Trader Sam’s or Jock Lindsey’s?

When there’s something new at Walt Disney World, be it restaurant, show, attraction, or lounge, we are anxious to check it out!  Recently we had the opportunity to stop in for refreshments at two new (to us) Disney pubs – Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto (Polynesian Village Resort) and Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar (Disney Springs).Trader-Sam's-Wall-Decor

Since we were staying at the Polynesian in the new DVC Villas, we hit Trader Sam’s first. Having heard it was small and filled up fast in the evenings, we decided to get there right at opening time (4:00 pm).  It is indeed very small – a hole in the wall almost literally.  It’s located behind an unassuming door near Captain Cook’s on the ground floor of the Great Ceremonial House.  Trader-Sam's-Volcano Trader-Sam's-Menu-PageTrader-Sam's-Interior Trader-Sam's-DetailsWe ducked inside and were immediately impressed by a million details and no small amount of ambient noise.  It’s dark inside and feels very closed-in due to the many artifacts and items used to create the theme.  The bar was wide open, so be bellied on up and took our seats.Trader-Sam's-Raymond Trader-Sam's-Tentacles

What to order?  The menu was large and contained a wide variety of drink choices as well as some delicious sounding snack options.  I wanted a specialty drink, but knew that some of them could be quite pricey, so I chose the relatively economical Polynesian Pearl.  Raymond ordered the Kona Beer Flight and we decided on the Pan-fried Dumplings with Soy-Sesame Dipping Sauce to snack on.Trader-Sam's-Kona-Beer-Flight Trader-Sam's-Dumplings

Like many of the signature drinks, the Polynesian Pearl was made with quite a bit of ceremony and flair (no spoilers here).  Raymond’s beer flight was delivered in the customary way.  Not a fan of mixed drinks, I wished I’d have ordered something with fewer ingredients than the Pearl, but I enjoyed the presentation if not the actual drink itself (I did keep the drink container, but consumed less than half the contents).Trader-Sam's-PearlTrader-Sam's-Drink-CeremonyThe dumplings were very delicious.  Our take-away?  Service:  Adequate, not overly friendly. Mixed drink: so-so.  Beer flight: thumbs-up. Snacks: A-OK!  Atmosphere:  Cave-like and noisy from both people and special effects.   (Read all about Trader Sam’s theme and backstory plus many more details here.)Jock-Lindsey's-Sign

We found Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar just opening for the day when we happened to have a few spare minutes before our lunch reservation at Morimoto Asia.  Upon entering, we found a bright, very well-themed lounge with soaring ceiling, smiling servers and plenty of seating.  Jock-Lindsey's-Interior Jock-Lindsey's-Shelves Jock-Lindsey's-Flight-JacketLike Trader Sam’s, the details are absolutely incredible.  We became totally immersed in the theme.  Also like at Sam’s, seats at the bar were open, so we sat on down and were immediately greeted by our very friendly server, “Howdy” (a nickname she was given due to being from Texas).  She was full of interesting facts about the bar and was ready with suggestions about what we should order to eat.  When we told her we’d just stopped in for a beer and were headed to lunch across the way at Morimoto Asia, she was happy to offer her recommendations on what we might like to eat there.Jock-Lindsey's-Howdy Jock-Lindsey's-Bar-Seating Jock-Lindsey's-Beers Jock-Lindsey's-Bar

The menu is an entertaining book full of clever add-ins along with the bar’s selection food and beverages.  We ordered Orlando IPAs and, since there was hardly anyone else there, I wandered around looking at all the neat stuff – and there are a LOT of cool artifacts.  Jock-Lindsey's-Menu-Cover Jock-Lindsey's-Menu-Page Jock-Lindsey's-MenuAgain, no spoilers – you really need to see this place and discover all the fantastic surprises for yourself!  It’s sort of a cross between a museum and a hoarder’s garage, but the combo definitely works!Jock-Lindsey's-Details Jock-Lindsey's-Cast-Member Jock-Lindsey's-Reggie's-Revenge Jock-Lindsey's-Swizzle-Sticks

Between the two…Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto or Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar…which one do we most want to visit again?  It’s Jock’s, absolutely.  The atmosphere, service, and overall experience trumped Trader Sam’s (our opinion).  While we enjoyed both locations and were pleased with how well-themed and kind of funkily (is that a word?) retro they both are.  Jock’s left us wanting more and we are even now planning how to squeeze in another stop there on our next Walt Disney World vacation (two weeks to go!).

Have you been to Trader Sam’s or Jock Lindsey’s?  I’d love to hear your thoughts on them!

Disney Dining – Lunch at Morimoto Asia

Morimoto-Asia-EntranceNew restaurants are so tempting – especially when we love the cuisine and are fans of the owner, Chef Masaharu Morimoto!  (We were always huge Iron Chef geeks back in the day.)  By the time Morimoto Asia opened, we’d already booked all our ADRs (Advance Dining Reservations) for our end-of-the-year vacation and this created quite a conundrum.  What could we cancel in order to make room for at least one meal at Disney Springs?  In the end, Biergarten in Epcot’s Germany pavilion, lost our reservation and we booked Morimoto Asia through Open Table (it wasn’t set up through Disney’s site yet).

I’ve never eaten at Biergarten, so I can’t truly say if this was the right decision or not.  What I can tell you is that Morimoto Asia was fantastic and we cannot wait to go back!  Here are the top five things we loved most about our experience –

  1. The Dining Area – Atmosphere…ambiance…whatever you want to call it, the restaurant is all clean lines and open spaces.  The open kitchen was interesting to watch – lots of serious game faces at work.  Red accents give everything a warm glow, which softens what might otherwise be too modern or austere for some tastes.Morimoto-Asia-Interior Morimoto-Asia-Dining-RoomMorimoto-Asia-Place-Setting
  2. The Sake Flight – What a pleasant surprise!  We enjoy a glass of sake now and again, but don’t know much about different types and haven’t tried many options.  When we spied the sake flight we both knew we wanted to splurge and give it a try (it was the most expensive part of our meal).  Morimoto-Asia-Sake-FlightOur server was nice enough to explain more than just the basics and when we asked for the names of the different servings to be written down, she was happy to oblige.Morimoto-Asia-Sake-Flight-Notes
  3. The Service – We arrived exactly on time and were seated right away.  Our server, Sonia, was attentive without hovering, helpful with suggestions, and generally treated us as if we were the only customers dining. (You should definitely ask for Sonia.)  Morimoto-Asia-Server-SoniaPacing is important and as one might expect with a new place, there was a bit of a lull between our appetizers and entrees, but not long enough to detract from the overall great impression.  Morimoto-Asia-Ducks (The ducks though…kinda felt like they were always watching…watching.)
  4. The Menu – We love choices!  For us, when we get a restaurant menu and have a hard time deciding what to order, we feel like we’re having a better experience.  Morimoto-Asia-Menu1 Morimoto-Asia-Menu2We also tend to return quicker because we leave things behind that we really wanted to taste.  We ended up ordering four items to share, which is exactly what everyone should do at Morimoto Asia!  (Check out the menu here.)
  5. The Flavors – Before I tell you exactly what we ate, let me emphatically say that we would recommend every item we ordered.  Based on a tip we received from Howdy (excellent barmaid at Jock Lindsey’s), we ordered the Kakuni Pork Bao (“steamed buns, braised pork belly, lettuce, spicy mayo“).  Morimoto-Kakuni-Pork-Bao Morimoto-Asia-Kakuni-Pork-BaoOf course “pork belly” was all it took.  These were perfect!  Texture, seasoning, temperature – all just right.  Next we wanted to try the Morimoto Spare Ribs Appetizer (“3 pork ribs, cilantro, hoisin sweet chili glaze“).  These babies were absolutely delicious!  Morimoto-Asia-Spare-RibsCrunchy on the outside, but tender on the inside, so we were easily able to divide that last rib in two.  Next we had to have a sushi roll and agreed on the Spicy Tuna.  Morimoto-Asia-Spicy-Tuna-SushiI don’t know about where you live, but we are not used to so generous a serving of tuna in our sushi – fantastic!  Finally we decided on a basic favorite, Pad Thai with chicken (“stir-fried flat rice noodles, egg, bean sprouts, scallions, fried tofu, pickled turnip, sweet tamarind sauce.”)  Morimoto-Asia-Pad-ThaiTurned out to be another excellent choice.  We tried our best to finish it, but we’d reached maximum capacity about halfway through.

We could not have enjoyed our lunch at Morimoto Asia more.  Everyone there seemed devoted to giving the best dining experience possible and we thought all the components – food, service, atmosphere – worked perfectly together to make for an excellent meal.Raymond-at-Morimoto-AsiaYour turn – Have you eaten at Morimoto Asia?  What was your first impression?  If you’re considering trying this place, I’d be happy to answer any questions if I can.