EPCOT has a wealth of places do dine to provide something for everyone. Sometimes when traveling with a diverse party, finding a single place that has something for everyone can be challenging. The menu at Garden Grill in EPCOT’s The Land pavilion isn’t earth-shattering. You won’t find cutting-edge cuisine that needs explanation from the servers. What you will find is a hearty, solid meal that will be familiar food to most. In addition to the fresh and well prepared food, you also have the benefit of a unique setting, with views into the Living with the Land attraction, and opportunities to meet some favorite Disney friends.
On a recent visit for Valentine’s Day, Chrissy and her family tried out what Garden Grill has to offer. Her family did a walk-up, where they were added to a waitlist with a message sent to their phone when a table was ready. When they were added to the waitlist, they had been told it would be about a 35-minute wait, but the actual wait was only 6 minutes.
Characters come around behind the booth at a distance, and so masks aren’t required to pose with them at that distance (although out of an abundance of precaution, our team keeps their masks on even when seated at a restaurant unless actively eating). Characters at this meal were Chip & Dale, Farmer Mickey, and Pluto. They don’t sign autographs, but every family receives a souvenir autograph card.
On this particular day, the restaurant, which normally rotates slowly to allow viewing into the Living with the Land ride below, was not rotating, and so parties were permitted to get up and walk around the restaurant as long as they were masked.
Garden Grill offers a fixed-priced-menu meal served family style. First up were warm rolls served with butter and a salad with lettuce from the hydroponic garden downstairs. Note: If you have individuals who do not like dressing on the salad, you need to request no dressing or dressing on the side — the salad comes out pre-dressed.
The main meal consists of a family-style platter of beef chimichurri, roast turkey breast, BBQ ribs, mashed potatoes, stuffing, seasonal vegetables (in this case, green beans and succotash), and macaroni and cheese.
Although the food is nothing out of the ordinary in terms of selection, it is a delicious meal and the food is well prepared, tasty, and filling. There were two exceptions to this, however. First, the ribs had a great tangy vinegar-based sauce, but the ribs themselves were knife-and-fork tough. Everyone at the table tried them, but no one finished more than a bite or two. Second, a trend at some Disney restaurants is to serve macaroni and cheese with goldfish crackers on top. This adds the same sort of crunch that you’d get from breadcrumbs, but in a fun way for kids. Whether or not you find this a good addition or not may depend on your personality. Our junior reviewer, Gigi, thought it was incredible. When my daughter saw it at a different restaurant, she insisted we scrape them off.
Dessert was a berry shortcake, and the server also brought out a couple sugar cookies with sprinkles. The shortcake was delicious, full of tart and sweet berry flavors and with a good amount of whipped cream, plus the presentation was lovely with a tiny white chocolate topper for Valentine’s Day.
Needless to say, nothing on this menu will wow you with its culinary innovation or breathtaking presentation, however the food is delicious and there’s something for everyone. (For vegetarians, there are additional plant-based options available upon request.) I can’t speak for everyone, but at least for me, I’d rather have food that tastes good than food that looks good but is inedible!
And of course having the characters come around is a bonus. Because it was in between the lunch and dinner rushes, the restaurant was fairly empty and so the characters came by three times during the meal.
Garden Grill gets a 94% thumbs-up rating (#7 out of 105 restaurants at WDW). With fewer opportunities for character interactions at Walt Disney World at this time, this provides a delicious meal and a great way to see some of the in-demand Disney characters.
Have you eaten at Garden Grill? What are your thoughts about the food and setting?