Fresh Ideas at the
WDW Dolphin: A Review

by Debra Martin Koma
AllEars® Senior Editor

Feature Article

This article appeared in the November 25, 2003 Issue #218 of ALL EARS® (ISSN: 1533-0753)

Are you tired of run-of-the-mill breakfast buffets that offer you nothing but pancakes, waffles, eggs and bacon that have been sitting under a warming light the entire morning? Have you had it with burgers and dogs for lunch? Are you ready for something different, something unusual, something... fresh?

Then you're ready for FRESH Mediterranean Market, which recently opened in the Walt Disney World Dolphin on the site of the former Juan and Only's Mexican restaurant.

Gone are the former resident's Southwest touches; the cacti have been banished. Now colorful ceramic tiles accentuate the bright, sunny openness of the restaurant to create a truly warm, Mediterranean feel. Baskets overflowing with fresh produce fill the display cases around the kitchen area, while marble-topped counters hold attractively displayed, just-prepared foods. Make no mistake, the emphasis here is on of-the-moment ingredients and made-to-order preparation.

Breakfast at FRESH starts with a visit to the fresh juice bar. You can opt for one of their specialty blends, like the "Detox" juice, made of beets, oranges, carrots, apples, blackberries and ginger -- good for purifying your system after a night of overindulging, I was told. Or pick and choose your own blend from the fresh fruits and vegetables on display in the case. A few strawberries, a couple of chunks of apple, maybe a carrot -- each of these are tossed into an industrial-sized juicer and voil A scrumptious customized juice that doesn't come any fresher.

So what's on the buffet? Well, for the non-adventurous, FRESH offers plenty of the usual suspects: pancakes, waffles, bacon, eggs and made-to-order omelets. There's a pastry table, assorted breads, bagels, and muffins, and hot and cold cereals, but if you're looking for something a little more exotic you could also sample Cranberry-Orange or Lemon Curd Pancakes. Or maybe you'd like to try the Strawberry Cream Cheese French Toast or the Applewood Smoked Bacon and Tuscan Sausage.

Kids are not forgotten at this buffet with a twist -- on our visit, the special of the day for the little ones was Peanut Butter Pancakes sprinkled with Mini M&Ms! I was sorely tempted to try them myself, despite my very non-kid age.

Instead, I went with the Lemon Curd pancakes, which I found to be a welcome change from plain old buttermilk flapjacks. Sweet and tart at the same time, the lemon curd infused the pancakes with so much flavor, I was reluctant to drown them in syrup. Ditto the Strawberry Cream Cheese French Toast -- sweet, fresh strawberries and the creamy spread made for a breakfast treat that was almost dessert. The Cranberry-Orange Pancakes? Not so much, but maybe that's just a "your mileage may vary" kind of thing.

The plump Tuscan Sausage was lightly spicy, in contrast to the mild Bockwurst -- both were a nice departure from the common breakfast sausage. And the Applewood Smoked Bacon? Just wonderful.

There's a unique set-up at the omelet station; at least it was new to me. A series of chefs work on your individual omelet order -- the first gets it started and hands the pan to the next, who sauted any veggies or meats you may have requested. The next adds the eggs, and the last adds any cheese and finishes the omelet off. What a production! But it keeps things moving, and, unlike other restaurants, I never noticed any kind of back-up at the station throughout our breakfast.

What's breakfast without a good cup of coffee? FRESH is one of the few places on Disney property where you CAN get a good cup of coffee -- they serve rich, delicious Starbucks, a bonus for any coffee aficionado.

All in all, there was little on the buffet that I didn't enjoy, including the Bran Muffin (not my favorite type, by any stretch). This particular muffin was sugar-free, fat-free and as moist as could be. The made-daily preserves and marmalade that I sampled along with it made it even better. Don't forget to try the strawberry jam!

Speaking of fat-free, and other special diet requirements, we found that the chefs at FRESH were extremely accommodating. Requesting an Egg Beater omelet created no trouble among the chefs at all, and when we spoke to our server about other special dietary needs, she quickly brought the chef out to talk with us.

Chef Ryan Messina, who comes to FRESH from the Breakers Resort in Palm Beach, says that she's able to accommodate every special diet, from vegan to gluten-free to diabetic. If she has 24 hours notice, she adds, she can get even more creative in her offerings.

Messina notes that she's hoping to create a relaxed atmosphere where people can come together for some unique food.

"We'll be changing the menus weekly," she says, and adds with a smile, "just to keep things 'fresh'."


Practical Information:

FRESH Mediterranean Market in the lower level of the WDW Dolphin is open for breakfast and lunch ONLY.

Priority Seatings are suggested: call 407-WDW-DINE.

Breakfast Buffet: $15.95/adults; $9.95 children

Lunch Buffet: $16.95/adults; $10.95 children

Private parties may be arranged in the restaurant's Verandah Room.


Related links:

FRESH Breakfast Menu

FRESH Lunch Menu

FRESH Photos


Editor's Note: This story/information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all current rates, information and other details before planning your trip.