FOOD REVIEW: The Arbor at Epcot Flower & Garden Festival

The Arbor at the 2019 Epcot Flower & Garden Festival

Something new for the Flower & Garden Festival this year is the relocation of the festival center. Since the previous Wonders of Life Pavilion is now being transformed into a new experience, Disney had to move to the Festival Center to a new location for 2019. This year it is at the Odyssey, nearby the Mexico Pavilion, and renamed the Gardener's Terrace. Inside this mini-festival center is also one of the four new Outdoor Kitchens for 2019, The Arbor. It appears that this booth doesn't really have a central theme and features an eclectic mix of dishes. But it is also home to a collection of beers and ciders. (Please note that the Cider House has been removed from the event this year, therefore The Arbor is the place to go if you're looking to sample some cider.) Now I am no fan of cider because I find it too sweet and they give me a headache. So let's jump into some food instead.

Ciders Available at the Arbor

The first item I tried on the menu was the Fried Green Tomatoes with Blue Crab-fennel Salad, Remoulade and Smoked Paprika Oil. I don't know what it is, but Disney really knows how to make fried green tomatoes. Not even halfway through my first bite I fell in love with these tomatoes. They are impossibly juicy and rich. I am not entirely sure if they are sourced from the greenhouses from The Land but wherever they come from, there is something magical in them. They almost feel like a juicy steak but a vegetable, it's amazing. I never understood the fuss about fried green tomatoes until now.

Fried Green Tomatoes with Blue Crab Fennel Salad

The breading on the outside was also perfectly fried and crisp. Delicious. Now comes the bad part, the blue crab fennel salad that was placed on top of one of the tomatoes. I must stipulate that I am not a huge seafood person, but for the sake of thoroughness I had to try it. It was intensely fishy and I dislike the fragrant taste of the fennel. I don't think everyone will share my distaste for this salad, but I had to simply scrape it off to continue on with the dish. Other details that I did enjoy however were the sprinkle of capers, which give it a nice salty punch, and the remoulade sauce. This is a seafood dressing that has a mustard taste to it and complements the capers nicely. I really enjoyed this dish, despite hating the salad. I could've eaten a dozen more of those tomatoes if you let me.

Fried Green Tomatoes with Blue Crab Fennel Salad

Next up we have another dish that was a bit of a push for me, the Smoked Salmon Stack. This is an interesting layered seafood dish that features a large and thick layer of avocado in the middle and another layer on top of smoked salmon. Now I did say that I dislike seafood, but I have strange exceptions like smoked salmon. I can work with it. This one was pretty good, but I do wish it had a stronger smokey flavor. Again I like the addition of capers to give it a salty and vinegary kick and the sour cream on top balances the stack well and freshens it up.

Smoked Salmon Stack

You almost don't notice it, but there is also a very tiny sprinkle of caviar on top. It is so minuscule that it doesn't really add any notable flavor. Another strange ingredient that I didn't notice until further inspection was the sprinkle of boiled egg. I didn't taste it at first, but once I saw the sprinkle of yolk I was put off by it. Again, mainly because I have a strange aversion to eggs. The dish is finished off with a side serving of focaccia crostino. I attempted to spread some of the salmon and avocado on a piece, but it all fell apart on me. The crostino was also a tad stale which could explain my failed attempt to spread. Overall this became a dud as I ate it more. It's a good size and at first you may think it's enjoyable, but a lot of the finer elements don't really carry through.

Finally we have dessert, and it was a true saving grace for this booth. The one sweet item on the menu here is a Mixed Berry Buttermilk Cake. It reminded me slightly of a now-retired dessert from Flower & Garden, the Berry Buckle. I thought I would be disappointed comparing the two, but I was very wrong. The buttermilk cake is actually more of a crumble. There is a thin layer of sponge cake at the bottom, but the delicious crumble on top is much thicker and reminiscent to a classic apple crumble. The mixture of fruits was also ice cold, which worked well because I had just walked in from the hot sun. The berries are a mixture of blueberries, raspberries and my personal favorite blackberries. I was surprised that this specific combination wasn't too tart or sweet because it is balanced by the crumble nicely. It's then all topped off with a scoop of apple cider sorbet. I didn't get too much of an apple taste, but what a terrific topping to an excellent dessert.

Mixed Berry Buttermilk Cake

Overall, the Arbor was not the best booth. It was a mixed bag. The fried green tomatoes are excellent and well worth a stop at the Odyssey. If you're like me and don't care for seafood, just ask the chefs to axe the blue crab fennel salad. It was too intense for me, but not enough to steer me away from wanting more fried green tomatoes! (PS I hear there is a great Fried Green Tomato Sandwich at Sunset Ranch in Hollywood Studios that I now have to try!) The Smoked Salmon Stack starts good, but ends poorly and is very forgettable. There are superior seafood dishes elsewhere in the festival. But thankfully all is saved with the incredible dessert. As the festival continues and approaches summer, it will get extremely hot and this sweet treat will certainly cool you down.

The Gardener's Terrace at the Odyssey

In terms of pricing and value, all three dishes are at a good price point. The Fried Green Tomatoes are the most expensive at $6.00, but I think worth the price. The Smoked Salmon Stack is a little cheaper at $5.50 but a more substantial size. Finally the Berry Buttermilk Cake is at a fair price of $5.00. All three items are eligible for a snack credit on the Disney Dining Plan and a decent use of the credit. I alway say go for the items higher than $5.00 to really get the best value per credit.