Disney Dining at Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’

When the new restaurant boom started at Disney Springs in 2015, Raymond and I couldn’t wait to start including those new places in our vacation plans.  Always up for a new dining experience, we started with Morimoto Asia, The Boathouse, and Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar and enjoyed them all.  Then Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’ opened to rave reviews last July and it went straight to the top of our to-do list.  Unfortunately, we weren’t able to squeeze in a visit during our December, 2016 Christmas trip or on our Dark Side Challenge trip in April.  Every time we planned to visit Disney World, I tried to find a way.  It finally worked out.

Disney Dining at Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’

When I realized Raymond and I would be arriving at Disney World early in the day on November 10th, I immediately made and ADR for lunch at Homecomin’.  As soon as the Magical Express from Port Canaveral dropped us off, we delivered our suitcases to our room in Bay Lake Tower and caught a bus from the Contemporary to Disney Springs.  We killed time before our 12:25 pm reservation by doing a little Christmas shopping and stopping in at The Polite Pig to try some craft beer.

At long last – it was time for lunch.  Everything about Homecomin’ was welcoming.  In an upscale farmhouse way, the atmosphere does much to contribute to the overall experience.  It’s bright, cheerful, and has just the right number of whimsical touches.  I especially loved the selection of chicken-themed merchandise and décor.

In the dining room, our table was right in the middle of the action.  We were surrounded by groups of cheerful people.  Ladies lunching, families vacationing, everyone happily enjoying the food and hospitality – all signs of a great restaurant!  We ordered up a couple of beers and settled in for a visit.

Here’s when Raymond and I miss our big family vacations – with only the two of us, we can’t realistically order lots of dishes to try when we’re in a new restaurant.  After giving the menu careful attention, we decided on the Jasper Board appetizer (“An array of Southern goodness perfect for sharing with the table. Smoked fish dip, pimento cheese, shaved country and Tasso hams, bread and butter pickles, candied pecans and buttermilk crackers“).  For his entrée, Raymond chose Art’s Famous Fried Chicken (“Buttermilk-brined for 24 hours then perfectly fried and served with creamy mashed potatoes, a cheddar drop biscuit and love.”) and I ordered the Florida Grouper (“Fresh grouper grilled and served KC Greens with iron skillet sweet potatoes“).

First, the Jasper Board.  Oh, YUM!  If you’ve read some of our other reviews, you know we love charcuterie boards and cheese plates.  The Jasper Board was everything we love and more!  For many people, I realize “smoked fish dip” sounds dubious, but it was absolutely fantastic.  We tried (really, we did) to save room to do our entrées justice and maybe share a dessert, but failed miserably.  Like ravenous dogs, we fell upon poor Jasper and, well, were somewhat ashamed of how quickly those meats, cheeses, nuts, and pickles disappeared.

Raymond’s fried chicken and mashed potatoes tasted as good as they looked.  Comfort food with attitude.  The flavors were wonderful!  My fish was seasoned well, as were the sweet potatoes – both delicious.   I had deliberately ordered the grouper because it came with greens.  Completely unfamiliar with greens when I moved to Louisiana, I found them to be an acquired taste.  I love them now, but they must be prepared exactly the right way.  I judge all greens by the ones I get at a little BBQ place in Jackson, Mississippi called the Pig & Pint.  I expected Chef Art Smith’s to be the weak link in an otherwise perfect dining experience.  I’m delighted to say I was wrong!

When our server came by to check on us, I mentioned how the greens tasted exactly the way I’d hoped and they must have been made with the right ingredients, then he and I said at exactly the same time, “with apple cider vinegar and brown sugar”.  It seems that Chef Art also adds a bit of cayenne for a little extra kick.  Very tasty.

So full we could barely push away from the table, I was glad I’d made no dinner plans for that night!  As we waddled off, we were hoping all the walking we were about to do in the parks would wear off some of those calories.  Of course we want to go back to Homecomin’ to try more dishes and maybe even save room for dessert.  We can’t wait to take the rest of The Fam.  With our next family vacation coming up in May, I’ll be booking our ADRs mere days from now.  Fingers crossed!

Have you been to Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’?  How did you like it?  If you haven’t had the chance to try it yet, we highly recommend it!

 

 

Disney Dining Review – Narcoossee’s

Narcoossee's ViewWith so many restaurants to choose from at Walt Disney World it can take quite a while sometimes to make a repeat visit to one.  In the case of Narcoossee’s at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, it took us 26 years to dine there for a second time.  Certainly this wasn’t because we didn’t enjoy our first dinner there.  We really did have a great experience.  It’s just that on the next several Disney vacations, we had children with us and chose more kid-friendly options.

Disney Dining Review – Narcoossee’s

A few weeks ago we finally made our way back to Narcoossee’s and were pleasantly surprised that the experience was even better than we remembered!  Excellent menu, delicious food, top notch service, and a couple of seasonal extra-special surprises made the evening absolutely wonderful.  Narcoossee’s is a signature dining location, so it takes two table service credits if you’re on the Disney Dining Plan…is it worth it?  We think so.  (See current menu here.)Narcoossee's Dining Room

Narcoossee’s is located on the shore of the Seven Seas Lagoon.  The décor is beautiful and, on the night we dined there, we were mostly among other adults with a few families that had mostly older children.  The tables offer great views (even if you’re not sitting right next to a window) and the open kitchen is entertaining in its own way.  Narcoossee's Open KitchenOne thing we noticed right away was that our server, Tom, was a professional – he knew how to pace our meal and how to add the extra touches that made what we thought would be a nice dinner into an extra special one.Narcoossee's BreadOf course, bread came first and we ordered appetizers and a bottle of wine.  The menu offered so many tempting items, we actually passed up an artisanal cheese offering (so unlike us!) in favor of the Maine Lobster Bisque for Raymond and the Prince Edward Island Mussels to share.  Narcoossee's Lobster Bisque Narcoossee's Mussels AppetizerWe were very pleased with our selections.  When we finished, Tom brought us warm towels for hand-washing and suggested we take our wine out onto the deck to watch the Magic Kingdom fireworks.    Narcoossee's Hot TowelsTom promised to hold our entrees until we returned and encouraged us to enjoy the show.  How great was this??!!  We stepped outside and spent the next little while sipping wine and taking in the view.Narcoossee's view of MK fireworks Narcoossee's view of fireworks at MKAs promised, when we returned to our table, our entrees were delivered and they were delicious!  Raymond opted for the Key West Shrimp and Garganelli Pasta (“Wild Florida Shrimp, Spinach, Oven-roasted Tomatoes, Basil Pistou, Comté Cheese, and Chardonnay-Garlic Cream“) Narcoossee's Pasta Entreewhile I chose the Coriander and Shichimi-spiced Seared Ahi Tuna (“Charred Beans, Gai-lan, Green Papaya, and Sesame Sticky Rice with Ginger-Kaffir Lime Broth“), which sounds fussy and complicated, but was actually pretty straight forward in both presentation and flavor.  The seared tuna was the star of the show and the rest was a perfect supporting cast.  Narcoossee's Tuna EntreeGenerally, we’re huge fans of spicy, well seasoned foods and these entrees fit the bill perfectly.  Completely satisfied, we decided to catch the little boat from the Grand Floridian back to the Polynesian, then use the stroll from the boat dock to the Moorea building to digest a bit before calling it a night.  Grand Floridian Boat TransportationWe noticed the outdoor movie had drawn a small crowd and appreciated again how those great Disney touches can make vacations so magical.Polynesian Movie Night Inside OutWe gave Narcoossee’s a definite thumbs-up!  Have you enjoyed Narcoossee’s?  Was your experience similar to ours?  If you haven’t eaten there before, has this restaurant even made it onto your dining wish list?