We’re back in Epcot’s World Showcase for our second meal at an in-park table service restaurant since Walt Disney World’s reopening. Following a surprisingly good meal at Tony’s Town Square in Magic Kingdom, a restaurant we don’t normally love (mild understatement), we opted to hit another restaurant that has underwhelmed us in the past.
While preparing for a trip this spring that ended up being cancelled due to all of this, I put together several posts about Walt Disney World to publish while we were gone. Several of those might never be posted (e.g. “Is Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party Still Worth It?”), but others, like our Epcot Table Service Restaurant Rankings, will be when the time is right.
On that list of the best and worst Epcot dining options, Spice Road Table ranked #13. (Still better than Le Cellier!) It probably goes without saying, but Spice Road Table was closer to “worst” than it was “best.” However, we’ve recently heard some praise from friends and Spice Road Table has outdoor seating, so we decided to give it a shot…
As we’ve mentioned in numerous posts, we are only dining outdoors for the foreseeable future while visiting Walt Disney World. Sorry if you’ve already read our rationale this, but we’re going to continually reiterate the point because we think this is a huge key to risk mitigation.
Epidemiologists point to growing evidence that transmission via fomites (touching objects, then touching eyes, nose, mouth) is minor, unlikely, and exaggerated. By contrast, there’s growing belief that aerosol transmission is much more likely, especially with prolonged personal contact or via enclosed indoor settings where aerosols remain airborne and accumulate over time.
If those studies and research are a bit dense, check out “We Need To Talk About Ventilation,” which breaks things down in lay terms. Of particular import is the super-spreader-event triad’s three V’s: venue, ventilation, and vocalization. As that also points out, in one database of over 1,200 super-spreader events, just one incident is classified as outdoor transmission.
Suffice to say, we’d strongly recommend restaurants with open air seating if you want to mitigate some risk while visiting the parks. See our Best Outdoor Dining Options at Walt Disney World for recommendations on that front.
Spice Road Table is a relatively recent addition to Epcot, having been added around five years ago. Located on the World Showcase Lagoon side of the Morocco pavilion, the restaurant features a design that could practically be described as “minimalist” as compared to the ornate and lavish Morocco pavilion on the other side of the promenade.
Nevertheless, the restaurant and its open-air setting is lovely. Even though its simple by comparison to its Morocco counterparts, Spice Road Table has a number of nice details and thematic touches. These include light fixtures, tables, and tile-work, all of which give it sufficient texture and personality.
Still, it’s the outdoor atmosphere, views across World Showcase Lagoon, and pleasant breezes off the water that define the setting. Even on a 95º day with triple-digit ‘feels like’ temperatures, our waterfront table at Spice Road Table was lovely. (The only downside is that our paper menus kept trying to blow away!)
Moving to the menu, Spice Road Table has changed pretty dramatically since opening. Originally, this was a Mediterranean small plates or tapas restaurant. That’s still a section on the menu, but it’s basically just a synonym for appetizers at this point. The rest of the menu has been converted to more substantial entrees.
We were joined for dinner at Spice Road Table by our friends Jenny and Adam, the brains behind the smash sensation, Burke Head Toys. For an appetizer, we started with the Fried Calamari with spicy Harissa and Caper-Aïoli Sauces.
This was one of my two favorite items on the previous menu of Spice Road Table, and it holds up. In fairness, there’s only “good” and “great” calamari in my book, but this definitely skews towards the latter. Hearty portions of flavorful seafood plus a comparatively light amount of batter is a winning combination. Highly recommended.
Next, we’ll dispense with their entrees pretty quickly. Jenny ordered the Mix Grill Skewers: Marinated Beef and Chicken with French Green Beans, Toasted Almonds, and Rosemary Potatoes.
She thought these were good but not great, and also a fairly straightforward option. I would add that for over $30, the value proposition with these leaves something to be desired. There are better options for the carnivorous consumers.
Adam ordered the Chili-rubbed Salmon: Quinoa Fresh Chick Peas, Orange, Raisin, Pomegranate syrup.
He seemed more keen on this dish, which offers commensurate value for money and is more ambitious while remaining fairly approachable.
Sarah ordered the Mediterranean Vegetable Platter: Harissa-Hummus Fries, Rice-stuffed Grape Leaves, Couscous Salad, and Babaganoush served with Pita.
This is probably the most adventurous item on the menu. We (sort of) shared this along with my entree, and both really enjoyed it.
The Harissa-Hummus Fries here are different from those elsewhere on the menu (and those served at Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival); this version is definitely better, with a complex spiciness (and thus a bit of a kick). Sarah loved the Babaganoush, finding it creamy and offering the perfect smoky flavor. To my surprise, I really enjoyed the Rice-stuffed Grape Leaves; I don’t know what it was about these, but they were really good.
In looking at the photos, the Mediterranean Vegetable Platter might not look that impressive or filling, but it earns high marks. It’s an especially good option for sharing.
Saving the best for last, I ordered the Coriander-crusted Rack of Lamb with Saffron Basmati Rice, Roasted Tomatoes, and Zucchini. At least in theory, this is also a good option for splitting.
In practice, that would be a colossal mistake because this is fantastic. I’ve had some really good lamb in the last year at Walt Disney World, with Jiko, Three Bridges, Be Our Guest, and other restaurants serving up solid dishes. None–not even Jiko’s iconic Lamb Shank–can touch this.
I prefer lamb dishes that lean into its natural and unique gaminess rather than trying to minimize or conceal it, and this did that perfectly. The spice-crusting complemented the meat, the lamb was tender with just the right amount of fat for flavor, and this was perfectly-prepared. This was absolutely excellent–possibly a top 5 entree in all of Epcot.
One thing I’d like to try at some point is the Three Lamb Sliders, about which a couple of friends have raved. I had the original lamb slider (that’s it above) when the restaurant first debuted, and it was one of the few bright spots on the menu then. However, I’ll be hard pressed to order anything aside from the Rack of Lamb.
Ultimately, I don’t want to heap too much praise on Spice Road Table because I do think the prices are a tad high for the portion sizes (this would be the perfect candidate for a prix fixe ‘value menu’ for lunch) and our friends didn’t have as glowing of an experience as we did. Then I think back to that glorious Rack of Lamb…and am tempted to proclaim Spice Road Table one of the top 3 restaurants at Epcot on the basis of that dish alone.
In reality, Spice Road Table is not an elite Epcot restaurant. While what we ordered was excellent, this was still not on par with our superlative experiences at Takumi-Tei shortly before the parks closed, or Monsieur Paul last year…but both of those are closed right now. With that in mind, Spice Road Table might just be Epcot’s #1 restaurant of what’s currently operational. I’d give Via Napoli the overall edge, but it really depends upon whether you want pizza (never a bad choice) or rack of lamb.
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Have you dined at Spice Road Table in the last year or two? What did you think of the meal? Anything you ordered that you particularly liked or disliked? Where do you think Spice Road Table ranks among the restaurants that are currently open at Epcot? 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!