REVIEW: Our Taste Buds Ride Tumultuous Waves with the Shrimp Cocktail, Lobster Bisque, Oven-Roasted Herb Chicken, and Grilled Rib-Eye at Coral Reef Restaurant in EPCOT
We are once again back at Coral Reef Restaurant in EPCOT to try more of their cuisine. This restaurant chiefly focuses on American and seafood based dishes and is connected to the pavilion that houses The Seas with Nemo & Friends.
Currently located in the Future World area, once the revitalization of EPCOT is completed the Coral Reef Restaurant will be in the renamed World Nature section of the park. The restaurant is situated on a stadium-style seating arrangement facing gigantic glass windows into the main aquarium of The Seas.
This isn’t the first time we’ve been here, as we checked out some vegan additions they made to their menu. With decent, but unsurprising seafood we are interested to see what this restaurant has to offer nowadays.
Due to physical distancing, many of the tables are unavailable.
Since we are visiting the Coral Reef Restaurant during the COVID-19 pandemic, we were not given paper menus. A QR code for the digital menu was provided at the front podium.
Dinner at Coral Reef Restaurant starts with bread service, with light fluffy dinner rolls served with butter. They’re probably one of the more enjoyable parts of the meal.
We started our evening off with two appetizers, the Shrimp Cocktail and the Lobster Bisque.
Shrimp Cocktail – $15.00
The shrimp cocktail comes with a charred lemon atop the skewer.
Shockingly, this Shrimp Cocktail is one of the better versions on property, and is certainly the best in presentation from our perspective. The shrimp are fresh, large, and luckily not too fishy. This comes with a traditional cocktail sauce that you would expect from Shrimp Cocktail, and is nothing out of the ordinary.
Lobster Bisque – $10.00
The Lobster Bisque is flavored with brandy and chervil.
We think this appetizer is just fine. There are only a few little chunks of lobster – which are delightfully tender, not chewy – and the bisque itself is a little thin in viscosity. There was way too much cream in the soup, which overpowered the entire dish. If you want Lobster Bisque at EPCOT, we recommend you go to Les Halles Boulangerie-Patisserie.
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Oven-roasted Herb Chicken – $28.00
This chicken entrée is accompanied by seasonal vegetables and a curry vinaigrette.
The entrée comes with a large half chicken. The chicken itself is nicely seasoned, though maybe a little heavy on the salt. The meat is incredibly tender and juicy. The curry sauce is excellent, really complementing the flavors of the meat. The accompanying potatoes are delightfully roasted, and are packed with flavor.
Who doesn’t like salt, pepper, and oil? The vegetable medley plated underneath the chicken has sweet red peppers, onions, and, arugula. These vegetables come very oily, that’s where the potatoes get it from. Even with the oil they’re roasted nicely, and are noticeably fresh. With less oil this dish would be fantastic.
10-oz Slow-roasted Grilled Rib-Eye – $34.00
This meaty entrée also comes with loaded mashed potatoes with bacon and bercy butter.
The piece of meat that stars in this entrée is said to be braised for 17 hours to make it tender, which essentially means the restaurant knows they have a bad (likely fatty and tough) piece of beef. While the menu states the steak is braised, most likely they use a sous vide method of cooking.
This cooking method has the ingredients placed (protected by a plastic or glass container) into a water bath and cooked for a long period of time. Normally for sous vide steak you only need to cook for about 4 hours. For a tougher piece of meat like the one we are given at the Coral Reef, you would need to cook it for 12-24 hours sous vide style to really make it tender. Now that you’ve gotten a crash course on cooking beef, let’s get back to the review.
They put bercy butter on top of the steak complete its transformation. It doesn’t taste like a steak because of this, it is more akin to a stewed beef. They make the steak as tender as possible, but this feels like meat you would give to your canine friend at home.
Thankfully, to make up for the lackluster meat, the loaded mashed potatoes are great. Loaded is the correct name for them as they are filled with bacon, green onions, and plenty of salt. The unadvertised caramelized onions and arugula that also came with the entrée are rough. Unfortunately the onions overpower everything. We ask in the most humble manner, please do not get this.
Overall, we were pleasantly surprised with the Shrimp Cocktail and the Oven-roasted Herb Chicken at Coral Reef, but are disheartened at their attempt at “braised” steak. There are some good options available at this restaurant, but you have to choose wisely.