Edit: Whoops, I tried to edit this post before publishing it while in line for Turtle Talk with Crush this morning but it didn’t go through. I did not mean to say “filet of feef.” There should only be 10-12 typos now.
The website has visited Liberty Tree Tavern at Magic Kingdom for lunch on a number of occasions over the years, usually with the same conclusion.
From this past May:
Look for a big “easy Guide” update in the middle of next month – a couple of days after Rivers of Light debuts.
But as of “literally” yesterday, none of this is true anymore as Disney has eliminated the majority of the a la carte options, instead pushing the same “Patriot’s Platter” that the restaurant serves for dinner later in the day.
There are still a few a la carte appetizers, entrees, and desserts.
This is a lousy picture of the $21 ($23 with shrimp) Freedom Pasta with Grilled Chicken – Pasta, Artichokes, Mushrooms, and Tomatoes tossed in a Roasted Red Pepper Cream Sauce. It’s a truly massive portion of very creamy, very heavy pasta served alongside a huge chicken breast. It’s best shared, which is exactly what the second couple that sat next to us ended up doing. The server brought two smaller bowls, both topped with a sizable piece of blackened chicken, so there was no awkward spooning-of-the-pasta at the table. I say second because the first couple that sat next to us actually walked out of the restaurant before ordering anything because they were so unhappy with the menu (or sitting next to us and the lack of pot roast was a lucky cover story). The Patriot’s Platter was “too much food.” Anyway, there is no shame in sharing the pasta and the cost would come out to less than $12/person, which is less than many quick service entrees these days.
The $18 Colony Salad – Seared Salmon, Washington Apples, Sweet Pecans, Applewood-smoked Cheddar, Dried Cranberries tossed with Field Greens in a Honey-Shallot Vinaigrette with chicken on top, which you can substitute for the salmon if you so choose. 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. You could feasibly split one of these and a Freedom Pasta and have a nice salad/pasta combo for about $20/person.
The $16 Angus Chuck Cheeseburger topped with Bacon, Cheddar Cheese, Tomato, and Lettuce served with fresh Fruit or Tavern Fries is also a bit better than quick service for around the same money. Remember that the nearby Pecos Bill Taco Burger is $15.99 and Cosmic Ray’s current version with pork and bacon is $14.99. Liberty Tree’s is more straightforward, but it should be a meatier patty that is prepared closer to your specifications should you wish for it to be on the stove for under five hours.
But most people will undoubtedly be drawn to what was once exclusive to dinner in the “All-You-Care-To-Enjoy Bill of Fare” featuring the “Patriot’s Platter:”
The Bill of Fare is also a departure from what used to be served as recently as two days ago:
Ignoring nostalgia, the new menu potentially reads like an upgrade: prime rib is “better” than pot roast and carved pork roast is “better” than ham and house-made macaroni & cheese is “better” than the frozen Stouffer’s that they had served for years.
And if you were in the market for an entree/dessert/beverage anyway, the Bill of Fare is not much more expensive.
The no-longer-available Pilgrims’ Feast – Traditional Roast Turkey served with Herb Bread Stuffing, Mashed Potatoes, and a Garden Vegetable would have set you back $19 earlier this month. Add $3 for a fountain beverage and $8 for an Ooey Gooey Toffee Cake and you’re at $30, which is just $3 shy of the all-you-care-to-enjoy meal with a lot more options, including the ability to add a complimentary coffee or cappuccino at the end of the meal, which would tip the scales further towards the fixed price meal.
And while the $20 Tavern Keeper’s Favorite – Braised Beef in a Cabernet Wine and Mushroom Sauce served with Mashed Potatoes and Garden Vegetables is no longer on the adult menu, our server confided in us that it is still on the Kids Picks’ menu and is theoretically available – though I am not sure how much luck you would have in ordering it as a standalone entree versus substituting it for the “prime rib” with the Bill of Fare/Patriot’s Platter.
Said Kids’ Meals:
$19 on the All-You-Care-To-Enjoy front seems hefty, but these entrees remain somewhat reasonable.
- “Seven orders of the Kids’ New England Pot Roast, please.”
- “Sir, you don’t have any children in your party.”
- “They’re on their way. It’s fine.”
And now on to what is currently available. Your meal begins with rolls that are probably supposed to be a little fresher, a little more flaky, and a little more buttery than what we were served. The edges had that stale crunchiness that means it’s time to speed up the consumption of the Thanksgiving leftovers. It’s almost impossible to go wrong with “honey butter,” and this was “okay,” but it lacked that tangy sweetness that demands a second helping, even when you “know you shouldn’t.”
One thing about the current 3-course meal is that it takes longer than your typical 1-course meal that some number of tables would have ordered prior to the menu change. And Disney accepts reservations 180+ days in advance based on how quickly they think they can turn over tables. And it’s not like six months ago anybody knew that Disney was going to move to a menu, so the number of reservations they’ve already accepted is going to be higher than the number of tables they can reasonable serve. So with meals taking longer now, the restaurant was easily running 20+ minutes late for lunch and service once we were seated was slow as servers struggled to keep up with their tables.
For my meal in May, we were seated at 11:40am with an 11:45am reservation. The entrees arrived fewer than 15 minutes later. And we were on our way fewer than 45 minutes after that, for a total experience time just north of an hour. For this meal, we arrived at 1:15pm with a 1:25pm reservation. We were not on our way until 3:30pm for a total experience time that exceeded two hours from the time of the reservation. For Liberty Tree Tavern.
Keep that in mind if you’re waffling between keeping a lunch reservation. Reservations earlier in the afternoon should be less affected.
The Tossed Mixed Greens with House-made Dressing arrived looking rather slimy with lettuce that had obviously been drenched in the honey-shallot vinaigrette for far too long.
I do like the salad dressing, but what we were served was not fresh and the lettuce was soft after sitting in the salad dressing for so long. There isn’t a whole lot to it otherwise – greens and a couple slices of tomato, red onion, and carrot.
The star of the show and most of what you’re paying for should be the meat portion, which is “Roasted Turkey Breast, Sliced Prime Rib, and Carved Pork Roast.”
The good news for Pilgrims’ Feast fans is that the turkey should be largely or exactly the same as what used to be served with the individual entree. Any dryness is quickly masked by the gravy and side of cranberry and the quality is otherwise similar to a frozen Butterball turkey breast from the store – Thanksgiving on a plate with the accompaniments.
Disney tends to oversell its beef these days and that trend continues with what they are describing as “Prime Rib.” Also known as a standing rib roast, prime rib is named such due to being cut from the primal rib, rather than requiring the USDA designation of “prime beef.”
But I don’t think this dark, tough, overcooked, fatty meat resembles anything that you would normally consider to be “prime rib.”
This is the “Prime Rib” served at Turf Club at Saratoga Springs. While there wasn’t a lot of flavor involved, it certainly looks the part.
These Prime Rib Sliders from River Roost at Port Orleans Riverside more than play the part with their bright red color and soft texture.
But this? It’s roast beef. And lower quality than you could get away with serving inside of a sandwich, let alone as the featured dish in your $30+ meal. So my rage here is basically at what “feels” like false advertising. I don’t have a problem with “Carved off the bone roast beef” if that’s what you’re going to serve. But calling this “prime rib” seems like you’re setting people up for disappointment.
But it’s the same thing at Garden Grill at Epcot, which serves “Char-grilled Sliced Filet of Beef with Red Wine Demi-Glace.” “Filet of Beef” implies “Beef Tenderloin,” but this is anything but. More roast beef with an overbearing, too sweet barbecue sauce.
And I think we all remember the “American Kobe Beef Cheeseburger” at Yak & Yeti over at Animal Kingdom, which I reviewed here.
Anyway, the roast beef was okay with the addition of some of the salty jus, but I’m not sure anybody will prefer it over the pot roast.
The Carved Pork Roast is on the far left and is the most forgettable of the three meats.
If you’ve purchased and cooked up a Hormel Lemon Garlic Pork Loin from the store, you know exactly what we’re dealing with at Liberty Tree. And it actually wouldn’t surprise me if this is exactly what they’re serving – the pork has a very pronounced, overpowering lemon zest flavor with a lot of extra salt and moisture. I don’t have any qualms about picking one of these up in the store and sticking it in the oven when I’m not in the mood to sear some A5 wagyu, but it’s not the sort of thing I would expect to be served at a restaurant. It’s “just okay.”
Several of the accompaniments, like the roast turkey, continue to be tried and true. I like the Mashed Potatoes with the garlic, butter, and chives blending nicely with the freshly mashed potatoes that still have the occasional chunk of potato so you know you’re eating the real thing. A highlight. The Herb Stuffing is very good too with a nice blend of spices mixing well with the soft, chewy bread. Also good enough to fill up on in case you’re less than impressed with the Hormel Pork Loin.
The “Seasonal Vegetable” is a creamy green bean casserole that hit all of the usual points with the creaminess of the mushroom soup and softness of the beans contrasting nicely with the finely chopped fried onions on top. It would have been better served up hot and fresh and given some more time, they may figure out how to time the dishes a little better. There’s sour cream in the small bowl on the left and cranberry sauce/compote on the right.
Liberty Tree Tavern is well known for serving Stouffer’s Mac & Cheese and I think they went out of their way on the menu to note that it’s now “house-made.” And it’s quite good with large, thick, spiral noodles cooked to a perfect al dente and coated in a flavorful cheese sauce that is not dissimilar to the frozen version – just a little fresher tasting. I liked it a lot.
Being the first day of the new menu, service was predictably all over the place. When the entrees arrived and the salad cleared, the food runner took our original plates and gave Tom the empty bread plate to use as his new dinner plate. I was left without a plate for several minutes and never actually got a new one from our server. The gentleman at the table next to us offered me his in the meantime. Not all heroes wear capes.
Dessert is Johnny Appleseed’s Bread Pudding – Warm Bread Pudding served with an Apple Compote and topped with a Vanilla Crème Anglaise. Another highlight, this was served at the appropriate temperature with the vanilla crème poured over the dessert tableside. The base was soft and sweet with a fresh fruitiness from the apple that was further enhanced by the vanilla. The ice cream was perhaps a nice touch, but with the vanilla sauce on the bread pudding, I thought another flavor somewhere might have been a little more interesting. You might see if you can beg them to bring you the Ooey Gooey Toffee Cake instead. That thing is so good and the a la carte price is the same.
This is the lunch menu that would have been served as recently as October 25th, 2016:
While there may be some value in moving the Patriot’s Platter and the various accompaniments to the lunch menu for those that are on the Disney Dining Plan or otherwise like a variety of food and can eat big earlier in the day, I’m not sure that the website will ever advocate for fewer options that are almost always more expensive. By pushing guests to the $33 meal earlier in the day, Disney increases revenue per seat with less sharing and everyone basically paying the beverage + entree + dessert price per person. If you went in as a family of four last week and purchased two Pilgrims’ Feasts, a New England Pot Roast, and a Fish & Chips, plus four fountain drinks and an Ooey Gooey Toffee Cake, you’d spend $98. Now, you’re looking at 4 * $33 or $132.
But a couple less expensive items remain and the pasta in particular is very shareable. At $16, the burger is about the same price as you’d spend at a nearby quick service. At Pecos Bill, the Taco Burger, Churros, and Fountain Beverage would run you north of $24. And if you look at it that way, an extra nine dollars to dine at Liberty Tree Tavern might be worthwhile.
But the menu changes are potentially a bummer for those that return year after year for the Pot Roast or like the turkey but don’t have much use for the other stuff. It wouldn’t be so bad if the “Prime Rib” was an obvious improvement, but I’m not sure I can give it more of an endorsement than “edible.” Liberty Tree, as it stands, is coming off my list of “best lunch choices” though there are certainly scenarios where it makes sense.
At least we’ll be able to stop at California Grill brunch next.