Not-So-Fancy Dining: A Review of Diamond Horseshoe

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For the next few months (March 13-May 30), Magic Kingdom guests have a chance to dine once again inside the beautiful Diamond Horseshoe restaurant located in Liberty Square, just adjacent to Liberty Tree Tavern. This restaurant has operated seasonally over the last few years as a quick service dining location, but has added a new table service menu available for lunch and dinner for late spring this year. Signage outside indicated I was in for all-you-care-to-enjoy “fancy dining”, and while I certainly didn’t leave hungry, I’m not sure the experience could be described as all that “fancy”. I was greeted by a gaggle of friendly Cast Members in a fairly empty restaurant (not terribly surprising, given it’s a new offering), and promptly taken to a table where I got a gander at the menu for this “fancy” feast. Prices are exactly the same as Liberty Tree Tavern’s next door ($33 for adults, $19 for children; Disney Dining Plan and Tables in Wonderland discounts accepted), but here you’ll receive salad, choice of an entrée (more on that in a second), and choice of a dessert, along with a non-alcoholic beverage.

In reading the menu through before arriving at Magic Kingdom, I expected family-style entrees, like Liberty Tree’s dinner service, but every entrée actually comes in individual portions – I was, however, allowed and encouraged by my server to order seconds or a new entrée at any point. First up, though, came Frontier Salad – tossed greens, tomatoes, onions, roasted corn, and corn bread croutons with house-made chipotle ranch dressing, served alongside a few pieces of corn bread and honey butter. The salad was exactly as explained on the menu – typical salad greens and fixings tossed in a slightly spicy, creamy dressing. Most diners will find this salad just fine – not too spicy, hits all the bases to make you feel like you’re checking off the “vegetable” box in the meal, and it’s not overly heavy, either. The cornbread on the side was very similar to what you’ll find at Trail’s End or Boatwright’s – sweet, dense, and very cakey, served with an even-sweeter honey butter. Overall, I found the side of bread a nice compliment to the spice in the salad dressing, but a little too sweet for my taste at the beginning of the meal.

Entrée choices include Barbecue Pulled Turkey served over corn bread with seasonal vegetables (spoiler alert: green beans), Spit-Roasted Ham served with country beans and seasonal vegetables (spoiler alert: green beans), and Stewed Beef (what an appetizing name, right?) served with mashed potatoes and seasonal vegetables (wait for it…. green beans!). In the interest of science, I ordered all three. First to arrive was the ham – a few thinly sliced pieces of carved ham over basic baked beans (they added bacon!) and simply sautéed green beans. The ham was pretty dry and without a ton of flavor, but the baked beans helped – sweet, slightly salty from the added bacon; the green beans were cooked just enough, with only a little salt and pepper as seasoning. There’s nothing special about this plate, and the ham was a bit disappointing, but for picky eaters who enjoy canned baked beans, go for it – nothing will surprise you here. The pulled turkey entrée was next. The corn bread (three pieces under the pile of turkey) is the same as what comes with the salad, here acting as the bread in a kind of open-faced sandwich. The turkey was indistinguishable in flavor from any other poultry, but a nice serving of barbecue sauce helps give the dish all the flavor (aside from an occasional kick of spice from the jalapenos). This dish is pretty filling, and a lot richer in flavor than the ham entrée, but also one-note in flavor and texture. Finally, I dove in to the “stewed beef” – a few chunks of pot roast served with a rich (and salty) brown gravy over skin-on mashed potatoes. I was probably most afraid of this dish based on the menu description, but it actually turned out to be my favorite of the three. The meat was fork-tender, not dry, and the mashed potatoes were homemade and pretty tasty (similar, and likely the same as what you encounter next door at Liberty Tree Tavern). Admittedly, it’s tough to mess up mashed potatoes, but the gravy on top was fairly salty, so beware before you start mixing it in. Overall, this is the most traditional and familiar dish to diners, and probably also the safest bet. Many tables around me actually ordered seconds of this dish, switched to it after trying their first entrees, or ordered an additional side of the mashed potatoes (a possibility with any of the sides, as well). Refills of any dish don’t take too long, as chefs are just serving the food directly from a hot-line inside the dining room of the restaurant – a plus if you’re in a hurry, but something that might be a turn-off for some diners if they prefer the illusion of freshly-prepared meals.

Dessert is pretty simple – you get a choice between a “campfire brownie” or apple tart. Another spoiler alert: the apple tart is the same apple-craisin dessert you’ll find next door at Liberty Tree Tavern (do you sense a trend here?). It’s usually pretty tasty over there, but I decided to give the campfire brownie a shot since it was something different. I was actually pretty satisfied with this dish – a thin layer of graham crackers crumbs below a dense, fudgy brownie, topped with slightly bruleed marshmallow fluff. I hadn’t filled up much on my entrees, so I ended up eating both pieces of the sweet brownie dessert, but it was a pretty sizable portion – you could easily split this with someone.

Overall, I left Diamond Horseshoe a little disappointed with the meal I had – it’s a reasonably option if you’re looking for traditional American fare served relatively quickly, but for the price, Liberty Tree Tavern and Skipper Canteen are much better table service options in Magic Kingdom; a cheaper, better meal with similar food is just a boat ride away at Fort Wilderness’ Trail’s End dinner buffet. There’s not an abundance of options here at Diamond Horseshoe, but they are up-front with that on the menu. As a result, vegetarians or those not fond of heavy meals would do well to steer clear given the price – they can accommodate special dietary requests, but with limited results.  Though Diamond Horseshoe will likely become a popular location for those who have not managed to snag a dining reservation elsewhere in Magic Kingdom for a meal, you’d have better luck finding quality food in a table service atmosphere by grabbing a same-day reservation at Skipper Canteen or by visiting nearby quick service locations like Columbia Harbour House or even Pecos Bill’s, where the food may not be “fancy” but comes at a lower price for a wider variety at a higher quality.

 

 

2 thoughts on “Not-So-Fancy Dining: A Review of Diamond Horseshoe

  • March 22, 2016 at 1:03 pm
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    “Admittedly, it’s tough to mess up mashed potatoes…”

    Au contraire, given the really, really bad mashed potatoes we’ve encountered all over the country, I’d say it’s pretty easy to mess them up. Then again, we’re mashed potato snobs LOL.

    Reply
  • March 22, 2016 at 8:20 pm
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    They should bring back the stage show and make it a more destination restaurant.

    Reply

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