it with a friend so you have room for that steak.  Check out the full menu here.

Jiko (Animal Kingdom Lodge) – Everything’s been delicious, but the soup is my favorite.  It’s currently “Curried Butternut Squash Bisque” with Duck Confit and Quince Marmalade and I know it’s 500-degress outside right now, but you should run try it before the menu changes.  It’s SO good!!!  And the presentation is fancy too.

So much to eat, so little time…

Kona Café (Polynesian Village Resort) – There are a couple of things we really like to kick off dinner at Kona.  The Sticky Wings and the Pot Stickers.  Both are tasty options, good for sharing, and not too filling.  If you love sushi, the menu offers a nice variety.  We generally enjoy sushi as a meal versus appetizer and I’m guessing that’s why we rarely order it at Kona.

Sanaa (Kidani Village) – The famous Indian-Style Bread Service!  It’s several different flavors of naan bread served with a variety of dipping sauces that range from savory to sweet to spicy.  Fresh, exotic, and delicious.  Disney World Dining - I Love Appetizers!I can totally see why lots of folks make a reservation just to enjoy the bread service as a snack or light meal all by itself.

Il Mulino (Walt Disney World Swan Resort) – My favorite restaurant for pre-runDisney event carbs!  Starters on the menu come in a huge variety from cheeses and meats to salads, clams and heavier fare.  The most delicious item to me is the Arancini, which is “Italian Rice Balls over Spicy Marinara Sauce”.  I never order it for myself because it’s a lot for an appetizer.  Those delicious servings of rice are fried and very filling.  However, if someone at my table is kind enough to share a bite or two with me, whoa momma!  Deeeelish!

Raglan Road (Disney Springs) – Considered by many to be overrated, Raglan Road has been the source of many a delicious family meal for us throughout the years.  Their menu has a ton of appetizer options.  I’ve tried several appetizers including the dicey-sounding Crock o’ Pate (cold chicken liver spread), which wasn’t bad, actually.  The best thing (to me) by far is the “Rack of Heaven” – “Slow roasted Guinness glazed full rack of baby back ribs.” (Plenty to share.)      THOSE babies are fantastic.  Even if I’m just in Raglan Road for a drink at the amazing bar, I’ll order those ribs.  They make me happy.

Boma (Animal Kingdom Lodge) – Don’t laugh, but there’s one simple salad on Boma’s extensive buffet that stays on my mind long after I’ve eaten there.  It’s the Watermelon Rind Salad.  Sounds potentially boring and awful, doesn’t it?  It’s bright, sweet and tangy, and absolutely perfect to start off a meal full of unusual flavors.  Fear not if you or anyone in your travel party is a picky eater, Boma has plenty of dishes to satisfy everyone.

Are YOU an appetizer or a dessert fan?  Both?  Neither?  What’s your favorite part of Disney dining?  What’s your favorite dish?

 

 

Kona Café Breakfast – Beyond Tonga Toast

Tonga Toast at Kona Café is a Walt Disney World original.  This breakfast specialty has thousands of loyal fans and tops the list of must-do’s for those who have not yet had the privilege.  A generous serving of “Banana-stuffed Sourdough French Toast rolled in Cinnamon Sugar and served with a Strawberry Compote and your choice of Ham, Bacon, or Sausage” – Sounds heavenly and if you love sweet breakfast foods, you will not be disappointed.  Unless you’re me and you prefer savory eats first thing in the morning.

Kona Café Breakfast – Beyond Tonga Toast

For quite some time now, Kona Café has been a Disney vacation tradition.  Raymond and I (and now Joseph) are partial to the Egg White Omelet with roasted red peppers and goat cheese.  It comes with a side of berries and is an all around solid (and healthy) breakfast choice.  In fact, that’s just what they both ordered on our departure day.  Kona Café Breakfast - Beyond Tonga ToastMe? I decided to break away from the usual and try something new.  With quite a few delicious-sounding choices on the menu, I took my time selecting what I considered a splurge.  One, very simple-sounding dish caught my eye:  The Samoan.

Described as, “Poached Eggs with Hollandaise served over Smoked Pulled Pork Hash“, what could I not love about that?  All my favorite food-types in one dish.  In short order, my plate arrived.  It looked much fancier than I’d imagined.  Kona Café Breakfast - Beyond Tonga ToastBeneath a handful of gently sautéed arugula, the “hash” was actually some large, tender fried potatoes in a ring around the pulled pork.  This circle of yumminess was topped with two perfectly prepared poached eggs – yolks soft but not runny, whites firm but not rubbery.  The hollandaise sauce was smooth, thick and tangy.  I was uncharacteristically quiet as I savored every bite.

If you’ve been under the impression that Tonga Toast is your only breakfast option at Kona Café, think again.  Haven’t tried Kona Café yet?  Add it to your to-do list and you just might find a morning visit to Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort becoming a vacation tradition for you, too.

Are you a Kona Café fan?  What’s your favorite breakfast item?

Disney Dining – Trattoria al Forno

Honestly, the newest Italian eatery at Disney’s Boardwalk, Trattoria al Forno, was never on our radar.  We love the Boardwalk to be sure, but we usually visit for dinner at Flying Fish or as I’m running down the actual boardwalk during a runDisney event.  Even when the Trattoria was Kouzzina, it never occurred to us to eat there.  Too many dining choices, too little time!

All of that changed when I was making plans for our most recent visit to Disney World (last December).  I wanted to see the Candlelight Processional and I didn’t want to wait in a long, LONG line only to find out that all the seats were taken.  We needed a dining package!  I was surprised to find that Trattoria al Forno was a choice for the dining package and that breakfast was an option.  SCORE!  We could sleep in, head to the Boardwalk, try out this previously unnoticed restaurant, spend most of the day in Disney Springs and arrive in Epcot just ahead of the Candlelight Processional.  To me, breakfast wasn’t a risk and not a substantial investment to get preferred seating for the Processional during Christmas week.

We were very pleased with the entire experience!  The atmosphere and décor are fantastic.  The breakfast menu is unique and the service was fine.  Shorthanded on the morning we were there, the restaurant’s manager jumped in to serve coffee and chat up the patrons.  Clearly out of his element, we appreciated his willingness to pitch in.  We were in no hurry and didn’t mind sipping Mimosas (I ate the orange slice before I took a picture…oops) while we waited for our food.  This ended up being a welcome respite from rushing around, dealing with Christmas crowds.  Raymond had the Breakfast Calzones, I had the Poached Eggs (with sausage over polenta) and Joseph had the Scrambled Eggs (with sausage and potatoes) we shared a  big bowl of fresh fruit.  We were all satisfied and thought the Italian-inspired menu items combined with traditional picky-eater-pleasing choices meant there was something for everyone.  We would definitely return again!

In early February, Disney World announced that a Trattoria al Forno character dining experience will soon be available!  This sounds like a wonderful option and excellent alternative to Akershus in Norway (a popular Disney Princess meal).  This new offering will allow guests to meet their favorite Disney couples!  Different from other character dining options and convenient to Epcot, this new experience will definitely put Trattoria al Forno on many people’s to-try lists.  If it has fixed pricing and takes only one table service credit on the Disney Dining Plan, all the better – this should be a big success!

Rumor Alert!  I heard that today (February 23, 2017) is the first day to make ADRs for this experience, so if you’re headed to Walt Disney World this summer and are interested in dining with beloved Disney couples (Like Rapunzel and Flynn & Ariel and Eric), you might want to get busy on the reservations.  If you are able to book this new Character Dining Experience, please let me know the details!

Disney World Dining – Best 1-Credit Table Service (Part 2)

I’ve talked about my favorite 1-credit table service restaurants at Disney World before (here).  But it’s been a while, so I thought an updated version was in order.  If I were making my ADRs (Advance Dining Reservations) right now for an upcoming vacation, here’s what I’d recommend…

Disney World Dining – Best 1-Credit Table Service (Part 2)

I still stand by most of my original picks although I will most likely not eat dinner at Be Our Guest again (preferring the quick service breakfast or lunch) and I’ll pass on Chef Mickey’s in the future because I’ve found a place I like much better.  I’m now proud to say I’ve visited a few of the honorable mentions from the previous list and would highly recommend these:

Kona Café – Right next door to ‘Ohana in the Polynesian, Kona offers a different dining experience.  Where ‘Ohana is great for big appetites and fans of family style dining, Kona is better for folks who want options and have varying tastes and appetites.  The menu is Pan-Asian and offers a great variety (sushi lovers seem to flock here).  The service is consistently good and we’ve been so happy with the food, we’ve eaten both dinner and breakfast at Kona on more than one trip.  Just a short monorail ride from Magic Kingdom, Kona’s an excellent place to eat before heading to Magic Kingdom for the evening.

Whispering Canyon Café – We’ve been twice now and had a great meal both times.  It’s fun, filling, and in an awesome setting at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge.  Somewhat similar to 50’s Prime Time Café in server/guest interaction, Whispering Canyon  is a favorite of meat-and-potatoes fans with an American menu that includes an all-you-care-to-eat skillet.

Tusker House – I’ve gone on and on (here) about the food, the characters, and the service.  It’s a buffet with choices aplenty.  I love seeing Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, and Goofy in their safari outfits while filling up on some very unique menu offerings.  Not to worry if you have picky eaters – this buffet includes plenty of choices for all tastes.  If you don’t want to leave the park to eat at Boma (Animal Kingdom Lodge’s buffet) and you love a character meal, Tusker house is a safe bet.

We’ve also tried and wholeheartedly recommend…

Yak and Yeti – The table service option (there’s also a quick service window) of this highly themed restaurant in Animal Kingdom’s Asia section is quite good!  If you like Pan-Asian food and want a nice sit-down, non-character in-park experience, Yak and Yeti’s a solid choice.  The menu is surprisingly broad and we love the atmosphere – very cool décor!

Via Napoli – It was lively and a little loud, but for a family dinner, Via Napoli was fantastic!  Everyone in our party of seven was happy with their choices and the pizza was about as good as it gets at Disney World.  I’d choose again Via Napoli if I wanted to stay in Epcot for dinner and had a group to please.

Morimoto Asia (1-credit for Brunch or Lunch only) – The service, the menu, and the atmosphere are much less kid-friendly than most Disney World eateries.  That’s not to say that kids aren’t welcome, but Morimoto Asia in Disney Springs is where we like to go for a lunch date.  The servers are professional and knowledgeable, the menu is broad with plenty of options for sharing.  We can take our time and feel like we’ve found an oasis in the middle of the often chaotic Disney Springs area.

Raglan Road – This is our tried-and-true dinner choice in Disney Springs.  It’s very family friendly and the menu is full of hearty comfort-food  choices.  Plus, entertainment!  Irish dancers and live music add a very special element to eating at Raglan Road.  Hello!  Dinner and a show for 1-credit? Yes!

Again, if I were going right now, I’d choose Tusker House over Chef Mickey’s or 1900 Park Fare.  I’d choose Via Napoli in Epcot, Kona Café at the Polynesian and Raglan Road in Disney Springs for dinner.  If my schedule made a nice lunch versus dinner possible, I go for a Magic Kingdom park-break at Wilderness Lodge to visit Whispering Canyon or I’d head to Disney Springs and enjoy an awesome meal at Morimoto Asia.

What do I need to try next?  What’s your favorite 1-credit table service restaurant at Disney World?