Garden Grill – Review of Improved Menu

Laurie brings us her recent experience of the Garden Grill.  Have you eaten there?  What are your thoughts?  Did Chip and Dale really drop acorns in the gears and make it stop working? 

The Garden Grill is known for its rotating restaurant, family dining, and characters. It was The Good Turn Restaurant (October 1, 1982 – May 1, 1986) and The Land Grille Room (May 2, 1986 – October 4, 1993) then the Garden Grill opened on 15 November, 1993. There are no plans for the restaurant to rotate so diners are stuck with tweeting jungle birds or barnyard animals. It was refreshing to change scenes and get a new view and new sounds. There are booths on the lower level and tables on the upper level with plenty of room for us matronly ladies. The lighting is very good, disabled access is good, and over all this is a great tourist class diner for the family. The booths have three tables so you might be squeezed in with strangers.

Garden Grill is located down the ramp from the main entrance and one floor above Sunshine Seasons restaurant, Soarin’, and Living with the Land. I was seated within a 10 minutes and led to a booth that had another family in it, sharing is caring. The chef came out to tell me that everything is soy free but the salad dressing and everything is gluten free but the demi-glace butter, the turkey dressing, and dessert. The first thing after iced tea that hit my table was two squares of butter that sat in a pool of the most delicious orange blossom honey. Garden GrillThe honey had distinct hint of it not being plain honey and the butter had grains of sea salt on top. I started on that before the gluten free rolls came out. Next was a Farmer’s Salad that was heavy on everything but the lettuce which is not bad but had me chewing and chewing. I gingerly removed the hard boiled egg from the top of the salad as I cannot have those. I left some yolks which added a unique taste that made this more of a mini Cobb salad with cucumber bits, bacon, paper thin radish Garden Grill1slices, cherry tomatoes, and field greens. I am disappointed that every time I eat here they  do not have a dressing that I can eat. Overall I loved this salad and could have eaten it for a main course if they added protein and more lettuce. BACON, who can complain about that.

The main course is brought out family style and everyone digs in, but not to worry as the waiter will bring out more. I started with the fluffy mashed potatoes with chives, hints of buttermilk, and chunks of potatoes which I would love to have more of. The rice was light and fluffy, brownish in color.  That was one of the best I have had in a long time. It was flavorful and had bits of cooked onions and red bell peppers. For the most part, the sliced filet of beef was medium temperature and very tender. It did not need the butter as it stood on its own with good flavor.Garden Grill2 For me turkey gravy is rare, so I slathered it on the mashed potatoes and turkey, for a kid like moment of sheer joy unspeakable. AWESOME, light with definite turkey flavor. The turkey slices taste like fresh turkey and look like they were carved from a fresh turkey breast. I do not like tomatoes on my fish but the tomato jam was sweet but tart for a great accompaniment to the fish of the day. The fish was flaky, tender, moist and done perfectly except one overcooked spot. I hate tomato jam but this is an exception as the two made for a symphony of deliciousness. The veggies were crispy which I would not eat but many guests seem to like crunchy carrots and pea pods or snap peas. Hidden in the veggies were tiny corn niblets that were removed from fresh ears of corn. There was woody slivers of something that was like waterchestnuts but was not waterchestnuts. I loved the fresh bits of corn so much that the waiter offered to get me a bowl of the corn.

Garden Grill4Overall the quality of the food they serve has drastically improved. It is tourist food but you will be happy with what they offer and there is plenty to eat for the price. Farmer Mickey, Chip, Dale, and Pluto will stop at your table 3 to 4 times which is rare with characters. I still have the birthday card they gave me recently, silly waiter. The staff is awesome, service is on time and friendly, and they really care about their guests. The bad side is that it no longer rotates but who cares as our most loved restaurants do not rotate. It is the food and staff that counts more than a rotating restaurant. The other bad thing is that they cannot offer me soy free dressing. I was given two Enjoy Life hard chocolate chip cookies with whipped cream and raw blueberries. There is no ice cream or other nice desserts. They can do vegan but the potatoes have buttermilk so that leaves rice, veggies, berries, salad, and maybe gluten free dinner rolls.

The main issues are inability to offer soy free dressing, Gluten Free desserts other than cookies, and for some the cacophony of the scenery. This is still an awesome restaurant despite not rotating and the management is trying to meet the needs of guests while making the food taste better. The orange honey butter is an example of stepping up the menu so that guests do not just get a foil wrapped pat of butter. They offer adults sangria and wine by the glass or bottle as well as beer.

NOTE: the restaurant may need hard to get parts or custom made parts, may require months of down time, or is too expensive to fix. The restaurant was reported as not rotating in April and May, 2014 so this is NOT new information. The only news is that they changed from maple butter to orange honey butter; red wine sauce became demi-glace butter; and the lemon caper sauce is now a yummy turkey gravy.