Thanks to those of you who have been patient (or at least not publicly bugged me about) with the lack of updates over the last few weeks as working on my upcoming guide book has more or less consumed my life. We should have a Hollywood Studios (Characterpalooza, FP+ Kiosks, Walls) update and a Magic Kingdom (Be Our Guest Dinner Review, Crowds, Walls) update over the next few days, in addition to this Epcot update. I’ll try to breeze through the Animal Kingdom cheat sheet some morning next week too. Things should be back to normal shortly and we will again tackle FastPass+ with the upcoming changes to off-site booking.
Spice Road Table on the Moroccan waterfront opened back in December. It’s a bit of an odd choice for a location as Restaurant Marrakesh, despite being quite good, is one of the least popular Epcot table service restaurants and one of the easiest reservations to snag last minute. Its location, windowless and buried in back of the Pavilion, doesn’t help. Spice Road is much more visible, but has proven to be entirely unpopular with just a handful of tables occupied at any given time.
Disney and its Moroccan overlords intelligently bill the location as a dining choice for “Mediterranean Small Plates.” After all, the usual Disney World vacationer sticks their nose up at Tangierine Cafe’s excellent shawarma in favor of old hamburgers up at Liberty Inn.
Spice Road offers outdoor patio seating as well as comfortable indoor seating overlooking the water.
The view from the window tables inside is spectacular.
IllumiNations viewing is not exactly ideal, but it would certainly do for a repeat viewing. The various islands and trees get in the way.
Spice Road recently added a picture book of the various options for guests unsure of what some of the foods might look like.
MAGICal members will undoubtedly appreciate the throwback to themed napkins.
Morocco does not mix a particularly strong drink, but they are reliably sweet and fruity. The Mythos, Aris, Amber, and Almaza beers are rare, to the point where I couldn’t find them at any local stores. The Efes (in particular) and Casa are a bit easier. None are particularly outstanding, but you’re not going to see Aris on a lot of menus back home. Unless you live in Greece or something. There is a bar area just inside the restaurant that will fix you a drink or serve you a beer to go along with some standing-room-only tables if you want to stick around for a minute.
The most popular items are the $16 samplers, which include about a half-of-the-full-size-portion of three items.
I started with a particularly unmanly Mediterranean Journey – Cointreau, Peach Vodka, Orange Juice topped with Grenadine – $9.99. No trace of alcohol whatsoever, for better or worse, but it was appropriately fruity. Don’t order one of these expecting to get your buzz on.
Lisa ordered the Spice Road Aperitif Flight – Alvear Cream Sherry, Ruby Port, Lillet – $14.99. With two ounces of each, this seemed like a reasonable value.
It includes a handy guide.
And the Spice Red Wine Flight – Amazigh Red, Angora, Ksara Reserve – $12.99 with 3-oz pours of each.
I’m happy to report that each tasted like wine.
With tax and tip, this is $98 worth. Spice Road is not currently on the Dining Plan and doesn’t accept any discounts. Our server told us they would accept Tables in the future, but were still somehow in “soft open.” Spice Road is also walk-up only and like Tutto Gusto in Italy, does not accept reservations. On the bottom is the Tingis Sampler – Lamb Slider, Harissa Chicken Roll, Merguez Sausage – $16.
The Lamb Slider was our favorite out of everything we tried – nicely seasoned lamb with a cool tzatziki on a fresh, soft bun. Lisa would order the full size version of this on a return visit, which comes with two for $9.
The kalamata olive accompaniment.
The Moroccan Merguez Sausage – North African Lamb Sausage served with Tomato, Red Onion and Cilantro Salad was surprisingly spicy and not particularly attractive to the camera lens. The tomato helped cut the richness of the sausage. The four bites of this one was enough, but I don’t necessarily mean that negatively.
Similar to what’s reliably served during the Food and Wine Festival, the Harissa Chicken Roll with Harissa Ketchup is reminiscent of those southwestern egg rolls available in the freezer section of Costco. That said, it does taste good and the harissa ketchup pairing gives it a bit of zip. I would not commit to the $9 plate, but it’s a nice component of the sampler.
I’m far less enthusiastic about the $12 Mix Grill Skewer – Beef and Chicken with Garlic and Fresh Herbs. This is a fairly recent addition to the menu, replacing the full size Salted Cod Croquettes and undoubtedly an attempt to bring in the sizable “where is the meat tho” crowd.
Think three bites of shoe leather.
The chicken was dry and flavorless. The dipping sauce didn’t have much flavor either.
The full size Fried Calamari with spicy Harissa & Rémoulade Sauces – $12. We thoroughly enjoyed these and it’s a sizable portion for the money. The batter was crispy and the calamari underneath were tender.
The spicy harissa dipping sauce added some zip and the remoulade was nice and cool. Two great accompaniments that don’t look particularly appetizing. This whole review is basically f1.4 gone wrong.
Service was excellent. Reviews of Spice Road are mixed, but we enjoyed ourselves. The location on the water is extremely pleasant and with potentially few people around, there’s some sense of intimacy.
That would likely be eliminated with guests seated in the booths staring at you. Otherwise, this is a nice spot for a relaxing drink and a snack or two. It wouldn’t be my choice for a full meal, but at 3pm in June when it’s raining and 90 degrees out, this is going to be a great place to sneak into without a reservation. I was more impressed than I expected.
While we’re here we’ll return to Restaurant Marrakesh. Or I guess rewind back to February 14th, 2014 for the meal.
I met Lisa just over a year ago now and in order to try to get a date with her, put out a request for a dinner date hoping she would be the one to respond yes:
Fortunately my evil plan worked and we have been together ever since.
Since Marrakesh was our first date, I thought it would be tres cute to return to the same restaurant for Valentine’s Day. This turned out to be a cuter idea than the actual implementation.
In an effort to be less annoying than usual, I went camera-less and forced Lisa to take pix with her phone LOL. This is the Sahara Splash – Vodka, Cranberry Juice, Midori, Splash of Soda – $8.99. Again, fruity with no alcohol flavor.
We started with the Beef Brewat Rolls – Baked layers of thin pastry stuffed with season minced Beef, Eggs, fried and sprinkled with Cinnamon and Powdered Sugar – $7.95. These are reliably excellent and fairly unique with the subtle spicy sweetness from the cinnamon bringing out the flavor from the beef.
And the Goat Cheese with Crispy Bread for Two – Mixture of Cheese and Kalamata Olives served with Tabouleh, Red Pepper Sauce, and Balsamic Vinegar Reduction – $13.95. This was excellent with far too much cheese, which is rare. We’re talking several ounces of goat cheese. A great appetizer that would be nice over at Spice Road.
I ordered the Couscous with Chicken – The National Moroccan dish – Steamed Tiny Semolina Pasta with Steamed Vegetables – $26.95 at dinner or $17.95 for lunch. My recommendation is always to go to the restaurants with a dedicated lunch menu for lunch and save the restaurants with one menu all day for dinner. The restaurants that have one menu all day are:
- Coral Reef (though there is a less expensive Caesar Salad with Chicken available at lunch)
- Via Napoli
- Tokyo Dining (though they offer a less expensive three-course option for lunch)
- Teppan Edo
- Le Cellier
While a bit messy with the bones and skin, it’s a ton of food with tender, juicy chicken over a simple couscous and a few vegetables.
At $29, the Sangria Royale is quite a bit of wine – easily six or seven large glasses full. It pairs nicely with most of the dishes.
Back to the front of the park for a blurry pic of Spaceship Earth as it winds around at 2:28pm on Sunday the 23rd with a 20-minute wait. This is a smart use of an afternoon FastPass+ or the line is nonexistent nearly every day after 7pm.
It’s been a while since we’ve discussed the scam that is photography. This is straight out of a $3000 camera with a $900 Sigma 35mm f1.4 lens.
Or overly edited in Lightroom.
This Festival’s sand sculpture advertises Disneynature BEARS.
Perhaps the most under-appreciated section of World Showcase – the Canada gardens.
The website ran a review of basically every single Food and Garden Festival item a couple of weeks ago here (with a link back to part 1 at the top), but I returned for some better pix of a few items.
This is the Pork and Apple Sausage – $4 from The Cottage in the UK. It’s quite a bit better than it looks though the cold sauce on the hot sausage is a little strange.
The $3.25 Lemon Scones remain excellent.
Epcot was fairly crackin, though nowhere near as bad as the past few days.
Still, nobody at the Morocco booth.
Lisa gave the sparkling sake a try from the Japan Sake Bar. It’s served chilled out of these precious little pink bottles. The carbonation helps ease the flavor of the sake – quite good.
It’s always better tilted.
Fife and Drum Tavern in the U.S. Pavilion offers only Bud Light, Sam Adams Seasonal, and Yuengling. Inside Liberty Inn, you can get a 20oz Liberty Anchor Ale or Sweetwater IPA on draft for $7.25. Both are excellent.
Straight out of the camera.
At $11, the Italian Primavera – Assorted Fruit Slushie, Limoncello, and Vodka from the Italy Flower/Garden Festival is absurdly expensive, but it’s also extremely refreshing and does pack a bit of a punch.
Also $11, the Strawberry Rosini is even less of a bargain, but at least it’s all wine.
Disney still struggles with water as the falls in Norway are once again behind walls and tarps.
Maelstrom waits remain significantly longer with the addition of FastPass+. It’s 6:07pm with a posted 35 minute wait with the line back to Akershus. Visit before noon or after 8pm.
With FastPass+ we walked right on.
All the talk about a Frozen overlay here was amusing though it would be awfully funny if this was Oaken welcoming you with, “Yooo hoooo welcome to Norvay yeah? Big summer blowout!”
Beginning April 20th, Anna and Elsa will begin appearing at Magic Kingdom inside Princess Fairytale Hall instead of here at Epcot. Doubling the capacity and adding FastPass+ will be a welcome change for those that ran here and waited three hours to meet them over the past few months.
The last three times I’ve been to La Cava in Mexico, they’ve served me a $14.50 margarita out of a jug full of pre-mixed cocktails. The guy in the back is mixing a new batch of the Classic margarita in with the remnants of two other jugs.
I mentioned this on the joy that is Twitter.
After someone tweeted at La Cava, they responded that they haven’t changed anything. I’m not an expert but I’m pretty sure I’ve received a freshly shaken margarita in the past. While it’s true that they most likely can’t keep up with demand preparing every drink fresh, it’s also true that they charge prices like they do. Who knows what bottom barrel tequila is going in those things these days as they’re prepared in back.
Then no response. I guess they assumed I didn’t have a picture of them pouring the drink from the jug with the name written on it.
La Cava is nearly universally praised by the various bloggers and guide book authors because they give out free shots to anyone willing to accept one in exchange for a favorable review. While this website has never been offered or accepted anything for free, I have historically recommended La Cava because their drinks were freshly prepared and perfectly balanced. That was worth an extra $5 over the other various mixed drinks in World Showcase.
Unfortunately, the website is revoking that recommendation.
They expect a tip for pouring your drink from the jug, so your pomegranate margarita comes to $17.75 with tax and 15% gratuity. Pretty redonk. If you happen to be in the area, I recommend looking up Agave Azul near Universal where a giant pitcher of boozy margaritas is $25 and the food is excellent.
That’s an afternoon at Epcot.