We all know Epcot is really at the center of Disney's culinary renaissance, but most of the attention tends to be paid to the signature restaurants in the World Showcase or on the food booths that are out during the varying festivals. But what most people miss is Coral Reef. Coral Reef is a great dining choice and also in Epcot. I, like so many guests, totally pass this place up because it is secluded and doesn't get the attention. But it is actually a great dining choice! Here is a review from our recent experience there.
I always like to start a dining review with a look at the location and decor of a place. To me that can play almost an equally important part in whether you enjoy your dining experience. Coral Reef is located on the backside of the large building that houses The Seas with Nemo & Friends. If you weren't looking for it, you might not ever even notice it. That seclusion leads to both it being a very quiet, peaceful restaurant but also that its off the beaten path. This is likely to be somewhere new for you just as it was for me!
Inside the restaurant is decorated in watery blues and greens. From the tiles to the carpets, every detail is provides for the guest a very tranquil and soothing experience. This is dramatically different than many of the other restaurants on Disney Property. So for this fact alone, I would definitely choose this restaurant as a place to retreat during a hot, long day in the parks. You can seriously recharge here.
However, the main focal point of Coral Reef is the panoramic windows into the The Seas' aquarium. The aquarium is the largest inland saltwater environment ever built and holds enough water to fill 54 Olympic-sized pools. So this thing is massive! It is also filled with over 4,000 sea creatures including fish, turtles, rays, and sharks! Every table in the restaurant is angled to the aquarium and it provides an entertainment while you dine. I found myself mesmerized by the sea creatures and the entire ambiance of the restaurant. Another plus to the aquarium is that the few children that were dining in the restaurant were relatively quiet as they were also entertained by the fish. This just further promotes the tranquility of the dining experience.
Ok, so yes, the ambiance is amazing, but what about the food?? Overall the menu is dedicated to very seasonal dishes with an emphasis on seafood. If a restaurant makes it clear that seafood is what they do, then I try to go with that so I can experience what they think is the best dish. For appetizers, I was truly torn. I wanted to try their Lobster Bisque with Brandy so badly! But as I was running the next morning, I was concerned about the heavy cream. So what did my amazing server do? She brought me a sample! It was the perfect amount to really get that taste but without getting too full on cream. The lobster bisque has been on their menu since they opened and is a perennial favorite. And I can see why! While yes, the cream is heavy, the lobster is very delicate and flavorful. I will be back for more of the bisque!
So onto the entrees! Here I was also torn! I wanted the Lobster Macaroni or the Beef Short Ribs, but the chef's favorite on the menu was the Seared Salmon Filet with Orzo Pasta and a Citrus-Beurre Blanc. I decided to give the Salmon a try. The Salmon itself was actually a tad boring. It didnt have a ton of flavor and it was also a bit on the rare side. Now with salmon that doesn't bother me, but it was not what I was hoping for. However, under the salmon, the Orzo was delicious. It was cheesy and creamy combined with a sweet cabbage slaw. The Beurre Blanc Sauce was good, but I could have used more and all over the fish. So while my choice was not that great, I did see those short ribs over at the next table was instantly jealous. Next time, short ribs...
Another thing Coral Reef is really known for is their dessert, The Chocolate Wave. Also having been served since they opened, this is a big favorite and it was worth that extra full feeling! The base of the wave is a chocolate sorbet that was incredibly warm, gooey, and chocolatey heaven. It was topped with a light raspberry cream. I planned on only eating half...that didn't happen. I ate the whole thing!
Overall, the food at Coral Reef was really quite good. It might not have broken my top 5 places to eat at Disney World, but its a solid choice. Also the ambiance alone makes this a great option on those long hot days. This is a place where you can come, recharge, eat a good meal, and then continue on your day. Disney World needs more of those!
Tara is a Disney-obsessed Mom of two active boys!