My latest stop on the Culinary Quest landed us at the traditional Disneyland dining staple of the Plaza Inn. Other restaurants and menus may come and go, but Plaza Inn on Main Street U.S.A. remains a favorite of many. Plaza Inn used to be a constant in the dining rotation of my family and I, but recently we have been eating at other places. This is not due to any specific reasons, but like that great shirt you forgot about in the closet, Plaza Inn was simply passed by whenever we were in search of food.
We chose a rainy night at Disneyland to partake in Plaza Inn’s dinner offerings. They are best known for their fried chicken dinner, but they also have pasta, cobb salads, desserts, and beef (I will explain that later). Rather than list all of their menu choices and prices, I will just send you to the menu at www.wdwinfo.com for that information.
This was our first experience with the new counter service restaurant seating policy already in place at Walt Disney World restaurants. Much of the Plaza Inn’s seating is located outside under umbrellas, but the rain forced most of the outdoor seating to be off limits. As a result, the cast members did not allow guests into the ordering lines until a table was available. We waited a few minutes before we were allowed to order.
On previous trips, we would always order a pasta, fried chicken, or pot roast. This time, we ordered a $6.49 kid’s meal of penne pasta for our son. The default choice is meat sauce, but we were able to order the pesto cream sauce. Marinara is available also, as these are the choices for the adult pasta entree. We all sampled the pasta and were pleased with it. In fact, our son wanted me to ensure the readers that he “loved it!” Included in the kid’s meal was a breadstick, carrots, apples, and a drink. This was more than enough food for our eight year old son, and could easily be split between two younger children. The other option for kids is a baked or fried chicken leg, mashed potatoes, veggie, and drink for $6.99.
My wife ordered the fried chicken plate. It came with a breast, wing, and thigh as well as mashed potatoes, green beans, and a biscuit for $13.49. I know it is not Publix, but she thought it tasted outstanding. It was hot, moist, crispy, and flavorful. She even brought some of the chicken home to finish the next day. So in this case, the Plaza Inn specialty lives up to its name.
On the other hand, now it is time to explain the choice of the word “beef.” This is where my love affair with the Plaza Inn ended on a rainy night. Being an old fashioned meat and potatoes eater, one of my favorite things to get had always been the pot roast with mashed potatoes, green beans, and a biscuit — just like my childhood growin’ up on the farm. In reality, I grew up in San Diego as far from rural life as possible, but at least I can pretend. Anyway, I had always enjoyed the tenderness and flavor of the traditional pot roast dinner. When I perused the menu, I realized my beloved pot roast had been replaced by “Roast Sirloin Strip – seasoned and roasted to perfection with au jus.” Of course, the price was raised by about $1.50 as well. This sirloin strip was aptly described previously as “beef,” nothing more, nothing less. It was under seasoned and over cooked. Put simply, it should have been listed as a slab of meat rather than the euphemism of a roast sirloin strip.
Whenever we visit the Happiest Place on Earth, we are always reminded that what makes it special isn’t the food, the rides, or the merchandise. It is the great cast members. Fortunately, we had another reminder of this on our trip to the Plaza Inn. Her name is Sally. She was the cashier that did her job with an extra bit of magic. She was really friendly and when presented with my credit card, asked me whether I went by Anthony or Tony…nice. She reminded us that free refills were available and offered us a to go cup when we paid. When we went back to get a container for the extra chicken (while helping another customer, mind you), Sally didn’t miss a beat and said, “How can I help you, Tony?” Think of all of the customers she handles each day, and she called me by my name like she was an old family friend! On our way out of the park, we made sure to visit Guest Services and officially recognize her great attitude. Sally is what makes Disneyland, Disneyland. So all in all, our dining experience had some hits and some misses. If you visit the Plaza Inn for dinner, tell Sally that Tony says, “Hi.”