Friday, October 30, 2009

A Taste Of The World - A Breath Of Fresh Air

There are several restaurants at Walt Disney World that are very underrated. The Fresh Mediterranean Market in the Walt Disney World Dolphin hotel is definitely one of them. If you haven't heard of it or haven't tried it you aren't alone. But don't let the relative lack of popularity dissuade you from heading over to the Epcot resort area in order to give it a try.

Hidden away on the ground floor of the Dolphin, Fresh serves light and absolutely delicious Mediterranean fare. In flavor and variety, it is similar to Boma or Tusker House (both of which make the top 5 favorite WDW restaurant list for all 4 of us - see A Taste Of The World, October 12) and also in the fact that it is a buffet. The main difference is that Boma and Tusker House both focus primarily on an African menu, with some Mediterranean influence while Fresh focuses on the scope of Mediterranean variety that includes north African flavors.

Fresh is open for breakfast and lunch, but not dinner, unfortunately. We haven't had the pleasure of trying breakfast here, but have had lunch at this hidden treasure a few times. As in the name, the emphasis here is on a wide variety of freshly prepared foods with huge Mediterranean flavors. Behind the buffet counter the Chefs are in full view so you can see the items actually being prepared and cooked in real time (see above pic). They can also custom prepare an item on the fly if you request. In addition, the menu has been slightly different each time I've been there, so that also helps to keep the can we say this...fresh, from visit to visit! Personally, I'm a fan of rotating menus, especially when it comes to an emphasis on seasonally fresh foods, as they have here.

Mediterranean staples such as authentic Greek salad, antipasto dishes and hummus and pita are offered along with a variety of soups and other light appetizers. There is usually at least one offering each of a chicken, fish and beef dish (I've had the Chicken Marsala which was very good) in order to offer several options. Wraps and panini sandwiches have also been offered - a rotisserie chicken wrap I tried at one point very much stands out. The desserts are also incredible and very similar to what you would find in Boma (sans Zebra Domes, though).

You may ask yourself, "If Fresh is so great and it's so similar to Boma and Tusker House, why didn't it make your top 5?" Good question. It very nearly did. However, I do place it a notch below both, even though they are similar. I'm not crazy about the fact that it's not open for dinner, and lunch is on the expensive side (last time I was there it was around $19.00). And just the fact that it's located in the Dolphin lends it a sense of detachment, even if that's not truly the case; it just seems like you are going out of your way to get there. After all, Tusker and Boma are both part of the Animal Kingdom area and that inclusion makes them feel like they are more a part of Disney World than does Fresh. And most importantly, Tusker House and Boma also have a larger buffet selection to choose from, as well.

If you're staying at the Swan, Dolphin, or any of the Epcot resort hotels, do yourself a favor and run over to try least for lunch. Or, if you're an Epcot regular and have tried most of what the World Showcase has to offer for lunch, give it a try as well. I'm hoping if it continues to grow in popularity, they may decide to open it up for dinner too!

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