Grab your walkers and false teeth folks, we’re headed out to Saratoga Springs Resort and Retirement Community!
Just as a reminder that photography is a scam, this is the original of the image above it. A few people have been removed in addition to the caution sign being clone stamped out and some edits to exposure/vibrance/etc.
I’ve been wanting to run a review of Turf Club for some amount of time now, but something always seemed to come up. I’ve “literally” never read a review of the restaurant. I’m not sure if there are really any out there, which is surprising considering the number of reviews of most restaurants. Amusingly(?) it’s often the “unsung” restaurants that see the most reviews on websites like this one. Try to name a Disney blog that even casually covers food that hasn’t reviewed Kona Cafe, for example.
Turf Club is located down what I would characterize as a desolate hallway. Said hallways is located to the left of the food court in the main building. That hallway opens up to this larger room with one of (the only?) the only pool tables on property. It’s also easy to access from the golf course or boat dock to/from Downtown Disney below the restaurant.
From the other side of the room, the hole in the wall that is the bar is visible on the left. There are a few standard tables, couches, and a single television that usually plays golf tournament replays. Not sure it gets any more magical than the 2007 PGA Masters Tournament am I right guys.
A few hightop tables line the window. We’ll return after dinner.
Restaurant menu and hours:
Turf Club Bar & Grill stopped serving lunch on September 20th, 2012 due to the fact that between seven and twelve people showed up daily. The pro shop for Disney’s Lake Buena Vista Golf Course Course sits underneath the restaurant and the idea was that golfers would be interested in grabbing a bite to eat before/after their tee times. That never seemed to quite work out and lunch serviced was axed.
The rest of the menu:
The menu is relatively limited with ten appetizers and eight entrees. But no Disney restaurant is going to bust out the Cheesecake Factory binder. I had more trouble than usual narrowing down what I wanted to order. That may have been due to the fact that I literally had never read anything about any of the items.
The drink menu is much better than most if you’re looking for a specialty cocktail not based around rum.
After we were seated, Lisa exclaimed, “It feels like a real restaurant!” I guess because I usually take the poor thing out to Rainforest Cafe and Crystal Palace. Are you trying to tell me “real restaurants” don’t have pterodactyl animatronics and foam donkeys mingling about? I don’t want to live on this planet anymore.
The restaurant is otherwise not as large as it might seem with the mirrors hanging above the tables. It’s basically a hallway with three alcoves with additional tables. You may want to request a table toward the rear of the restaurant. If you end up in the first room, everyone that enters the restaurant will brush right by you and for whatever reason, it takes about five cast members to man the check-in kiosk and they are a chatty, giggly bunch. They’ll also be staring right at you as you consume your beverage from the bar.
Additional seating is available outside. It’s kind of miserable to sit outside in Florida most of the year, but it might be pleasant in November or March. When we visited, it was 88 degrees and pouring rain at 6pm.
The view is mostly of the West Side of Downtown Disney and the waterway in between it. You may have a partial golf course view further down.
We were seated inside by the window.
I started with the Mint Julep – Woodford Reserve Bourbon muddled with fresh Mint and Agave Nectar. I was surprised it was served in a low ball glass. I’ve always seen them served in high ball glasses or julep cups. The ice was crushed at least. The drink was otherwise pleasant – it’s hard to go wrong with Woodford and mint. Thanks to what I’m sure is a fatty check, Woodford is the “official bourbon of the Kentucky Derby,” so this is a very authentic cocktail for a resort loosely based around the equestrian. I wish it was a Disney resort menu staple, though the Rye Manhattan and Jameson Whiskey Sour are both good.
Lisa tried The Preakness Cosm0 – Skyy Infusions Citrus Vodka, Triple Sec, and Cranberry Juice – $7.75. Served in a martini glass, there was not a whole lot to it. Lisa didn’t think it was anything out of the ordinary.
Bread is served alongside butter, which I think was dusted with “truffle salt” or something fancy.
My memory is not as good as it was in my youth. The bread was similar to what’s served at Be Our Guest – little sourdough rolls. Nothing special necessarily, but just fine.
We started with the Buffalo Chicken Dip – Pulled Buffalo Chicken, Wing Sauce, Blue Cheese, and Celery served with our Saratoga Chips – $9.49.
The chips are available all over property. You’ll receive the same thing at Diamond Horseshoe, Tomorrowland Terrace, and pretty much any other venue that advertises “house-made chips.”
The lighting was really terrible in the restaurant and my limited knowledge of Lightroom can’t really save them. The Chicken Dip is sort of like deconstructed nachos. We were expecting celery on the side, but as you can see, it was shredded on top. Unlike most items that advertise a kick, the Dip actually had some spiciness to it. Not an overwhelming amount by any stretch, but someone squeezed a few drops of Tabasco or Frank’s Wing Sauce over the top. The cup of Dip might look kind of sad in the picture, but it was plenty to cover the chips. I’m not sure I’d character this as a “must buy,” but we enjoyed them. It would be a great appetizer to share over an extended period of time, unlike some appetizers that are just a couple of bites.
I ordered the Prime Rib – with Mashed Potatoes, Broccolini, and Cherry Peppercorn Sauce – $27.99.
It was an impressive slab of meat sitting on the plate, cooked to a nice medium and retaining a lot of its natural juices. Unfortunately, I think it looks better than it tasted. It was tough, particularly considering the cut. While the meat wasn’t fatty, I think the tenderness suffered because of it and there was not as much flavor as is typical from a beefy slice of prime rib. Overall, it was a disappointing dish.
On the plus side, the dish was served hot. Like hot, hot, unlike most dishes at Disney restaurants that are served lukewarm. The potatoes were almost too hot to eat and soaked up the peppercorn sauce. The broccollini (so luxurious) retained a nice crunch and were also prepared well.
Lisa ordered the Mint Crusted Lamb Chops with Honey Mint Glaze, Dijon Mustard Sauce, and Sweet Potato Polenta – $24.99. Lamb chops tend to be fatty and these were no exception, but each bone had a few bites of meat. I’m not sure these would satisfy a big appetite, but it was plenty of food for her. The lamb was tender and flavorful without being too salty. The accompanying mint didn’t have a tremendous amount of flavor, but coupled with the dijon mustard sauce, brought out the natural flavor of the lamb. I’m not sure I would have been as pleased with four or five bites of meat, but I also didn’t order it.
The Sweet Potato Polenta was delicious. It was further sweetened with what tasted like cinnamon and brown sugar. The unadvertised broccolini (still luxurious) was a nice addition, adding color and a “real” vegetable. Lisa thoroughly enjoyed her meal and the portion size was “just right.”
I’m not sure I’d go out of my way to visit Turf Club & Grill again. If you’re staying at Saratoga Springs and want a fancier meal than the quick service arm next door, it would be a decent choice if you don’t want to take the time to travel elsewhere. The ambiance is pleasant, particularly if you’ve spent a lot of time in bright, loud Disney restaurants and buffets. But the level of service and quality of food are not on par with a signature restaurant like Artist’s Point at Wilderness Lodge or California Grill at Contemporary, just to name a few. While this is not a signature restaurant, you only have to add a few dollars to the prices of the entrees before you get into the price range of some of the less expensive options at a restaurant like Jiko or Citricos. Like most resort restaurants, it tends to be busier when the weather is bad. I think people “end up here” rather than plan a meal far in advance. If the weather is decent, the restaurant is often half full at best. We just happened to visit on a rainy evening. Service started well, though the server was a little chatty for my tastes. But once it got busy towards the end of the meal, it took far too long for him to clear our plates and deliver the check. It’s a minor quibble, but expect service to suffer a bit if the weather is bad and the restaurant is busy. They’re really not set up for it.
We tried to leave. Honest. But it was so rainy! So we turned back and headed to that hole in the wall bar. I mentioned that Turf Club offered some interesting cocktails in the restaurant and they’re all available here too. But we thought it was peculiar that the specialty drink menu was nowhere to be found at the bar. You’d have to look at the menu down the hall or know what you wanted to order.
On the left is a “Three Minutes to Post Time” – Bacardi Black Razz Rum, Blue Curacao, Beefeater Gin, Skyy Vodka, Sprite, and a splash of Orange Juice – $8.75. It had a little too much Blue Curacao for Lisa’s distinguished tastes. Despite advertising six ingredients, it tasted mostly of Bacardi and Curacao. My Saratoga Cocktail was better – Maker’s Mark Bourbon, E & J Brandy, and Sweet Vermouth – $9.75. Mixed with decent proportions, it was what you would expect considering the ingredients. A standard Manhattan might be better.
It looked like it was still raining. We went back to the standard resort lounge cocktail menu with the Magical Star Cocktail – X-Fusion Organic Mango and Passion Fruit liqueur, Parrot Bay Coconut rum, pineapple juice and a souvenir glow cube. Very magical. The liqueur is actually X-Rated Fusion Liqueur, a French vodka blended with blood oranges, mangos, and passion fruit. At 17% ABV, it’s less than half as boozy as your typical vodka. This is a fruity cocktail perfect for someone that doesn’t necessarily want to “taste the alcohol.” In other words, it’s a waste of this website’s time, but someone you know might like one.
Working my way down the resort cocktail list from manliest to least manly, I continued with the Scottish Raspberry Lemon Drop – Hendrick’s gin, muddled raspberries, fresh lemon juice, and agave nectar topped with wildberry foam. I don’t drink gin by choice anymore. In college, I basically drank nothing but Potter’s Gin for four years. I don’t know if you’re familiar with the Potter’s brand of alcohol, but it is not exactly an ummmmmmm ultra premium liquor. But when you drink something that disgusting, nobody asks for a taste twice. It may be the reason I don’t really have any working taste buds (though you can still totes trust my dining reviews). Anyway, this one tasted strongly of Hendrick’s Gin, which is actually a pretty decent brand. The additional ingredients tempered the pine flavor a bit, but you probably aren’t ordering one of these suckers if you don’t like gin. So good news gin lovers – this one is as boozy as the Rye Manhattan. Which is to say, “very” boozy.
It was still raining, but my appetite for ten dollar cocktails that didn’t arrive in buckets had waned. This is the resort’s main quick service, Artist’s Palette. You’ll first order your food on the right. You then pay for your food across the way at the registers that also serve the gift shop next door. Then you’re given a number and your food will be delivered to you at your table.
Disney is doing a better job of keeping up with resort quick service menus online. They used to offer nothing, which opened up an opportunity for the various apps and websites to offer menus you couldn’t get anywhere else. But you can check out the menu for Artist Palette here. But like most-things-Disney-website, it’s kind of bad in that it lists “literally” every possible item that could be offered on a given day. The resorts tend to have a daily special, like meatloaf or roast turkey. On the Disney website, it lists all of the potential specials. But the Disney site will give you a good idea about what you can expect from your resort’s quick service. Or any quick service, restaurant, or bar on property.
The menu is a seemingly nice collection of salads, sandwiches, and flatbreads. The Beef on “Weck” is particularly authentic. I really enjoyed the Lobster Club Sandwich on a previous visit.
Generic “crisped rice treats.”
Fruit and sports drinks.
The usual selection of resort bottles: http://www.easywdw.com/reports9/bottles.jpg.
Cheese and such: http://www.easywdw.com/reports9/andsuch.jpg.
Moet & Chandon Imperial is a borderline reasonable $42.95. Sure, Sam’s Club has it for $34.95, but this is the same company that charges $3.19 for two cents worth of soda. The Star Tree Brut is less expensive at $16.95 ($12.95 at Total Wine).
And a six-pack of Budweiser is $22.
Literally the best thing I’ve ever seen in my life.
Annie M. I don’t know where you are. But you’ve won life and I just wanted you to know that.
Saratoga Springs has a very small gift shop attached to the quick service.
Like the other Deluxe resorts we’ve seen, Saratoga Springs has a new logo on the resort merchandise that is “less Disney” than its predecessor.
This is the old logo, featuring Mickey riding a horse. Here the other current items:
The beach ball was a reasonable $4.95 if you wanted to bring home something with the resort’s name for $3 less than a keychain.
In this case, I personally prefer the old logo, which is just darling.
I was hoping to get some outdoor nighttime shots, but that wasn’t possible in the wet weather. More pictures are available here.
It will be interesting to see if Saratoga Springs becomes more desirable once the expanded Disney Springs opens. As it stands, they almost give rooms away to the British. They can book free dining for the entirety of 2014 (minus Easter), plus they receive a $100 gift card, and then on top of that, they get an extra 35% off at Saratoga Springs or Old Key West. And they can get a 14-day ticket for the price of a 7-day ticket. So that’s why you see so many British people around.
One thing to note is that the walkway from Saratoga Springs to the Marketplace is closed at the moment. The walkway on the other side of the resort to the West Side remains open, in addition to the boat and bus service.
So that’s a bit about what’s going on at Saratoga Springs at the moment. Turf Club was fine, but I’m not in any hurry to go back. On a nice, cool evening, it would be a fun location to grab a couple appetizers and a couple of their signature cocktails. But in the $25 – $30 range for entrees, you can probably do better elsewhere.