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5 Things You Will Love about The Hollywood Brown Derby

 

The Hollywood Brown Derby, located on Hollywood Boulevard in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, is a recreation of the original Brown Derby, a famous Hollywood landmark and favored watering hole for the celebrities of the time.  While there were multiple Brown Derby restaurants, Disney’s version is a recreation of the Vine Street location. Located in close proximity to the movie studios, it became THE place for Hollywood elite to see and be seen. To have a reserved booth at the Derby, where the waiters would bring the phone right to your table, became a sign of Hollywood prestige.

 

Step inside The Hollywood Brown Derby and you’ll be welcomed into an enchanting teak and mahogany oasis of old Hollywood glamour. The menu offers contemporary American cuisine and classic cocktails, complete with a few signature dishes that were found on the original Brown Derby menu in the 1930s. There’s much to love about the Brown Derby, but here are five of my favorite reasons to make a reservation:

5. The Attention to Detail

In typical Disney fashion, no detail was missed when creating the replica of the Brown Derby. The entry way, signage, and decor are identical to the original and with just a little bit of imagination, it’s easy to believe you’ve stepped back in time and are eating in the golden age of Hollywood.

True to the original, the walls are covered with caricatures of the restaurant’s famous clientele. Before leaving the restaurant, be sure to take a moment to walk around and see how many stars you recognize. While most of the caricatures are copies, the gold frames signify the originals. Take note of the other special touches such as the derby hats used as lampshades and the photographs and memorabilia from the original restaurant.

4. The Atmosphere (and the air conditioning)

When you’re feeling worn out from the crowds and chaos of the park, The Hollywood Brown Derby is a perfect retreat. You’ll be seated at a comfortable booth or table and offered a cold beverage from a gracious server. The noise levels are a bit quieter and you can relax in the powerful air conditioning. You’ll be recuperated and ready to hit the park again in no time.

While the atmosphere is slightly formal, you do not need to worry about dress code and will be perfectly welcome in theme park attire. Service is professional without being stuffy. The meal is a bit slower paced and provides a welcome opportunity for downtime, but it may not be the best option if your goal is to ride as much as possible. However, you could also make a reservation for later in the evening and continue your dinner after the park closes to avoid missing valuable ride time.

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3. Recipe Cards

The Hollywood Brown Derby is especially known for two signature items – Cobb salad and grapefruit cake. If you enjoy your meal, you can pick up the recipe cards for these specialties on the way out. Next time you’re dreaming about your meal or longing for a Disney fix, pull out the recipes and recreate these dishes at home.

2. Dining with an Imagineer

The Hollywood Brown Derby offers a special experience where guests can dine with an Imagineer. Dining with an Imagineer lunches are limited to 10 people and are hosted in the Derby’s private Bamboo Room. You will have the opportunity to hear about an Imagineer’s job and then ask questions. You will even go home with a personalized menu, group photo, and a signed commemorative plate. This is a special way to get a behind the scenes look at how Disney operates while enjoying the delicious fare of the Brown Derby.

1. The Classic Menu (Cobb Salad and Grapefruit Cake)

The menu offers several classic items that were served at the original 1930’s restaurant, but a visit to the Brown Derby is not complete until you’ve tried the Cobb salad and the grapefruit cake.

The Brown Derby was the birthplace of the Cobb salad. The story goes that owner Bob Cobb raided the refrigerator for leftovers when loyal customer and theater magnate Sid Grauman came in requesting a midnight snack. Having just had dental work, Sid needed his salad finely chopped and the rest is history. The Hollywood Brown Derby still serves Cobb’s original recipe of finely chopped greens, tomato, bacon, egg, blue cheese, chives, avocado, and French dressing. A large platter of beautifully composed salad is presented to the table and then tossed tableside and served to each guest.

Grapefruit cake is a Brown Derby institution. The legend holds that regular patron Louella Parsons (a powerful gossip columnist at the time) complained that all of the Derby’s desserts were too fattening. In order to appease the frequent customer, the chef added grapefruit (an iconic diet food) to his usual cake. His creation was a hit and grapefruit cake has been a mainstay on the Brown Derby menu ever since. In this classic dish, layers of moist yellow cake and fresh grapefruit cream cheese icing create a dessert that is satisfying but light. The stunning presentation, with dried grapefruit and a grapefruit sauce drizzle, is always a beautiful way to end the meal.

The Hollywood Brown Derby is a restaurant I look forward to visiting on every Walt Disney World trip. I love the atmosphere, the old Hollywood glamour, and of course, the food. A popular choice with guests, reservations fill quickly. Be sure to call 180 days in advance to book your table.

About Jordan Hamons

Jordan Hamons first visited Disney when she was 3 years old and has been back every year since. She's visited Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Disneyland Paris, Hong Kong Disneyland, and Aulani but hopes to make it to every Disney property in her lifetime. While she used to plan her trips around character autographs, she's now more focused on the food. Jordan lives in Cincinnati where she works as a chef, cooking teacher, food and travel writer, and blogger. She studied marketing and international business at the University of Cincinnati and received her culinary training at the Midwest Culinary Institute. Jordan is a seasoned traveler and has spent time eating and cooking in Europe and Asia. A passionate baker and dessert eater, Jordan loves teaching classic techniques and international flavors. You can visit her culinary travel blog at www.TheHungryTravelerBlog.com.