50s Prime Time Cafe
At Hollywood Studios, guests often choose the 50s Primetime Cafe for the extremely amusing interactions with the servers. The wait staff establishes the fun, family dining rules as soon as guests are seated: “Now kids, remember to sit up straight; elbows off the table; clean your plate; and say please and thank you.” The lighthearted enforcement of traditional family dining etiquette is the essence of this unique dining experience.
Upon arrival, the turquoise and stainless steel décor transported my guest and I back to our youth, when we ended many life events with a stop at a Jersey diner. We were seated right on time as we had a 2:15 PM reservation. The hostess led us to a “kitchenette” table, which featured a box television showing The Dick Van Dyke Show above our Formica table. Our male server stopped by and introduced himself. He was restrained, at first, as he reviewed the infamous rules in a surprisingly monotone voice. However, once he caught up with his other tables, the fun began as he used several amusing tactics to remind us to “mind our manners.”
We began our meal with Blue Claw Crab Cake. The colorful appetizer was substantial for two and featured a hearty lump crab cake served on succotash with chili sauce and crispy onions. The golden fried crab was not too bready and was enhanced by an excellent sweet and sour sauce that ignited a pleasant after burn. The mountain of crispy, onion straws, topping the dish, made eating every bite, even the lima beans, a joy.
For an entrée, I chose “A sampling of Mom’s favorite recipes – Crispy fried chicken, fork tender pot roast and traditional meatloaf with all the fixins.” We were told by our server that these are the cafe’s best dishes. My guest ordered the Chicken Pot Pie. Our plan was to sample as many homemade favorites as possible.
The sampler was attractive and plentiful as the three entrees were served nestling a scoop of mashed potatoes with gravy, and accompanied by fresh green beans and southern greens. The meatloaf was dense, yet moist and zesty. The mashed potatoes were velvety, topped with silky beef gravy. The pot roast, named as the very best by our server, was a bit dry and leathery at first, but I requested a side dish of the beef gravy to remedy the problem. The fried chicken featured light and dry breading, which was a welcome introduction to the piping hot, juicy, chicken. The buttery green beans were refreshingly crunchy and the southern greens were enhanced by smoky bacon making them extremely flavorful.
The deconstructed pot pie was eye-catching featuring a golden, airy, puff pastry cap. It was loaded with moist chicken and perfectly cooked bite-sized fresh vegetables. The carrots and peas burst with wholesome freshness.
Although we had no room for dessert, we suffered for the sake of the reader, and ordered one hot fudge sundae to share. While the homemade whipped cream was a treat, the vanilla ice cream contained a few ice crystals, but the hot fudge was cozy.
All around us, the restaurant was filled with laughter as servers worked their magic. At the table to our left, the waiter warned a cute teenage girl, “Ms. Peggy Sue, either get your elbows off the table or you’ll have a time-out on that teapot in the corner over there.” To our right, a waitress asked a family of five, “Kids isn’t it time to thank Dad, here, for bringing you to Disney World?” The dad blushed, when his three small children sang in unison, “Thank you, Daddy.”
What more can you ask from a Disney Dining experience?
Food: Good quality comfort food served in big portions. Go for the show and enjoy a hearty meal.
Atmosphere: The “fun” may not be for everyone. Televisions are blaring, servers are scolding, and guests are laughing. However, there is a warm comradery among tables as strangers from around the world become “cousins” sharing what feels like a holiday meal.
Service: In this particular Disney Restaurant, the server makes the experience. They will give you lots of ongoing attention.
Tips: Make a reservation. Go with a group. The experience is designed for a family around the kitchen table in the 50s. Request a TV table. Bring a sense of humor and be a little rebellious if only to get a spirited rise out of your server.