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.
In fairness, every single criticism about the decor and lack of theme at Ale & Compass still applies. Also, despite revisiting the restaurant a handful of times, we’re still not huge fans of its cuisine. It has “won us over” not for the menu or theme, but for convenience of walk-up availability. (To be sure, we have had some good food; it’s just not a standout.)
Such was the exact scenario when we recently stayed at BoardWalk Inn. We should have made Advance Dining Reservations for Bon Voyage Breakfast at Trattoria al Forno, since readers often inquire about this, but we forgot. Unsurprisingly, there was no same-day availability.
Hungry early in the morning and without groceries in-room, our options were limited to either the abysmal counter service options around Crescent Lake, walking to Epcot or Disney’s Hollywood Studios, or Ale & Compass Restaurant. Again.
For lack of better options, we chose Ale & Compass. With several entrees that are only a few dollars more than counter service prices, we figured maybe we’d get lucky with something that wasn’t rubber bacon, fake eggs, or a greasy mess. We ended up getting far more than that…
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.
Also on the menu 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.
Another thing to note is that you can do the breakfast buffet at Ale & Compass for $23, which includes any entree. This is another post-opening addition, presumably by popular demand from fans of Captain’s Grille who were disappointed about the lack of 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.
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!