I am a sucker for nostalgia, so of course the Hollywood Brown Derby was a Disney dining experience I have always wanted to try.
With all the closures and construction at Hollywood Studios, I was looking for a way to make it more than a few hour stop – a late lunch at the Derby filled my day up nicely!
If you aren’t familiar with the backstory on the Derby, I’ll present a wonderfully Disnerdy short summary: the original opened in 1926 and was popular enough to warrant several others. It was old Hollywood’s place to eat and be seen, giving the everyman an opportunity to dine amongst the stars. This is the birthplace of the Cobb salad which was supposedly whipped up by owner Bob Cobb (his real name) for a theater owner who had recently had dental work and couldn’t chew well.
Here’s the Diserd part – in the old “Mickey and the Beanstalk” cartoon, Mickey is running from Willie the Giant through the streets of Hollywood. The giant spots the Hollywood Brown Derby restaurant, notes that it looks like a bowler hat and places it on his head. OK, now that you are schooled up on the Derby – on to the food!
The HBD is exactly what I picture when I think of an old Hollywood restaurant. The dining area is very open, you’ll find mostly tables here with a scattering of booths along the walls for larger parties. Wood paneling is found throughout and the main wall decor is celebrity caricatures. It doesn’t present a warm, fuzzy environment in which you would like to linger all day, but it does provide a nice escape from the park and is glamorous enough to convince you that you’ve been transported to Hollywood.
As it was my first trip, I had elected to order the most popular menu items. In an effort to try as much of the menu as possible the husband and I first went with the full size version of the Cobb salad to split as an appetizer. I eat my fair share of salads and I felt this was above average. It is served “striped” style, with the ingredients strung out along the plate in columns. The dressing is tossed across the top and does need to be mixed in. I advise that you let your server toss the salad together it for you as doing it yourself could take forever – but they have the nice salad mixing spoons. I would order the Cobb again with a bowl of soup (and not share) for a very filling meal.
Next up: crispy jumbo lump crab cakes. You’ll get an order of three and it’s a very small three. This appetizer is likely not meant to share as I could have finished it easily by myself. They were well-seasoned and the chili sauce on the side was the highlight of the dish.
As our main course we chose the filet. If you like steak AT ALL you will love this dish. It’s possibly the best steak I have had at WDW. We order our steaks medium rare, and this was spot on. It comes topped with a cabernet butter (that’s why the blob of butter is pink), red wine reduction sauce and sits on a bed of whipped potatoes that are seasoned with white truffle oil and mushrooms. Sautéed haricot verts and carrots round out the dish.
We somehow saved room for dessert – the grapefruit cake, of course! I’m not sure what I was expecting, this cake is definitely different. Several layers of a spongey, almost too moist cake layered with grapefruit cream cheese icing made for a sweet and tart flavor in each bite. My husband did not care for it and I can’t say that I would order it again -especially with the many other choices for dessert here.
I had a lovely time dining at the Derby and it’s definitely a repeat. Have you eaten at the Brown Derby in the past, and what was your favorite part about it?
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