This is the third part of my Dining at Disney post. I covered the table service restaurants we have eaten at in Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom in the first part of the post. I covered Epcot in the second part of the post. This post will be just for Hollywood Studios and Disney Springs.
Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano-
My mother’s grandmother was an Italian immigrant that spoke no English and cooked like a true stereotype. Both my grandmother and my momma were amazing Italian-Mother cooks. You know the ones: have a special tomato sauce recipe, know how to cook instinctively and how to pass that along via there loving bossy tone. I love cooking and I give all the credit to my mother and grandmother. So I have a special place in my heart, and in my stomach, for Mama Melrose’s. First off, the food here is obviously delicious, but it is more of a fine dining caliber than I was expecting. I have tried a few dishes here, including the Penne alla Vodka with Chicken and an option that doesn’t seem to be on the menu anymore (a common occurrence at Disney), some sort of Braised Pork with Polenta dish. Everything has always been delicious and so filling, as I’ve heard carbs will do to you. The appetizers and desserts are equally yummy, so definitely come hungry and with some people to help you eat it all! I highly recommend the Calamari and Cannoli; you will not regret it! The ambiance should not be left out either, as it is a nice romantic option in an otherwise hectic, Stormtrooper filled park. It is reminiscent of a restaurant I ate at in Rome, with views of the kitchen, twinkling lights overhead, the clink of wine bottle on glass, and happy conversation to be heard all around. If you are looking for a romantic break for the park, or really any break from the park, you should definitely come here. I haven’t been to Tony’s Town Square, but from what I’ve been told, always pick this restaurant over that one.
Rating: “Side by side with your loved one, you’ll find enchantment here.”
Hollywood & Vine-
My family has a pretty varied range of appetites and tastes, and the buffet at Hollywood & Vine, as I remember it, was able to perfectly satisfy all of us. We also loved that it is part of the Fantasmic Dinner Package, so we could get better seats without waiting in line. It has been quite a few years since I have eaten at this establishment, but here is how my memories play out in my head: You enter into a diner straight out of the Golden Era, not of Hollywood, but of diners. The buffet itself wraps around the formica tables, with a bounty of “American” food. There were the good ol’ staples of Ham, Steak, Mashed Potatoes, Macaroni and Cheese, as well as an ice cream machine churning out vanilla, chocolate, twist flavors. Mickey and Minnie, Goofy and Pluto, came around to say hi while we ate and signed our autograph books and posed for pictures. Then Minnie brought all of the younger kids out to the center of the tiled floor for an impromptu dance party, complete with feather boas! Of course, I was dragged out, despite my shy nature, and immediately returned to my table when it was realized that I was at least half a decade older than the other little girls. I finished my heaping plate of garlic mashed potatoes with a slight blush on my cheeks. Anyway, I haven’t been back in years, not because we don’t like it, but because we are trying to go to new (to us) places. We also are less likely to choose character dinners as we have no younger kids with us, especially as the breakfast and lunch buffets have Disney Junior characters, rather than the Minnie crew.
Rating: “What do you want me to do dress in drag and do the hula?”
Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater-
Eating at this restaurant is an experience, but one that unfortunately does not include a good meal. We ate breakfast here most recently, but even when we ate lunch and dinner here, we were less than impressed. The fare is not even as good as you will find at most quick service restaurants, in my opinion, so other than the endless milkshakes, air conditioning, super fun old school sci-fi movies and drive-in theming, it is not worth it. If you want or need all of those things and a fast food quality burger is fine with you, than definitely go! Disney has raised my standards at so many of its restaurants, and there are so many to eat at, that I will not be returning to the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater anytime soon. You should eat there at least once though to see the out-of-this-world theming, as well as to decide for yourself on the food.
Rating: “Oh yes the past can hurt, but the way I see it, you can either run from it or learn from it.”
The Hollywood Brown Derby-
This was the first Signature restaurant I experienced at Disney, and I was definitely impressed. My parents, brother and wife, and I were able to eat here a few summers ago and the food was absolutely delicious. I had a very difficult time deciding on every course and was not disappointed with a single item. Sean is joining me here on our upcoming trip and I have been practically writing songs about the food here, so hopefully it lives up to the hype, both in my head and that I have been perpetrating in my descriptions to him. Last time I had the Charred Filet of Beef with Forest Mushroom-White Truffle Oil Mashed Potatoes, Sautéed Rainbow Carrots, Haricot Verts, and Red Wine Reduction. It was heavenly, but I’m a sucker for white truffle oil and a red wine reduction. And for dessert, my all time favorite: Crème Brûlée. This time I definitely want to try their famous Cobb Salad (it is gigantic and could probably feed a family of four, so it might replace my appetizer and entree!) and their equally famous Grapefruit Cake. I could talk about this place forever, but I will leave you with this: it is pricey (after all it’s a signature restaurant), but you will leave satisfied, both with quality and quantity. The ambiance is nice, not too loud, but not too quiet. And the theming is neat, with caricatures of famous Hollywood legends and derby lamps. I can’t recommend it enough.
Rating: “Practically perfect in every way.”
That’s it for reviews of dining at Hollywood Studios, because that is almost all there is at this park! We are only missing one: 50s Prime Time Cafe, which honestly, I’m not that excited about, so it might be awhile before we experience that one.
Disney Springs (Downtown Disney)
Apparently this is the post about dining at the Disney World places that I keep calling by their old names! I still slip up and call them MGM Studios and Downtown Disney on a fairly regular basis. I am getting better though! Disney Springs is overflowing with dining and shopping opportunities, and we have only dipped our toe in (do you like the metaphors?). Here are the restaurants we have experienced:
If we love Rose & Crown at Epcot, I don’t even know what emotion we have towards Raglan Road. This Irish pub has downright yummy comfort food with an almost fine dining presentation, live music, and enough beer and cocktail options to make my everything-Irish-loving husband more than happy. No joke, we have sat inside and outside this restaurant for hours. There is ample seating, a live band inside and out, and sometimes Irish dancers too. The staff is attentive and fun. And best of all: here are just some of the dishes we have tried and loved (and yes these are the real names on the menu): Dalkey Duo, Nom Nom Wings, Heaven on Earth, Scallop Forest, Fish & Chips, Bangers and Booz, It’s Not Bleedin’ Chowder!, Braised Beef, Mammy’s Roast Chicken, and that’s not even getting into the desserts. (Click the link for descriptions of each, but grab some napkins, because you are about to experience some serious mouth-watering). No, we did not attempt this all in one sitting; we have been here a handful of times. And we can’t wait to go back again! (Also, side note, apparently there used to be a Raglan Road in Kansas City which we moved to right after we first went to the one in Orlando…and it closed! Super sad face.)
Rating: “When you gonna own up that you got, got, got it bad?…I won’t say I’m in love.” (but I am…and I guess I just did!)
Another really fun option is Splitsville on the other side of Disney Springs from Raglan Road. This restaurant (and it is a restaurant; you do not have to bowl) has food that has no business being as delicious as it is. When I think of bowling alley food I think of french fries, burgers, nachos, and while there are options (apparently, very delicious ones, if I am to believe Sean) for those, there are also pizzas, sushi, salmon/steak/chicken entrees and more! And the serving sizes are gigantic, with decent prices to boot! This is a great option for the whole family when you want a break from the parks and with late hours and cocktails, this is a great late night option too. I was a little hesitant at first about the menu, since a varied menu (buffalo wings, california rolls, and beef tacos) generally means that at least one category is lacking in flavor or is just downright disgusting. Not the case with everything we tried. We sampled, and by that I mean we all ate off each other’s plates, the following: Asian Crispy Wings, Loaded Fries, California Crunch Roll, Crab Rangoon Roll, BBQ Chicken Pizza, The Mad King Burger, and more I’m sure I am forgetting. We are going to try to go here again this trip, on Friday night after we get in, if Hurricane Matthew doesn’t cancel our flight!
Rating: “A whole new world; a new fantastic point of view.”
And that is all for Disney Springs, thus far, but we will be able to add at least one or two more after this upcoming trip! Stay tuned for the final installation of Dining at Disney!