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Aloha! Let’s travel with Bill Iadonisi to the South Seas at Disney’s Polynesian Resort where we start our day in the Kona Cafe. Take it away, Bill!
As many times a month as we dine here at Walt Disney World, we are still astounded by the culinary choices offered. Where else can you sample the cuisines of eleven different countries, chow down on home country barbecue at a hoe-down show, savor the finest steaks and chops, or just sit down at a counter-service restaurant and enjoy simple fare? Nowhere but at the World!
And all diets and concerns are covered. Allergies, vegan, or just plain picky eaters can have their way at any of the eateries here. But few restaurants can cover the three dining fronts, i.e.… Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner, with aplomb as well as the Kona Café at Disney’s Polynesian Resort. The restaurant has much going for it… convenient location, wonderful atmosphere, fine food and good value for your money. So today’s review is on the breakfast front!
I have found that even if the fare is just “OK,” service and atmosphere can still save the meal. In fact even the best food just doesn’t cut it in a noisy, crowded dining room, especially if the décor is bland or just too loud.
But the Kona shines in this department. Located on the Mezzanine level of the Great Ceremonial House, which is right off the arrival platform of the Monorail, it is conveniently located between Tambu Lounge and the Kona Island counter-service location. It is themed like a South Seas Tahitian paradise, and although the restaurant is opened to the second floor, an iron gate with alternating frosted panels keeps the dining area separated from the pedestrian traffic.
Inside you’ll find bright and colorful carpets and a colorful pattern on the high-backed cushions for the bench seats. Even the tables and chairs have a nice warm wood finish and cushions. On the walls are many carved wood island artifacts and a red carpet covers much of the side and back walls.
Overhead there are those fancy “Horizontal Ceiling Fans” and the large kitchen bar in the back sports a colorful mosaic tile in the front and a wooden carved Tiki boat over the back. You will even find a small statue of Stitch and Lilo at the bar.
But for us the attraction is that the dining area is not “big” or intimidating. You feel like you are in your favorite home-town café, and the atmosphere here begs you to just slow down and enjoy a great meal.
The views from the Kona are very pleasant. Outside, you can see the top part of the Polynesian Resort’s atrium and its flora. In the back are large windows offering a view of the garden outside. It’s very cheery, but not overly bright and offensive. The noise level, even during busy times, is not very bothersome.
My favorite meal of the day is breakfast, and while Kona Cafe’s menu is not extensive, it has breakfast’s perennial favorites. The classic “Two Eggs your Way” ($9.99) comes with Home fried potatoes, a soft biscuit and choice of Ham, Bacon or Sausage. For a good, hearty stick-to-your-ribs meal, Classic Pancakes or French Toast, each with choice of Ham, Bacon or Sausage ($8.99) is offered.
I’m a big eater and either dish left me satisfied. My wife usually orders the Ham and Cheese Omelet ($10.49) with the potatoes and biscuit. I really like their potatoes here; they are thick cut, soft in the middle and have a mild seasoning. A nice change from the usual “Fried Potatoes” you’re served at most eateries.
For a lighter and healthier choice, the Fruit Plate ($8.99) is fresh fruit cleverly served in a fresh Pineapple with a soft piece of Banana-Nut Bread. My wife will order this sometimes; I’ll eat the fruit and she’ll finish off the Banana-Nut bread.
Other dishes are the “Samoan”, Poached Eggs with Hollandaise sauce, which is served over Smoked Pulled Pork Hash, ($8.99) or Blueberry Pancakes ($9.99) again with choice of ham, bacon or sausage. For the slightly bigger eater, consider the “Big Kahuna” ($11.99). This appetite killer has French toast and Pancakes topped with Pineapple sauce and Macadamia Nut Butter (Umm!), which I must add is to die for; eggs (your way); those home fried potatoes; Ham; Bacon; and Sausage. It’s like a breakfast sampler of most everything offered here. When I am really hungry, this is what I get! It’s delicious and filling.
For our breakfast today, Donna ordered the signature dish here at the Kona…”The Tonga Toast” ($10.99). This is decadent and very filling! It’s a large piece of Sourdough French Toast stuffed with sweet bananas; the whole thing is rolled in cinnamon sugar.
It’s very rich and sweet, but not as sweet as one might think. I always have a quick taste, and it’s marvelous. It comes with a wedge of pineapple as well as strawberry compote and maple syrup. For some, you may not even need these accompaniments.
Today, I just had to have the classic Steak and Eggs. Every time I order steak here at the Kona, they always cook it just right! This meal offers a New York Strip Steak with two eggs (your way), home fried potatoes and a biscuit. As always, a great job by the chef!
Now for my last observation (and I may get some argument on this one) — if you are a coffee lover, as we both are, there is no place on property that serves a better cup or pot of coffee than the Kona Cafe. For folks who have tried the Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee and recognize its unique flavor, you’ll appreciate the Hawaiian Kona Coffee, which is held in the same high esteem.
This coffee is grown on the Big Island on the slopes of the Mauna Loa and Hualalai volcanoes and is one of the most expensive coffees in the world. You can order it by the cup, but for maximum flavor and value, we ALWAYS order the French Press Pot ($7.49). It serves two, but there is usually enough for three cups. It is the icing on the breakfast cake, but can be ordered for any meal.
Let’s not forget the other beverages. In addition to the great Kona Coffee, Kona Cocktails are available…Wasabi Mary ($8.25), vodka, Wasabi, Spices and tomato juice and a Mimosa ($8.25) with sparkling Wine and Orange juice. For non-drinkers we have Tinker Bell and Friends or Buzz Lightyear Punch ($6.49) this is a Minute Maid Lemonade Punch served in a souvenir Fairies or Toy Story 3 cup with glowing clip on light. Lilikoi Juice ($4.19) and Mega-Berry Smoothies ($4.69) are thirst quenching. Hot beverages include the Kona Coffee, Espresso, Cappuccino, Café latte and Café Mocha. And last, the juices, Orange, Apple, Cranberry, Tomato, Grapefruit and Pineapple, all $2.49.
The service is always spot-on. I have always stated that the Disney waitstaff is second to none and they are an intricate part of the dining experience. Today was no exception. I especially enjoy when you have a server that is from your home state; the conversation is always lively and entertaining!
The Kona Café is one of Disney’s best kept secrets. Easy access, good value for the money and a relaxing, serene tropical atmosphere. That is why we make it one of our regular watering holes. The restaurant accepts Tables in Wonderland and DVC discounts. Although you can usually get a table, I always recommend reservations, especially during the busy season. Call Disney Dining at 1-407-939-3463 and enjoy a meal in the South Seas!