What a tasty delight to discover that the restaurant at the House of Blues in Downtown Disney West End has recently been updated. The Crossroads at House of Blues, as the restaurant is aptly named, has had its menu redesigned by Aarón Sanchez, the Food Network star chef known for his spicy, bold flavors.
My guest and I arrived for a late dinner at around 9:00pm. We were seated immediately without having a reservation to discover that the restaurant was packed with earlier diners. The crowd was equally split between families with children, obviously done with their day of exploring Disney, and groups of adults having dinner together. Since the restaurant is mostly bare wood (wood floors, wood tables, wood walls) and the conversations were plenty, it made for a loud environment. Our server had to talk over the noise so we could hear her. The nice thing was that as the place cleared out, it became easier to talk with and hear my partner.
The major turn off was the light levels! We were sitting in the back corner of the side room and it was extremely hard to read the menu because we didn’t have enough light. My guest actually downloaded a flashlight app to his phone while we were sitting there to help us out. I was glad he did because there are lots of tempting choices for one’s meal.
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The extensive appetizer list offered 11 choices, including Voodoo Shrimp, grilled flatbreads, and a number of sliders and tacos. We chose to split the highlighted Street Tacos—chargrilled citrus marinated steak served on three small corn tortillas with fresh pico de gallo and green tomatillo salsa. These were so amazingly delicious that I wished I had ordered my own plate so as to not share. I could have spooned the tart tomatillo sauce over the excellent grilled steak all night.
The entrée menu is packed full of choices as well. It ranges from market-fresh fish and a host of American classics to salads, sandwiches, and burgers. Again I decided upon a signature House of Blues soul food dish—Shrimp and Grits. Even though grits are a slightly foreign concept to me (I grew up in New York where we believe in oatmeal) I couldn’t resist the promise of jumbo shrimp and cherry tomatoes cooked in a garlic cream sauce ladled over a crispy grits cake. I am glad I am learning to love grits cakes! This dish was bit after bite of spicy goodness, with the crisp-on-the-outside, creamy-on-the-inside grits square a perfect complement to the garlic cream sauce and succulent shrimp. My only critique of the dish, and I admit to it being nit-picky, is that the shrimp could have benefitted from a little salt so it wouldn’t taste so bland in comparison to everything else.
My guest was blown over by his dinner. He ordered the Buttermilk Fried Chicken and the hearty portion size—you get half a chicken—was even more than his hungry stomach could finish. He was more than happy to let me steal a bite or two. I am not a real fried chicken lover, but the adobo seasoned buttermilk coating had so much taste it made us both want to dig in for another crunchy mouthful. While the chicken was moist, we both felt it could have been pulled from the fryer a minute earlier since it was a bit too dark for our tastes. The fried chicken was served with garlic mashed potatoes topped with applewood bacon and Cotija cheese (excellent) and fresh citrus champagne slaw. The slaw was the only disappointment because the thin dressing hardly carried any flavor.
Dessert was a must since we had been so happy with everything else we ate. We went with our server’s suggestion, the Bourbon Bread Pudding. It tasted like bananas foster, being made with bananas, white chocolate, and challah bread. The bourbon caramel sauce pooled around the bread pudding was to die for. The dessert is worth ordering to taste that alone. Leaving stuffed and satisfied, my guest and I can’t wait to go back to Crossroads at House of Blues to try everything else on the menu.
Food – The restaurant specializes in American soul food which celebrity chef Aarón Sanchez has kicked up a notch with his bent for spicy seasoning. Portions are generous. We really were happy with everything we ordered and we look forward to going back.
Atmosphere – the place is decorated to celebrate soulful art, music, and food. The walls are decorated with folk art and tributes to many legendary blues players. I especially liked the eye-catching, colorful folk art since it brings such vibrancy to the place. One serious complaint—the lighting, especially where we were seated, should be brighter.
Service –Our server Brittany was excellent. She didn’t shy from sharing her favorites or answering our questions to help us make our choices. Food came out from the kitchen hot and quickly in the hands of expert runners.
Tips – Try a later meal to avoid the crushed main dining hours. We liked how the place thinned out.
The DisDining Mama Says – The children’s menu for kids 12 and under offers very safe choices. It lists the standard chicken tenders, grilled cheese, hot dog, and pizza. I recommend walking your kids around the restaurant, patio courtyard, and store to teach them about the style of American folk art.