This morning we reviewed the returning breakfast buffet at Disney Junior Play ‘n Dine at Hollywood & Vine, and we were just crazy enough to go back to the lunch/dinner buffet at (what is currently in the seasonal rotation) Minnie’s Halloween Dine!
Mind you that the food options won’t change seasonally, just the theme, character costumes, music, etc.
When you arrive there is this fantastic photo-op themed to Minnie’s Halloween Dine.
‘Minnie’s Halloween Dine’ Lunch Buffet Offerings — $55 per adult, $36 per child (plus tax and gratuity)
Cocktails, wine, and beer are available for additional purchase.
Dinner rolls and mini pita bread are available, as well as hummus. Focaccia bread showed up later.
Croutons signal the start of the salad bar.
Balsamic, Caesar, and ranch dressings are all available to pair with your salad. Also you can grab some cherry tomatoes, diced cucumbers, mixed olives, feta, and parmesan cheese. You can make a bed out of chopped romaine or mixed greens.
Tomato and chicken noodle soup are both hot and available.
The cold buffet continues with fresh fruit, crumbled feta, bean salad, couscous salad with cilantro-lime vinaigrette, kale, apple, and cranberry salad, peel-and-eat shrimp, and cocktail sauce.
Now we move on to the hot buffet with some fantastic options:
Sour cream and chive whipped potatoes
Seared salmon with beurre blanc
Caramelized brussels sprouts
Oven-roasted herbed chicken
Olive oil-roasted potatoes
Roasted mushroom farro risotto
Crispy tofu with Asian glaze
Spring peas and pearl onions
Beef stew with root vegetables
White rice, with a garnish of green onion
Roasted pork with spicy mustard sauce (and unadvertised polenta)
Macaroni & cheese with shrimp and bacon
Meatballs with barbecue sauce and pineapple
Carving stations feature herb-crusted tenderloin steak with horseradish cream as well as…
Slow-roasted crispy pork belly with guava glaze.
We are now to the “kids” portion of the buffet, although any adult can add these items to their plate!
Kid’s macaroni & cheese and chicken nuggets.
Potato barrels and mini corn dogs.
Now we’ve reached the best part of any buffet: dessert!
Carrot cake cupcakes with cream cheese icing
Mississippi Mud pie
Candy magic bars
Peanut butter & jelly tarts
Créme brûlée cheesecake
And of course, self-serve soft-serve ice cream!
Meet and Greet Characters
Minnie is the lunch and dinner’s official host, and she has on her best Halloween garb!
Pluto was feeling silly, as always.
Goofy has a spooky cowboy costume on, complete with a cowboy hat!
Count Mickey Mouse even showed up in his vampire costume!
Each guest is given an autograph card with the facsimile signatures of each character. That being said, we did see the characters sign actual autograph books as well.
Buffet Lunch & Dinner Food Review
The pita bread was very tough and way too dry. The hummus was oddly bitter, definitely an off putting taste to it. The dinner rolls were a solid option, but if you’re going to bother filling up on bread at a buffet, the focaccia here is actually excellent. It’s very soft and a perfect accompaniment for the tomato soup.
The tomato soup is loaded with carrots, beans, corn, and more in a tomato broth. The broth isn’t too thick, it’s just the right consistency, and all of the ingredients inside matched it perfectly.
The broth, noodles, and carrots of this soup were all enjoyable, but the chicken was insanely dry and tough, ruining the entire entry.
From the cold buffet: the bean salad was a standard bean salad, with the fresh vegetable chunks giving it a nice crunch and again a dressing that is suitable and not overpowering.
The Caesar salad also featured standard ingredients but what seems to be a house made dressing, definitely not your standard bottled fare. The fresh shaved Parmesan adds a nice touch.
Dried cranberries add a prefect sweetness to the kale salad and the kale is not at all bitter as it often is. However, I didn’t get any of the advertised apple. I was very surprised this is as good as it is.
The peel-and-eat shrimp were plump; larger than what you typically find on a buffet, steamed, chilled and deveined, and very tasty.
The buffet offers sour cream whipped potatoes and olive oil roasted potatoes. Oddly two similar dishes on the buffet, but one would accommodate those with allergies. The olive oil ones were more akin to “smashed potatoes” with large chunks. They were a bit dry and not very flavorful. The whipped potatoes were well mashed, smooth and creamy, and very good; clearly the winner in the potato showdown.
The salmon was great. It tasted very fresh and was perfectly prepared. The mayonnaise-based topping adds a nice tinge to the end of each bite.
The roasted chicken can be hit or miss based on when you come to it. Some of our pieces were juicy and plump, a rarity for Disney buffet fare, but we did encounter at least one dry piece on a later trip to the station.
The caramelized Brussels sprouts were excellent. These can sometimes be bitter, but not here. The center was hot and soft, while the exterior provided a nice crunch.
I’m spoiled by the mushroom risotto on the Disney Cruise Line, but this mushroom and farro risotto was very good and for a buffet it was great.
I can’t believe I’m saying this, but the tofu with Asian glaze was the absolute best item. Crispy, with a great General Tso-style sauce, I didn’t even miss the fact there was no meat.
Our broccolini was sadly cold right off the buffet, but it tasted good, so it must be much better when actually at the desired temperature.
The beef stew will surely please fans of the Liberty Tree Tavern pot roast, as we found the two dishes to be very similar in taste. It’s a tender, smoky piece of meat covered in flavorful juices.
The pork belly was really fantastic. Perfectly cooked with a nice spice rub which gives it a nice flavor even without the guava sauce. However, don’t forgo the guava, as it makes a good dish amazing. It adds the perfect bit of sweetness to accompany the meat.
The pork was a bit over-cooked but the spicy mustard sauce was perfect (quite spicy actually) and the polenta added a nice creaminess to the dish.
The rice was standard, but nicely cooked and should be enjoyable.
The tenderloin was fine. I didn’t find it particularly amazing, and the horseradish sauce was about the least flavorful I’ve ever tasted. The steak is hearty, filling, and tender, so it’s a good offering, just not really what I was looking for in a steak.
The mac and cheese ends up being ruined by the bacon and the shrimp. The pasta is soft, while the cheese sauce is sharp and creamy for a winning combination. Sadly, the bacon was hard as a rock at first bite, then quite chewy, while the shrimp added a fishy aftertaste to each bite.
I’m not one for sweet meatball. The barbecue sauce is way too sweet, while the meatball itself tastes like it’s from a frozen food bag.
Now on to the desserts…
The carrot cake cupcake was above expectations, moist and soft with a whipped cream consistency cream cheese frosting.
The Peanut Butter and Jelly Tart had way much jelly, which overpowered the whipped peanut butter top layer. The crust was way too thick for the size of the tart, which gave it a dry mouthfeel.
The crème brûlée cheesecake did not have enough of a caramelized sugar taste to make it very different from a standard Disney cheesecake, but the standard is a good entry for theme park fare.
The Mississippi mud pie was super sweet and chocolatey, perhaps a little one-note however. One or two bites will suffice, but children honestly may love it more-so.
While breakfast was as mediocre as it was before, we were thoroughly impressed by the new lunch and dinner buffet at Hollywood & Vine. In the past, we had settled for the cuisine simply to meet the characters in cute garb (or for a Fantasmic! dining package further back in time), but now I would actually want to dine here for the food. Not all of it was amazing, but more than enough of it was great. I would actually look forward to another visit. Kudos to the culinary team for raising the bar at an in-park character buffet.