First I want to say that this dining experience was HANDS-DOWN my favorite this past trip…based solely on the fact that I was stuffed FULL…even the thought of unbuttoning my pants came to mind.
My family might not entirely agree…but that’s opinions for you…but me – I still dream of that meal.
I must point out that due to my family’s eating restrictions and food allergies…we aren’t the easiest group to please, feed and sometimes see completely full. We are a happy, thankful bunch…but we do require some thought and preparation. Between my kids and I…there are at least 8 food allergies and several avoidances…and to make matters more fun…I am vegan. The husband is an eat everything kind of guy and pretty much left every meal full and happy…but even he has his favorites (stay-tuned).
So…the Garden Grill is a table service restaurant at Epcot…located in the Land Pavilion…and it rotates. Yep…it’s a rotating diner…and for those with motion sickness (join the club)…it’s very, very slow…but we managed to rotate completely around at least 1 time during our meal. And to make it even cooler…it’s a character experience…bring on Harvest Chip & Dale and pals. We ate with Chip & Dale (of course), Pluto and Mickey. It is a dinner only location and is family style…meaning the wait staff brings the table an assortment of eats and you just dig in. My husband who ate the traditional meal everyone enjoys found it to be OK…not his particular favorite, but he ate it all. What was wrong with his meal you ask…nothing…he just likes to order from a menu.
So before I get to my eats…I want to point out that as you eat, dine and chat…the Characters walk around and stop at every table for a few minutes…just enough time to get an autograph and snap a few pictures. Since we had special food accommodations…we sat a little longer than others and saw all the characters twice – major bonus.
Since we have 3 different people, all with different allergies…I often contact the restaurant before dining…I send an email and anxiously await a phone call. I was lucky as Chef Javier called me, while I was at home about 10 days before my trip started, and we discussed meals. We talked about the traditional menu that is offered and tried to find solutions for my family. Most of the usual options available were perfect for us (sweet potato fries, mashed potatoes, veggies, gluten-free rolls and so on…but I couldn’t help but to ask for a few changes…first due to the abundance of chicken at Disney I asked about a hamburger patty for my daughter and also a special dessert. As the restaurant doesn’t make burgers the chef was kind enough to order beef and make my kid a few special patties just for her. And for me…I wasn’t fond of the traditional veggie dish on the menu…”stuff peppers” and sides. I requested vegan meat (not typical for that location)…and he delivered.
So…fast forward to that night…we arrived 10 minutes before our scheduled dining reservation…we waited for the restaurant to open and we were seated promptly. I was prepared to have to wait several minutes for the Chef…nope not Chef Javier…he had been cooking for my family already…waiting for us actually. He already had ALL our food in the oven (no grilling or frying due to cross-contamination) and was waiting for us to finish our salads. He warned me that his goal…”was to have us ROLL out of here”, lol. I did for sure. To my surprise he was able to deliver ALL my requests and they were delicious. The vegan dish he “made-up” with the vegan beef was amazing and with all the sides…I was stuffed. My son (dairy, eggs, and peanuts) was able to share my dish and was shoving it in. My daughter (dairy, GF, peanuts, legumes, corn, and red dye) was able to cut her giant burger patties in half and eat with her GF buns…to make a quick burger.
Dessert wasn’t as grand…but still had enough sweetness to finish the meal. He was able to simplify the traditional dessert by using “Enjoy Life” cookies and fresh fruit filling, no whip and created a crumb-like fruit dish.
Major shout-out for Chef Javier that night and many thanks. I enjoyed my meal SO much…I asked to speak to a manager and shared my happiness…apparently the Chef was gonna get some company shout-outs after dinner thanks to his awesomeness.
I also want to point out that getting a call from the chef before your trip is not typical…they are busy, busy bees and usually can accommodate your special food requests “the night of”…but due to our various allergies…I usually get a call and thus can request special items. This is also something I can help you with as your Travel Agent…all services I provide for free when booking your Disney trip with me. When it comes to food allergies, eating “out” is often a stressful event…but being prepared helps and when your family leaves the table safe and full…well that’s a huge success in my book. Disney does an excellent job at accommodating food allergies and does it on a daily basis…so let me help you relieve the stress and help you enjoy food time for a change…you deserve it.