We completed a recent visit with some great photos – and full stomachs! – as we updated ourselves on the four most recent restaurants to arrive in this vastly enhanced district of fine shopping, entertainment – and food. Taking them in random order, we think all four provide a great contrast to the existing choices, as well as having that ‘something different’ factor in many instances. See what you think…
1. STK Orlando:
This smart, three-storey edifice insists it is “not your traditional steakhouse,” and they are spot on. Instead of reserved, formal and rather dull (at least visually), STK is bright, casual and distinctly lively, with a different décor vibe in each of three dining rooms, including an upstairs lounge/bar that features a live DJ in the evening and an outdoor patio with views over the Springs.
The lighting is eye-catching and dramatic – almost monochromatic at times – and the food lives up to the ambience, with superb salads, seafood and steaks, including a 32oz Porterhouse Steak for $92. Yes, it’s not cheap, but you can try it for lunch (the Mahi Mahi sandwich is excellent at $18), or even just for a drink. And, at night, STK really does sparkle under the Disney stars.
2. Blaze Pizza:
Taking the more budget-minded option, this is still another imaginative choice, especially for those who like to assemble their own pizza, and who like it fast; like really, really fast. Because Blaze promise to get your pizza cooked in around 180 seconds in their fast-fired process. First, you choose your ingredients from an assembly-line of wonderfully fresh-looking food, and then it’s off to the open-flame oven and, Voila!
In keeping with Disney Springs’ turn-of-the-century Florida styling, Blaze is designed like an 1850s sawmill, with contemporary chic. It is notable for a lot of timber framing and a cafeteria-style dining room where the tables and chairs resemble logs entering a sawmill. The best bit? You can get a really tasty, piping hot pizza for just $8.45, and their beer and wine choice isn’t too shabby, either.
3. Homecoming Kitchen & Shine Bar:
OK, so the name is a bit of a mouthful, but so is the food, and it’s seriously good. The brainchild of Floridian celebrity chef Art Smith, this is an exercise in traditional Southern cuisine with a little twist or two, giving things like fried chicken, catfish and barbecued pork something of the gourmet touch. You can graze, go for a full dinner, or just drop in for a cocktail (the ‘Shine’ part of the name refers to the bar and their array of Moonshines).
We adore the eclectic nature of the menu, which allows you to go for a huge plate of Art’s Fabulous Fried Chicken, a burger, or just an array of tempting appetisers, including the signature Jasper Board, a selection of pimento cheese, smoked sausage, ham, bread, butter pickles and candied pecans. A real Floridian treat. Oh, and the desserts are pure temptation, but beware the Shine Cake – it’s butter cake soaked in moonshine. For adults only!
4. Frontera Cocina:
Completing the most recent line-up of Springs newcomers, this exercise in a “contemporary Mexican experience” is another chef-driven vehicle as it is the brainchild of Rick Bayless, a James Beard Foundation Award-winner. It offers a genuine taste of Mexico without the overt excesses of the Tex-Mex style of restaurant. Or, as Bayless says himself: “If you’re looking for a burrito as big as your head, this probably isn’t for you.”
Dishes all have the smack of authenticity while not looking to frighten off anyone unfamiliar with Mexican cuisine, and the staff are well versed in walking you through the menu. Even better – the cocktails are equally sophisticated and imaginative, like the Blood Orange Jalapeno Margarita. Deliciousness in a glass. Or, if you’re just looking for something quick and simple, there is even a quick-service taco counter. Job. Done.
If you have questions about Disney Springs, Walt Disney World or anything else about Florida’s amazing theme parks, be sure to go online and ask Susan and Simon on the ATD forums.
If you'd like to experience the incredible food for yourself, click here to view our Walt Disney World tickets and start planning your holiday.
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