I’m grateful to Marc and Amy Stumbo, who captured this great review of two new Columbia Harbour House menu items in Disney World’s Magic Kingdom!
As AJ noted last week, several of the Magic Kingdom quick-service dining locations have recently gotten some additions to their respective menus. When asked if I was willing to do a guest review of some additions to the Columbia Harbor House menu, I leapt at the chance for fame and fortune. While I now realize that neither of those outcomes are likely, the food was still worth writing about.
The Columbia Harbor House is located in the Magic Kingdom’s Liberty Square just around the corner from the Hall of Presidents and across the path from the Haunted Mansion.
I’ve always loved this corner of the park for its ties to our nation’s history, the superb attention to detail on the overall theme, the kinetics of boats coasting by, and the nautical theme carried into the restaurant. Check out this guest review of the theme inside the Columbia Harbor House if you are looking for additional information on this detailed eatery.
Sadly, not everyone can appreciate Liberty Square as is evidenced by the conversation I overheard on my way to the Columbia Harbor House that afternoon. Walking from the hub across the bridge into Liberty Square, I passed a couple and their stroller-bound child stopping in their tracks while surveying the view toward the Ferry Boat dock only about 15 feet into the land. The wife turned to the husband and said “Honey, this is all just old stuff [points to buildings]. We should turn around and go back to where all the rides are.” I KNOW… very sad and amusing to us at the same time. Oh well, they will clearly miss out on a beautiful land and some seriously good eats.
Speaking of good eats, I made the conscious decision to visit the quick service location at 12:30pm on a Saturday afternoon when the restaurant was sure to be packed. I did this for three reasons: a) that’s usually when I’m hungry for lunch, b) I’m crazy, and c) I wanted to get a fair representation of the average meal served at a time guests are most likely to eat and when the restaurant would be experiencing high traffic. I don’t think quick service seafood is as easy for the cooks to pull off as hamburgers and chicken, so I wanted to be sure that was what I experienced and was what other guests are likely to experience as well. You’re welcome 😉
Before getting to the food, I just wanted to say that on this visit I sat upstairs in the portion of the restaurant that stretches across the divide between Fantasyland and Liberty Square. Normally, I wouldn’t have made the trek upstairs and that far around the corner to this relatively secluded location were it not for the recent tweeting of @43SquareMiles (Imagineer Jason Grandt). He clearly liked this location and I can see why with the subtle theme and great views of either land (or both I suppose). Needless to say, I’ll be returning to this location more in the future.
I had a hard time choosing which new menu item to review for this article, but in the end I thought to myself “What would AJ do?” and ordered both the Lobster Roll and the Grilled Salmon.
The Lobster Roll costs $9.99 and includes a bag of the newer Disney branded chips. You can also get the Lobster Roll for $7.99 without the chips. (Side note: those chips are functionally $2.00 a bag?!?! For that price, they could have at least been house-made chips such as those sold in the Contempo Café in the Contemporary Resort, but I digress.)
First, I’m going to point out that I was just as skeptical, as I’m sure many of you reading this article are, on the potential quality of any lobster-based meal served in a theme park quick-service location for less than $8. Second, I’d like to note that my wife and I recently returned from a weekend trip to Boston for a wedding and during that trip made a pit-stop at a local shop well-known for their lobster rolls because I love lobster and well… ‘When in Rome’. I honestly cannot recall then name of the restaurant we ate at, but it was recommended by several locals and a policeman we talked to, so suffice it to say I have at least some basis for comparison when reviewing this particular lobster roll (albeit a small one).
That being said, I can honestly say that this lobster roll was good. It didn’t blow my socks off, but it was definitely delicious and a viable alternative to the theme park lunch staples of burgers, chicken sandwiches, and hot dogs.
For starters, I think that given the ingredients, the portion size, and the fact that you are in a Disney theme park the cost is reasonable to say the least. The lobster roll we purchased in Boston was about the same size and cost.
The roll was soft and reminded me a lot of fresh Cuban bread which, as a general rule, I love when making a sandwich. However, part of me still wonders if either toasting the bread or using crusty French loaf style bread might’ve provided a nice texture pairing to the soft lobster salad within.
Speaking of the lobster salad, I was surprised to find large chunks of lobster meat mixed with fresh cut onion, red pepper, celery, and spices. The fresh vegetables provided the much needed crunch and bite to offset the sweet lobster meat and mayonnaise combination. The lobster salad I was served did contain more mayonnaise than I would of liked, but it was still reasonable.
Since lobster meat can sometimes have a relatively mild and delicate flavor and as such can easily be overpowered, I feel as though the Columbia Harbor House did a pretty decent job of balancing the lobster meat with the other ingredients to maintain the integrity of the dish.
My only suggestion to Disney on this dish would be to provide a lemon wedge for guests to squeeze over so as to provide the much needed acidity many seafood dishes crave. Overall, I feel as though the lobster roll was a delicious addition to the quick service dining options at the Magic Kingdom that is filling and won’t disappoint on flavor.
The lobster roll was pretty tasty, but the real surprise of the meal was easily the grilled salmon — making me very glad I opted to review two items instead of just the one on this trip.
I’m not going to lie and say that I wasn’t as skeptical about the potential quality of the salmon as I was about the lobster roll. I guess subconsciously the idea of grilled salmon, Disney quick service, and $10 weren’t entirely adding up, causing several red flags to start waiving.
The $10.19 meal consisted of grilled salmon served with couscous and steamed fresh broccoli. I’m glad to say that the meal I got that afternoon contained perfectly cooked salmon: warm, moist, juicy, well seasoned, and a nice light grilled flavor. The salmon was tender and flaky like you would expect and, though not noted on the menu, lightly covered in a white balsamic vinaigrette glaze that added a lot of flavor while still allowing the salmon to shine through.
I was afraid that ordering in the rush of midday that the salmon might be served too dry from being cooked en masse to meet the demand, but it tasted like it was cooked to order. The couscous contained a vegetable medley and was also cooked to my liking — it was seasoned well and contained a lot of flavor that accompanied the salmon quite well. Additionally, the couscous was particularly handy in sopping up the delicious balsamic vinaigrette glaze melting off of the hot salmon.
Lastly, the meal had a side of steamed fresh broccoli that was a nice addition, but just a little under-steamed for my tastes. I’ll admit that the broccoli was still good (though some butter would’ve been nice or, dare I say it…, plastic cheese? haha) and that maybe I like my veggies a little more steamed than the average person, so your mileage may vary on this one. The combination of the couscous and broccoli was a welcome departure from your usual side options of chips or fries and just as filling if not more (and surely lower on sodium).
Overall, I’m definitely ordering the grilled salmon again the next time we are eating in the Columbia Harbor House. This meal really came together in terms of flavor, side options, price, portion size, and execution. If you are looking for quick service meal in the Magic Kingdom that feels more like a full service meal, this is your ticket.
As always, feel free to follow our journeys in and around Disney via @PlazaAndMainSt on twitter. We hope to see many of you at this year’s WDW Foodie Fest during the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival.