Welcome back (or just welcome if you didn’t read my other posts about Cinderella’s Royal Table or Chef Mickey’s)! Today I’m going to tell you what I think about a lesser known character meal: The Garden Grill.
Now I have absolutely no facts to back up my assertion that it is “lesser known,” but I have always been surprised by how many people I speak to don’t know this meal exists. Whether you knew of its existence or not, please read along with my impression of the experience and make as many comments as you like below (or just shout them out, especially if you are at work right now).
The Garden Grill is located in The Land pavilion in Epcot’s Future World. You’ve probably all walked past it at least once because it’s right at the top of the escalator/stairs that lead to Soarin’. The entire restaurant rotates, passing scenes from the Living with the Land attraction. Obviously, because of the rotation, the entire space is round; to maximize capacity, it is split into two concentric levels.
We were seated in the inside circle, which meant that there was a half-wall and the outer circle between us and the show scenes from Living with the Land. So, from a seated position, I could see the very tops of the scenes and the half-wall…not the best view I’ve had for a meal. Even from the outer circle, the interesting scenes do not create the end-all in restaurant atmosphere. It is fun, though, when your dining partner doesn’t realize the restaurant rotates until you’re suddenly in a “thunderstorm,” like my wife did (it’s okay, she doesn’t read this. She’s sick of my constant Disney talk).
One question that I had to ask during the meal was how the wait staff finds the tables. You see, while the tables are on the rotating floor, the kitchen is not. So every time a server comes out of the kitchen, the tables are in a slightly different spot (relative to the kitchen). The answer is basically “you get used to it,” which is much less interesting than the system of hidden codes and secret signals that I had devised in my head.
The characters at The Garden Grill are Mickey (in his best farmer getup), Pluto, Chip, and Dale (who are all naked, well furry…you know what I mean). The interaction with the characters was great. We saw each character twice, and I think we saw Chip three times (and we weren’t there very long). They all spent an adequate amount of time at our table, and their visits were spaced pretty well, allowing us time to actually eat in between. I really don’t have anything bad to say about the characters.
I was pleasantly surprised by the food at The Garden Grill. It wasn’t spectacular, but it was obviously fresh (some grown in The Land pavilion…allegedly) and it was well seasoned. The food is all served family style, and refills are available.
The only things that I remember being particularly yummy were the maple butter served with the bread basket and the fruit crisp dessert. The other items were simple, home-style dishes such as beef loin, turkey breast, and smashed potatoes. I found none of it life-altering, but it was good, and I happily requested more when it was gone.
Odds, Ends, and Details
This is not a meal I would pick as a special occasion dinner, but if you like the characters and are looking for a solid dinner, this is a winner (ooh, rhyming). It is relatively quiet and relatively small, which allows for a very nice dining experience.
I also find The Garden Grill to be easy on my touring. With a location in Future World right next to a headliner attraction (Soarin’), you can easily squeeze it in between a few rides. I very much enjoy the relaxed feeling of The Garden Grill, and I will be returning.