REVIEW: New Vegan, Pig, and Land & Sea Skillets from Whispering Canyon Cafe, Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
Tuesday afternoon, Disney announced thatWhispering Canyon Café at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge had revamped their menu and added some new all-you-care-to-enjoy skillets! While their Traditional Skillet has been a guest favorite for years, their plant-based skillet has been wildly popular amongst vegans and vegetarians alike for the past few months, and we’re happy to see them all front and center on the new menu design. We also came to try the four new cocktails that have also been added to the menu. Let’s dig in!
Whispering Canyon Cafe New All-You-Care-To-Enjoy Skillets
Each skillet order comes with Fresh Baked Cornbread and Cole Slaw. The bread was fresh and served as a nice appetizer for the upcoming feast.
For those choosing the Plant-Based skillet option, there is a vegan version of the Cole Slaw available. It is served with mustard seeds which gave it a very tangy, and slightly vinegary taste.
The Traditional Skillet – $33.00
Up first is the Traditional Skillet. As a reminder, each of these dishes is served all-you-can-eat, so they’re essentially bottomless. The Oak-Smoked Mustard BBQ Beef Brisket and Slow-Smoked Pulled Pork both lacked a lot of sauce and didn’t really have an identifiable mustard BBQ taste, which was disappointing. On the other hand, the Maple-Chipotle BBQ Pork Ribs were covered in sauce, and the meat fell right off the bone.
The Citrus Herb Chicken was a unique change from your average rotisserie chicken. The Citrus Herb flavor was pleasant and the chicken was tender and easy to chew. The Western-Style sausage was the big winner in this skillet. It had a smoky, tender flavor with a bit of a kick. While the piece of sausage we were served was extremely small, it was my favorite part of the dish overall.
The Land and Sea Skillet – $33.00
The Land and Sea Skillet was composed of Smoked Salmon, Citrus Herb Chicken, Vegan Sausage, and an array of vegetables. The components of this skillet bored me and I think there could have been different pieces added to change it up and make it unique. This could’ve been achieved by substituting the salmon with lobster, or the chicken with steak. On the bright side, the Salmon was incredibly fresh and tender, and didn’t really have a “fishy” flavor to it, which was great. As someone who doesn’t entirely love seafood, I actually enjoyed eating this. Additionally, the Citrus Herb Chicken was the exact same one served in the Traditional Skillet. The Spicy Vegan Sausage was actually decent for being a vegan option. While I’m not entirely sure why they couldn’t add the Western-Style Sausage instead, this sausage also did justice with a spicy kick. The one downside was the smoky flavor that I loved in the Western-Style Sausage was no longer there. (Note: Many of our readers have pointed out that the Land and Sea Skillet is perfect for families with pescatarians or people who prefer to steer clear of red meat. That makes the Land and Sea Skillet perfect for guests opting for lighter fare.)
The rest of the components of this dish were vegetables. The Charred Portabellas were popular with the table, so much so that we ordered an entire extra skillet of just the mushrooms. They were entire mushrooms, charred to perfection, and busting with flavor. They stole the show at the table.
The Pig Skillet – $33.00
Next up is the Pig Skillet. This skillet also featured the same Smoked Pulled Pork, Maple Chipotle BBQ Pork Ribs, and Western Style Sausage as the Traditional. However, the rest of the components made this skillet a contender for the best new offering available.
The Mustard BBQ Piggy Wings were possibly the winner of the night. The skillet only comes with two, however more are available upon request (we certainly requested more). The wings came covered in mustard seeds which gave it a very mild, yet necessary spice. The BBQ sauce worked with that spice to make the wings a unique and fresh taste that I hadn’t experienced before.
Beyond that, the Braised Pork Belly was probably the biggest disappointment of the night. I am a huge pork belly fan and was really looking forward to giving this a try, but I felt as though it was chewy, the skin was un-crispy, and the entire thing was almost completely flavorless. Thankfully, the Piggy Wings and Maple Chipotle BBQ Pork Ribs saved the dish and made it as strong as it was.
Plant-Based Skillet – $33.00
One of the surprises of the night was how tasty the Plant-Based Skillet was. The charred peppers were a great addition that I wish was incorporated more in the other skillets instead of the corn, green beans, or mashed potatoes. The vegan sausage was the same one that came in the Land and Sea skillet, however the Maple Chipotle BBQ Jackfruit, Mustard Glazed Beefless Tips, and Herb Brushed Trick’n Chick’n all made this a memorable skillet.
The Chicken tasted extremely similar to tofu, however the herbs gave it some flavor and made it unique compared to the average vegan tofu dish.
The Maple Chipotle BBQ Jackfruit wasn’t my thing, but it was saucy, and I thought it was a really great alternative to the BBQ Pork ribs which also come with the same sauce. The Mustard Glazed Beef Tips were probably the winner for this dish, as it both appeared, and tasted almost like real beef. The Mustard Glaze covered the “beefless” element so well, with such a delicious coating, that you’d forget you were eating something that wasn’t actually meat.
Hazelnut Manhattan – $12.50
As for the new cocktails, the Hazelnut Manhattan was recommended to us by our waitress. This was a phenomenal drink that included Vanilla Hazelnut simple syrup, giving it a strong hazelnut flavor. So much so, in fact, it almost cut the bourbon completely. If you tend to lean towards hazelnut-flavored food and drink, don’t miss out on this drink.
Bourbon Cowboy – $12.50
The drink winner of the night as far as I’m concerned was the Bourbon Cowboy. It was such a simply-made drink, yet it worked so well. Think of an Apple Pie-inspired cocktail. The cinnamon simple syrup worked with the Apple Jack to provide that pie taste. The bourbon was noticeable throughout the drink, however I think that’s the way it should be.
Bourbon Sweet Tea – $11.00
The Bourbon Sweet Tea was standard. It was extremely strong as almost everyone at the table felt more like they were taking bourbon shots as opposed to drinking a cocktail. With that being said, the sweet tea was hard to recognize, and if getting this drink, I’d recommend ordering it with some extra tea on the side to help balance the cocktail, especially as bourbon and tea are the only two ingredients.
Mountaineer Margarita – $12.50
While I’m not sure why you’d chose a margarita over any of the other new bourbon drinks for a BBQ-heavy, Western-style restaurant, this one was fairly disappointing. I really enjoy drinks that incorporate smoke and peat into them, and while this one has Smoked Hickory Syrup as a listed ingredient, it was almost impossible to identify. That alone made this drink basic and no different than the average margarita.
Overall, the new (and old) skillets at Whispering Canyon Cafe come in huge portion sizes, most everything we tried was delicious, flavorful, and creative, and I think this is one of the better dinner options in the Magic Kingdom area. Don’t forget to ask for your ketchup (which is now back in full force) and just have fun with these world-class servers! YEE-HAW!