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!

 

 

Walt Disney World – Time For Disney Springs?

Disney vacation time is valuable!  Between parks, resorts, and restaurants, scheduling and planning are important priorities.  Time well spent is a good investment.  That being the case, who would get the most from Disney Springs and how much vacation time should be devoted to visiting this newly enhanced area of Walt Disney World?

Walt Disney World – Time For Disney Springs?Walt Disney World - Time For Disney Springs?

You love to shop – If you live in a big city with loads of shopping choices or you love to shop on line, Disney Springs’ shopping district, Town Center, won’t hold much appeal.  But if you live far from a city and love to browse stores like Zara, Lilly Pulitzer, Free People, Kate Spade New York, Anthropologie (my personal weakness), Uniqlo, and more!  Looking for souvenirs?  The Marketplace is for you.  Lots of Disney everything from clothing to toys and collectibles, cell phone cases, art, ornaments, jewelry – it’s all there in one place.

It’s going to rain a lot – Sure, an afternoon thunderstorm is common (especially during the summer months) and those are usually momentary interruptions to park touring.  When the weather’s going to be lousy for an extended period of time, Disney Springs offers some excellent alternatives like catching a movie at the AMC Theater and bowling a few rounds at Splitsville.  We’ve not yet tried Splitsville (I hear the menu is fantastic) but we very much enjoyed seeing Rogue One at Christmastime when the parks were super crowded. Walt Disney World - Time For Disney Springs?

Looking for new dining options – There are now more options for dining than ever!  Quick service, table service, snacks and sweets are everywhere!  If you’re looking for a new place to try in every price category, don’t leave out Disney Springs.  We love Morimoto Asia (both dining room and walk up counter).  We think Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar is awesome and The Boathouse has great food and a wonderful atmosphere.  We’re looking forward to trying many more places on upcoming visits.Walt Disney World - Time For Disney Springs?

Grown up and want a night out – Looking for something to do outside the parks and away from your resort?  Disney Springs has more than shopping and dining.  Great lounges, live entertainment, and seasonal attractions (like the special Christmas Tree display and drone show last holiday season).  In the evenings, it’s crowded, but fun!

Arrival Day – No ticket necessary – Need something to do at Disney World without a park ticket?  We’ve visited Disney Springs as an arrival day outing.  We’ve also spent an evening at Disney Springs pre-Disney cruise when we had no park tickets but wanted to start feeling the Disney magic right away.  If your family is staying at Disney World longer than the number of days you have park tickets for, consider Disney Springs.  Most stores open at 10:00 am and we’ve found very light crowds early in the day.

I know that every minute of a Disney vacation is precious.  Many visitors to Walt Disney World choose not to spend time at Disney Springs and at one time, we were that family too!  Now we’ve come to appreciate the option of visiting Disney Springs as an alternative to Disney World’s parks and resorts and try to make at least one visit there on every trip.

Are you a Disney Springs fan?  What draws you there?