REVIEW – Coral Reef Restaurant at EPCOT Satisfies, But Doesn’t Shine
It’s one of the most special restaurants at EPCOT. With a breathtaking view of the second largest aquarium in North America, Coral Reef’s atmosphere is lovely. The delicious food is an equal match for this wonderful venue. And even though the menu is limited right now, a great dining experience is still offered. There are, however, a few drawbacks.
Based on over 500,000 surveys received from our readers, Coral Reef has a 78% thumbs up rating. It is ranked 79 out of 103 table service restaurants at Walt Disney World. One of the things that holds Coral Reef Restaurant back is it can be expensive to dine here, and the food doesn’t always match the price. Plus, although the restaurant is built with seating on multiple tiered levels to attempt to give a nice view of the aquarium to everyone, nothing beats a front row spot. There’s only so many of those front tables available, so sometimes this can lead to disappointment.
Our group started off their meal with a round of cocktails and the Shrimp Cocktail Appetizer. There are two cocktails that are specially themed to the Coral Reef restaurant, the Coral ‘Rita and the Abyss. Our team selected the Magical Star Cocktail and the Captain’s Mai Tai; both are found on the menu at many Disney lounges across property. The Magical Star Cocktail is a staple Disney cocktail with X-Fusion Organic Mango and Passion Fruit Liqueur, Parrot Bay Coconut Rum, Pineapple Juice, and a souvenir Multicolored Glow Cube. At $15.00 it is little pricey compared to the average $13.00 cocktail, but it is popular for its fruity flavor that seems to magically transport you into vacation mode. The Captain’s Mai Tai is a great choice for a seafood dining experience.
The Shrimp Cocktail wins major points for its unique presentation. Rather than the standard, boring cold shrimp in a glass dish and a side of cocktail sauce, these large chilled shrimp are served on skewers, with a charred lemon. There are only three appetizers from which to choose and this one is our top pick due to the presentation and overall quality.
Our team selected all but one of the entrees currently available on the menu at Coral Reef.
- Shrimp and Grits – Sautéed Shrimp, Cheddar Cheese Grits, Local Corn Succotash, Andouille Sausage, Creole Spice Emulsion $30.00
- Grilled Vegetable Skewer – with Impossible™ Kefta, Basmati Rice, Lentils, Smoked Eggplant Salad $24.00
- Oven-roasted Herb Chicken – Seasonal Vegetables, Curry Vinaigrette $28.00
- 10-oz Slow-roasted Grilled Rib-Eye – Loaded Mashed Potatoes with Bacon, Butter $34.00
- Kid’s Junior Reef Steak – $13.00
Everything our team ordered was good, but not really worth the price. One of the surprise hits of the entrees was the Grilled Vegetable Skewer – outstanding! The peppers had a good char and everything was plated beautifully, and the Impossible Kefta is satisfying even for a frequent meat eater. The Oven-roasted Herb Chicken was good, and flavorful with the Curry Vinaigrette, but the potatoes were the star. They were buttery and herbed.
The Shrimp and Grits is a classic Southern seafood dish. Coral Reef’s version was satisfying. Those that enjoy Southern and Creole flavors will enjoy this dish. The corn in the succotash, which is a simple combination of corn and lima beans, is indeed local. Farms in the nearby Mount Dora and Zellwood area, about 45 minutes from Walt Disney World supplies this sweet corn.
Our junior field reporter had the kids steak, green beans, and broccoli. She may have been the happiest of the team. She loved everything and the Cast Member was very attentive to her which always makes me relax a bit.
The big highlight of the dining experience was the service. It was outstanding and the Cast Member let our team relax for a while with just drinks and the shrimp cocktails. It didn’t feel like the usual table service rush that is often experienced.
Have you ever dined at the Coral Reef Restaurant? Where’s your favorite place to dine at EPCOT?
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2 thoughts on “REVIEW – Coral Reef Restaurant at EPCOT Satisfies, But Doesn’t Shine”
Coral Reef has a major design flaw in the wave shaped barriers that separate the different levels of seating. Although the wave pattern may look pretty and I suppose is themed, the wave shape blocks the views of little ones at every other table. (You can see this is in the top photo above.)
We had lunch their last year and we (family of four with 9-year old twins) were seated 2nd level at one of the tables where the wave is higher. Our kids obviously could not sit at the table and see over the “wave.” We naturally asked to sit somewhere else, and they gladly moved us. But what a strange situation: a) that a restaurant geared toward viewing something is designed that way and b) that any family with kids under 10 would be seated at one of those tables.
Otherwise, we had a decent meal that was, indeed, overpriced.
I guess they changed the menu since reopening. The Coral Reef was a must do for my wife and me. We would get each order an appetizer and share an entree. The seafood bisque and and fried calamari really were exceptional items. It’s rare to be in hot and humid central Florida and still think a cream-based soup is a must-order, but this is the one. I live in northern NJ, surrounded by excellent Italian restaurants, but the calamari at The CR may have been the best I’ve ever had, with a perfect light breading. For an entree, we’d usually just get whatever special they had on offer.
My only complaint is the other guests. More than once we’ve been seated by the windows, only to have someone cram in between our seats and the next table’s to get a better view of the divers. Though that’s probably not an issue these days.