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FOR THE TUMMY
by Debra Martin Koma
AllEars® Senior Editor
This article appeared as part of the June 22, 2004 Issue #248 of ALL EARS® (ISSN: 1533-0753)
I'd never even set foot inside this beautiful Magic Kingdom restaurant until just a few weeks ago, so I was anxious to try the character breakfast here. We went on what should have been a frenzied Saturday morning -- the first Saturday in June, also known as Gay Day -- but we were surprised to find the crowds quite manageable.
After being seated promptly at 9:30, I had a chance to survey my surroundings, which I understand recently underwent an extensive rehab. The high ceiling, bordered with stained glass panels gave the place an airy, bright feeling, which was accentuated by mirrored walls. Lots of hanging plants created the feeling you were in a true conservatory and they were complimented by numerous botanical prints on the walls.
Although nearly every table around us was taken, our server greeted us promptly and took our beverage orders. She was efficient, but in no way made us feel rushed or as if we had to immediately run up to get our food. In fact, we were able to sit and enjoy a glass of juice before we even made our first assault on the buffet.
Variety was the watchword of the two-sided buffet (with the same offerings on each side). It was well-stocked with both ordinary breakfast buffet fare, and some not-so-common items. Yes, you had your usual scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, biscuits with sausage gravy, grits, breakfast potatoes. Most of these items were well-prepared and plentiful (although during our second visit to the buffet we found the grits to be too runny and the potatoes a bit onion-heavy). There were also cheesy cheddar potatoes, and made-to-order omelets, with a range of fresh fillings, from tomatoes and peppers to ham and an assortment of cheeses. But the items that were not so run-of-the-mill are what really caught my attention.
Most notably, there was an unusual breakfast lasagna that was simply wonderful: a layered composition of pancakes, waffles, pound cake, custard and pastry cream, mingled with assorted berries, bananas, cinnamon and nutmeg. (Yes, I got the recipe!) It was, I have to say, just yummy - but definitely not a low-carb option for those watching their diets!
Also on the breakfast bar were fresh fruit, yogurt, cereals, mini-muffins, bagels, croissants and other assorted breads, as well as something I'd never noticed on a buffet before - hard-boiled eggs.
An unusual presentation of French toast also graced the buffet table. Well, they called it "puffed French toast," but to me it looked and tasted like a light raised cinnamon doughnut. This is not a complaint -- it was delicious. I also spotted, but didn't have room for, frittata and specialty pancakes -- blueberry, peanut butter and chocolate!
My sweet tooth reminds me to mention some of the outstanding breakfast "desserts," as well. Moist banana-nut bread and cinnamon bread were tasty, but the raspberry crumb cake was not as good as it looked, unfortunately -- the raspberry filling was a bit on the gloppy side. The walnut coffee cake more than made up for it. Light and clearly fresh-made that day, it was loaded with crunchy walnuts and not too sweet.
To the delight of the kids, and more than a few adults, there were specialty waffles on the children's buffet, called Pooh's Corner. Not your usual Mickey waffles -- these were made in the shapes of Winnie-the-Pooh and that bouncing Tigger. Also on the kids' buffet was a breakfast pizza with eggs and lots of cheese.
The food was so good, the atmosphere so relaxed, I almost forgot that this was, after all, a CHARACTER breakfast with Pooh and his friends from the Hundred Acre Wood. The adorable pink Piglet was stationed at the entrance of the restaurant near the eye-catching dried-flower topiaries of his storybook friends. Making the rounds were Tigger, Eeyore, and the main bear himself, Pooh. At other character breakfasts, I've found the character handlers rush you to take photos and get autographs, and the layout of the tables and buffets cause you to end up with lots of strangers in your photos. But at the Crystal Palace there seemed to be no hurry. What? Someone blinked and you need to retake that last shot? Not a problem. And the tables were spaced enough so that you could actually manage a decent shot.
The overall assessment of the Crystal Palace Character Breakfast? If you like Pooh, and if you, like Pooh, have a rumbly in your tumbly, this is the place. Breakfast here was yummy!
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.