6/24/19 Update: Added two new appetizers, four new entrees, and four new desserts to the review.
We begin our reevaluation of the table service options at Magic Kingdom with a look at Liberty Tree Tavern’s lunch and dinner options.
Liberty Tree’s menu continues to evolve. Back in January, 2019, we saw the number of a la carte appetizers rise from three to seven and the entree count almost double, going from five to nine. It’s been six months since the last round of changes, which means it’s time for Disney to to take a look at the menu and make some adjustments based on what’s working and what isn’t. On the appetizer front, we lose the Smoked Pastrami Hash, Martha’s Mushrooms, and Traditional Boston Brown Bread, all of which had been new additions to the menu that arrived in January 2k19. Now in June, Lobster Fritters and Tavern Fries join the list of appetizers. On the entree front, we add just one in the Portobello Pot Roast with the other main dishes all surviving the cut.
We’ll get right into it with the $13 “Traveler’s Loaded Tavern Fries – Crisp Fries, Beer-Cheese Sauce, House-smoked Pastrami, and Pickled Red Onion.”
These are Liberty Tree Tavern’s normal steak fries gussied up with a variety of toppings. Considering the portion size for the money, I think they’re an easy skip. The Beer Cheese Soup is appropriately thick and creamy, adding a comforting richness to the dish with the Pastrami adding a briny, meaty chew. The Pickled Red Onions are crispy, adding a nice piquant quality that helps cut the richness of the cheese. But the fry portion is just about equal to what you’d receive as a side alongside the Cheeseburger, Bell Burger, Lobster Roll, or Fish & Chips. Adding the same fries as an appetizer is then probably superfluous. On the other hand, if you’re ordering other entrees that don’t include fries, and would like something to nibble on before the main courses arrive, then the Tavern Fries would certainly fit the bill. Over at Beaches & Cream, you have the option to add similar toppings to the side of fries that come with the various entrees for $2. It would be nice to see a similar option here. These would be fabulous alongside a burger or sandwich. As a $13 appetizer, I’m probably headed in a different direction.
Next up, we’ve got the $14 “Lobster Fritters – Fried Lobster and Sweet Corn Fritters with Grilled Lemon Aïoli.”
Your money buys you eight sizable, dense Fritters that are stuffed with a lot more cornmeal than lobster. I think these would have worked better as straight Hushpuppies, forgetting the Lobster altogether. The crustacean played almost no part here, other than to add a bit of an ocean-y saltwater flavor that I’m not sure was appreciated. They were also incredibly dry and dense on their own, though the Grilled Lemon Aïoli added a creamy zest to each bite and the few slices of pepper added a spicy zip in a couple of places. I’d be surprised if these last past the next menu update, which should come in December.
If Fried Lobster is what you’re after, head over to Paddlefish for these Lobster Corn Dogs with a Sweet Chili Aioli. The batter is light and crispy with lobster that will melt in your mouth.
The $9 “New England Clam Chowder – Oyster Crackers and Green Onions” is a menu mainstay. Rich, creamy, and comforting, the soup is a great no-fuss start to a meal.
Erin’s favorite appetizer is the “Tavern Cheese Dip – Blend of Four Cheeses with Griddled Boston Brown Bread.”
The bread tastes richly of molasses with a distinct rye quality, sweet and crispy on the outside with a nice chew once you approach the center of each piece.
It’s paired with a delicious, salty Cheese Dip that does a great job of cutting some of the sweetness from the bread, while at the same time adding a cheesy element. I think you’d be smart to share this among two or three people as it’s incredibly rich and quite filling. I wanted to eat more, but had to hold off considering what’s on deck.
You’ll find a relatively robust wine list at Liberty Tree, which seems to expand with each passing update:
My only recommendation is the Fairy Tale Cuvée, which is exclusive to the resort. Similar bottles retail for about $40, making the $75 price approach fair. Almost all of the other bottles are marked up 200- to 300-percent.
You’ll also find three draft beers, four bottled beers, a cider, five “specialty cocktails,” and a mimosa available. The smart money is probably on one of those draft beers with the 6.8% New England IPA packing the biggest punch with less bitterness than you might expect. It’s also a good opportunity to reconnect with the smooth Boston Lager.
Here’s how one of those frosty glasses of Boston Lagers looks in the heart of the Magic Kingdom at lunchtime. While it might look like I already drank half of the $11 “Mimosa – Featuring Iron Horse ‘Fairy Tale Celebration Cuvee’ with Orange Juice,” I actually tried to order one “easy on the orange juice.” Typically, this results in a larger pour of sparkling wine. But this is still Walt Disney World, so I ended up with half a glass of wine with what was still more orange juice than I would have liked. Considering a glass of the Cuvee is $17, it makes some sense that the Mimosa would arrive with about half as much wine.
For seatings from 3:15pm on, the $38/adult and $21/child Bill of Fare, as described below, is the only option:
The Patriot’s Platter/Bill of Fare is also available during lunch as described for the same money. I was initially excited about seeing the Pilgrim’s Feast Carved Turkey Breast back on the menu, but at $24 by itself, decided that the All-You-Care-to-Enjoy meal might be a better value, since just the Turkey and a Diet Coke would run almost $29. $9 more buys you the Declaration Salad to start, along with the Pot Roast and Oven Roast Pork mains and the Macaroni and Cheese side. Most importantly, it includes the Ooey Gooey Toffee Cake, which may be my favorite dessert at Walt Disney World.
If you’re familiar with Liberty Tree Tavern’s Bill of Fare, then you’d know that the inclusion of the Toffee Cake is a long time coming. For years, the restaurant insisted on trying to push something else in its place. Typically, that dessert had something to do with Craisins™. If you asked your server about a substitution, they’d tell you that they could check, but it might incur an extra charge. With the January 2019 menu update, the Platter arrived with a trio of desserts, which included the Ooey Gooey Toffee Cake. Luckily, Disney isn’t even messing with that noise anymore and it’s now as much of the Ooey Gooey Toffee Cake as you want.
Since the Platter is the only dinner option and may be your choice for lunch as well, I’ll cover it first before delving into the a la carte lunch options. The Patriot’s Platter starts with bread, but we enjoyed the Tavern Cheese Dip so much that I’d recommend ordering one anyway. But if you’d prefer to save the money and tummy space, then these should do the trick. We didn’t find them particularly flavorful and the butter was on the bland and boring side.
Alongside the bread comes the “Declaration Salad – Tossed Mixed Greens with House-made Dressing.” It’s surprisingly light on the lettuce and very heavy on the “stuff,” which includes big slices of cucumber, red onion, tomatoes, carrots, and more tossed in a light, slightly-sweet vinaigrette with a honey shallot flavor. Be prepared to chew on this one, but it’s a decent way to get going and its crisp freshness may be just what you need before the heavier meats arrive.
The “Patriot’s Platter – Roasted Turkey Breast, Pot Roast, and Oven-roasted Pork with Mashed Potatoes, Seasonal Vegetables, Herb Stuffing, and House-made Macaroni and Cheese” has been on the menu for years, though the preparations and presentations have changed considerably during that time. Above is the current plating.
We may be a little too artsy with the turkey, where it looks like only a small portion of the middle is in focus. The meat is not this blurry in real life, though it is just about as dry as it looks.
Fortunately, it’s served with a large boat of smooth, rich gravy with plenty of salt, pepper, and butter.
The Pot Roast is my personal favorite, meaty and tender and smothered in a delicious sauce with mushroom and cabernet wine notes. The tangy, tart Cranberry Sauce is also served by default. It’s a nice, lighter alternative to the gravy.
The Oven Roast Pork remains the weak link. It looks the part on the plate with a nice spice rub, but I don’t think it could be any dryer if you were actively trying to squeeze juice out of it. It’s a bit perplexing considering how many of these Platters go out each and every day. There has to be a better marinade or some sort of brine situation that would improve things. Not even the Gravy or Cranberry can save it, which is probably fine since you can order as much Pot Roast or Turkey as you like.
The Stuffing is pretty good, soft and chewy with the appropriate herb-y flavor and the slick Green Beans enjoyed a nice buttery, peppery quality that made them nearly irresistible.
The small cup of Macaroni & Cheese “feels” a little unnecessary, particularly considering that it “literally” tastes like the cheese is reconstituted from a powder. Erin would tell you that like pizza, even bad Mac & Cheese is pretty good and that might be the case here, but with so much other good stuff going on, I don’t think anybody is going to be after more.
Overall, the Patriot’s Platter is a nice plate of food with enough variety that you should find plenty of tasty stuff to fill you up. The serving is so enormous that you might not need seconds of anything, but they’ll bring you as much Pot Roast, Stuffing, etc. as you could possibly want.
Here’s the current plating of the $24 “Tavern Keeper’s Favorite – Pot Roast, Mashed Potatoes, and Garden Vegetables.” The beef is tender, juicy, and flavorful to the point where it holds up nicely on the fork, but almost melts in the mouth. The gravy is silky and smooth, adding complexity to the meat and adding even more flavor.
The Green Beans are the same as what’s served with the Patriot’s Platter. Lots of butter. Lots of salt.
The Mashed Potatoes are delicious too, creamy with just a little bit of fluff, buttery and smooth. It ends up being quite a bit of food and would be the direction that I would go if I wasn’t interested in the other elements of the Patriot’s Platter.
Here’s your $22 “Turkey Pot Pie – Tender Roast Turkey, Carrots, Potatoes, Peas, and Puffed Pastry.” It’s probably more food than it looks with three large pieces of puff pastry wading on top of a whole lot of Roast Turkey and Vegetables. It’s more Liberty Tree comfort food that should leave you plenty satisfied. Of note is that this is more of a “deconstructed pot pie” without your typical crust surrounding the filling. Anyone that’s ordered a similar dish at 50’s Prime Time should recognize the idea.
Here’s the previous version of the $24 “Lobster Roll – Creamy Lobster Salad and Lemon-Caper Aïoli.” I was “warned” that it was going to be on the creamy side when I ordered it, but I thought it was pretty light on the promised Aïoli, to the point where I didn’t even really taste it. At the time, I said that “the Fried Clams are a little strange in this context, but they help add some crunch to each bite along with a little more of an ocean vibe.” It looks like the onions are no longer involved, which is probably the right choice.
I would like to see this served on a long roll rather than a hamburger bun, but the bread was nice and buttery and did an admirable job of keeping all of the Lobster and Clams together. It’s also probably not nearly as burned as it appears in the picture.
I like the thick cut, crispy fries served here with a zesty, Old-Bay-esque spice.
I thought the sandwich was worth the $8 premium over what’s served at Columbia Harbour House. There’s a ton of lobster involved.
Considering the $24 price point, the “Portobello Pot Roast – Hearty Mushrooms, Roasted Root Vegetables, and Brown Gravy” is a disgrace. There’s very little to it – just some small slices of mushrooms, carrots, celery, and some other root vegetables in a thin brown gravy on top of some boring mashed potatoes. At $15, it might be reasonable, but the food cost here must be close to $2.50, if that.
Fortunately, vegetarians do have a great option here with the $21 “Revolutionary Meatloaf – Plant-based Meatloaf, Mashed Potatoes, Roasted Root Vegetables, and Mushroom Gravy.” The Meatloaf uses Impossible Burgers, which are about $12 per pound in the store, when you can find them. The “meat” is thick and hearty and largely assumes the delicious, earthy flavors of the Mushroom Gravy which arrives with big chunks of higher quality mushrooms than we saw in the last dish. The Roasted Root Vegetables were great too, tender but maintaining a solid body. Everything on the plate is vegan, which was surprising considering I would have sworn there was some butter going on with the Mashed Potatoes. That’s probably a good thing, considering there isn’t.
Overall, this is a great vegan option. I think you’ll be impressed.
The $25 “Bell Burger – Applewood-smoked Bacon, Cheddar, Poached Egg, Lettuce, and Lobster” is a serious sandwich with a serious price tag.
You’ll come away with about four ounces of Lobster, which I’m not sure necessarily belongs on a hamburger, though we’re probably getting some New England vibes here. Fortunately(?), most of the lobster will spill out the sides as you try to eat it. I think they should have used the same Lobster Salad as what comes with the Lobster Roll – it would have stuck to the bun better with the mayonnaise adding yet another condiment to the situation. The Poached Egg adds a creamy, rich element, while the bacon is cut thick and crispy. You’ve also got a juicy slice of tomato and a big crispy piece of lettuce, in addition to a slice of Vermont Cheddar. It’s a big, messy, satisfying extravaganza that I would recommend over the cheaper entry, which is five dollars less and arrives with “just” bacon, lettuce, tomato, pickle, and cheddar cheese. I would say that it’s big enough to share, but doing so would be a bit of a project. You might end up eating it with a fork.
The Tavern Fries are above average for Walt Disney World, thick and crispy with a lot of potato inside.
Here’s a look at the $24 “Pilgrim’s Feast – Carved Turkey Breast with Mashed Potatoes, Green Beans, Cranberry Sauce, Herb Stuffing, and Turkey Gravy,” which includes a number of items that we’ve already seen. If you’re in the mood for turkey, without the other items found in the Patriot’s Platter, then it’s a smart buy.
The $18 Colony Salad – Grilled Chicken, Washington Apples, Sweet Pecans, Applewood-smoked Cheddar, Dried Cranberries, and Honey-Shallot Vinaigrette” is a tasty, refreshing option. The fruity flavors from the apples, sweet pecans, and dried cranberries are only enhanced by the deliciously sweet, slightly acidic salad dressing. Most quick service salads are in the $11-$13 range, so you are paying about 50% more here, but the quality is going to be a lot higher.
The $19 “Tavern Battered Fish and Chips – House-made Tartar Sauce and Tavern Fries” is one of the best dining values at Magic Kingdom. It’s a huge portion of crispy fried fish served alongside delicious Tartar Sauce and a pile of Fries. The portion is so large that you could share it and still come away with more food per person than if you ordered two $13 Fried Fishes from Columbia Harbour House.
On the appetizer front, the Tavern Cheese Dip with Brown Bread and Clam Chowder are my favorites. For entrees, you could save some money by sharing a Pilgrim’s Feast and Tavern Keeper’s Favorite, which would bring you the two best parts of the Patriot’s Platter for a combined $48. Add two sodas and an Ooey Gooey Toffee Cake and you’d be at $65, or $11 less than the Bill of Fare for two people. You could also add the Tavern Cheese Dip instead of coming away with the basic bread and salad that arrive alongside the Patriot’s Platter. If you’re after a sandwich, those are above average as well. With basic fast food hamburgers approaching $14 each, the $6 upcharge at a sit down restaurant for a superior product seems reasonable. For another five bucks, you can add a considerable amount of lobster along with a poached egg. The Fish & Chips are a huge portion and there’s a great vegan option with the Meatloaf.
Liberty Tree Tavern is a very homey, comfortable restaurant that’s sometimes a little on the loud side and often a little later than most to seat you.
In my experience, we typically wait between 15 and 30 minutes after checking in, so you’ll want to plan for a little cushion if you’re planning on eating here in the afternoon. My guess is that earlier reservations do better – the restaurant opens at 11am.
The most recent menu change brings with it three new desserts. You are not interested in any of them. The only dessert that you want is the $8 “Ooey Gooey Toffee Cake- Vanilla Cake with a Gooey Toffee Filling, Caramel Sauce, and Vanilla Ice Cream.” The cake underneath enjoys a really nice crispiness with a smooth buttery texture inside with some hints of vanilla and sweet cream cheese. The gooey toffee filling is so sweet and so addictive with the vanilla ice cream on top doing a nice job of cooling everything down and the chocolate chips and Heath bar crumbles adding some crunch. It’s a really outstanding dessert that may well be my favorite on property, though I love that Peanut Butter Freeze at Flying Fish.
“Just to make sure,” we ordered the other desserts anyway, first with the best of the bunch in the $8 “Blueberry Citrus Fritters – Fried Blueberry Fritters with Citrus Glaze.” Your money buys you six fritters, each incredibly dense and cake-y with a zesty citrus tartness that you might not be expecting given the sugary glaze. They did enjoy a fresh, sweet blueberry flavor, but I would have liked something a little lighter. It’s not an unreasonable portion for the money.
The $8 “Cherry-Almond Tart – House-made Almond Tart Shell filled with Cream Cheese and Cherry Compote” is certainly on the small side. That’s a regulation size spoon sitting next to it. The frangipane game is strong here with a sweet, nutty crust giving way to the tart cherries and sweet cream cheese glaze. Still, this looks more like a $6 Epcot Festival dessert than a table service finale. If it were twice as big and arrived with a scoop of ice cream, we would probably be in business, though.
Next up, we have the $8 “Boston Cream Whoopie Pie – Vanilla Whoopie Pie dipped in Chocolate and filled with Pastry Cream,” which will probably offend both fans of the Whoopie Pie and those from Boston, perhaps at the same time. Again, the dessert is incredibly small with a similar spoon barely hidden behind the thing. Ours didn’t taste fresh with two bland, spongy cake halves sandwiched around a thin layer of generically-sweet cream.
The Ooey Gooey Toffee Cake is what you want.
Overall, Liberty Tree Tavern is a solid lunch stop, offering an assortment of comfort food favorites for about 50% more money than a quick service meal. I think the quality justifies the higher prices for the most part and with a day at Magic Kingdom typically being filled with so much hurry up and wait, it’s nice to relax in a cozy restaurant atmosphere.
We’ll move on to some other options.