Table service restaurants in Magic Kingdom can be wildly inconsistent in terms of quality–many people describe the “not quite as good as Olive Garden” standard of Tony’s Town Square, but many people delight in the food at Be Our Guest (while choking down the price tag). Although Crystal Palace is an all-you-can-eat buffet, you do pay a premium for the character part of the meal. Factoring in a desire for good food, good quality, and a reasonable price point (especially for all you can eat), it is easy to see why Liberty Tree Tavern is a family favorite. (And that’s without mentioning ooey gooey toffee cake!)
Liberty Tree Tavern is located, no surprise, in Liberty Square. To keep with the theme of the area and the restaurant, it is located in what looks like a colonial-style tavern. Reservations are recommended–even on the relatively quiet weekday that we visited, they were turning people away before noon due to no availability.
Once you get inside, there is a small waiting area with seating, and a kids’ table off to the side with an oversized game of checkers and some coloring sheets. One neat aspect of the restaurant is that they ask you where you are from, and call out your name with the colony (if you’re part of the original 13) or territory/country (for everyone else) when it is time to be seated. At that point, they encourage everyone to applaud. I’ve been in there when the place is packed, and it can be a lot of fun. When it’s mostly empty, it feels a little awkward. (Self-conscious introverts, unite in your own personal bubbles of safety.)
Another aspect to note is that the dining rooms are in elevated areas from the entrance, so there are stairs to climb to get to your table. For those who need assistance, a small wheelchair lift is available.
Each of the dining rooms has a colonial persona theme. For our visit, we were seated in the Ben Franklin room, complete with portrait, fire department helmet, and printing press.
For lunch, Liberty Tree Tavern offers two sections to the menu. The first is the a la carte section, which has a modest assortment of foods. Truth told, I’d skip most of these entrees–you’re better served by getting the pot roast as part of the platter (more on that in a moment), and for the fish and chips, just go across the way to Columbia Harbour House to save some money. The only two items that might be of appeal, especially if you’re trying to go vegetarian, are the Colony Salad (which I’ve had and do enjoy for a lighter meal) and the Freedom Pasta (which can be made as a vegetarian dish).
Realistically, the best option on the menu, and what people really go to this place for, is the all-you-can-eat family-style platter. This is a general crowd pleaser for your meat and potatoes crew, and for people who want something akin to a home-cooked meal while they are on vacation. My daughter was considering ordering either the turkey or the mac ‘n’ cheese from the kids’ menu, but for a bit more, she got both of those, plus salad and dessert. When the serving was brought out, it looked like enough for two adults, so if you’ve got a big eater in the kids’ price range, this can be a very cost-effective meal.
The meal is brought out in three courses. The first course is the house salad, which contains a lettuce mix, onions tomatoes, and cucumbers. Because my daughter doesn’t like sauces, I asked for the dressing on the side, and I was very glad that I did. The house dressing is a “colonial dressing”, which ends up being painfully sweet and slightly tangy. I enjoyed putting a small amount of dressing on my salad, but anything more than a drizzle would have been too sweet for my tastes. The salad itself was crisp and fresh, and a great way to start the meal.
Also brought out with the meal were rolls with butter. Yes, I know this is a way to get you to fill up with bread so you don’t eat more of the higher-cost items in the platter, but the rolls were very good.
The next course that was brought out was the platter itself, with a plate of meats and several bowls of side dishes. On the main platter (clockwise from upper left) was sliced turkey, cranberry-orange sauce, roast pork, and pot roast, with dressing in the center. By far, our favorite was the turkey, which was moist and flavorful. The pot roast was also very tender, but didn’t have the “pot roast flavor” (the taste of roasted vegetables) unless you scooped some of the sauce from underneath. The roast pork was quite tasty, but was impossible to pry apart with the provided tongs. I finally was able to break it apart and get some onto my plate, but it was a challenge. The cranberry-orange sauce wasn’t my favorite–I prefer the tart taste of regular ol’ cranberries. Between that and the salad dressing, I have to think they were trying to numb my tastebuds to sugar so I could survive dessert. And, there was dressing. If you like Stove Top Stuffing, this is your thing. If you’re looking for something better, just skip it.
Also brought onto the table was mac ‘n’ cheese and mashed potatoes with gravy (on the side). At one time Liberty Tree Tavern was sponsored by Stouffer’s, and I’m wondering if they have dropped the sponsorship. The mac ‘n’ cheese was certainly my idea of house-made (as advertised), because in my house we often make the box of Kraft Deluxe Mac ‘n’ Cheese, which is what this tasted like. If you’re looking for lots of cheese to dip that bread into, you won’t find it here. But it’s not bad mac ‘n’ cheese–and it works for the comfort food vibe. But if you’re watching your carbs (and I can’t believe I’m saying this), skip the mac ‘n’ cheese and pile on the mashed potatoes. I’ve severely cut back my potato consumption this year, and so I planned to only try a forkful of the mashed potatoes. That was the plan–until I tried them. No instant potatoes here, and the flavor and texture was just right. Even though there’s bits of potato skin in it, which made my daughter want to skip it altogether, she gave the flavor her seal of approval. With the turkey gravy on top–delish! Call me shocked that the turkey and potatoes, items that more often than not are the blandest foods around, were the highlight of the meal.
The seasonal vegetables were fresh green beans. Overall, they were okay (fresh instead of frozen and cooked al dente), but Disney food execs…can I talk to you for just a moment? Please stop putting black pepper on all of your vegetables. If people want pepper on their vegetables, that’s why there’s a pepper shaker next to the salt shaker on the table (or, for added service, have your servers come out and offer fresh-cracked pepper tableside). It didn’t improve the flavor of the green beans, and the little flecks all over the beans meant that several kids in the dining room wouldn’t try them. Thanks!
There is no doubt that this restaurant saves the best for last. The Ooey Gooey Toffee Cake may be one of the finest desserts in Magic Kingdom. (Take that, Grey Stuff!) First, the presentation is adorable–it comes in a small frying pan serving dish. The dish itself is not heated, however, making it safe to put on the table near kids and adults who will be reaching for it right away and making the ice cream melt slower. At the bottom of the “cake” is basically something akin to a thick slice of toffee-chip cookie. Then you smother that in an unholy amount of vanilla ice cream, chocolate, caramel, and a hearty dose of Heath bar-like topping. It’s sticky, it’s rich, and it is the epitome of comfort food dessert. This dessert doesn’t disappoint. I’ve known people to get a reservation late in the evening just to order it. Yes, it’s that good.
Overall, Liberty Tree Tavern provides a solid meal at a reasonable price for all-you-can eat. There’s more hits than misses on the platter of foods, and there is something for just about everyone. Discounts (DVC, AP, Tables in Wonderland) are available, and reservations are recommended.
Have you eaten at Liberty Tree Tavern? Do you dream of Ooey Gooey Toffee Cake? Let us know your views in the comments.