In all my years visiting Walt Disney World, I have never dined at the Crystal Palace. As a vegetarian and light eater, I tend to not get my money’s worth at buffets. The beautiful glass exterior has always beckoned to me and I wondered if the interior was just as magical. When I saw the Crystal Palace halted their buffet and added a new plant-based menu, I finally had a reason to go in!
This is a popular place. Even with a reservation, we waited 35 minutes after check-in to be seated. Once we entered through the doors, we were in a beautifully themed turn of the century style conservatory. The only thing I was not prepared for was how loud it was in there. The noise definitely took away from the ambience. I can’t even imagine what it was like when they were seated at full capacity.
Once we were seated and our server made his way to our table, we informed him that we would like to try the plant-based menu. The plant-based lunch / dinner includes dinner rolls with spreads, mixed greens salad, deep fried cauliflower with sides, and a strawberry shortcake for dessert. I was looking forward to trying all of this. However, my excitement quickly dwindled even before the meal began.
I get the feeling that not many people are ordering the plant-based option. Our server clearly didn’t understand what we were asking for that I pulled up the menu and pointed to everything that is plant-based. I tried to remain positive and friendly. After a few attempts with trying to get the right bread service, we ended up with cheddar biscuits (which I believe had bacon in it) and no spreads. I was too exhausted to go through this ordeal again. So, I gave up on the bread. Sorry, no review of the bread and spreads here.
Next, came our salad covered in blue cheese! If it were any other cheese, I would probably just eat the salad, but I can’t stand blue cheese. It would have been ridiculous for me to spend $40 on lunch and not be able to eat the bread or the salad. When I asked if we could get another salad, the server asked me to explain why blue cheese was not plant-based. After trying to explain over the deafening noise, he brought back another salad without blue cheese.
The seasonal salad came with mixed greens, tomatoes, watermelon, onions, candied walnuts and hot pepper vinaigrette The salad was fine. It wasn’t particularly memorable to me. My only complaint was that the greens were a little wilted and weren’t as crisp and fresh as I would like them to be.
Our entree came out before we finished the salad. The deep fried cauliflower came with hot maple drizzle, roasted potatoes, collard greens and steamed green beans. I like the creativity that went into this dish. The cauliflower was very flavorful and filling. I’m still not quite sure how I feel about the maple drizzle. Part of me found the sweetness it added enjoyable. The other part of me wished that the cauliflower leaned more towards savory and spicy. I found the potatoes and collard greens to be a bit bland. Admittedly, I have only had collard greens at a local Jamaican restaurant where they were cooked in jerk seasoning. I loved the green beans. They were steamed, but still had a fresh, crisp, crunch and a nice tangy lemon flavor.
Last, we had strawberry shortcake for dessert. This was the winner of the entire meal. Everything worked so well together and you could have fooled me that the cream topping was actually dairy. The cake held up nice with the juicy strawberries.
Overall, I’m happy I tried it, but I would never eat here again. It’s possible that if I had a different server then my experience might have been more pleasant and positive. I think the amount of food that you get for $40 is a good deal (for Disney). The meal also comes with a fountain drink. I left the Crystal Palace feeling very full and ready for a nap. We only went to Magic Kingdom to have lunch. I can’t imagine having a big meal like that and then going on rides afterwards. For me, I’ll probably stick with the lighter meal options when I’m spending the day at Magic Kingdom.