Saturday, February 14, 2009

Disney Dining is Bipolar

On Thursday we got back from a heavily Disnified vacation in Florida.

If you find yourself in Disney World, looking for something to eat, there is a problem. The walk up 'counter service' eateries are truly nasty. They serve a dismal array of fast food items all the way from cheeseburgers to hot dogs. In Animal Kingdom there is a hole in the wall outlet selling nothing but turkey legs. They looked nasty.

Possibly the best of the hole-in-the-wall outlets it the fish and chip shot in the British section of Epcot. But then you have to go to Epcot to eat there. Epcot is annoyingly bereft of good rides like the Tower of Terror or the Rock n' Roller Coaster. It does have Soarin', but that is for a different post. I'm not sure if the patisserie in the French section counts, since it doesn't sell real meals as such. The pastries are good though.

There are proper sit down restaurants in Disney World. However you have no chance of getting in without a reservation, which you typically have to book a few days in advance unless it's a quiet week.

Of the real sit-down restaurants, myself and the rest of the family ate in the 50's Prime Time Cafe in Hollywood Studios and the Marrakesh in Epcot. We failed to book Celliers steakhouse (fully booked even though calling the day before) and the Japanese place (too many people didn't want to eat Japanese food).

The food in both was great, the price was wallet shreddingly expensive. The bill at the Marrakesh was $177 for five of us. The seafood bastilla and the sheesh kebabs were great though. The chicken pot pie in puff pastry at the prime time cafe was perfect.

The real problem is that there is nothing in between. Good food you can't afford at one end and terrible food you don't want to afford at the other end.

Since we couldn't get in the Celliers Steakhouse on Wednesday, we elected to head on out of the Disney zone and try a restaurant out in the real world. What we found was Tu Tu Tango, which serves the closest thing to the Tapas I had in Malaga in Spain that I've had. The Tu Tu Tango quality was better though. The price turned out to be less for 5 of than 2 of us in the Marrakesh. I recommend the black bean soup and mushroomy flatbread.

On balance I recommend swallowing the cost and booking a long time ahead for real food. Otherwise, rent a car and go to International drive to eat at the Tu Tu.

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