Saturday, March 6, 2010

Flame Tree, Earl of Sandwich and Pecos Bill – Anyone hungry yet?

Counter Services meals should be consumed at a counter. But at Walt Disney World you pick your food up at the counter and go find a table. My recollections of counter service reflects my age because I liked to park on a rotating stool and watch your food and drink being prepared (remember Woolworths). But I digress.

And for this article, I first thought about grouping my favorites by park, but now I’ve decided to present them by foods I have a taste for during the week I’m preparing the article. Today that’s Flame Tree Barbecue, The Earl of Sandwich and Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn.

Planning Tip: There are some really great “counter services” restaurants at the “World”. I recommend you do what I do, and when planning your next trip spend some time researching, such as on The Disney Food Blog and their “Best Restaurant” page. Also on the right side column of my blog there are many links that will help you find places to eat plus their menus and reviews. Take some time to read them, you won't be disappointed that you planned where you would like to eat. You can also write me an e-mail ( if you have any quesitons.

I am a barbeque fan, with award-winning home-grown Dinosaur BBQ in upstate New York, and restaurants like Smokey Bones and Piggy Pat’s just down the road a piece (some regional promotion never hurts), I can get my fill. But when I’m in a Disney park, I wasn’t quite sure, until we visited The Flame Tree Barbecue in Animal Kingdom. Smoked Barbecue Ribs, pulled pork and chicken sandwiches, baked beans and cole slow, it was a pleasure to stop twice our last trip.

One of the seating areas along the water.

At the Flame Tree BBQ the hot meals are $9-11 each but there are also salads and a fruit plate (Why did we come here?) for a little less. But don’t forget to share an order of fries or onion rings. There is plenty of outdoor seating, and various breeds of birds (like Egrets) to accompany your meal. The scenery is really nice and quiet, and be sure to look around at the pavilion carvings and jungle-design decorations. The way it’s laid out, you are out of the way of the main walkways so there is some privacy. Go there and enjoy.

The Earl of Sandwich on the other hand reminds me of deli-style stores in big cities, but without the bulk meat purchases. There are soups and salads, a wide variety of delicious carefully-designed hot and cold sandwiches, and some pre-wrapped sides and desserts. All of it is good. But it is the sandwiches that draw Mary Ann and I back to Downtown Disney for a relatively quick but well-prepared treat.

They all have names and about $6 each. Like the The Full Montagu (Roasted Beef, Turkey, Swiss & Cheddar Cheese, Lettuce, Roma Tomato & Earl's Mustard); the Original 1762 (Freshly Roasted Beef, Cheddar Cheese & Creamy Horseradish Sauce); Hawaiian BBQ (Grilled Chicken, Roasted Ham, Hawaiian BBQ Sauce, Aged Swiss Cheese & Fresh Pineapple); the Earl’s Club (Roasted Turkey, Smoked Bacon, Swiss Cheese, Lettuce, Roma Tomato & Sandwich Sauce) and Cannonballs (Meatballs, Marinara, Mozzarella & Parmesan Cheese). They also have salads (But why are we here?).

The Earl of Sandwich (menus are on the link) originated at WDW and was founded by Robert Earl of Planet Hollywood fame and the actual 11th of Earl of Sandwich Lord John Montagu. They are trying to build a nationwide chain, with about a dozen right now. This place can have a long time at times, and it’s quite popular with visitors and locals alike. I checked the listing in TripAdvisor and it’s 9th out of 1,224 eating spots in the Orlando area. For Disney fans alone, AllEars.Net is there to hear what your fellow visitors think.

Next we arrive at the Magic Kingdom and Pecos Bills Tall Tale Inn and Cafe, located in Frontierland. It has hamburgers, but what Dagwood-style burgers you can create! You order your food at a Kiosk, which I thought was a little strange, but then I noticed the fixings bar, and any apprehension I had went away. And this is a big place, tables inside and outside that means room for hundreds.

If you’re hungry, come to Pecos Bills. Combo meals like the Bacon Double Cheeseburger and ¼ pounders can double in size with a visit to fixings bar. There’s also BBQ Pork sandwiches, chicken wraps, salads and vegetarian burger (Really, but why are we here?). Last year they added a fried chicken and gravy dinner with corn. And this year they added an Angus Burger. When you add the sides (like chili cheese fries!) and desserts and you have a meal equal to the five recommended food groups.

The character Pecos Bill  is real (or maybe real folklore of the old west), but Disney adopted him to their own devices through film, cartoons and a theme park restaurant.
We all remember Melody Time, the Disney animated feature from 1948 (Don’t you?). The finale of Melody Time was a cartoon about Pecos Bill and his horse, Widowmaker. Pecos Bill in the cartoon was not too politically correct so it's not widely distributed for today’s audiences, (Pecos Bill in the cartoon, smoked.) But then came the 1995 Disney movie starring Patrick Swayze as Pecos Bill, which also featured Paul Bunyan, John Henry, and Calamity Jane. Unfortunally, not well appreciated by the fans.

Patrick Swayze at Pecos Bill
Tall Tale: The Unbelievable Adventures Of Pecos Bill

I'll be presenting many vignettes about about the Quick Service meals at Walt Disney World, for that is the purpose of A World View. These counter-service options are much faster than sit-down dining (even with the waiting-to-order and wait lines) so you get back to your real purpose for being there. Plus they are clearly less expensive for everyone particularly families. And because it is Disney, it is the meals, the settings, the environment, the people and the stories that bring us back every time. Have a magical day.