We visit the beautiful Morocco Pavilion to make another visit to poor, poor Spice Road Table.
You probably know Spice Road as the perennially desolate, least popular table service option at Epcot. And maybe, the world.
My initial review was largely favorable, though I noted that the above is $98 worth, which is rough considering the relatively small portion sizes. But with no entrees on the original menu, putting together a full meal would cost you a pretty penny. That tray on the bottom right was $16 on its own.
Here’s the current small plates menu:
Only four of the original items are still present and the sampler platters are long gone.
One of those returning items is the $13 “Fried Calamari – With spicy Harissa & Capers aoili sauces.” With a crispy batter and tender calamari, this isn’t going to reinvent the wheel, but the spicy harissa sauce and creamy, cool aioli liven things up a bit and anyone prone to order something like this at an Italian restaurant should enjoy Spice Road’s entry.
Another holdover from yesteryear is the Hummus & Imported Olives, which we’ll take a look at shortly, in addition to the Rice Stuffed Grape Leaves and Moroccan Lamb Sausage.
When Spice Road opened, it wasn’t on the Disney Dining Plan and didn’t offer a Tables in Wonderland discount, which probably hurt business out of the gate. Now, it accepts both, along with offering this list of entrees:
Spice Road is probably suffering from a bit of an identity crisis. When it comes down to it, most theme park visitors are not really looking to expand their culinary horizons in any meaningful way. For most vacationers, Epcot is a fun opportunity to mix it up with some sushi, tacos, lasagna, pizza, bratwurst, and what have you, but the idea of “Fresh Fish Croquettes with Caper Aioli and Black Olive Tapenade” or “Spanish Red Peppers stuffed with Tuna and Sherry Wine Vinaigrette” is not going to pull in a lot of people off the promenade when more familiar fare is available all around.
And while it seems like Spice Road has added enough mainstream ingredients to attract the meat and potatoes crowd, I think the restaurant suffers from a similar fate as Skipper Canteen over at Magic Kingdom. That is, there are still enough “weird” words on the menu to turn a lot of people off, even if this is the same New York Strip Steak that Disney serves at 30 other on-site restaurants. No exaggeration.
One of Spice Road’s undeniable assets is its picturesque location right on the water, with Spaceship Earth standing tall in the distance across the Lagoon. This is the straight-on view from where I’m sitting in a booth.
It’s an incredibly pleasant, relaxing, air-conditioned space, particularly in the middle of a hot summer day.
And said indoor seating may be why it “feels” like there aren’t a lot of people eating here at any given time. In August, they’re only going to seat you outside if you request it. And during cooler months or around IllumiNations time, the covered, outdoor seating may be preferable.
Not to mention, how many other locations have their own printed napkins these days? It’s like being transported back to 1982. I feel like I’m basically riding Horizons here.
Spice Road offers takeaway bar service for drinks, with a few high-top tables inside. It’s a colorful, moody, albeit small, space. Here’s the menu:
Unless you really like sweet cocktails or paying $8 for a bottle of what amounts to the Budweiser of ________, you’re probably better off looking elsewhere.
Since it was in the middle of the day during the heart of the summer, I went with the frozen option in the $13 “Marbella Summer Torres – Brandy, Grand Gala Liqueur, Strawberry Purée.” It was very sweet, very cold, and very refreshing, with a nice, easily drinkable consistency and the presence of some real strawberries, but there was no alcohol to speak of whatsoever. And at 13 bucks for a tall, skinny glass, it’s a poor value proposition.
The $13 “Mediterranean Journey – Cointreau, Peach Vodka, and Orange Juice topped with Grenadine” isn’t going to take you much further and is going to be a lot more syrupy.
These drinks are also up $3 each since opening.
Smarter perhaps is a wine flight, with the opportunity to try three different wines for $15. Smartest is a bottle of the Laurent Perrier, which is a steal at $65 compared to the $40 retail price. The Tattinger [sic] is around $45 at the store, versus the $80 price here. You might remember that I paid $115 at Monsieur Paul, in this review.
The Red Wine Flight.
Since “Mediterranean Small Plates” is what Spice Road advertises on its signage, we decided to try a couple of different options.
This is the $11 “Brie Fondue – Baked Brie with Rosemary Croutons,” here topped with honeycomb and shaved almonds. Served warm, the cheese has a soft, creamy, comforting quality to it with its saltiness contrasting really nicely against the sugar in the honey. The “croutons” are somewhere between bread and crackers, each with a careful dollop of olive oil placed in the corner and a bit of an herb-y quality on their own. They aren’t great enough in number given the size of the cheese wheel, but they’ll happily provide extra. We’re far from being outside-the-box with this dish, a similar version of which my mom puts in the oven every Christmas Eve, but it’s a very shareable, very tasty appetizer. Not bad at all for $11.
The $8 “Tri-color Tomatoes Salad with Feta Cheese, Kalamata Olive, and Pesto Lemon Oil” is a very pretty, very vibrant bowl of stuff with thick chunks of feta mixed in with the red onion, olive, and a couple different kinds of tomato. I was surprised by how fresh everything tasted with the pesto adding a zesty zip along with some hints of garlic. Another very shareable, passable, fresh-tasting appetizer.
Here we have the $12 “Hummus and Imported Olives with Cornichons and Zaatar Pita Bread.”
One bummer about the Morocco Pavilion is that they don’t make their own pita. And not only that, but if you look behind the counter at Tangierine Cafe, you’ll see bags and bags of store-bought bread stacked high.
Worse, our pita was incredibly stale with the oregano, thyme, cumin, and other earthy spices unable to do much given the dense chewiness of the bread. I also missed some of the tang that some sumac would have provided. They’ll have something fresher available, but it seems like a shame to have to ask for it. You may have much better success.
On the plus side, both hummus varieties were flavorful and plentiful, served alongside tangy olives and perhaps just a piece or two of cornichon. Lots of garlic, lemon, and olive oil with a smooth, creamy texture.
Again, this isn’t reinventing the wheel for anyone that’s picked up a container of Sabra from the grocery store, but it’s another very shareable appetizer with bright, tasty flavor.
Interested in what an entree portion looked like and in the mood for some MEAT, we tried the $30 “Mix Grill Skewers – Marinated Beef and Chicken with French Green Beans, Toasted Almonds, and Rosemary Potatoes.”
I wasn’t nearly as impressed with this – the steak was overcooked, tough, and under-seasoned. And there wasn’t a whole lot of it – maybe five bites of what is probably just a cheap sirloin. The chicken in the chili sauce had a crumbly texture, though the sauce had a nice, nuanced, spicy quality to it. The rosemary potatoes were actually really good – crisp and meaty with an addicting blend of spices. The green beans were just okay – salty and overcooked. For a full $30, I think you could do a lot better elsewhere.
I had a similar experience with the $12 small plate version during my first visit. An easy skip.
For dessert, we ordered the $8 “Assorted Baklava.”
In lieu of a banana, I fished the cherry out of my cocktail in an attempt to illustrate the small size of the sweet pastries. Each was packed full of chopped nuts with a subtle sweetness from the honey that holds each layer of filo together. I think I’d skip dessert here and search something more interesting out elsewhere, but if you are enjoying yourself and want to stay a bit later while snacking on something sweet, you could do a lot worse.
Overall, Spice Road is a good choice for anyone looking to do a little snacking and a little relaxing in World Showcase. The fact that it’s rarely busy is not necessarily an indictment on the quality of the experience. I think you’ll do best sharing a couple of the small plates along with one of the better values on the sparkling wine list, rather than committing to entrees, mixed drinks, and dessert. But service here is quite friendly and the atmosphere is cool and relaxed. Service is conspicuously fast. All of our food arrived in under ten minutes. But I would still happily return to try a couple other small plates just about any time.
The Children’s Menu offers some interesting options as well with their choice of Beef Slider or Chicken Kebab. The “Best View of IllumiNations” note at the bottom is probably not true – the picture is not from the current show and I’m not sure it would physically be possible to see the globe from that angle from within the seating section. But if you’re looking for a more casual viewing experience and enjoy the music, then Spice Road is probably just fine. There’s always the Frozen Ever After Dessert Party.
Tangierine Cafe is the popular quick service outlet in Morocco.
For whatever reason, the “Specialty Wraps” come in and out of “stock” depending on the time of year. You may see the entire section replaced with an $18 Saffron Chicken.
This time around I went with the $13 “Moroccan Kefta Wrap – Seasoned Ground Beef, Grilled and served with fresh salsa and Fries.”
After trying kefta five or six times around the Morocco Pavilion over the years, I’ve never received anything that I wouldn’t describe as overcooked, dried out hockey pucks, and this entry is no different.
Pinterest DIY is very in these days and this meal is a bit of that too as you’ll need to fill your store-bought pita slices with the various ingredients yourself. The crunchy lettuce, mild tomato salsa, olive tapenade, and harissa sauce do what they can to freshen everything up, but the dullness of the beef is too much to overcome. You could do worse, but this is basically a Disney fast food hamburger at its worst.
You do not want Morocco’s french fries. Or if you somehow end up with some, grab a lot of salt packets. They are bland, limp, and lack any real potato flavor.
While I wasn’t crazy about the Kefta, everything else on the menu is typically very good. If I was trying to show the eatery off rather than try the one thing on the menu that I hadn’t previously gotten a good look at, then I would probably be singing Tangierine’s praises instead. Don’t let the Kefta deter you from a stop – just reconsider ordering it.
Spice Road Table is likely to exceed what are probably low expectations. If you’re still not convinced, stay in Morocco and try the shawarma from Tangierine Cafe.
We may return to Disney Springs or make a stop at Boma or Hoop-Dee-Doo next.