Brown Derby Lounge, Disney’s Hollywood Studios – our first visit

We recently made our way over to Disney’s Hollywood Studios to check out the new “lounge” at The Brown Derby. This venue opened on October 30 and we visited on November 12 (less than two weeks, not too shabby; we were finishing up Food & Wine events). Our hope was that by waiting a little while, the service would have been more “set-in” than early reviews indicated.

The Lounge uses the outdoor patio and the tiled floor area between the main dining room and the patio area. The tables on the patio were high tops for 2-4 guests (although 4 would be quite cramped) and larger standard patio tables (glass topped) that can seat up to six. The chairs at the larger tables were padded and more comfortable. The indoor tiled area seemed to be used by the dining room on our visit, there was a large family group that took up most of the area and we didn’t see any walk-ups for the Lounge using that space.

Brown Derby Lounge First Tastes November 2013 - 1

View of patio area, about 4:30 on a Tuesday afternoon in November

The tables are nicely "attired", large umbrellas and lights for evening - would have been nice to have a tablecloth, but there's an umbrella coming through the middle

The tables are nicely “attired”, large umbrellas and lights for evening – would have been nice to have a tablecloth, but there’s an umbrella coming through the middle

The lounge menu is rather nice, there are six “tapas or small plates” dishes, three desserts, and numerous adult beverages to chose from (Sarah from EatingWDW has a review of her lunch there and she includes copies of the menus).

Of course, we started with cocktails…

Brown Derby Lounge first taste November 12 2013 - 1

Nora’s Cocktail – The Jack Diamond

The Jack Diamond is Maker’s Mark, Sweet Vermouth, and Bitters ($9.75 a very reasonable price) (it took about 7 minutes to get my drink). Nick ordered a Boulevardier made with Woodford Reserve (it took 25 minutes and didn’t appear on the final bill – 1st of all, our server didn’t understand what it was, the outdoor/lounge bartender had to go inside to get the Campari and the Woodford Reserve) – in the end, it was pretty doggoned good although nick said that the orange peel should have been bruised more (not bad for a first attempt). I thought that his Boulevardier was possibly better than the Jack Diamond.

Nick's Boulevardier - all good in the end

Nick’s Boulevardier – all good in the end

It’s worth noting, that we’re nearly 30 minutes into this experience and although we know who our server, he hasn’t introduced himself (turns out his badge said “Remy”, we strongly suspect that he was wearing the “default badge” that most restaurants keep in reserve for when servers forget their name badges; he surely didn’t look like a “Remy” 🙂 ).

We asked for still bottled water, perhaps the confusion re: the Boulevardier caused the delay in getting the water… It took 15 minutes to get the water. Nick observed that with the way that tables were being seated and served AND the number of people taking a look at the menu and getting up and walking away – it’s going to be difficult to turn tables very fast and that the servers won’t be getting much money if assigned to the Lounge (the food is cheaper than in the restaurant if it takes the same amount of time, the servers won’t be able to make very much… tips will be less and total bills will be less).

We had decided on our food before we journeyed over to Disney’s Hollywood Studios… Nick ordered the Derby Cocktail and I ordered the Prince Edward Island Mussels (of course we shared).

Derby Cocktail - Shrimp & Avocado, Lump Crab, Bloody Mary & Horseradish Sauce

Derby Cocktail – Shrimp & Avocado, Lump Crab, Bloody Mary & Horseradish Sauce

Our first thought, there wasn’t much there for the cost. The sauce was VERY good, the plating sucked… can you see the bottom of this dish? That’s ALL that was on the table, thank goodness Nick is very cautious and didn’t tip his whole plate over onto the table when he tried to spear a bit of crab.

Brown Derby Lounge First Tastes November 2013 - 4

Remy suggested that Nick pour the bloody mary sauce into the bowl and dip the seafood into it

The dish would have been more balanced with about 50% more crab. The crab was tasted nice and was very clean tasting. The salt on the rim was a nice touch, it went really well with the lumps of crab. Surprisingly, the shrimp wasn’t overcooked – thank goodness! The level of horseradish in the bloody mary sauce was very nice for us, you could taste the horseradish without being overwhelmed. Nick said that he would definitely order this again.

Brown Derby Lounge First Tastes November 2013 - 5

Lump crab meat on the rim of a very tippy plating

So, what about the mussels?

It was a good sized portion for the cost, they weren’t overcooked… However, I really needed bread and a bowl for the shells in order to enjoy them fully…. Remy brought both of these right away (but a bit sad that I had to ask)…

Prince Edward Island Mussels - bacon, white wine & butter sauce, onions, finely diced peppers

Prince Edward Island Mussels – bacon, white wine & butter sauce, onions, finely diced peppers

The sauce was great. There were about 20 mussels in my serving.

DO NOT order this if you’re dainty! You’re going to get messy slurping up the mussels and making sure that you get every drop of the wine & butter sauce off of the shells. This was very good & we will definitely order it again!

We were at the Brown Derby Lounge for 1 hour from sitting down until paying our bill and leaving.

Remy did well, a bit slow to start but he was serving about 1/2 of the patio area.

We will definitely be back to the Brown Derby Lounge in the not so distant future. We’re looking forward to the sliders and the duck confit tacos (it’s very nice to see how the kitchen is repurposing existing components into something new).

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