The Flower and Garden Festival continues through May 31st at Epcot this year, bringing with it topiaries, interactive exhibits, educational seminars, merchandise, butterflies, and of course, a lot of food and drink options available throughout World Showcase. The website has reviewed over one hundred different items, virtually all of which were purchased from the individual Outdoor Kitchens this year, in order to give you an idea about what to expect.
You can pull up the individual reviews, including pictures of the menus and all of the items available, in the following individual posts. They’re organized in the order that you’d walk past them beginning on the walk into Mexico. If you’re heading in the opposite direction, towards Canada first, start from #15 and work your way back:
- La Isla Fresca
- The Berry Basket
- Jardin de Fiestas
- Lotus House
- Primavera Kitchen
- The Smokehouse
- Taste of Marrakesh
- Florida Fresh
- Fleur de Lys
- Cider House
- Northern Bloom
- Honey Bee-stro
- Pineapple Promenade
If you’re only interested in reading one review, make it Primavera Kitchen, with a smorgasbord of virtually inedible items and overpriced wines. You know what I always say: “When it’s good, it’s good. When it’s bad, it’s better.”
The Website’s Favorite Items
For now, we’ll focus on some favorites. As always, tastes differ and there’s no guarantee that something won’t change during the Festival’s run. Consider the following one (very important) data point in your Festival research.
Berry Buckle – The Berry Basket – $4.50
Perfectly marrying sweet and spicy and hot and cold, this delicious dessert is a fruity masterpiece with a hint of a peppery bite. Great value, too.
Twinings Green Tea Berry Mint Julep – The Berry Basket – $8.75
Served in a fancy little cup, this refreshing cocktail adds natural mint flavor along with a punch of fresh blackberries to the blended, icy base that’s served with a healthy pour of Jim Beam. Two, please.
Tiger Lily Sangria – Jardin de Fiestas – $10.92
If this was March Madness, the bright pink drink you see in the front would come in as a 16th seed, but it’s worth noting for the relatively low price and the relatively large portion. If you’re looking for a tasty, sweet drink that won’t cause you to steal a golf cart at Fort Wilderness and then drive it into the lake before passing out, this is a good bet. Very easy to sip and enjoy.
BaiJoe Punch – Lotus House – $12
For something a little more interesting, try the BaiJoe from China with its pleasant coconut, pineapple, and lychee flavors Another easy sipper that will catch up to you a lot faster than the sangria if you’re not careful. I’ll see you in that lake.
Toasted Pretzel Bread topped with Black Forest Ham and Melted Gruyère Cheese -Bauernmarkt(sp) – $5
The jury may still be out on this one as I saw several reports from people that visited in subsequent days that there wasn’t nearly as much cheese involved and the exterior was extremely salty. But what we were served was so good with so much delicious cheese melted inside and on top of the plump pretzel roll that’s stuffed with a ton of meaty ham. We may have to start Pretzel Watch 2k18 and report daily on the status of the Toasted Pretzel Bread.
Warm Cheese Strudel with Mixed Berries – Bauernmarkt – $4.25
The Strudel is much more of a sure thing with its buttery, flaky crust and creamy, sweet interior topped with a delicious fruity compote. Incredibly comforting and a good price.
Just imagine if the $12 Lobster Ravioli were good. That would be $12 less we could spend on beer.
Warm Chocolate Cake with Bourbon-Salted Caramel Sauce and Spiced Pecans – The Smokehouse – $4
The Burnt Ends Hash is a big disappointment this year, but this warm ooey-gooey cake is as chocolaty and delicious as ever. The spiced pecans help balance the best caramel sauce I’ve ever tried. So good.
Pineapple Momo Sake Cocktail – Hanami – $6.50
Hanami’s pineapple drink sneaks in on price – $6.50 is a decent amount of money to pay for a refreshing cocktail that balances the tropical flavors of the juice and the mineral flavor of the sake well. Don’t expect it to pack a punch, though.
Teriyaki Salmon with Furikake Seasoned Brown Rice – Hanami – $6.75
Pair the drink with the salmon and its delicious teriyaki glaze and the subtle flavors of the furikake in the rice. Not particularly novel, but very good.
Walnut Honey Baklava – Taste of Marrakesh – $4
A fresh take on Morocco’s usual Baklava, this is the best that the nutty dessert has tasted in years with a subtle walnut flavor effortlessly sweetened up with natural honey and then topped with cinnamon and powdered sugar.
Tarte à la Tomate Provençale: Provencal Tomato Tart with Sautéed Onions, Fresh Thyme and Rosemary on a Flaky Pastry Crust – Fleur de Lys – $5.50
The only thing keeping this from being one of the strongest contenders on this list is the edges of the crust, which become hard and brittle as the Tart waits to be served. But the rest of it is delicious with so much sweet onion flavor bursting with fresh tomato and herbs on top of the thin, crispy, buttery crust. A steal at $5.50.
Seared Scallops with French Green Beans, Butter Potatoes, Brown Butter Vinaigrette and Apple-wood Smoked Bacon – Northern Bloom – $6.50
Epcot Festivals almost always bring delicious scallops and this is one of the best presentations of any with the potatoes and green beans making this into a delicious little meal. See the full review for more tasting notes, but definitely add this to your short list.
Maple Popcorn Shake with Crown Royal Maple Whisky – Northern Bloom – $11.75
Impossibly creamy and ice cold with a delicious sweet maple quality backed up with brown sugar and caramel. So yummy.
Local Wildflower Honey-Mascarpone Cheesecake with Orange Blossom Honey Ice Cream garnished with Fennel Pollen Meringue Kisses – Honey Bee-stro – $4.75
This exact dessert was available for $11 at Le Cellier this past fall and it finished in the top ten of “Orlando’s Signature Dish Competition,” which should be all you need to know. See the full review for tasting notes. It’s as close to a “must have” as you’ll find at the Festival. Sublime.
Frozen Desert Violet Lemonade – Pineapple Promenade – $4.25
I would be remiss not to include this sugar bomb of flowery bliss. Very icy, very sweet, very purple, try to find something spicy to go with it and watch as your Instagram follower count rises from three to four.
Spicy Hot Dog with Pineapple Chutney and Plantain Chips – Pineapple Promenade – $7.50
This hot dog from the same Outdoor Kitchen would be a good pairing. I considered leaving it off because it’s not as uppity as I’m accustomed to recommending, but the contrasting flavors of the spicy hot dog with the sweet pineapple chutney and the spicy mayo work really well together. The bun is nice and soft too, which lets the snap of the sausage ring even more loudly.
That’s six savory items, five desserts, and six drinks to get you started. Others are quite good too and the individual pictures and reviews should help you hone in on items that fit your particular sensibilities.
With this out of the way, we can enjoy the rest of the Festival and see what else is going on around Walt Disney World.