The Berry Basket returns for its second year, situating itself in between La Isla Fresca and Jardin de Fiestas on the walk towards Mexico.
Each of the food items return in name, though the Field Greens is served with “Crisp Quinoa” this year. “The Quinoa Bag” has a nice ring to it in case they want to rename the Kitchen next year.
We ordered one of everything anyway.
Lamb chop with Quinoa Salad and Blackberry Gastrique – $7.25
Epcot Festival lamb has long been a gamble as the quality of each piece runs the gamut from tender and flavorful to fatty and acidic. We lost the bet this time around as the long side was mostly fat, as was the short side and the top side – and it’s pretty tough fat at that. But the couple edible bites tasted great – much juicier than last year with the vinegar-forward gastrique adding an intense fruity flavor up front that follows with a pronounced tartness at the end of the bite. The earthy quinoa, mixed in with a variety of peppers, onions, and vegetables has a lot of flavor on its own and tastes great mixed in with the sauce. But it’s a little hard to manage with plastic cutlery and if you try to pick it up and take a bite, you’re probably going to be dealing with a couple layers of fat. It’s a good use of a Disney Dining Plan snack credit, but a little risky out-of-pocket. May the odds be ever in your favor.
Field Greens with Fresh Strawberries, Crisp Quinoa, Strawberry Vinaigrette and Spiced Pecans – $5
This “felt” more bland than last year, but it may have just been first day jitters. I rated last year’s salad a 9/10 on taste and value, but the flavors this year were far more muddled. Instead of large, crunchy, sweet pecans, we see what looks and tastes like a forgotten garnish sprinkled on top. There’s none of that satisfying nutty bite and the spicy flavors are absent. The cheese was bland and the strawberries seemed to be bred for color rather than flavor. The quinoa was more gummy than crispy. Overall, a disappointment.
Here’s last years – look at those blue cheese chunks and big pecan pieces. Hopefully this returns to form throughout the Festival, but based on what we were served, I give it a regrettable:
At least it’s still better than this monstrosity from two years ago. 2016 was such a bad year.
Warm Wild Berry Buckle with Pepper Berry Gelato – $4.50
This is my second favorite dessert at the Festival (to Bauernmarkt’s Warm Cheese Strudel.) The tender cake underneath is soft and buttery smooth and the berries on top are fresh and flavorful. The cold temperature of the sorbet contrasts really nicely with the pepper berries, which are sweet at the beginning of each bite before giving way to a lingering peppery aftertaste. At least if it weren’t for the sweet berries and crunchy topping. Move fast as the cold ice cream melts quickly on top of the warm cake and underneath the hot Florida sun.
JDub’s Brewing Company Blueberry IPA – $4.25
Fresh from Sarasota, Florida, this is a good opportunity to try the Blueberry IPA, a flowery, hop forward beer with a punch of blueberry extract at the front that lingers through each sip. It’s another good choice for the beer-curious and those that typically “don’t like beer,” but find themselves stealing a sip, may be surprised by how much they like the mellow carbonation and fruity flavors.
Twinings Green Tea Berry Mint Julep – $8.75
This was another above average frozen cocktail that was incredibly refreshing with a really nice natural mint flavor backed up by the fruitiness of the berries. The addition of a plump berry and mint sprig was a nice touch and there was a nice pour of bourbon underneath. It’s one of the rare cocktails that I would happily return to and one of the best cocktail values at the Festival. The cup is more fun than the thimbles we’ll be nursing at most other Kitchens.
Hopefully you’ll have more luck with the lamb and the salad than we did this year, but the Berry Buckle is delicious and the Mint Julep is a lot of fun. Consider a stop.