The Smokehouse returns in the same location against the brick wall on the far right side of the United States Pavilion.
The Pulled Pig Slider arrives without last year’s fried onions and the Smoked Pork Ribs now make note of the black beans in the roasted corn salad. “Select Dishes featuring Badia Spices” is vague. The Zen of Zin Old Vine wine is new as is the Spicy DIPA. We’ve seen the Orange Blossom Pilsner elsewhere though it’s new to this Kitchen and the Shipyard and Lemonade both return as well.
$6.50 Pulled Pig Slider
With Coleslaw. While it may not be apparent from the picture, this year’s Slider is considerably smaller than the last few years, when I remarked that it was “nearly the size of Disney’s standard pulled pork sandwich and the quality is considerably higher.” The quality is still there, but this is not the meal sized sandwich that it would have been two or three years ago. It’s still a very “safe” dish that might be a good choice for someone with limited tastes, but I think these Festivals are more about trying new things. It’s here though.
$6.75 Smoked Pork Ribs
With Black Bean and Corn Salad. I’m not sure that there’s a tremendous amount of value here and while the ribs might look thick and meaty, what we were served was virtually all bone with just a couple bites of dry, fatty pork on either end. I think you get more meat with the Pig Slider and the corn underneath has a strange flavor – creamy and somehow tasting largely like the red onion in macaroni salad.
$6.25 Beef Brisket Burnt Ends Hash
Served with White Cheddar Fondue and Pickled Jalapeños. This is a returning favorite piled high with flavorful brisket on top of a bed of potatoes, jalapenos, peppers, and other goodies with a creamy, cheesy sauce spooned on top. Most of the items I’m happy to share. This is not one of those items.
$3.75 Warm Chocolate Cake
Served with Bourbon-Salted Caramel Sauce and Spiced Pecans. The cake is an ooey gooey affair with a fluffy, light base that is not unlike the exceptional 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.
$5.25 Zen of Old Zin
Available for around $10/bottle at the grocery store, the $5.25 price here is not a particularly good value for this spicy zinfandel with some juicy berry notes on the front end backed up by chocolate and plum. It does pair well with the barbecue even if I’d rather see $3.50 next to the name of the wine.
$9.50 Beer Flight
With Orange Blossom Pilsner, 3 Daughters Phantasmas Spicy DIPA, and Shipyard Maple Bacon Stout. This is a decent beer flight for those looking to try some different flavors. I’m apparently a bigger Orange Blossom Pilsner fan than most, though either the quality of the product has come down since I moved here or the novelty has worn off. The flavor is mildly sweet orange blossom honey up front with a slightly tart, clean finish. It tastes great as temperatures heat up and is a good alternative for the crowd that would otherwise be mulling their options between a Budweiser or Miller Lite.
I’m not sure if the Phantasmas Spicy DIPA is a pleasant drinking experience – it tastes like a milder, more drinkable version of the Twisted Pine Billy’s Chilies that was available here a couple of years ago. It’s fine in the 4-ounce size, particularly paired with the barbecue, but there aren’t a lot of hops or carbonation and it tastes like somebody squeezed some jalapeno juice into a Coors Light. Not that it’s available anyway, but I wouldn’t order this in a size any larger than the 4- or 6-ounce cup – fine in the flight, but few people are going to be interested in 22 ounces.
The Shipyard has a nice subtle sweetness from the maple combined with the smokiness of the bacon that combines for a relatively complex experience. It’s arguably the best of the three and should be enjoyable separately or as part of the flight.
Since the beers are 70.8 cents per ounce as individual 6-ounce samples or 79.2 cents per ounce as part of the flight of three 4-ounce options, you could go either way with it. It would be slightly cheaper on a per-ounce basis to order three of the larger sizes to make a larger flight.
$11.75 Frozen Lemonade
With Firefly Blackberry Moonshine or without for $3.25. I would have campaigned for a tarter lemonade – this is just artificial-tasting, super-sweet frozen Minute Maid lemonade water with a half ounce of moonshine poured underneath. I think the Watermelon version back at Florida Fresh is considerably more interesting and you might consider hanging around there to order a second before moseying towards Hanami in Japan and then up here. But on an alcohol-for-the-money basis, this is going to approach par for the course.
Add the expansive, relatively comfortable picnic table seating and you have a pleasant stop here when coupled with a few tasty, albeit straightforward, barbecue items. The beer flight is decent enough and the wine is a smart buy if you don’t mind the fact that it’s overpriced.