Based on a previous guest review of this restaurant, I couldn’t wait to go try it out!
Now, to be fair, it’s not as though I’d never been to the Garden Grill Restaurant before… Well, that’s not entirely true. Before this visit, I hadn’t been to the current incarnation of the restaurant. In fact, back in the 80’s, I went to The Land Grille Room, which was what the restaurant was called before its renovation into the Garden Grill Restaurant. (Check out my friend Andy’s creation of a recipe from The Land Grille Room here!
Born as the Good Turn Restaurant and then morphed into The Land Grille Room, this restaurant has had many personalities (my memories include dark red booths and full-blown sculptures of Mickey Mouse made out of butter). Today, it’s a family-style character dinner featuring Chip, Dale, Mickey, and Pluto!
Perhaps the most impressive attribute boasted by Garden Grill is that it’s a rotating restaurant. That’s right — you go around in circles while you’re eating!
But don’t worry; this isn’t as though you’re having dinner on the Teacups. The restaurant rotates s-l-o-w-l-y during your meal, allowing views of the different scenes from the Living With the Land ride taking place below the restaurant.
There are two seating styles in the restaurant, and…listen up — it makes a BIG difference where you sit. I know I’m picky about seating, but in this case, I strongly suggest that you request a semi-circular booth on the lower level of the restaurant.
This isn’t just for comfort’s sake (though the cushioned booths ARE more comfortable than the hard chairs at the tables). The booths give you an unobstructed view of the scenes you’re passing by from the ride below, and the high backs also drown out some of the clattering noise from around the restaurant.
That said, if you’re dining with several kiddos who will want to climb out of the booth to see the characters as they walk by, be sure to put the kids on the outside seats! 🙂
Sadly, we were seated at a table. (I can promise you that I’ll be requesting a booth from now until eternity.) But how can you be upset for long when you see this cute table-setting? Clearly this is meant to remind you of a certain mouse you might have heard of? 😉
But more on the characters later! First of all, let’s look at the view! The ride below travels through different outdoor scenes showing how plants grow in many different climates and weather. While you dine, you’ll rotate through scenes that include a desert, a prairie, and even a rainforest!
One of my favorite scenes includes this farmhouse. I love that they included a view into the windows from the restaurant side of the “set.”
There are even fresh strawberries and eggs being harvested (and a fire alarm on the rock??).
So there’s definitely lots to look at as you’re rotating through your meal!
But that’s not all you’ll have to steal your attention! This location has been a character meal for quite some time, now, and is the only place where you can have your photo taken with Farmer Mickey! 🙂
But don’t forget Pluto! He’s eager to share whatever table scraps you may have!
Of course, Chip and Dale are the hosts for this “Harvest Feast,” but that doesn’t make them any less of a troublemaking duo! When we were there, Dale got his hands on a Donald Duck beak toy and hilarity ensued. 😉
So once you’re all tired out from the fun, it’s time to tackle the food!!!
As I mentioned above, the food here at Garden Grill is served family style. This means that you don’t really get much choice about what you eat, but you can have as much of it as you want!
Check out the “organically grown” wines!
We started out with what I consider to be one of the true stars of the meal — these rolls with maple butter. The butter is super-sweet, so if you’re not a fan of flavored butters, be sure to ask for some regular butter as well.
Personally, I dug right in. The rolls were soft and warm, the butter was easily spreadable, and the taste was out of this world. Granted, I’d had a long day and was very hungry, but still. 😉
The salad is a winner for many guests as well. It’s a “harvest-inspired” salad, which means you may get different ingredients depending on what’s in season. Perhaps some of the veggies are pulled directly from The Land’s hydroponic plants downstairs!
The main courses include Turkey with lemon caper sauce and artisan bread pudding, Mahi Mahi with roasted tomato and pepper compote and fresh vegetables, and filet of beef with red wine butter and buttermilk mashed potatoes.
The turkey was good, but I wasn’t impressed with the overall flavor of the meat, sauce, and bread pudding. I would have preferred a saltier or more savory sauce over the lemon caper version.
My favorite here was the beef with red wine butter and potatoes. Very flavorful and not overdone! I’m used to meat being overdone at family-style meals, so this was a nice surprise. I just wish we’d had more. By the time our server got around to bringing us a second serving, we were ready to leave the restaurant.
The mahi mahi was flaky and fresh. It didn’t taste at all fishy, and was quite refreshing with the veggies.
Dessert at the Grill is a fresh fruit cobbler, which can change seasonally. Ours included a variety of berries, including raspberries and blueberries.
While I’m usually not a huge fan of “bready” cobblers, this was delicious!
The one minus in this dish is that I wish it had been served with ice cream instead of just whipped cream (though the whipped cream was delicious and added a lot of good flavor).
Our server also dropped off one of the kids’ red velvet ladybug desserts! This included cream cheese frosting decorations!! Yum…
I think Garden Grill has a LOT going for it. As a character meal and a rotating restaurant, your kids will be in heaven, let’s be honest. And the views of the ride scenes below is very cool for those of us who grew up going to The Land when we were kids.
I also always enjoy character meals that don’t force me to head to a buffet constantly, potentially missing my time with the characters.
The food isn’t spectacular, but it’s better than average for a family style restaurant (or even in comparison to many buffet restaurants). We were very pleased with the special touches made to the menu to make it stand out as a bit more high end than one would expect (red wine butter? nice touch!).
The cost at around $35 for adults and $17 for kids may sound high outside of Disney World, but it’s actually pretty moderate for a restaurant inside the big purple gates — especially when it’s a character meal that’s all-you-care-to-eat. Plus, it’s ROTATING!! Come on. Your inner kid HAS to love that. 😉
Have you been to Garden Grill or are you planning on visiting? Let us know what you think of the menu!