Northern Bloom Review 2018 Epcot Flower and Garden Festival

Northern Bloom takes up residence in the cabin either just before arriving at the Canada Pavilion or just after passing through depending on which way you’re walking.

The Griddled Maple Pound Cake is the only new item on the menu, though the Maple Popcorn Shake comes with Crown Royal Maple Whisky  instead of the Tap 357 Maple Rye Whiskey that we saw last year.

If you’ve noticed a theme in these reviews, other than my unrelenting negativity, we ordered one of everything again this year.

Seared Scallops with French Green Beans, Butter Potatoes, Brown Butter Vinaigrette and Apple-wood Smoked Bacon – $6.50

This picture is a little misleading I think, as the scallops appear larger in the tray on the railing than they actually are in “real life.” But the two small scallops equal at least as much as one of Disney’s larger Festival scallops and this year, ours were prepared perfectly with a nice crispy sear giving way to a soft, fluffy, fork-tender interior. The vegetables were prepared well too and added considerable heft to the dish and the salty, meaty bacon contrasted really nicely with the earthy acidity of the vinaigrette, which is made by cooking unsalted butter until it’s brown and then pureeing it with what is likely mustard, shallots, and a sherry or cider vinegar. The vinaigrette also helps the bacon adhere much more easily to the scallop, adding an even more satisfying crispiness. It’s a well thought out dish with a nice variety of complex flavors – almost like a miniature meal.

Taste: 8/10

Value: 7/10

Beef Tenderloin Tips, Mushroom Bordelaise Sauce, Whipped Potatoes with Garden Vegetables – $6.75

I’m glad we picked up a fresh batch of the Tenderloin Tips because the presentation is much different.

Above is what it looked like last year.

You can barely even see the small amount of sauce in the bottom of the tray, which is too bad because the bland, overcooked, chewy beef sure could have used it. And with three small pieces making up about six bites, the portion doesn’t impress even if it was Food and Wine’s best Le Cellier Filet Mignon. Which this is not. The potatoes are fine – whipped up nicely with butter and enhanced by the onions. The carrots are fork tender, but retain a bit of their crunch despite rolling around in some butter. I preferred last year’s when the flavorful sauce stole the show.

Taste: 4/10

Value: 4/10

Griddled Maple Pound Cake with Warm Peach Compote and Sweet Corn Gelato – $4.50

This was a little out there – I thought the pound cake itself was overcooked with an almost-tough exterior layer and a too-dense interior. The maple flavor also tasted like everything else on the plate with the maple popcorn, cinnamon and sugar in the compote, and all of the sugar in the gelato. I think the Sweet Corn Gelato would have worked if everything else was a little less sweet and a little less heavy, but this didn’t do much for anybody. It’s an interesting item though and they may improve upon it over the coming days. At least in this instance, it’s a mercifully small portion, but I would try it again. As it stands:

Taste: 3/10

Value: 4/10

Maple Popcorn Shake with Crown Royal Maple Whisky – $11.75

Pictured are the alcoholic and non-alcoholic versions of the drink from last year – this year’s Crown Royal rendition appears in the first picture at the top of the review. I love both variations and they would be my choice for best non-alcoholic and alcoholic drink at the Festival, though both are as small as most of the others. The drink has a really pleasant, cold, creamy texture with distant flavors of sweet maple syrup and in the alcoholic version, rye malts from the whiskey. Definitely pick at least one of these up. It’s also unlike just about anything else you’ll find at Walt Disney World, perhaps with the exception of the Deconstructed Breakfast with Chai Tea and Cream Bourbon that you would find at the Arts Festival.

Unibroue Flight with Maudite Amber Ale, À Tout Le Monde Saison, and Éphémère White Ale – $11

The Éphémère, at 5.5%, is dominated by a sour green candy apple flavor that is arguably the worst of the bunch, but is still quite pleasant and drinkable in its own right. Dave Mustaine of Megadeth helps bring you the 4.5% A Tout Le Monde, which is based on a song for which the music video was banned by MTV over some confusion about the apparent meaning of some of the lyrics. Anyway, the 4.5% farmhouse ale offers some lemon, pepper, and floral notes along with apparent yeast and a hoppy finish. Very good. Maudite is an 8% ABV Belgian Ale with all of the usual characteristics executed to perfection. A very good beer and a very good flight at a very high price.

Overall, the Seared Scallops dish is one of my favorites and I’d add one of the Popcorn Shakes to the order. On quality, this is arguably the best beer flight at the Festival, though all three selections are more ubiquitous compared to a lot of the “local” options. The Tenderloin Tips didn’t impress this year, but there aren’t a lot of other better options. The cake is interesting, but perhaps trying to do too much in this setting. They may well get it figured out.

Most people want to consider a stop.

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