Magnolia Terrace replaces The Smokehouse, which we’ve seen here in The American Adventure pavilion during the last several Flower and Garden Festivals.
If you’re looking for barbecue, you’ll need to head to the Regal Eagle Smokehouse, which replaced Liberty Inn last month. Above is 19 bucks worth over there, with Memphis Dry-rub Pork Ribs, North Carolina Smoked Pork Butt, Sliced Texas Beef Brisket, Garlic Toast, and Baked Beans with Burnt Ends.
Back to Magnolia Terrace, we have a whopping five new food items, along with three beers, and the opportunity to order a flight of all three. As (almost) always, the individual pours are six ounces, while the flight arrives with three 4-ounce pours. That makes the flight about four cents more per ounce versus putting a larger flight together yourself by ordering the beers individually.
Southern Seafood Boil: Shrimp, Mussels, Crawfish, Potatoes, Corn and Andouille Sausage – $8
Everyone was impressed by the amount of stuff that arrived along with the piping hot broth. We’ve got three sizeble shrimp, two tender mussels, a large half of a red potato, an ear of corn, a couple slices of spicy sausage, a tiny lobster claw, and a craw daddy hiding underneath it all.
There are about 57 things that could go wrong here, from soggy potatoes and corn, to under-cooked/under-seasoned seafood, to overcooked/gummy shrimp, to bland sausage, to a sad portion size for the money, to just about anything in between. Despite the unfavorable odds, this is one of the best, most complete dishes that we’ve been served at a Festival in some time. Everything was seasoned well, fresh, and delicious. And all on the first day of the Festival, which is largely unheard of. I would return to the Seafood Boil, particularly on a cooler night, at any point during the Festival. Very impressive.
Grilled Oysters with Cajun Butter – $7.50
Oyster connoisseurs may not need to apply here, but I was impressed by the freshly-shucked, meaty Gulf of Mexico oysters that sit in just a touch of mildly spicy butter and a sprinkle of green onion. There is some amount of luck of the draw on the size of the oysters that you’ll receive. The one on the left is at least three times the meat of the one on the right, but you “literally” won’t know what’s inside until the cast member opens them up for you after you order them. You may want to save your money for The Boathouse, Paddlefish, or something of the like, where you’ll pay $12 for three of these, but in the Festival setting, I thought they were a nice add. It’s certainly not the sort of thing that we’ve seen before here and whoever is in charge of creating and executing the menu should be commended.
House-made Boudin Two Ways with Spicy Mustard – $5.50
You’ll receive three pieces of sausage-related products on the plate – two slices of sausage link and the crispy sausage rice ball. I liked the sausage ball more, with the crispiness of the fried coating giving way to a dense sphere of spicy sausage and rice. The tender slices of sausage link were nice and spicy too, particularly with a side of the mustard, which brought some vinegar and horseradish to the table. Personally, I would have liked three of the rice balls for the money, but this is a flavorful few bites of freshly-made food that pairs particularly well with the sweetness of the pecan desserts that we’re about to see.
Pecan Cake with Maple Whipped Cream and Syrup – $4.50
This might be the sweetest, richest dessert ever served at an Epcot Festival. The dense, ooey gooey base is basically butter and sugar mixed with pieces of pecan, which is then topped with a sauce heavy on caramelized sugar, more butter, and viscous maple syrup, before a heaping pile of sweet cream is placed on top. One bite is about as much as I could get through – not because it was bad, but because it was just that dense and sweet. It probably could have used a cream cheese frosting or more vanilla to help even things out a bit. I’d recommend adding a slice to share if you have several people in your group, or someone who really loves butter, pecans, and sugar to excess. I’d certainly have another bite at some point in the future, but it would be difficult to move through an entire slice.
I’m not sure how to rate this. The bite I had was delicious, but I didn’t want another. It ends up being a sizable portion for the money.
Pecan Praline – $4.25
The sizable Praline arrives in custom packaging for the Festival, which is a nice touch right off the bat.
Either nobody in our group had ever eaten a praline before, or my mom has also been making these wrong for the last 35 years, but the candy brought me right back to Thanksgiving in the Humphrey household. The sweet caramel and sugar flavors again overwhelm, with plenty of crunchy pecans encased in all of the butter and brown sugar. The texture is a little on the gritty side, but that’s pretty much what sugar is.
I’m not sure why they decided to double down on the praline, offering two incredibly sweet desserts that taste similar.
I would have preferred to see the Warm Chocolate Cake with Bourbon-Salted Caramel Sauce and Spiced Pecans return. Of that, I had this to say:
“The cake is as ooey-gooey as ever with a fluffy, light base that is not unlike the great toffee cake over at Liberty Tree Tavern, this time with a sweet caramel sauce tempered a bit by some hints of bourbon and spiced up with the nuts. The cake has a pronounced, but not heavy-handed, chocolate flavor. It’s a big slice for the money and would be a “must buy” if it were perhaps just a little more unique. It remains one of the better safe bets.”
I doubt we’ll see both of the pecan desserts return next year. I think I’d recommend the cake over the cookie, but you could nibble on the cookie throughout the day a lot easier than you could carry the cake around in your cargo shorts. Or at least that was my experience.
Beer Flight with Wild Heaven Beer Session Citrus Lager, The Duck-Rabbit Craft Brewery Amber Ale, and Parish Brewing Co. Ghost in the Machine Double IPA – $9.50
This is a strong flight, with three very different beers that don’t “feel” like they were picked merely because they feature a lot of sour fruit. The Ghost in the Machine in particular is a world class beer – citrus-y and aromatic with the perfect balance of hops and acidity with very little bitterness, despite the style and 8.5% ABV. I wish I could get one of those in the 22-ounce souvenir cups of the past. The Amber Ale is a fine middling beer with forgettable malty, caramel notes. It’s just fine though. The Citrus Lager is bright and drinkable with less orange and lemon than you might expect given the name. You might try the flight before doubling up on the Ghost in the Machine, or whichever beer you prefer. It’s fun to see all three together on draft.
Overall, it’s a strong showing from Magnolia Terrace, as I’m sure plenty of people are missing the Pulled Pig Slider, Brisket and Pork Belly Slider, Burnt Ends Hash, and other dishes that were what propelled the Regal Eagle concept forward. Organize a team if you’re going to attack one of the praline desserts, but everything else should be fresh and delicious. And if things were this good on day one, they should only get better.