With the exception of Capt. Cook’s at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, it seems like Disney has never been able to perfect quick service dining at their deluxe resorts. I had high hopes that Roaring Fork, the main quick service location at Wilderness Lodge, would be greatly improved after being closed for months for a refurb, but the new menu just doesn’t quite live up to the new and beautiful interior and outdoor seating area. Let’s take a look at the newly reopened Roaring Fork!
The first thing you’ll notice as you walk into Roaring Fork is how open the restaurant is compared to how it previously used to be. Before the refurbishment, you’d walk up to either the grill on the right or the sandwich/salad station on the left, place and receive your order, then pay for it at the cash registers. Now, you’ll find the menu hanging over a set of cash registers where you place your order and receive a ticket for your order. After placing your order, feel free to pick up a bottled beverage, grab-n-go sandwich or salad, as well as a dessert before you make your way to the registers you’ll pay at, which are located right next to the soup station. The new system adds an extra, unnecessary step, but it seems to work with the free flowing style they are looking for.
As you can see from the menu, the restaurant has gone through some pretty significant changes. Gone are the deli sandwiches and salads along with boring burgers, chicken fingers, fries and flatbreads, and in their place are creative sandwiches and flatbreads. Fans of the old Roaring Fork don’t need to worry – in the grab-n-go cases are the classic sandwiches like the Roast Beef and Tuna Salad along with some hot sandwiches, salads, sushi, and a variety of delicious looking desserts.
So, now that you have ordered and paid for your food, you are given a pager number so Cast Members know where to deliver your food and you can now make your way into the seating area, which is where you will also find the beverage station. The interior is just as dark as it’s always been, but you’d also expect that at Wilderness Lodge. I personally love the new tables and chairs. The seating is extremely comfortable and just as beautiful to look at.
If you’d rather enjoy the outdoor rustic charm that Wilderness Lodge offers, feel free to go sit out on the new covered patio, which replaced most of the old uncovered patio tables. There was plenty of seating in the shade, but there are still tables out in the sun if you prefer baking in the Florida heat. I did also notice heat lamps inside the covered patio, which will be greatly appreciated when we get into those FREEZING Florida winter months.
Now, let’s talk about the real reason you’re coming to Roaring Fork – the food! Myself and Ryno (from the DIS Unplugged Podcast) dined here for lunch, and we each chose one entree and split dessert during our meal. I had the Brisket Burger ($13.49), which came topped with Tillamook Cheddar Cheese, Cranberry Barbecue Sauce, Cast Iron Onions, and Apple Frisee on a Sweet Brioche Bun. The burger itself was your standard Disney quick service burger, which was extremely disappointing. The bun dominated the flavor of the burger and that was okay because it tasted fine, but the brisket and sauce should’ve been the main flavors. The brisket either wasn’t smoked enough or lacked seasoning, because it was just mediocre at best. The barbecue sauce was sweet and savory, but I would recommend asking for more or just settle by putting some regular Heinz BBQ Sauce on the burger. The burger was served with Potato Barrels, also known as Tater Tots, and they were the best part of the dish.
Ryno had the Grilled Chicken on Roasted Garlic Focaccia ($10.99), which was topped with Roasted Peppers, fresh Mozzarella, and Oven-dried Tomato Pesto. While he enjoyed the sandwich for the most part, the big detractor for him was the pesto sauce and he recommends asking for the pesto on the side if you’re not a huge fan of it. Even though the sandwich has an Italian feel to it, Ryno felt that adding the Heinz BBQ Sauce helped to enhance the flavor of the sandwich as a whole.
The star of the meal was Disney’s newest Instagram-worthy dessert creation, the Campfire Cupcake. I often complain about Disney and their cupcake game. It seems like anytime Disney has something to celebrate, they introduce a dry, mediocre, overpriced cupcake. Some end up being delicious, like the specialty Star Wars cupcakes that are still around and available, but others like the 45th Anniversary Cupcake just feel like a slap in the face. That being said, the Campfire Cupcake may be the best one Disney has made so far. The cupcake is close to eating a S’mores Cupcake. The base cake made of chocolate was incredibly moist and decadent. The top and interior frosting tasted like a blend of vanilla and marshmallow and paired perfectly with the chocolate cake. I didn’t even mention the fact that the entire cupcake was coated in a dusting of cookie crumbs, which added so much extra awesomeness to the cupcake. It also provided a “dirt” feel to the cupcake, which is fitting because of the campfire on top that even includes a toasted marshmallow. I don’t want to hype up this dessert too much, but you have to try it if you go to Roaring Fork.
Roaring Fork is definitely better than it was before its refurbishment, but it is still far from the perfect quick service restaurant. The new interior and outdoor seating are wonderful, but the food we tried needs some minor tweaks and adjustments before we’d say it’s great. I am excited to return to the restaurant to try one of the specialty flatbreads or the breakfast, which includes items like Chocolate-Hazelnut French Toast and 10-Hour Pulled Pork-Cheese Grits.
If you make it to the newly reopened Roaring Fork, we’d love to hear what meals you tried and your thoughts and feelings on it in the comments below. Also, check out our on-location dining vlog of Roaring Fork along with all of our other great vlogs and shows on our DIS Unplugged YouTube channel!