Tasty Trifecta: A Weekend of Worldly Dining

by Deb Wills, ALL EARS® Editor in Chief and
The Czarina, ALL EARS® Feature Writer,
with help from the ALL EARS® Dining Team

Feature Article

This article appeared in the April 15, 2003, Issue #186 of ALL EARS® (ISSN: 1533-0753)


Not since last year's Food and Wine Festival in Epcot have I visited the World with the specific goal of eating! Oh, the sacrifices I make for my readers!

Recently we asked which restaurants you would like the ALL EARS® Team to review. The top three responses were: 'Ohana at the Polynesian, Cinderella's Royal Table Character Breakfast; and the Hollywood Brown Derby at the Disney-MGM Studios. Members of the ALL EARS® Team gathered at WDW earlier this month and did indeed dine at these three restaurants. The following are summaries of the reviews -- you can read the reviews in their entirety, complete with photos, by following the link at the end of each summary.

By the way, the ALL EARS® Team asked me to thank you for giving them a legitimate excuse to go out and dine at the World!


Once Upon A Time
Cinderella's Royal Table Character Breakfast
by Deb Wills

Rrrrrrrrrringggg!!! Your alarm goes off at 4 a.m. You fumble for the phone, and hit the speed dial number for Walt Disney World Dining, hoping against hope that you'll be able to get through to make that oh-so-hard-to-attain Priority Seating for breakfast at Cinderella's Royal Table. And then you hold. And you hold. And you hold...

If you live on the West Coast, this drill might be all too familiar to you. Especially if a certain someone in your family just HAS to have breakfast with Cinderella and the Disney Princesses in the Magic Kingdom's castle.

After finally managing to snag a coveted seat at Cinderella's Royal Table, all I have to say is this: you have to REALLY love Cinderella to go through all this, because you certainly don't go there for a relaxing, gourmet breakfast!

Since seatings for this breakfast begin at 8 a.m. daily, transportation can sometimes be a little tricky if you don't have a car. If you're staying at a Disney resort, be sure to ask at the front desk what time transportation to the Character Breakfast begins... and then make sure you're on the first bus, if you have an early breakfast! The bus will take you to the Ticket and Transportation Center where you board the monorail to the Magic Kingdom.

When my two guests and I arrived at our table, we found a basket of mini-pastries (croissants and danish), fresh cut-up fruit (mostly melons) and very sweet low-fat strawberry yogurt. Our server quickly appeared and took our beverage orders and poured orange juice. He explained that there are two basic meals -- regular and healthy -- and that you can ask for unlimited refills of any of the foods offered. The regular breakfast consists of pre-plated scrambled eggs, potato casserole, bacon, sausage links and cheese-stuffed blintz. The "healthy choice" breakfast consisted of granola, low-fat strawberry yogurt and caramelized bananas.

Bottom line? ONLY attempt to get a Priority Seating here if you or someone you love *must* have breakfast with Cinderella in the castle! If you are a Cindy-lover, but you don't care about the venue, I'd instead recommend that you try the Grand Floridian's 1900 Park Fare for dinner at Cinderella's Gala Feast.

Cinderella's Royal Table is offered daily in the Magic Kingdom from 8 until 10:30 a.m. Prices: Adults, $19.99; children 3-11, $9.99. Tax, gratuity extra; a beverage is included. Priority Seatings for this Character Breakfast require a credit card DEPOSIT (not guarantee) of $10 per adult and $5 per child at the time of booking. Once the Priority Seating is made, NO CHANGES may be made to the name on the booking. Priority Seatings may be cancelled for a refund of the deposit at least 24 HOURS prior to the seating time.

Read the full review of what Deb and her guests thought about the whole experience (including the food and the characters) and see some photos at: http://allears.net/din/rev_crt.htm


Hollywood Brown Derby
The Czarina's Royal Table

On a recent sun-dappled early evening, the Czarina and a gaggle of Disney Diners met at the Brown Derby for what turned out to be a very festive dinner. At its original location Hollywood and Vine in L.A. the Brown Derby has been THE place to see and be seen for many, many years. And at WDW, too, the starstruck can be found gazing at the caricatures of Lucy, Desi, Clark and Jimmy (Durante, of course) while chowing down on the famous Cobb Salad and Grapefruit Cake.

The room is a two-tiered rectangle featuring both tables and leather banquettes, adorned with little lamps and crisp white linen. There is outdoor dining on a small terrace in nice weather, but we suggest an indoor table for both comfort and ambiance. Theme park attire is fine; should you decide to add a feather boa or a pair of shades, you will fit right in. Children are welcomed; though we feel that this is not the ideal MGM restaurant for little kids, the older ones seem to have a good time with the caricatures and the non-alcoholic special drinks. (For tiny tots, we suggest Prime Time or Mama Melrose.)

The Czar opted for the Cobb salad "for two" on the appetizer menu ($12.99), but ate it all himself as a main course. It is a Brown Derby classic, whipped up years ago as the owner foraged in the refrigerator for something to feed Sid Grauman of Grauman's Chinese Theatre fame. Chopped greens are topped, in orderly rows, with turkey breast, bacon, eggs, tomatoes, blue cheese and avocado slices. The dressing is then applied and the whole thing is tossed. It's a very California kind of dish, and completely irresistible. The Czar's advice is to get the dressing on the side.

Your Czarina opted for the Filet Mignon with chimichurri aioli and tomato bordelaise. I was truly surprised to find a piece of beef this good outside of one of the steakhouses -it was one of the best I have ever had at WDW. If you like steak, I advise you to go for it ($25.99).

The Brown Derby's desserts are created by the Starring Rolls Bakery team, so if you'd like to sample their efforts without having a sit-down dinner, by all means go next door and try a pastry in the little outdoor courtyard (breakfast here is an MGM tradition, with a strong cup of coffee).

Read the full review of what the Czarina and her guests thought about the whole experience and see some photos at: http://allears.net/din/rev_bd.htm


'Ohana
by Deb Wills

Long before Disney's animated sensations Lilo and Stitch taught us that, "'Ohana means family... nobody gets left behind," 'Ohana Restaurant at Disney's Polynesian Resort was celebrating family and bringing cousins together for dinner.

Located on the second floor of the resort's Great Ceremonial House, 'Ohana is well-themed with Polynesian decor and ambiance. Servers address all guests as "cousins" and you get a quick tour of the open kitchens (grill and dessert area) before you are actually seated. The atmosphere is very upbeat, lively and, well, Disney!

Dinner at 'Ohana is an all-you-can-eat "feast" served tableside. The dining room is rather large, featuring a "main section" that houses the fire pit, as well as other, less prominent areas. If you want to be in the midst of any entertainment, be sure to request the main dining area -- conversely, request the quieter, smaller areas if you want to be less in the center of attention.

During our recent visit, our server promptly took our beverage orders while another server brought the starters and bread. A large six-sided lazy susan placed in the center of the table contained: stir-fried vegetables, salad with honey lime dressing, shrimp and vegetable wonton, honey coriander chicken wings, and stir-fried rice. The portion sizes were just enough to go around the table once and our server quickly brought whatever refills we desired.

As we finished our starters, someone began talking on a microphone, welcoming all the "cousins" to 'Ohana -- it was the start of 'Ohana's entertainment segment. Soon there were children galloping around the dining room to music for the famous Coconut Races.

During a lull in the entertainment, our server brought the main course -- grilled meats and shrimp prepared at the open oak fire pit. Long skewers of Grilled Tiger Shrimp, Marinated Sirloin Steak, Mesquite Seasoned Turkey Breast and Barbecue Pork Loin are served and served and served, until you are full.

Dinner Price: Adults, $23.99; children 3-11, $9.99. Includes coffee, tea and soda. Tax, gratuity and ala carte desserts are extra.

Read the full review of what Deb and her guests thought about the whole experience (including a tip for the Magic Kingdom Fireworks) and see some photos at: http://allears.net/din/rev_ohana.htm


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Editor's Note: This story/information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all current rates, information and other details before planning your trip.