Lots of changes have come to The Plaza Restaurant in the Magic Kingdom recently!
This summer, The Plaza — which is a Table Service restaurant — became much more accessible to walk-up guests when it changed its Advanced Dining Reservation (ADR) availability window to just 11:00 am – 12:00 noon daily, opening up the remainder of the day to play host to those without ADRs.
Hot on the heels of that change, we noticed another… to the menu! The Entree and Dessert listings have been expanded with a few more options. But the new assortment of Appetizers has gained the most attention, since one of the three new selections bears a striking resemblance to a favorite retired Magic Kingdom snack from back in the day (we’ll be taking a look at that again here today!).
Before we dive into the changes, though, it might be nice to know that some of the things about this beloved spot have remained — thankfully — very much the same… .
As you turn the corner on Main Street, U.S.A. towards Tomorrowland, you’ll find The Plaza Restaurant tucked right next to its Quick Service counterpart, the Plaza Ice Cream Parlor.
Upon entering, you’ll notice that lots of windows allow for plenty of sunlight to flow in, and the smaller size of the restaurant is made to feel somewhat larger with the help of mirrors in the main dining room as well.
The second solarium dining room also plays up its Main Street surroundings by relying on windows to provide much of the atmosphere.
The turn-of-the-century charm that Main Street is known for naturally extends to this location.
And that’s especially true when one of the Main Street VIPs pays a visit!
The Main Street visitors — which, in some of our past visits, have also included The Mayor and the Main Street Fire Chief — are a special treat of dining at The Plaza, and we hope you encounter one of these fine folks on your Plaza visit!
The Plaza Restaurant menu still focuses on its staples: it remains a great place to grab a sandwich and some ice cream! And, of course, some good ol’ comfort food can still be found with items like the truly noteworthy Home-style Meatloaf.
But it’s the new stuff we’re here to check out, and that includes all three Appetizers: Plaza Loaded Fries, the Wedge Salad, and Seasonal Soup (which were Tomato Bisque and Italian Wedding on our visit, FYI).
The Fried Green Tomato Sandwich is a new Entree. And finally, Desserts — a MUST at The Plaza — now feature Signature Chocolate Cake, Caramel Apple Pie a la Mode, and a Seasonal Specialty Cake alongside the classic Hand-dipped Milk Shakes, Sundaes, and Original Banana Split.
Let’s take a look at what we’re considering the new headliner at the Plaza (despite its Appetizer status)… Plaza Loaded Fries! A pile of French Fries is topped with melted (plastic!!) cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomatoes, and ranch dressing.
Sounds pretty good on its own, right? And it IS! You just can’t argue with the ingredients… and the super duper amount of bacon pieces throughout the tasty fries sure didn’t hurt!
Oh, and also, because they are made with the aforementioned plastic cheese!
I requested this little serving on the side (all in the name of research of course 😉 ), and received a bit of info along with it.
For those who have been following along in The Case of the Vanishing Plastic Cheese, here’s an update: The Plaza is currently the only Magic Kingdom restaurant serving plastic cheese (formerly available in spots like Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe and Casey’s Corner, among others) because they are able to control the temperature. BUT, the Cast Member I spoke with also mentioned that they are “working on ways” to get the plastic cheese back to the Quick Service spots with new containers that regulate the temperature. Fingers crossed, folks!!
And now back to your regularly scheduled review... The Fried Green Tomato Sandwich is another new menu item. Like the other Entree sandwiches, it’s served with your choice of seasonal veggies, house-made chips or french fries.
Two deep-fried green tomatoes are paired with bacon, arugula, tomato, pepper jack cheese, and Alabama White Barbecue Sauce (a new taste for me!). And our vegetarian friends will see on the menu that this entree can be ordered without bacon for two bucks less.
The Alabama White Barbecue Sauce was spread on the thick, toasted Kaiser roll. The sauce has a mayo-like consistency, but with an addition of horseradish giving the sandwich a really nice kick! And look at those tomatoes… I think you can even tell from the photo that, for being nicely fried, they weren’t at all greasy.
Now, the Beef Brisket Burger is not one of the new menu items, but it did receive a slight tweak: it’s now a Honey Barbecue Beef Brisket Burger due to the addition of — can you ever guess? — a honey barbecue sauce on the brisket.
But it’s still one seriously hefty sandwich! (In fact, with its similar setup to the French Dip Burger at Epcot’s Electric Umbrella, this one’s a decent candidate for sharing). The burger is topped with a generous amount of beef brisket, then further topped with provolone, bacon(!), and sautéed onions. The lettuce and tomato are placed on the side for serving… but really, where’s the room for it 😉 ?
Even with all the savory accompaniments, I could still definitely detect the sweetness of the honey. Other than that, the burger was a bit well done for my liking (no surprise there), but still pretty darn delicious.
Now, I mentioned earlier that dessert is a must-do at The Plaza. In the past, though, that’s had a lot to do with the fact that, as next door neighbor to the Plaza Ice Cream Parlor, the setting just goes hand in hand with a good old-fashioned ice cream sundae or milkshake — complete with a cherry on top.
The new additions to the dessert menu, however, have little to do with ice cream — with the exception of the Caramel Apple Pie al a Mode.
A small apple pie pocket is served warm with a bit of steusel on top, with one large scoop of vanilla ice cream, all surrounded by caramel sauce. I have to admit: I was a little concerned when I saw the pie, since it reminded me a lot of the Apple Blossoms that you’ll spot in various Quick Service locations — I guess I had it in my head that it might not be very fresh.
Fortunately, my concern was unwarranted — the pie was incredibly fresh and filled with chopped apple, and the nice, thick crust was able to withstand the ice cream really well.
To give you an idea of how good it was, I noticed the table behind me tried one as well (you’re seated pretty close to your neighbors at The Plaza 😉 ). They ended up ordering a second because everyone at the table enjoyed it so much!
The Signature Chocolate Cake just joined the list, too. This four-layered (massive!) cake has dark chocolate ganache mixed in, and also drizzled on top and around the plate.
You can really taste the difference between the terrific touches of ganache and the cake, which resulted in a complex, enjoyable flavor for what might have otherwise been a ho-hum dish.
Our final new item is the Seasonal Specialty Cake. Unlike the Seasonal Soups, the Seasonal Cakes will likely only feature one flavor at a time. It was Carrot Cake on my visit (which is nothin’ but good news for me, as you may well know by now!). And, much like the Signature Chocolate, this is another HUGE four-layer slice.
The cream cheese frosting in between the layers of carrot cake was rich and really flavorful. And check out the gorgeous pours of caramel over the whole thing!
Here’s a glimpse at the very finely chopped walnuts on the outside of the cake.
Now, at 9 bucks a pop, these are the priciest selections on the dessert menu aside from the Original Banana Split. But these are good, substantial dishes. We got some hints that the Seasonal Specialties in coming months may include Red Velvet and Black Forrest. And I will absolutely find some excuse to return when that happens. (Even if that excuse is just MORE Figaro — I’m mean, “Loaded Plaza” — Fries, please!)
So yeah… dessert at The Plaza is still clearly a solid must-do. But you’ve got your work cut out for you when it comes to making a choice. The nice thing is, there doesn’t seem to be a bad one to make at this point.
Wow, what a great visit to The Plaza Restaurant! It just goes to show, even the ol’ standbys can come up with some surprises now and then. Then again, I’ve always enjoyed The Plaza throughout the years. Though it may lack the grand theming of, say, Be Our Guest Restaurant or the Jungle Cruise Skipper Canteen, it has long delivered good food at a decent value in a setting that’s special in its own way — right in the heart of things in the Magic Kingdom.
One note before we go: something I noticed on this particular visit was that all of my food came out quickly; there was a significant amount of table turnaround during my time there. I’m thinking this is in response to the the new focus on walk-up friendliness for guests not wanting to take away too much from park time, but still looking for a sit-down experience. And if I’m correct on that, they’re meeting the goal. The Plaza is firing on all cylinders, my friends, so I’m happily recommending that you stop by and see if a table is available on your next Magic Kingdom visit!
Is The Plaza Restaurant on your list of Magic Kingdom favorites? Please let us know with a comment!