When you vacation at the Walt Disney World Resort, you may sometimes find yourself searching for restaurant options that serve home-cooked comfort food. In this department there are very few choices. Chef Art Smith’s Homecoming Florida Kitchen and Southern Shine, now open at Disney Springs, is one of those few. I recently had the opportunity to eat lunch at this restaurant. Here is my review of some of the comfort foods offered at this establishment.
The menu has many options and is divided in sections. You will find Starters (appetizers), Buns & Such (sandwiches), Salads & Dumplings (salads and soups), Main Plates (entrees), Kids (children’s menu), Sweetness (desserts), and Sides.
Upon arrival, I was told there was a 30-40 minute wait for indoor seating. The Shine patio, while screened in and boasting ceiling fans, was just too warm during the middle of this summer day. I was one in a party of two and we made the decision to sit at the bar as we could order anything off the menu there and seating was immediately available.
While looking over the menu, I noticed they had some interesting alcoholic beverages available. I was driving this day and will therefore have to wait for my next visit to try the Sweet Tea Shine. This drink is their specialty and yes it contains Moonshine!
As this was the first time sampling the food here, I felt compelled to order Chef Art’s signature dish, Art’s Fabulous Fried Chicken. The menu states this meal is served with creamy mashed potatoes, cheddar drop biscuits, and love. I convinced my dining partner to split the meal and we added a side of Momma’s Mac and Cheese. Ordering a main plate and a side allowed us to sample a couple of items on the menu rather than just one main dish.
When the food arrived I immediately noticed the presentation of the plates. The contrast of the small black skillets on little white doilies, containing the mashed potatoes and the macaroni and cheese, against the white plates was a nice touch. I also liked the presentation of the fried chicken as it was set on top a drizzle of a sweet and tangy sauce. Very pleasing to the eye.
First for the fried chicken. The batter is slightly crisp yet moist as you bite into the chicken. For my taste, I prefer the cooked batter of the fried chicken to be more crunchy than moist. This was a combination of the two leaning towards more moist than crunchy. While the chicken was cooked to the proper specifications, I found it to be a little chewy and lacking a bit in flavor. The menu states that the chicken is “buttermilk-brined for 24 hours” before being fried. It may have been the buttermilk flavoring that threw me off with regards to the flavor of the fried chicken and as this is the signature dish I am certain it is a very popular offering with a strong fan-following.
The creamy mashed potatoes offered great flavor. I liked the texture of them as they were not too thin and they were lightly browned on top with a sprinkling of chives. The little black skillet they are served in kept them warm and fresh.
If you are looking for a non-traditional biscuit, then you will find this to be the case with the cheddar drop biscuits. The texture is more chewy than your typical soft drop biscuit. I found the chewiness to be a pleasant surprise. The cheddar flavor of the biscuit was excellent.
And now for my absolute favorite part of the meal; the macaroni and cheese. I am not typically a fan of macaroni and cheese unless it is truly homemade. My own homemade macaroni and cheese is requested, by many of my family members, for most holiday family meals. Chef Art Smith’s Homecoming Macaroni and Cheese is perfection! The macaroni is cooked without being overdone and the combination of cheeses is very creamy and flavorful. The top of the macaroni and cheese is browned and offers just the right amount of crunch. To bite into this delectable dish is pure bliss.
Overall, the meal was very good. I have already decided to visit again one evening to enjoy the patio atmosphere. I plan to try the Sweet Tea Shine beverage and a slice of Shine Cake; an adult-only butter cake soaked with Moonshine Syrup. I may also be convinced to have another sampling of Momma’s Mac and Cheese, if someone should suggest it. Chef Art Smith’s Homecoming Florida Kitchen and Southern Shine certainly does offer that taste of home-cooked comfort food while on vacation. I recommend you give this restaurant a try on your next visit to the Walt Disney World Resort.
Are you ready to sample some home-cooked comfort food at Chef Art Smith’s Homecoming on your next visit to the Walt Disney World Resort? Please leave your comments in the box below.
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