Crystal Palace – Buffet

Trip Report – April 29, 2009

The one must do restaurant for our family on each trip is Crystal Palace in Magic Kingdom.  This has become a tradition that on our first day in Magic Kingdom we have to have lunch or dinner here.  The kids love the Winnie the Pooh characters and even my 9-year-old joins in on the parade around the restaurant.   Generally it takes about one hour for Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore and Piglet to make it through the restaurant to your table.  So take your time, relax and enjoy your meal.  The kids will love the attention the characters give them and there will be plenty of picture-taking opportunities and autograph time.

On this day we went to the Crystal Palace for dinner.   There was a small children’s buffet with the usual macaroni and cheese, chicken fingers, green beans and pizza.  Adults can also eat from this buffet just as children can eat from the adult buffet.  If you have children with hearty appetites this is a great choice.

There is a cold buffet that has pre-made salads, make your own green salads and some fruits and fruit salads.  We always start with a salad (mine with the zinfandel dressing that I love) and the warm rolls with butter.

On our first pass through the hot buffet my first plate consisted of potato salad (top center), spoon cornbread (center),  fire roasted prime rib with beef demi glaze (bottom left),  garlic mashed potatoes (bottom left) and vegetable medley with aioli (top left).  The menu here changes quite frequently so the choices we had may not be available on other days.

Potato salad was oil and vinegar based not mayonnaise based which was delicious.  The red skinned potatoes were perfectly cooked and the onions crispy and not over powering the dish.   The fire roasted corn spoon bread and garlic mashed potatoes were my favorites of the day as they always are.  These are two of the dishes that I always look forward to when we eat at the Crystal Palace.    The spoon bread is surprisingly spicy and moist, this is not your usual cornbread.   The garlic mashed potatoes are creamy without being overly starchy and just a hint of garlic makes them perfection on a plate to me.

This was my daughter’s first plate.  What I love about buffets is everyone can eat whatever they choose.  She chose the Ancho Chile Rubbed Atlantic Salmon (bottom left), chicken fingers (top left), vegetable medley with aioli and fire roasted prime rib with beef demi glaze.  She let me taste her salmon before she cleaned her plate.  The salmon was some of the best I have tasted in quite while.  Very mild, not fishy tasting and with a nice light heat but not overly spicy.  I decided to get a taste for myself on my next plate.

One of the attractions of dinner for some are the peel and eat shrimp shown above top right with cocktail sauce on the left.   This was not something I tried as I am not a fan of cold shrimp but the rest of my party was happily eating  several of them on each of their plates.

Don’t forget to leave room for dessert.  There is an ice cream machine where you can make your own ice cream sundaes with vanilla, chocolate or twist ice cream,  chocolate syrup, sprinkles and sometimes cookie bits or if you are really adventurous try swirling some on the chocolate cookies for your own Chipwich.  My plate above was to share with our table.   The carrot cake that was filled with raisins (top left) and the white chocolate macadamia nut cookie (left) were the unanimous favorites at our table.  The chocolate cake and mousse though they looked like they would have a delicious chocolate flavor were rather disappointing.  The cake was rather dry and bland while the mousse was runny and not as firm as I would have liked.  It was more a pudding than a mousse.

Don’t forget to let them know if you are celebrating a birthday, anniversary or other event.  Our table was decorated with streamers and Mickey Mouse Confetti for our son’s 6th birthday.  He was given a card signed by all the Pooh characters and presented with a cupcake at the end of our meal.  The wait staff and all the tables around us sang and clapped for him.  This was the highlight of his day being the center of attention at his birthday dinner.

So, is this a 4 star gourmet meal?  No.  But it is a good, filling buffet with plenty of pleasant surprises and delicious choices.  One word of caution if you are looking for a nice quiet meal this is not the choice for you.  The rooms are large, glass encased and packed with children.  The noise bounces around the room and adds to the lively party atmosphere that seems to never end.

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