Where to eat? Lunch at Disneyland’s Red Rose Taverne

By Robert Niles: The Red Rose Taverne opened officially at Disneyland this morning, overlaying Fantasyland’s Village Haus Restaurant with a Beauty and the Beast theme to celebrate the upcoming release of the Disney live-action film.

Disneyland revamped the menu as well as tweaking the restaurant’s look with new murals and signs. Since the old menu featured burgers and flatbreads, we decided to opt for a couple of more unique items from the new menu, ordering the Enchanted Cauli-Flower Sandwich and the Slow-cooked Beef Poutine. [$10.99 each]

Red Rose Taverne

I really wanted to like the cauliflower sandwich, and I loved each component, especially the tempura-battered green beans and spicy lime aioli. But the stack of thickly-sliced cauliflower, the beans, lettuce, and tomato on ciabatta simply wouldn’t fit in my mouth. Perhaps if Disney had separated the cauliflower florets before seasoning and roasting them, this could have been an even tastier (and flatter!) sandwich, but that would have created the problem of keeping the florets on the bun without resorting to taste-bullying melted cheese to hold the thing together.

Opt instead for the poutine, which might be my favorite counter-service item at Disneyland right now. Featuring pot roast-style beef, big hunks of cheese curds, and pickled onions, all atop spicy waffle fries and drowning in yummy beef gravy, this isn’t finger food — even for a beast. But it’s hearty and delicious and even better than the poutine Disney’s serving on the east coast at Disney Springs. You can order it on a flatbread [$9.49] , too, but it appears that you get much more of the gooey good stuff on the regular plate.

And that ciabatta I couldn’t eat on the cauliflower sandwich served quite nicely in sopping up the extra gravy from the poutine.

The Beast is out for the official opening of #RedRoseTaverne @DisneylandToday pic.twitter.com/VXwOY5Tbef

— Theme Park Insider (@ThemePark) February 24, 2017

The drink is Gaston’s Famous Brew [$4.99], an apple-mango juice topped with passion fruit foam. It’s basically a sweeter, non-frozen version of Disney World’s LeFou’s Brew (which Disneylanders know as Red’s Apple Freeze from Cars Land). The souvenir mug is an $8 upcharge, but the counter host poured mine into one by accident, so I got it for free. (As others were, too. Score one for opening day confusion.)

But the one thing I saw on nearly everyone’s tray this morning was the Grey Stuff [$5.49]. One of the dishes named-checked in Disney’s “Be Our Guest” song, the Grey Stuff was legend among Disney fans before it became an actual food item with the opening of Walt Disney World’s Be Our Guest restaurant in 2012.

This version is a vanilla mousse, perched atop a sugar cookie and swirled around a chunk of red velvet cake, which encases a single raspberry, like hidden rose underneath. (Get it?) Yes, it’s fussy as all get out, but the combination of flavors and textures works to give life to the rather ordinary mousse, and finding the raspberry inside delights. This is an inspired dessert and well worth enduring the line to try before Disneyland takes it away.

Yes, Red Rose Taverne will be open “for a limited time,” but Disneyland said the same thing about the Star Wars-themed Galactic Grill overlay of Tomorrowland Terrace and that’s still around more than a year later, so who knows? But while it lasts, grab a poutine and a Grey Stuff, cozy up to one of the murals (if you can find an empty table – barring table-saving is one element of Be Our Guest I would have liked to see added here)… and enjoy. “After all, Miss, this is France.”

Well, at least until Disneyland turns it back into the Village Haus and makes it Italy again.

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Here’s your first look at the menu for the 2017 DCA Food & Wine Festival

By Robert Niles: Disneyland has announced the menu for this year’s Food & Wine Festival, which runs March 10-April 16 at Disney California Adventure.

This year’s festival nearly doubles the number of marketplaces from last year’s event, which marked the return of the festival to the Disneyland Resort after a five-year absence. The festival will offer food at 11 marketplaces this year, as well as taking over the menu at the Paradise Garden Grill, which now has become standard practice at DCA’s festivals.

The marketplace themes this year will be ingredients rather than California geography, which should help fans navigate the many offerings. It makes sense for Disney to offer geographic marketplaces at the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival that clearly inspired California Adventure’s event — that’s a natural extension of World Showcase’s national pavilions. But in a state where every community has mashed up cuisine from the countless ethnic backgrounds of their residents, pavilion names such as “LA Style” and “By The Bay” told people nothing about what they served.

So here is the food line-up for this years festival, courtesy Disney:

Nuts About Cheese
Brie toast with fig and mint and roasted California almond crumble
Baked ham and Swiss cheese Croque Monsieur roll with smoked pistachios
Chevre fromage blanc tartine infused with rosemary and honey, topped with toasted hazelnuts
Almond milk tea with pudding

I Heart Artichokes
Artichoke carbonara with garlic aioli and smoked bacon
Grilled and chilled artichoke hearts with Romesco sauce
Creamy artichoke and dark chocolate cake pop
Orange iced tea with orange pearls

Garlic Kissed
Grilled beef tenderloin slider with chimichurri sauce
Black garlic soy-braised pork belly bao with pickled vegetables
Garlic-rosemary and avocado oil ice cream pop

Olive Us
Chilled Cioppino soup with shrimp, crab claw and grilled olive bread
Warm olive focaccia with olive oil and sea salt
Vanilla bean creme fraiche panna cotta with Amarena cherry jus and madeleine

Bacon Twist
Baby iceberg and heirloom tomato wedge with peppered bacon and blue cheese dressing
Smoked bacon mac and cheese with barbecue-seasoned crispy onions
Maple-bacon Whoopie Pie

Lemon Grove
Roasted cauliflower and Meyer lemon-infused yogurt cauliflower puree with sundried tomatoes and fried capers
Duck confit on potato smash with Meyer lemon preserves
Meyer lemon macaron with blueberry marmalade, Meyer lemon cream and blueberry dust
Cherry lemonade with cherry pearls

Seafood…Sustained
Salmon tataki with avocado-wasabi puree and Furikake dust
Cage-free cream cheese deviled eggs with farm-raised smoked trout and chives
Passion fruit posset and coconut chia with mango compote and jelly
Mango agua fresca

The Onion Lair
French onion mac and cheese topped with parmesan crumble and chives
Braised Wagyu beef on creamy polenta with haricot vert and red onion salad and roasted Cipollini onion
Chocolate-hazelnut and raspberry Feuillete tart
Strawberry pineapple float with vanilla ice cream and strawberry pearls

Off the Cob
Sweet corn nuggets with beef chili, spring onions and sour cream
Jackfruit carnitas banh mi nachos with cilantro crema and “pickled” de gallo
Roasted sweet corn custard tart with honey tuille and smoked chili-infused chocolate sauce

Sweet & Sourdough
Bay shrimp Louie salad served in a mini Boudin sourdough boule
White cheddar lager soup topped with bacon, served in a mini Boudin sourdough boule
Milk chocolate sourdough bread pudding with vanilla bean sauce

LAStyle
Chicken Teriyaki slider with spicy pineapple jam
Korean barbecue beef short rib tacos with Kimchi slaw
Fresh strawberry compote, lemon verbena and vanilla bean shortcake parfait
Pineapple-strawberry float with vanilla ice cream and strawberry pearls

Paradise Garden Grill Beer Garden
Beer-battered cod served with steak fries, sweet slaw and spiced remoulade
Potato and cheese pierogis with vegetarian sausage served with grilled Anaheim chilies, caramelized onions and sour cream
Beer-braised pork tacos served with pickled apple slaw, black beans and queso
Sausage platter trio served with braised red cabbage and warm potato salad
Large soft pretzel served with beer-mustard dipping sauce
Salted caramel budino with vanilla bean Chantilly cream
Bienenstich cake with honey-glazed almonds, filled with vanilla bean custard

The big question yet to be answered is how much any of this will cost. Items at last year’s festival ran 15-45% higher here than for similar items from the previous Epcot Food & Wine fest. Disney last year initially offered an AP holder festival passport that ended up costing more per item than buying dishes individually. DCA kept the marketplace prices high for its holiday food festival last year but did bring them down a touch for the recent Lunar New Year fest. Will Disney reduce the prices from last year’s event to encourage more sales? Or will prices stay up… and fans continue to stay away? We will find out when the event launches next month.

Review of last year’s event:

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Skyplex Orlando gets another new ride

The entertainment offerings at Skyplex Orlando continue to grow as the project’s developers released details about another thrill ride coming to the International Drive complex.

Sky Jump joins a lineup of rides like the Skyscraper roller coaster, SkyFall, a 450-foot drop ride, and SkyLedge, where…

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