Restaurant Review: Wolfgang Puck Cafe Downtown Disney

by Gray Cargill on July 22, 2009

Wolfgang Puck Cafe

Wolfgang Puck Cafe

Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World boasts a number of terrific dining choices, including some rather well-known names like Planet Hollywood, House of Blues, and Wolfgang Puck.  This, rather than the shopping available here, makes Downtown Disney a destination for me on every trip to the World.  I have eaten at Wolfgang Puck Cafe (located on Downtown Disney’s West Side) twice now, and the experiences were very different.  Not bad, just different.  And interesting from a solo dining perspective.

Counter Seating at Puck

Counter Seating at Puck

During my first trip to Disney World, I wanted to have dinner at the House of Blues, but it was pretty packed around 8pm on a Sunday night, so I tried Wolfgang Puck.  They were busy, but there were plenty of seats at the counters where you can watch the chefs prepare dinners.  I chose to sit at one of these.  It was a great experience.  My chef, Andrew, was from Boston, and so he and I chatted about New England weather, including the recent snowstorm that had dumped four feet on Boston.  He was very friendly, and it made my mealtime pass very pleasantly.  I also loved my meal, which was the Asian spring rolls with plum sauce appetizer.  The spring rolls were so large, I didn’t need anything else; they were plenty filling.

I had such a positive experience here that time that when I was planning my dining for my May trip this year, I decided I would eat there again.  This time, I made an ADR for around 5pm on a Sunday night.  I decided at the last minute that I wanted to watch the new Star Trek movie that afternoon (a great way to beat the heat!), but I would miss my 5pm ADR.  I went to the restaurant to see if I could move my time.  The hostesses were helpful and said I didn’t need to change the time of my ADR, all I needed to do was show up when I was ready and tell them that I was a “little late” for my ADR.  Handy to know.

Wolfgang Puck Cafe

Wolfgang Puck Cafe

When I did show up for dinner (around 6:45 pm), I did not have to wait for a table, and in fact, I don’t think an ADR was necessary at all.  This time, I was seated at a table (my choice).  The thing about dining alone is that I had more time to look around and notice the decor, which makes liberal use of geometric designs, particularly triangles. There are also lots of large windows so it is a bright, sunny space.  I did not spy any other solo diners , just families and groups.

My waitress (who shall remain nameless) was okay, but not exceptional. It was not in her favor that I’d experienced such excellent service in Disney restaurants all week, because I couldn’t help but notice the difference here.  In fact, if she wasn’t new to the job, then I’d suggest she reconsider her job choice.  She didn’t seem well-equipped to juggle more than one thing at a time (like tables).  I ordered an iced coffee to start with while perusing the menu.  She forgot the cream for it, and I had to ask for it twice.  Meanwhile, the ice was melting. It took a ridiculously long time for her to bring the check at the end of the meal.  She seemed overwhelmed, and yet the restaurant wasn’t that busy.  I really hope she was just new.

Beef Satay appetizer

Beef Satay appetizer

I remembered that the portion sizes here were huge.  (In face, I watched as plates were delivered to a large group seated near me, and could not believe how high the food was heaped on the plates.)  Once again, I decided instead of an entree, I’d order an appetizer for dinner and if I had room, get dessert. For my dinner, I ordered the beef satay appetizer, which came with a spicy little cucumber salad.  It was disappointing.  There was nothing technically wrong with it, it just wasn’t as flavorful as I’d hoped for, and was too easily overpowered by the spices in the cucumber salad.  In other words, not the best beef satay I’ve ever had.  And even for someone with a light appetite, it was not enough food for a meal.

Berry Cobbler

Berry Cobbler

On the plus side, this meant I had room for dessert!  I ordered the berry cobbler with cinnamon gelato.  That more than made up for the lackluster beef satay.  I’m sure I made all sorts of embarrassing happy noises while eating this cobbler (and I don’t care!).  I highly recommend this dessert, it was fantastic.  I’d go back just for the cobbler any time.

Overall, I have to say that my second experience at Wolfgang Puck was a pale shadow of the first.  You could say it was because of the disappointing appetizer  and the mediocre service, but I think I just preferred sitting at the counter and interacting with the chef.  Sitting at a table by myself was a little boring.  I would recommend this restaurant gladly to any solo diner at Disney World, but I would also strongly recommend sitting at the counter so you can interact with the chefs.  And definitely try the cobbler.

SoloFriendly July 26, 2009 at 3:46 pm

I don't know as it's shocking, but it's definitely something more restaurants should pay attention to. It's not just the food that makes loyal customers; it's the service.

Betsy July 26, 2009 at 3:20 pm

I have never eaten here and am glad to see the photos and review. I know how much you loved it last time; isn't it shocking how much the service contributes to the overall feel of the meal? Cobbler looks great!

SoloFriendly July 26, 2009 at 9:46 am

I don't know as it's shocking, but it's definitely something more restaurants should pay attention to. It's not just the food that makes loyal customers; it's the service.

Betsy July 26, 2009 at 9:20 am

I have never eaten here and am glad to see the photos and review. I know how much you loved it last time; isn't it shocking how much the service contributes to the overall feel of the meal? Cobbler looks great!

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