Dining Out and About:
by Jack Spence, ALL EARS® Guest Columnist
This article appeared in the September 5, 2006, Issue #363 of ALL EARS® (ISSN: 1533-0753)
You may not be aware of it, but you've probably seen the Concourse Steakhouse restaurant. When you board the express monorail at the Transportation and Ticket Center headed for the Magic Kingdom, you pass right by it as you glide through the Contemporary Resort. I know, you're busy looking at Chef Mickey's, but right next door you'll find a great place to grab a bite to eat.
The restaurant, which is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, is located on the fourth floor of Disney's Contemporary Resort. When the resort opened 35 years ago, this floor was named the Grand Canyon Concourse -- and officially, it still is. But I have encountered cast members and guests who have never heard this term, so the name may be fading into obscurity.
Mary Blair's 90-foot-high mural depicting southwest-themed native-American children and animals dominates the Grand Canyon Concourse and the Concourse Steakhouse is situated on the south side of this soaring piece of art. Be sure to look for the five-legged goat hidden among the characters. Hint: You can't see it from the restaurant.
The decor of the Concourse Steakhouse is a fusion of Southwest and ultra-modern. The chairs are painted in black lacquer. The table-tops are a muted green and the carpet is colored in multi-shades of purple. Brushed chrome pendant lighting hangs from above. It blends together well and is more inviting than you might think. Subdued music plays in the background, featuring new-age and soft-jazz. There is, however, one section of the restaurant that I refuse to sit in. Directly behind the reception desk is a narrow aisle of booths and tables that back up against Mary Blair's mural. When I've been seated here, I feel very claustrophobic. Nowadays, when I check in, I simply let the receptionist know that I don't want to sit in this section and they seat me in the main area of the dining room.
Since there is no ceiling over the restaurant, you can look up and see the stair-stepped balconies of the hotel and a skylight 14 stories above. The express monorail can also be seen every several minutes as it passes through the hotel on its way to the Magic Kingdom.
There is one drawback to the Concourse Steakhouse. It is situated next to Chef Mickey's, an all-you-can-eat, character buffet that caters to families. The noise from this restaurant can, at times, be loud and carries over the partitions and descends onto the Concourse Steakhouse. In the past, Chef Mickey's was only open for breakfast and dinner, which made lunch the ideal time to eat at the Concourse Steakhouse. But Disney recently found a need to increase its dining capacity and opened Chef Mickey's for lunch through October 3, 2006. I wouldn't be at all surprised if this is extended if the luncheon service proves successful.
A persistent rumor (and I emphasize that it's just a rumor) suggests that in the near future the Concourse Steakhouse will be moving to the first floor into the space currently occupied by the resort's fast food and arcade game spot, the Food & Fun Center. The Food & Fun Center would then take the place of the Concourse Steakhouse. Personally, I hope this is true. It would give the Concourse Steakhouse a quieter, more sedate setting and keep all of the higher energy facilities grouped together. But like I said, this is only a rumor -- Disney has made no official announcement.
Since I usually don't eat breakfast, I can't tell you anything about this meal at the Concourse Steakhouse. But I have eaten dinner here several times and lunch many times. Given my lunch and dinner experiences, I'd tell those of you staying at the Contemporary Resort to give it a try. If nothing else, it's convenient.
In the five or six times I've eaten dinner here, I have been pleased with both my food and service. The Prime Rib and New York steak are both excellent. I have also been pleased with the St. Louis Pork Spareribs and the Roasted Half Chicken. My one negative comment about dinner here has to do with the atmosphere. I think the Concourse Steakhouse is excellent for breakfast or lunch, but when I'm looking for an upscale evening, I think there are better choices. I'm looking for quieter surroundings and softer lighting than this eatery can provide. Disney has done their best to "soften" the decor here from the rest of the Grand Canyon Concourse, but it still has a somewhat hectic feel about it. If you're really in the mood for a good steak, and don't mind spending a little more money, try the Yachtsman Steakhouse. If you don't mind a more excited atmosphere, then this restaurant won't disappoint in terms of food and service.
Eating lunch at the Concourse Steakhouse (before Chef Mickey's was open for this meal) has always been a pleasure. Like dinner, the food and service have been top-notch. Also, the Concourse Steakhouse is a good escape from the Magic Kingdom during the middle of the day. It's just one stop away by monorail and you feel miles away from the hustle and bustle of the theme park.
A "must" for me every time I eat here is the Onion Soup Baked with Cheese. This is your classic French Onion soup topped with bread and so much cheese it "strings" from your bowl to your mouth. You'll be glad you tried it. Another good appetizer is the Pan-seared Scallops. They're big and juicy.
For entrees I've tried the Caesar Salad with Chicken, Shrimp Penne Pasta, and the Angus Chuck Blue Cheeseburger. I've been pleased with everything. I've never eaten one of their steaks for lunch, but I'm sure they're the same quality as those on the dinner menu -- well above average.
Another thing to be aware of is that the Contemporary Resort is a "convention" hotel. On several occasions, I have arrived at noon to see a long line of conventioneers waiting to be seated. There has always been room for everyone, but you might have to wait a few minutes before being seated.
Located near the Concourse Steakhouse is the Outer Rim Bar. This is a wonderful place to sit, relax, and have a drink while enjoying the view of Bay Lake. Children are welcome in the lounge area.
The Concourse Steakhouse hours:
Breakfast: 7:30 - 11 a.m.
Lunch: noon - 2 p.m.
Dinner: 4:30* - 10 p.m.
* Until recently, the Concourse Steakhouse opened for dinner at 5:30 p.m. It is currently scheduled to open for dinner at 4:30 p.m. now through October 3 to meet increased demand. This time could change again in the future.
The Concourse Steakhouse accepts reservations (407-WDW-DINE), which are suggested for breakfast and dinner.
Other reviews by Jack Spence: http://allears.net/btp/jacks.htm
Photos of the Concourse Steakhouse can be found in our Restaurant Photo Gallery: http://allears.net/din/gall_res2.htm#contemp
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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.