Foodie Friday Madness: Overrated & Sleeper Restaurants

Ah, March Madness – my favorite sporting event of the year. The one weekend where productivity declines and arm chairs recline. It’s become a marketing phenomenon. Even Disney World has jumped aboard, creating their own social campaign in which fans can vote on their favorite attractions. Every year experts and pundits try and predict the perfect bracket. They throw around buzz words like “sleepers” or “overrated” and of course: “Cinderella.”

For non-sports fans, a “sleeper” is a team no one is talking about. An overrated team is one that everyone is talking about, but is, well, overrated. And of course, the Cinderella team is usually a sleeper that becomes loved. People want to see it succeed and everyone pretty much gets behind it.

In honor of Foodie Friday and March Madness, let’s take a look at some overrated and sleeper restaurants at Walt Disney World.

Signature Restaurants

Overrated: Le Cellier

It’s not to say that it’s a bad restaurant, but Le Cellier has taken on a bit of a Duke-like hatred. There goes those sports analogies again! Duke basketball is very good, but people love to hate them. The same goes for Le Cellier. My family dined at Le Cellier a few years ago, back when it was only one dining credit. The bread basket alone is worth its own blog. I remember my meal – I started with the cheddar cheese soup and went with the coffee-rubbed steak. That’s usually a sign of a great meal. It was. But since it became a signature, many have questioned how the portion sizes and quality compares to other two-credit restaurants. For that reason, Le Cellier is overrated.

Sleeper: Artist Point

Not many people talk about Artist Point. After all, it’s tucked away inside the Wilderness Lodge, which is easy to forget about. The Magic Kingdom resort isn’t part of the monorail and not too many guests are willing to take the trip there. If they are, they usually head to Whispering Canyon or Trails End. And, when it comes to Magic Kingdom Resort signatures,  it’s overshadowed by the aesthetics and proximity of Narcoossee’s and California Grill.

But my family really enjoyed our meal this past year. We opted to go with Artist Point and skip Narcoossee’s. Narcoossee’s was sorely missed – it’s a family favorite. But we may have just found another favorite. We started with the Smoky Portobello soup, which may be my favorite soup ever. Seriously. I’d swim from Magic Kingdom for a bowl of it! The Bison was cooked to perfection and wasn’t too gamey, and the root vegetables were perfectly roasted. I went with the seasonal dessert, but managed to grab a few butter cookies from my sister. They were pretty good, but I’m not a huge butter cookie fan. My sister loved them and continues to rave about the cereal milkshake.

Take the trip to Artist Point. It’s totally worth it! And if you’re there for Christmas, set an evening aside to enjoy the lobby and explore the campsite decorations at Fort Wilderness.

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Buffalo Strip Loin at Artist Point

Table Service

Overrated: Chef Mickey’s

It has all the makings of a great, fun meal. It’s easy to get to by simply hopping on the monorail and you get to see Mickey and the whole gang. But Chef Mickey’s is loud, it’s a tough reservation and honestly, the food is mediocre. Most of the food reviews have kept us from booking dinner. When we dined there for breakfast, most of the food was cold or lukewarm. While the characters are fun and it can be great for a young family, as an older family, we prefer a good meal over the experience. Plus, while you can’t find the same characters everywhere, many of the other buffets do offer character experiences and much better food. So, save the meet-and-greet for EPCOT or Animal Kingdom and save your appetite for a better meal. I’d recommend Tusker House or Cape May for a much better character buffet.

Sleeper: Teppan Edo

This falls into the sleeper category for a few reasons. Sure, most Disney fans know about Teppan Edo, but I feel like few have ever dined there. For one, Teppan Edo is located in the World Showcase, the cultural food mecca of Walt Disney World. With so many choices, it’s easy to pass on Japan. Plus, you can get the same experience at a Benihana, right? Right.

That almost stopped us from booking Teppan Edo, but I’m glad we finally did it two years ago. First of all, the restaurant is beautiful. It has a real minimalist Asian theme. It features one long corridor and the hibachi tables are tucked inside separate rooms. The chefs are wonderfully trained and inject a little Disney flair into their antics and performance. The food is delicious and a solid value on the dining plan. If you’re not on the dining plan, skip dessert. There are far better offerings throughout the World Showcase. If you are on the dining plan, go with the chocolate ginger cake. It’s the best tasting and largest dessert on the menu. The ice cream and cheesecake are okay, but very small and generic.

Quick Service

Overrated: Sunshine Seasons

I’m probably going to take a ton of slack for this, as it’s beloved by so many Disney fans, but Sunshine Seasons is overrated. The Quick Service is viewed as an “escape from the common theme park food.” There’s a ton to choose from and it offers far more than your normal burger and fries. The offerings include slow-roasted pork chops, Asian entrees like shrimp stir-fry and Mongolian Beef with rice; and spicy fish tacos and salads with sesame tuna. Sounds good, right? It is good, don’t get me wrong – and maybe this is personal preference, but I’d much rather dine in the World Showcase. The food didn’t really pique my interest and my dessert tasted stale, like it had been sitting out all day. There’s so much to discover in the World Showcase, so for that reason I’m ranking the beloved Sunshine Season as overrated.

Sleeper: Cooks of Dublin

We discovered it by accident. When we brought our family friends in 2014, they wanted to try Raglan Roads. We had all of our dining credits accounted for, so we’d have to use a Quick Service Credit. A Cast Member swore that Raglan Road was a Quick Service during lunch. After inquiring at Raglan Road, we were directed next door. Cookes of Dublin has an interesting menu. Items such as the battered burger, hog in a box and beef and lamb pie give it a leg up on the competition. And – everything is made fresh. I remember our first time dining at Cookes of Dublin, wondering what was taking so long. It’s a Quick Service, however, like Wolfgang Puck Express, it is more along the lines of a casual quick dining experience.

Cinderella: Wolfgang Puck Express

Once a sleeper, Wolfgang Puck Express has become an instant favorite. For one, it’s an amazing value on the Disney Dining Plan. As a family of four, our bill normally comes out to ~$90 – an average of $22.50 per person. That’s a fantastic value on the Dining Plan and you get a ton of food! The personal pizzas are my favorite. You can easily split it between two or three people – a great way to save some money if you’re paying out of pocket or conserve some dining credits!

Wolfgang Puck Express doesn’t have the feel of a Quick Service. The food is higher end, it’s more of a sit-down environment and a server will bring the food out to your table. Overall, it’s a must-do for my family at least once a trip.

Snacks

Overrated: Turkey Leg and Mickey Ears Ice Cream

There are two overrated snacks that come to mind at Disney World. One is the turkey leg. For one, it’s a day’s worth of calories (although, who checks calories at Disney), it’s way too big and honestly it’s not that good. I tried it once and enjoyed it. However, when I was down in Disney for a high school trip, a few people got food poisoning. Through process of elimination, we narrowed it down to be the turkey leg. I’m not saying the turkey leg caused the food poisoning, but it’s forever been tarnished for me.

Another overrated snack is the Mickey Ears ice cream. It’s loved by guests, yet you can find it seemingly anywhere. It’s an eskimo pie that’s shaped like Mickey Ears. I guess I can understand the love, as I really enjoy Mickey Ear waffles. But to me, I’d much rather use a snack credit on something I can’t find anywhere else.

Sleeper: Magic Cookie Bar

I didn’t discover this until two years ago. Staying at Port Orleans French Quarters, I took the walk over to Riverside to check out the food court. A magic cookie bar? What is this? It’s the most delicious cookie ever. That’s what. There’s so many dimensions of flavors and textures, making this an amazing, moist and soft cookie. It’s a chocolate chip cookie meets a graham cracker meets a macadamia nut cookie meets an oatmeal cookie. It’s topped with coconut and chocolate chips. It’s fairly large, making it a great use of a snack credit, too! I believe it’s served at Roaring Fork and Port Orleans Riverside. This baby needs to be available in more places!

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