Earlier this week, we broke down our favorite topiaries of Epcot’s 2021 Flower & Garden Festival. While I’m hoping that people had a good time with that one, it seemed like we should put up a festival post that was actually useful. With the festival lasting another few months (until July 5th), we went through the painstaking research of… eating lots of food! Having tried 15 different snacks from the Outdoor Kitchens and knowing my love of ranking things, it was time to go through all 15 in one post.
Like all of Epcot’s festivals, the World Showcase promenade and a few other areas are filled with booths known as Outdoor Kitchens. They all sell about three food items and a variety of alcoholic beverages for guests to try. Prices range from $5-$10 and guests will receive a small plate in return. For some plates, it’s a great value. For others, it is absolutely not.
While I personally tried 15, Melissa tasted a few others. I won’t include hers in my rankings because Lord knows this is a very serious matter and we have to follow the Ranking Rules™. I won’t put them in the official rankings but I will let you know what she thought about the ones I didn’t taste. The Avocado Toast from Epcot Sunshine Griddle was a favorite of hers, being light and fresh with great flavor. The Fried Cinnamon Roll Bites from the same location were one of the best sweets available at the festival. Less favorable, were the Grilled Maple Pound Cake (Northern Bloom) and the Grilled Street Corn on the Cob (Trowel & Trellis). The former was too sweet and the latter was far too heavy handed with the garlic spread on it.
One final word of warning before we get to my rankings. There are times when these small plates sit under the warmers for way too long and that plays a role in the opinion. Something I get fresh, others we’ll get it after it has sat for 30 minutes or vice versa. Hopefully, you’ll have good luck when it comes to getting things fresh but the experiences can really vary. Let’s get to the rankings from worst to first!
15. Caramelized Beignet – Fleur de Lys (France)
Boy, what a disappointment here. I love beignets. I love caramel. What can go wrong? A lot apparently. For one, this is a doughnut. It’s large and round and cream filled. Relative to all other beignets I’ve had in my life, this looked and tasted way more like a doughnut from the grocery store than anything else. The cream and the doughnut were extremely average and served cold. The caramel fleur de sel glaze is decent but hardens quickly and not enough to save an otherwise lackluster dessert.
14. Traditional Sicilian Cannoli – Primavera Kitchen (Italy)
This was another generic dessert. It’s not that this cannoli, filled with Sweet Ricotta, Chocolate and Candied Orange, was bad. It’s just that I felt like it could have been picked out of the bakery section in Safeway. There’s nothing wrong with grocery store bakeries but I was hoping for something more interesting. While it’s only $5, there are much better options.
13. Meyer Lemon-Poached Lobster Salad – The Citrus Blossom (Showcase Plaza)
Unlike the previous two, I thought this dish was more original and interesting. Unfortunately, I didn’t think the ingredients worked all that well together. A decent portion of Lobster is paired with Grapefruit-Rosé Vinaigrette, Yuzu-Marinated Hearts of Palm and Avocado-Yuzu Panna Cotta. The Vinaigrette and Panna Cotta did not pair well. The parts were better than the sum here.
12. Toasted Pretzel Bread – Bauernmarkt: Farmer’s Market (Germany)
The Pretzel Bread, which is topped with Black Forest Ham and Melted Gruyère Cheese, seemed like it would be a hit and has been on other sites. We came in expecting big things and were let down. For one, the dish didn’t taste very fresh. The other issue is that the flavor wasn’t balanced. I didn’t think the Pretzel Bread was anything to write home about and the ham and cheese both could be overpowering. It’s a decent option but not something I’d recommend with so many exciting choices.
11. Moroccan Seafood Couscous – Taste of Marrakesh (Morocco)
This dish had a hefty portion of seafood that all tasted pretty good. Unfortunately, it was offset by the rest of the dish being very salty. I’m generally a fan of couscous but found this one to be a little disappointing. To be fair, this was the latest I’d ordered anything from the Outdoor Kitchens (about 15 minutes before closing) so that may have played a role. There are much better seafood choices available though.
10. Local Wildflower Honey-Mascarpone Cheesecake – The Honey Bee-stro (Showcase Plaza)
This cheesecake came with Orange Blossom Honey Whipped Cream, Whipped Honey, Crystalized Honey, Honeycomb, Dehydrated Honey and Fennel Pollen Meringue Kisses. That’s a lot of honey and it definitely tasted like it! The Whipped Cream and Crystalized Honey were favorites of the dish but overall it just became too sweet and one-note.
9. Pecan Cake with Maple Whipped Cream – Magnolia Terrace (American Adventure)
Magnolia Terrace was one of the strongest Outdoor Kitchens and the Pecan Cake was delicious. As you’ll be able to tell, I prefer savory to sweet so most desserts don’t rank as highly. The cake was dense and the Whipped Cream complimented it well. Again, this was extremely sweet but was a good option to share.
8. Matcha Cranberry & Lime Green Tea – Trowel & Trellis (Showcase Plaza)
This tea from Twinings was incredibly refreshing. There are a lot of flavors going on here but they all work incredibly well together with the cranberry and lime making the drink feel especially Spring-y. As with most drinks at the festival, this is overpriced for what you get and that’s what knocks it down the list a little.
7. Mini Funnel Cake Topped with Lemon Cheesecake Ice Cream, Blueberries and Powdered Sugar – Funnel Cake (American Adventure)
I mean the title kind of speaks for itself. The little funnel cake was made refreshing by the lemon and blueberries. It’s absolutely delicious and a perfect summer treat. Since there’s not much to say other than well done, let’s talk about how the funnel cake stand at the American Adventure is just called Funnel Cake. I had never realized this before. I can’t decide if I’m impressed by the direct simplicity or confused on how this happened. Probably both? I would love to have sat in on the meeting where they finally made the decision of “Well, let’s just call the darn place Funnel Cake.”
6. Lamb Curry – La Isla Fresca (Between Morocco and France)
The Lamb Curry is served with Sweet Plantains and Rice. It’s a somewhat surprising combination of savory and sweet but it works extremely well. The curry has a little bit of heat to it and the lamb is very tender. I’m a big fan of plantains and these are no exception, served warm and adding a complexity to the otherwise heavy dish.
5. Corned Beef Brisket Hash – Epcot Sunshine Griddle (Future World East)
The best Outdoor Kitchen at this year’s Flower & Garden is buried over by Test Track but should not be missed. There’s a nice mix of dishes at the Sunshine Griddle with the Corn Beef Brisket Hash being the most hearty of them all. The Brisket Hash is served with House-Made Potato Barrels, Onions, Peppers, Cheese Curds and a Soft-Poached Egg with Tabasco® Hollandaise. It was an excellent combination of flavors that worked perfectly together. The potatoes didn’t get soggy under the Poached Egg and Hollandaise. With so many ingredients it seems like one might overpower the other but that wasn’t the case. The Brisket was very tender and delicious. It’s ranked number five but it will be some people’s number one for good reason.
4. Tupelo Honey and Sweet Corn Spoon Bread – The Honey Bee-stro (Showcase Plaza)
This delicious and warm Jalapeno Corn Bread is served with Bacon and House-Made Whipped Honey Butter. A simple dish like Corn Bread ranking so high on the list is a little unexpected but the Corn Bread was exceptional while the Honey Butter was the real star. There’s a fairly large portion of both and the Bacon served on top adds some savory to a sweet dish.
3. Soy-glazed Pork Shank – Hanami (Japan)
Generally the Japan and Italy Pavilion booths are pretty disappointing at these festivals for whatever reason. This Pork Shank proves an exception to that rule as it’s absolutely delicious. Served with Truffle Mashed Potatoes, Crispy Lotus Flower, Garlic Chips and Green Onion, the Pork is very tender and melts in your mouth. The Soy-glaze is sweet and blends well with the Mashed Potatoes. The other ingredients aren’t as noticeable but they don’t need to be with the main items being so delicious.
2. Crawfish Étouffée – Magnolia Terrace (American Adventure)
I should say that I’m an absolute sucker for Étouffée but this dish was a wonderful surprise. Served with Crawfish, Andouille Sausage and Dirty Rice, there was a surprising amount of each ingredient in this. While it’s not listed, there’s definitely some other seafood mixed in with this. There was a little bit of heat behind it but nothing overpowering. I was also impressed with the portion size, being bigger than most Outdoor Kitchen offerings. The dish as a whole was exceptional and was the only one that I thought about ordering twice over the few days in Epcot.
1. Shrimp and Grits – Epcot Sunshine Griddle (Future World East)
Sunshine Griddle had 4 of the best items we (Melissa had the Avocado Toast and Cinnamon Roll Bites) tried at the festival. My favorite ended up being the Shrimp and Grits which were served with Blackened Shrimp and Cheddar Cheese Grits with Brown Gravy and Sweet Corn Salsa. There’s only been a few times in my life that I enjoyed Grits but these were deliciously cheesy and had less of a grainy texture than usual. The shrimp were plump and cooked exceptionally well. The gravy and salsa both added a nice depth of flavor to the southern comfort food!
What have been your favorite Flower & Garden Festival snacks? Let us know, along with any questions you might have, in the comments below! Planning at trip to Disney World? Check out our Disney World Trip Planning Guide. If you enjoy what you’re reading here on Wandering in Disney, please subscribe to the blog on the right side of this page. That’s where you can find links to our social media accounts, as well. Thank you for reading!