New (and Improved?) Menu at Brown Derby
Walt Disney World has announced new food coming to the Brown Derby this month. This post dispenses with dish details, with photos of the attractive appetizers, enticing entress, and decadent desserts coming to the Signature Restaurant at Hollywood Studios. Plus, thoughts on our most recent meals at Brown Derby.
According to Walt Disney World, the Golden Age of Hollywood has received additions–with The Hollywood Brown Derby at Disney’s Hollywood Studios recently launching menu updates. The culinary team masterfully put together dishes featuring the freshest of ingredients for Summer 2023.
For those unfamiliar with it, Brown Derby is nestled between Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, Animation Courtyard, Hollywood Boulevard, and Sunset Boulevard. The restaurant features contemporary American cuisine, and this summer menu is no different–with several new additions from the kitchen.
Whether you’ve been here before or want to try this restaurant for the first time, The Hollywood Brown Derby has something for everyone to enjoy. (Those are Disney’s words, but we also think Brown Derby is pretty crowd-pleasing by Signature Restaurant standards. It’s definitely the most adventurous and ‘adult’ restaurant at DHS, though.)
Anyway, here’s a look at what’s cooking over at the Hollywood Brown Derby for Summer 2023…
The appetizers have several eats that are packed with flavor. Starting off, we’ve got some seafood options resurfacing for you. The Crab Louie features crispy olive bread, citrus blend, fried capers, and Louie sauce.
For those shrimp fans out there, the Shrimp Cocktail is topped with shaved fennel cucumbers and a traditional cocktail sauce.
There are two items for cheese lovers. The Heirloom Tomato and Burrata Salad combines shaved onions, Thai basil, gremolata, and a delicious citrus vinaigrette, while the Charcuterie Board features the Chef’s selection of cured meats, cheeses, and accompaniments.
For the more adventurous eaters, the Escargot is accompanied by roasted garlic béchamel and crispy prosciutto and the Roasted Bone Marrow is composed of braised beef, pickled mustard seeds, and a fig bread crostini.
The Brown Derby entrée menu has been updated with a variety of options for everyone to enjoy. Let’s start with some new ones for the land lovers out there.
The classic Filet Mignon is paired with glazed carrots, potato pave, horseradish cream, and a tasty peppercorn sauce to finish it off. The Lamb Shank is accompanied with summer vegetables, harissa vinaigrette, and nasturtium chermoula.
The new Free-Range Chicken and Dumplings brings together these two classics with a lemon-ricotta Gnudi, shishito cream, and a gooseberry jus.
If you like pork, the recently added Grilled Pork is right up your alley with a mouthwatering lavender-sage polenta and local corn salsa, complete with a huckleberry barbecue sauce.
The seafood aficionados have a couple options to choose from as well – the new Sustainable Fish and the Seafood Cioppino. The Sustainable Fish with white bean ragout, derby summer vegetables, and roasted tomato emulsion is another new addition to the menu.
The Seafood Cioppino brings together favorites from the sea with shrimp, sea scallops, seasonal fish, mussels, a toasted baguette, and aromatic tomato broth.
The Hollywood Brown Derby’s latest rendition of a classic comfort food dish is Shepherd’s Pie.
This new dish combines roasted garlic mashed potatoes, mushrooms, peas, corn, and carrot Romesco into a plant-based plate.
For those looking for the classic Brown Derby dishes, the fan-favorites are still here to stay for both lunch and dinner. The Famous Cobb Salad is a classic, and for good reason. This famous dish is made up of spit-roasted turkey, bacon, egg, tomatoes, blue cheese, avocado, and a classic dressing. If you want to enhance this dish even more, you can add chicken or shrimp. (We don’t think those ‘enhancements’ do anything–the salad is perfect as-is.)
The sweet tooths out there will be pleased to know that the sweet staple, the Grapefruit Cake, isn’t going anywhere. This Brown Derby original combines a moist vanilla sponge cake, grapefruit syrup, and cream cheese icing into one of Walt Disney World’s most iconic desserts.
Normally, we probably wouldn’t share a menu update announcement for the Hollywood Brown Derby. It’s really not the type of thing that gets the people going–it’s probably fair to say that none of you have been on pins and needles waiting for a new menu for Brown Derby to drop. Even though it’s one of the few in-park Signature Restaurants, it’s only like the 5th most popular table service option at DHS. And that’s not saying much given the number of table service restaurants in Hollywood Studios!
In this case, we’re sharing because it’s a golden opportunity for a belated-but-brief review of Brown Derby that we’ve dragged our feet on doing. This blog isn’t known for brevity, but neither of our meals in the last year or so elicit much wordiness. They simply were not all that good or memorable. The Hollywood Brown Derby was just okay. Average by table service standards at Walt Disney World when not taking price into consideration.
Portion sizes were small, dishes were dry, flavors were muted, and presentation was pedestrian. While average or slightly below relative to all table service restaurants at Walt Disney World, Brown Derby has been, without question, the least ambitious or inventive Signature Restaurant that we’ve done post-reopening, and that includes a couple of meals at Le Cellier.
It’s obviously not the subject of this post, but Le Cellier, on the other hand, has pleasantly surprised on both occasions. Granted, we don’t have high expectations for Le Cellier and it’s a steakhouse, so ‘envelope-pushing’ isn’t what we do expect of it, but it was surprisingly good–and seems to be trending upwards!
The specific dishes we had at Brown Derby don’t really matter. Part of why we haven’t done standalone reviews is that 3 of the 4 entrees are now gone from the menu. The bottom line is that our complaints were similar for everything we ordered. Brown Derby struck us as overpriced and under-ambitious, and we would’ve preferred doing Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater or Minnie’s Seasonal Dine. We actually ate at ABC Commissary a few hours after one of our Brown Derby meals, and wished we just would’ve done that instead (taking into account quality, portion sizes, and–most importantly–the massive cost disparity).
Anyway, the point with all of this is that this is one restaurant that could use a shot in the arm, and we’re hoping the new menu at Hollywood Brown Derby is an improvement from what we’ve ordered in the past year. Based on the photos and descriptions, it certainly looks like both of those things could be the case. I’m particularly intrigued by the escargot, roasted bone marrow, and lamb shank. All of those dishes sound ambitious but comforting–a feast that would get Gordon’s and Gaston’s seals of approval!
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Thoughts on these new menu items debuting at the Hollywood Brown Derby for Summer 2023? Have you dined here recently? How do you think Brown Derby stacks up to other Signature Restaurants at Walt Disney World, or other table service options at Disney’s Hollywood Studios? Do you agree or disagree with our assessments? 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!
This is always a must do for us at HS over the years- however during our trip this past December it was a letdown. Not only did the menu seem sparse but the food itself was pretty underwhelming- I ordered the seafood dish you mentioned with the tomato base and bread and it was super salty. Also when we were finished the waiter did not give us our fantasmic tickets- when we asked he basically turned red and apologized saying if he had known we would had a very different experience- whatever that means . We did eventually get our tickets from the hostess but was really a letdown overall.
We still love the Lounge but don’t choose the restaurant unless we have a big group. I always get the Cobb Salad and a cocktail and maybe share one of the appetizers, so it’s been pretty standard. It’s expensive people watching now that we don’t have TIW to use out there, but it’s still our beloved routine.
Looking forward to the new menu – have a reservation on June 10 – it’s unfortunate to read so many differing (most negative) reviews. We ate there last Sept. – dinner one day and lounge walk up another – and both times were great. We do very little counter service so have eaten at most of the sit downs as we visit yearly. Here’s hoping a positive review for next month.
Hope you enjoy the meal! I’ll be there the day after you, hoping that Sunday will be less crowded than Saturday.
We like the Brown Derby simply because the other sit down options are too heavy, with giant portions. The new Roundup Rodeo sounds like more in that vein: lovely theming but food that’s not the best for Florida weather where both the food and people are either baked, fried, or steamed.
They used to toss the Cobb Salad for you right at the table, and the last time we were there, they did not. I missed the show of seeing it mixed for me at the table.
I thought this same thing.
Totally agree–that’s a little touch that’s missing.
I feel like that change happened before the closure, though. I don’t recall when, but we often order the Cobb Salad, and feel like it’s been *at least* 5 years since they tossed it tableside. Perhaps longer, as time has flown.
My mom and I ate there a few weeks ago, and our server did toss our salads for us. Maybe we got lucky, or maybe it depends on the server.
Our wonderful waiter (looked like an old-timer there, Raul, maybe?) tossed ours tableside in October and it was perfect as always.
We’ve been there recently, at the insistence on another Disney super fan saying it was a must-do, but much like you we thought the food wasn’t good. About the only thing appealing was the artwork, if you’re into the older original sketching type. While some of the items you list as new can actually be found at other restaurants at the differing parks. I can see they may have added a Disney wording flare here or there to a sauce or dish description but they’re all basically the same. Perfect example, the filet mignon is the exact same here as it is at CRT and BOG, down to the “glazed carrots”. Not very imaginative. But hopefully it will be better than last time we went.
Weird. I checked the menus for CRT and BOG and found no duplicates with the Brown Derby.
That being said, I wouldn’t be surprised if the steak offerings sounded similar. In my experience, people who order the steak often do so because the other menu items look to be too unfamiliar. Thus those dishes are tailored for a more conservative palate and certainly will always feature potatoes.
I am by no means an expert on restaurants. My sister owns two restaurants, and while we’ve discussed menus and marketing strategies, that’s not the same as actually running one. My take on how Disney presents its food generally is that it’s oriented toward the average American who is most familiar with chain restaurants. I’ve often eaten with friends and relatives whose experience doesn’t extend much past a popular chain, and they specifically look for items on the menu they recognize. Inventive, creative dishes confuse them, especially since they likely contain ingredients they’ve never heard of.
So what Disney does is craft a menu that consists of standard recipes that anyone familiar with the Cheesecake Factory might have heard of. Looking at the menu for the Brown Derby up today, the menu items are “Grilled Pork*,” “Filet Mignon,” “Shepard’s Pie,” etc. This simplification also makes it easier for people who don’t speak English particularly well.
This is especially true since the Brown Derby is supposed to be recreations of classic dishes served in the heyday of Hollywood, dishes that by now are classics. I don’t expect to see a menu of nouveau cuisine at the Brown Derby, but I would expect a creative presentation, excellent service, and a well-made cocktail.
Sadly, it’s pretty common for mid-tier restaurants to use the exact same cuts of meat bought in bulk from the same supplier and prepare them slightly differently. (It used to be a typical practice with NY Strip Steak, in particular.)
Usually, that does not happen at Signature Restaurants, but nothing would surprise me post-reopening. In perusing online menus, it looks like the three restaurants all have different preparations now, though. Lots of menu changes in the last several months (and mostly good ones), so hopefully that was one of them.
That honestly all sounds really good… but I’m sure we will be eating over at Roundup Rodeo BBQ next trip! Ha! Honestly my new favorite things at HS are Quick service kids items…! The grilled cheese and tomato soup kids meal at Woodys Lunchbox, and the veggie kids meal at Docking Bay. Last few times we have done any sit downs at HS they were really a let down. I do prefer the atmosphere at Brown Derby so it would be nice if the food matched! I’ve resorted to snacking my way around HS then going to beaches and cream after the park closes!
First – I’m glad to hear ABC Commisary has improved. We ate there in 2002 and it was awful. We forgot how bad and ate there again in ~2018 and it was still awful. 🙂 The Brown Derby now holds a somewhat special place in our hearts because we ate there when WDW had reopened after the pandemic shutdown; it was our first meal in a restaurant in 1~1.5 years. We paid money and some man brought us bread and other food. And when we were done we just walked away and someone else did the dishes. It was magical! We shared a Cobb salad and something else and the salad was indeed as good as advertised.
We were there last March as part of the Fantasmic Dining experience. We were not impressed and when the cost was considered, it made it feel worse. Of the restaurants we dined at during our 8 days, this was the unanimous pick as the worst.
This is perfectly timed good news! It is my favorite place to eat at Hollywood studios, and I have reservations in two weeks.
I don’t know if they were testing some of these when I went in late March, but I ate at the lounge and I know I had that exact bone marrow because I have a picture that looks absolutely identical. I was thinking at the time how nice it was to eat at the lounge, as I was able to snag a walk-up for it and get a shady spot watching all the people walking by. But as for the bone marrow – it was like a carmelized beef stew with a really earthy flavor, and there was surprisingly more than I thought they could shove into the bone. The greenery and the fig crackers didn’t do much for it, but they were nice to have to fill it out (as I paired this appetizer with a side of brussel sprouts and a grapefruit martini for a perfect-sized dinner.) I’d do that again, as it was unique and ambitious enough to make me feel satisfied.
On another note – I am absolutely in love with ABC Commisary’s Arugula/Apple/Oat salad?? My partner and I order two side portions for a lunch and it’s less than ten dollars for the pair of us for a meal at Disney. But the shrimp tacos are surprisingly good, too. I should try that buffalo chicken melt thing one day…I vaguely recall you giving it praise a bit ago.
That’s great to hear about the bone marrow–sounds similar to what was served at Takumi-Tei pre-closure!
As for ABC Commissary, totally agree on the salad; you’re also right that I love the buffalo chicken grilled cheese. It’s my go-to on a hot day when I’m testing strategy, have downtime, and want to hang out indoors for a bit. Although lately I’ve been testing new items…and forgetting to review them (you’re not missing much).
We ate there within the last year and the grapefruit cake was totally different. We were told that it was the “new” grapefruit cake. It was not good.
Oof, that’s not good to hear. Both times we skipped the grapefruit cake in favor of new/seasonal desserts. Despite looking pretty, those were also not good. The baked alaska was shockingly bad, and tasted freezer burnt.
Keep the Cobb Salad!