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Restaurant Review: Mythos at Universal's Islands of Adventure

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Published: June 21, 2010 at 10:03 AM

Mythos, one of only two full-service restaurants at Universal Orlando's Islands of Adventure, is a past-winner of Theme Park Insider's Best Theme Park Restaurant Award. (It was usurped last year by Chefs de France at Epcot.)

Despite what all the attention surrounding the Wizarding World of Harry Potter might suggest, the rest of the Island of Adventure theme park is still open, and Mythos is a top contender for the Best Theme Park Restaurant Award again this year. Here's an update on what you can expect in a meal at Mythos.

You can submit your own rating and review on TPI's Mythos listing page.

Readers' Opinions

From Joshua Counsil on June 21, 2010 at 12:14 PM
Scott's sentiments mirror my own. I recall dining at Mythos about seven years ago and being able to eat some variety of salmon that was very appetizing and allowed me to power through the remainder of the theme park without feeling groggy. Although the food is still good, on my last visit I recall nearly every guest in the restaurant ordering the exact same thing they would have ordered at a counter service establishment: burgers. Everywhere you looked was a burger. To be fair, the burgers were much better than what you would receive at a fast food joint (my brother ordered one). Still, I couldn't understand why every tourist, each of whom had probably been eating nothing but fast food for their entire trip, wanted to eat a burger when there were more interesting options available.

Still, Mythos is one of the better in-park restaurants, much better than last week's pick. And I agree that the servers genuinely seem to enjoy working there. I'm not surprised - the room is very comfortable and serene.

From Robert Niles on June 21, 2010 at 1:44 PM
I'd intended to stop in Mythos when I was at Islands of Adventure last week, but with the crush of work I never had the chance.

It saddens me that Universal hasn't been able to connect with an audience in a way that would allow Mythos to continue to pursue an aggressive menu in a way that would reward diners who are looking for that type of cuisine. Ultimately, that was the whole point of this award - to communicate to the public "Hey, this restaurant offers something beyond burgers. If you care about great cuisine, please give it a try."

Ordering a burger in Mythos defeats the point. But if that's what Mythos feels like it has to offer in order to sell to the public, well, then that defeats the point of the award.

Hey, we tried.

From Rhys Evans on June 21, 2010 at 6:33 PM
That's disappointing. I dined there only once, about 6 years ago. At the time I thought it was not only one of the best "theme park" meals I had ever experienced, it was simply one of the best meals of my life! No joke.
From Rob P on June 22, 2010 at 1:13 AM
I do agree that Mythos selling burgers may not be what you would expect from any restaurant with aspirations but I think we have to be realistic.

Restaurants the world over are suffering badly right now and they all have to do something to maintain a sufficient number of covers to stay open.
If Mythos has to introduce burgers onto it's menu so that the more discerning diners can continue to have what they prefer then so be it.
Finding the wisdom of Solomon in a Land of wonder should applauded rather than criticised.
It could be that without a concession to the mass audience Mythos might disappear altogether. It doesn't much matter to me if everyone else in the establishment sat knee deep in burgers so long as the menu still catered for my tastes too.
That Mythos has made efforts to stay solvent and popular and still retain a decent standard is deserving of an award in itself don't you think ?.

From Robert Niles on June 22, 2010 at 7:34 AM
I'd never argue that Mythos should put itself in a position where the restaurant's viability would be endangered.

To me, though, it stinks that the public didn't turn out for what Mythos once offered, forcing the restaurant to become what it now is - an outstanding restaurant but not the fine dining one it once was.

Let's put this in the context of the Universal Orlando resort, though. I do believe that many potential visitors to the resort over the past three years put off their visits, choosing to wait until Harry Potter opened. That left attendance suffering at UOR, and the resort turning to discounts to keep the attendance numbers respectable.

When you're using discounts to drive traffic, though, you end up with a value-focused clientele, one that's not looking for fine dining. Thus, the burgers, etc.

With the "premium"-focused crowd now returning to UOR after the opening Harry Potter, I hope that Steven Jayson gives it another go at Mythos - perhaps offering a "Hogwarts Feast" tasting menu in the evenings, inspired by the food of England and Scotland, as a way to tie into Harry Potter and to attract visitors who are open to a fine dining experience again.

Mythos did what it had to do. But Jayson and his team have talent that they're not showing right now. I wish for them to find a way to show all of that talent again. With Harry Potter bringing attendance back to the resort, that opportunity might be here.

From Joshua Counsil on June 22, 2010 at 9:22 AM
Robert -
I love the nightly feast idea. The building doesn't fall too far from the theme, and the potential to bring great food to the restaurant would be supported as long as Harry's name was associated with it.
From Rob P on June 22, 2010 at 10:17 AM
I mostly concur with Robert. However if a shoe doesn't fit etc.
Mythos was, and still can be, a lovely establishment. It's attempt at introducing fine dining to Universal's Islands of Adventure was very much welcomed.
I don't think I'm alone when I say that I've eaten at some of the better restaurants on offer around Europe and whenever I've been to the US too. I'm sure that most , if not all, of the TPI readers can say the same.
That said I'm also not in any way,shape or form what is called a "food snob".
I'm not a fan of burgers but I'll happily eat one and enjoy it. I've also paid $150 for a tasting menu at a fine dining restaurant and been seriously disappointed.
I don't much hold with discriminating against those seeking honest fare at reasonable prices. They shouldn't have to eat "convenient food" in less elaborate environments.
Some of the best eateries on the continent charge exhorbitant amounts for steak tatare which. all said and done, is an uncooked burger made with extremely fresh , top quality beef.
But what's in a name ?
The real question here is whether fine diners want exclusivity from everyone else.No rabble allowed when the table cloths are laid out. Anywhere other than a theme park I would agree that this is acceptable but it is a theme park and it isn't acceptable.
If I want to source a top restaurant I can always look outside of the parks and when I'm visiting Universal or Disney just be happy to take what's on offer.
If the demographic attending IOA don't want fine dining then Mythos will naturally suffer. The people always get what the people want. Majority rules and all that stuff.

In spite of my own personal wishes for fine dining I still think that food apartheid should be off the menu.

From Robert Niles on June 22, 2010 at 10:42 AM
I guess I'm just trying to say that as a theme park fan, I love to see parks try to do more expressive, engaging and ambitious things - with rides, with shows and with food. So it disappoints me when the park tries something like this and the public doesn't embrace it, forcing the park to fall back and be less ambitious.

The more I think about this though, the more I believe that I'm right about the dynamic of what happened with Universal's attendance over the past three years. And that Universal will soon have the market opportunity to get more ambitious with in-park dining again. I hope that it will.

I don't want to have to look outside the park for a full range of food experiences. As parks provide a variety of entertainment and rides within parks, they should offer a range of dining options as well.

From Joshua Counsil on June 22, 2010 at 1:31 PM
Exactly, Robert. A typical rebuttal to this debate, which I'm very (maybe overly) opinionated on, is that there are fine dining and healthy eating establishments outside of the park. Go there. Why? Why lose customers to venues outside of the park?

Theme park crowds are often associated with... well, stupidity. These are people who would rather herd like cattle for hours to experience seconds of cheap thrills rather than, say, hike the Appalachians or visit a museum. Admittedly, theme park crowds aren't always the brightest, but there are people who genuinely appreciate the little details and technological advancements in parks.

I've had some excellent dining in Orlando. California Grill and Jiko, for example, are two of the best restaurants I've ever eaten at. In terms of in-park establishments, I loved the meals I used to get at Mythos. I also have enjoyed several Epcot restaurants, though they, too, have had similar adjustments. Akershus, Norway's restaurant, used to be the best establishment in World Showcase, offering delicious, authentic Scandinavian food in a relaxed, dimly lit stave. Now they've converted it to a character dining experience, probably due to lack of attendance. Then there's Tokyo Dining, a newer establishment that serves Japanese tempura and sushi. Tempura is a pretty safe dish - who wouldn't love something battered and fried? - but they weren't too adventurous with the other dishes, adding deep fried tofu to the miso soup.

I'm not saying we should eliminate fast food from theme parks. There will always be guests who would rather eat a burger and fries than sushi or salmon, and that's fine. I love a good burger and fries, but after eating fried food for a day or two, I start to feel uncomfortable. I also love the experience of table service establishments, especially when the atmosphere is as nice and the setting is as cool as Mythos'. I don't, however, like paying table service prices to get another burger and fries dish.

From Rob P on June 23, 2010 at 2:02 AM
I can't say that we should agree to differ because I do actually agree with both Robert and Joshua. I like to have that fine dining option too and the restaurants mentioned by Joshua are all excellent.There are others too like Victoria & Alberts, Citricos, Narcoossees and Thcoup Chop. All very worthy of a mention. All outside the Parks.
It's just that I don't subscribe to the opinion that anyone wanting to eat a burger must necessarily be a moronic pleb who stalks the parks like a lobotomised goon with their tongues hanging out and their knuckles scraping along the floor.
There are many cultured individuals who are both well travelled and culturally enlightened that also enjoy theme parks.
I personally almost never eat fast food or burgers except when I'm at the Parks. Then you'll find me tucking into my ribs or chicken at the Flame Tree BBQ with the rest of the crowd. I just defend the right of those that want to do just that without prejudice. But I'm no champion for the masses either. Far from it.
I think that if there proves to be a requirement at Universal for fine dining then that's great and I'll be one of the first at the door. So I do sincerely hope that Robert's optimism will be vindicated and Mythos once again sets the standard.
From Joshua Counsil on June 23, 2010 at 10:37 AM
Of course I don't consider people that eat fast food moronic. I love fast food. Who doesn't? Like my buddy says, "If you eat McDonald's and think it tastes bad, there's something wrong with you."

When I'm powerhousing through two weeks of theme parks, however, I grow tired of fast food quickly. It tastes fine but isn't nearly as satisfying, nor as energy-rich, as some of the dishes provided at higher-end establishments. That applies to counter service, too.

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