REVIEW: Coral Reef Flips Its Fin to Good Food at Epcot
Coral Reef is a table service restaurant at Epcot. It’s located in Future World in The Sea With Nemo and Friends pavilion, off to the back right side. The restaurant is situated on a stadium-style seating arrangement facing gigantic glass windows into the main aquarium of The Seas. It’s really a gorgeous view, regardless if the decor of the restaurant is stuck in the late 90s. We swam on over to check out how the restaurant has been doing and grab a bite to eat.
A nicely themed pager. We approve.
First up is the expansive drink menu. There’s only two cocktails specific to this location, but there’s a bunch of “themed” beers. Well, names that fit into the sea theme.
Coral ‘Rita – A Margarita with Patrón Añejo Tequila and Cointreau – $13.00
Standard margarita, albeit not served in the proper glass. You could do worse, but it is a pint glass full of a margarita.
The Abyss – Skyy Vodka, Bacardi Superior Rum, Blue Curaçao, and Pineapple Juice – $10.50
Fruity, well balanced, and a great name for the ocean-looking cocktail. Much better priced than the margarita.
Mad Manatee IPA
“India Pale Ale with a wonderful balance of hops and malt, you can expect a slight sweetness with toasted notes, a floral aroma, and crisp citrus finish”
Dogfish Head Namaste
“A witbier bursting with good karma! Made with dried organic orange slices, fresh cut lemongrass, and a bit of coriander.”
“Full-bodied Imperial Red Ale with caramel malt and increased hops for balance. The result is a big, rich, malty beer with a hoppy finish”
We were recommended to try the calamari, especially if we planned on splitting an appetizer. There’s two soups, three salads, and three appetizers on the appetizer menu, so naturally this is shareable. It’s not really a finger food with the tomatillo sauce included, but they’re pretty okay. They don’t hold a candle to the calamari available at Via Napoli, but they’re fine.
Port-wine Braised 10-oz Beef Short Rib – Slow-cooked for eight hours until fork tender and served with creamy Smoked Gouda-Polenta, Roasted Pearl Onions, Baby Carrots, Cabernet Demi-glace – $35.00
This is a pretty good pot roast. Unfortunately it’s on the menu as short rib, not the affirmentioned comfort food. The meat was tender to the point where you only needed a fork, however, which was a pleasant surprise. There’s a bed of Gouda polenta below that doesn’t really add to the dish. It kind of just sits there and doesn’t soak up any of the red wine sauce. There’s improvements to be made here, especially for the highest price entree on the main menu.
Oven-roasted Herb Chicken Breast -Seasonal Risotto, Thyme Jus – $27.00
No, this isn’t a kids meal, this is from the actual menu. In what we can only assume is a side effect of the Disney Dining Plan, this toasted chicken is the equivalent of a bag of thawed Tyson chicken breasts from your local grocer. It’s as tough as one too, nearly impossible to cut with the utensils provided. The bed of risotto below was pretty good, but that can’t pull this unfortunate creation together. There was more attention put into making sure the five cherry tomatoes were evenly placed than making sure this dish was edible.
Seared Sustainable Salmon Filet – Orzo Pasta with Sweet Leek Fondue, Cassis-braised Red Cabbage, Citrus-Beurre Blanc – $32.00
Coral Reef is a weird restaurant. There’s good entrees, and there’s entrees that are just a waste of time. This is one of the better options at the restaurant. The fish is perfectly cooked and flaky with a nice crisp skin. There’s a solid portion of well-cooked orzo pasta below that helps pull the leek fondue together with the fish. Everything about this was wonderful.
Another solid dish. The fish was, once again, well cooked and flaky. There’s a good amount of sauce that has a decent amount of spice to it, giving a good kick without being too overbearing. Salsa accompanies the entire entree and gives it a Caribbean flare. It’s a solid choice for an entree but can’t hold a candle to the shrimp and grits.
Shrimp and Grits – Sautéed Shrimp, Cheddar Cheese Grits, Local Corn Succotash, Andouille Sausage, Creole Spice Emulsion – $30.00
Spicy, hearty, and just perfect. This shrimp and grits arrives with a generous helping of crisp shrimp on top. There’s also a fantastic succotash that mixes extraordinarily well with everything else. For the price, we weren’t expecting a gigantic portion but were pleasantly surprised with the outcome. Recommended, especially if you enjoy a bit of spice.
Overall we learned quickly that Coral Reef should stick to their mainstay of seafood and not try to reinvent the chicken. Desserts next!
There’s booze in this one too. The prosecco ice cream on top adds a great boost to this lackluster dessert. Intended to be a twist on a Greek or German or whatever dessert, it just doesn’t work. Spend your time on the mousse or The Chocolate Wave instead.