The Hollywood Brown Derby – More Than Glamour and Glitz: A Disney Foodie Spotlight

Some places are all sizzle and no heat.  Not The Hollywood Brown Derby at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. This restaurant serves up some serious food! It’s definitely on the pricey side, but if you’re looking for good eats and good credentials, you need to make your way over here.  Be warned, this is not a fast restaurant.  Like many upscale places, your food is cooked just for you so expect it to take a little longer than usual.  If you’re in a rush to make it to your next FastPass, you might need to plan ahead or skip this restaurant.  But if you’ve got the time, make your reservations now and enjoy your food later!

My daughter and I enjoying Shirley Temples at the Hollywood Brown Derby
My daughter and I enjoying Shirley Temples at the Hollywood Brown Derby

Location: Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Hollywood Boulevard, Walt Disney World
Type: Table service
Specialty: Fine dining
Cost: $15-20 for kids and about $30-50 for adults
Craig’s Favorite: The Shirley Temples – an unending flow of goodness

Reservations for The Hollywood Brown Derby are definitely recommended.  Even though it is expensive, many people want a good quality meal and few places offer that like the Derby does.  It is the only restaurant at Disney’s Hollywood Studios described on the website as offering “fine signature dining” and it certainly has that.  With everything from their famous Cobb Salad to Pan-seared Pork Tenderloin and Filet of Beef with Truffle Mashed Potatoes, there is something for everyone – even for people with allergy restrictions!  My wife is gluten-sensitive and so we always ask what our choices are and they came out with a menu nearly as long as the regular menu with many different allergy sensitivities listed and which ones can be accommodated.  It was very impressive.  The jumbo lump crab cakes were made gluten-free – breading and all and they tasted great.

The grouper and lobster dish I had served on a bed of rice noodles
The grouper and lobster dish I had served on a bed of rice noodles

Speaking of things that tasted great, we shared the crab cakes and the local greens tossed in a champagne vinaigrette (with spiced candied pecans which added both extra texture and flavor).  The greens came with a little too much vinaigrette on it for my taste, but it was still delicious.  The crab cakes were also terrific – and a little spicy.  The sauce they came with had a real kick to it.  Not overpowering, but definitely reminded you of its flavor a little bit after you ate it.  It was served on a kim chee bed which was actually more tame than the sauce.   For lunch, I had the Pan-seared Black Grouper with a half herb-crusted lobster tail.  The lobster was the best part by far.  Not overcooked, not undercooked, and with a great lightly sweet flavor to it.  The grouper was cooked perfectly also and was tender and flaky while still having great taste on your tongue, and the cognac-mushroom beurre blanc was such a great compliment to both.  My wife and daughter split the Noodle Bowl which had some serious Asian influences.  For some of you, “wok-fried coconut tofu” won’t sound appealing, but if you try it, you’ll really appreciate the complex way it tastes.  Paired with the red curry sauce, which was superb, it tasted wonderful.  The rice noodles were a great pairing with the red curry and the fried tofu.  The whole dish went together well.

The noodle bowl has definite Asian influences - and not just the edemame. The coconut crusted fried tofu was really delicious.
The noodle bowl has definite Asian influences – and not just the edemame. The coconut crusted fried tofu was really delicious.

Since we had tickets to the all-you-care-to-eat dessert party for the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights, we skipped that course at the restaurant.  They have a nice way of serving their desserts.  You get to select three mini desserts from their menu instead of one big one.  Now you can order three of the same thing, but this gives you the chance to try a variety.  None of them seemed particularly appealing to me, but given the quality of the lunch, I’m sure they tasted great and they do have a nice variety including their own mini grapefruit cake.  Besides, my daughter and I got to have Shirley Temples which was more than enough of a sweet treat for us!  Definitely highly recommended.

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