When it comes to breakfast at Walt Disney World, our general philosophy has been don’t bother. Most restaurants are overpriced and the food is sub-par, which is why we’ve been strong advocates of hotel grocery delivery and preparing healthy, inexpensive in-room meals in the morning. (Updated August 19, 2020.)
We’ve also been anti-Ale & Compass Restaurant, which we derided in our original review last year as having dull decor and mediocre food. However, we’ve been back three times since for lunch or dinner and have actually had very good to great meals. (The theme of the restaurant still bores us to sleep, but the food is good!)
Despite all of that, breakfast at Ale & Compass is a huge hit for us. Since originally publishing this review last year, we’ve returned a couple of times for virtually the same orders. This boils down to a few things: lack of better options at Crescent Lake, value for money, and flat-out loving a trio of menu items. With Ale & Compass Restaurant poised to reopen after a multi-month closure, we thought it’d be worth revisiting this review in light of that…
As noted above, Ale & Compass Restaurant has been closed for several months and is returning on August 20, 2020. This comes a few days before Disney’s Yacht Club Resort reopens to guests on August 24, 2020. With the hotel, a limited lineup of dining, shopping, and other amenities will also resume.
The bad news is that this lineup truly is limited, and as we’ve seen at other resort restaurants, menus have been significantly scaled back during Walt Disney World’s phased reopening. At Yacht Club, several spots aren’t returning right away–including Yachtsman Steakhouse, Crew’s Cup Lounge, and more (particularly on the Beach Club side of the complex, which is only operating its DVC villas).
The good news is that Ale & Compass Restaurant will return with a surprisingly robust menu. While it won’t offer the breakfast buffet or the skirt steak sandwich, our two favorite morning options will return. As will much of the dinner menu. Options are still limited, but as compared to other Walt Disney World restaurants right now, Ale & Compass will be among the better options.
Here’s a look at what we love about Ale & Compass for breakfast…
Our first time doing breakfast at Ale & Compass was entirely by chance. As noted above, we weren’t keen on our dinner here, and planned on writing the restaurant off for the foreseeable future as a result. However, we found ourselves staying at BoardWalk Inn, without any groceries for breakfast or Advance Dining Reservations for one of the other restaurants.
Nothing else had walk-up availability, meaning the options were basically this, BoardWalk Bakery, or waiting until World Showcase opened in a couple of hours. In perusing the menu, Ale & Compass had a few options that were only slightly more expensive than BoardWalk Bakery, so we decided to roll the dice on it…
Sarah ordered the Dark Chocolate Waffles: “Dried Cherry Compote, Espresso-Mascarpone Cream, Chocolate Shavings, and a choice of Bacon or Sausage.”
These were a fan-favorite at the old Captain’s Grille, but were conspicuously absent when the location reopened as Ale & Compass. Everything about these waffles was perfect–just the right amount of chocolate flavor, a rich and creamy espresso mascarpone to balance them out, and tart dried cherry compote as the literal cherry on top. Forget Mickey waffles–these are the absolute best waffles at Walt Disney World, bar none.
I ordered the Salted Caramel-Apple French Toast with bacon. This is basically an apple sandwich between two slices of french toast, and drizzled with salted caramel and topped with buttery crumble. The sandwich is like the mullet of breakfasts: healthy business in the center, blissfully decadent party on the outside.
The sandwich and mullet are totally inapt comparisons; you can’t actually eat this like a sandwich and it’s not disgusting like a mullet. To the contrary, it’s fantastic–on par with the Dark Chocolate Waffles, which should really say something. The point I’m trying to illustrate is that it’s a somewhat balanced breakfast option, and not just a sugary dessert on the breakfast menu.
All of the entrees come with a choice of bacon, sausage, or fresh fruit.
We ordered bacon and sausage since we were already getting sufficient servings of fruit in our very healthy entrees. The sausage here is the undisputed champ, as these plump house-made patties are absolutely delicious–and provided good balance to our sugary main dishes. Don’t mess with the bacon–get the sausage.
Note that during the phased reopening, those are our two recommendations (although we’re curious about other new menu items like the Blueberry-Bacon Pancakes and Smoked Pork Loin Eggs Benedict) for breakfast at Ale & Compass.
The items that follow are temporarily unavailable, although we expect both to return at some point, likely not before Spring 2021, though…
First of the temporarily unavailable items is the “Open-faced Skirt Steak Sandwich with Caramelized Onion, Poached Egg, Potatoes, Fennel, Watercress, and Tomato Salad with Truffle Vinaigrette.”
This exact item was previously on the lunch menu, except with fries in place of the tomato salad. We heaped praise on it, calling it “one of, if not the, best sandwiches I’ve tried at Walt Disney World.” The meat was tender and perfectly-prepared, and the sandwich came together incredibly well with a robust mix of savory and fresh flavors.
Second of the temporarily unavailable offerings is the breakfast buffet at Ale & Compass.
This buffet is not a fully-fledged offering like those at other Walt Disney World restaurants. Instead, it includes: “Seasonal Fruit, Assorted Yogurt Parfaits, Smoked Salmon with Accompaniment, Assorted Breakfast Pastries, House-made Granola, Bagels, Parker House Rolls, Artisanal Cheeses, Charcuterie, Smoked Trout Dip, Assorted Spreads, Jellies, Preserves, Oatmeal with Traditional Garnishes, Biscuits and Gravy.”
For our $12 and $13 entrees, adding the buffet didn’t make any sense. We’d be paying roughly $10 each for it.
Don’t get me wrong, the buffet looked decent, but for $21 (the difference between our entree prices and the cost of adding on the buffet), we could’ve ordered a third entree to split (the Breakfast Flatbread caught my eye) and still come out ahead. We didn’t do that, and it’s a good thing, as we were plenty full from our entrees.
On the other hand, the breakfast buffet would absolutely make sense if you’re doing the skirt steak sandwich, as the surcharge there is only a few dollars. Of course, that undermines the whole “value” angle of this article, but that would be a very satisfying meal, too.
That also could be a pretty good value. You could then add some fruit, cheese, meat, biscuits & gravy, and turn the still relatively inexpensive breakfast into a hearty all-you-can-eat brunch anchored by an excellent entree. Going that route would probably keep you full until dinner.
Overall, for around $25 (total, not each), we had one of the best breakfasts we’ve ever had at Walt Disney World for any price. Being able to walk-up and be immediately seated in a half-full restaurant pretty much negates all of our previous complaints about the theme, too. (Although I still really wish Disney would find a way to give this restaurant some personality.) All things considered, it’s tough to argue with breakfast at Ale & Compass if you order wisely–this is the best bang for your buck breakfast at Walt Disney World.
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Have you done breakfast at Ale & Compass? What did you think of it? Did you do the buffet? Do you agree or disagree with our review? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback—even when you disagree with us—is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!