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Robert Niles

Where to Eat: Lunch at The Friar's Nook in Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom

Published: June 25, 2014 at 11:53 AM

The new food thing at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom? Speciality mac 'n' cheese.

The Friar's Nook in Fantasyland now features three types of macaroni and cheese:

  • Regular Macaroni & Cheese (topped with Panko) for $7.99
  • Bacon Cheeseburger Macaroni & Cheese $8.99
  • Pot Roast Macaroni & Cheese for $8.99

There's also a truffle mac 'n' cheese-topped hot dog for $8.59. On a recent trip, we tried the Pot Roast option:

Pot Roast Macaroni & Cheese

I was a bit disappointed with the lack of vegetables — Disney includes only the pot roast meat atop this large cup of mac 'n' cheese. Still, the first bite of beef off the top delivered meaty flavor that gave me hope for a substantial, satisfying lunch. And then I made the mistake of eating more.

The squishy macaroni underneath just disappears into the tasteless, viscous sauce that overwhelms the entire dish. It's never a good sign for a mac 'n' cheese when you're left longing for the relatively sharp and distinct flavor of Kraft Dinner powdered cheese.

The cheese sauce underneath

Worse was the pot roast itself, which turned out to include as much fat as meat. Sorry, but the whole point of a pot roast is to slow cook a cut of beef until all the fat renders into flavorful gravy. If there's hunks of fat left in your pot roast, you're not doing it right.

And, finally, let's take one more shot at Walt Disney World's obsession with serving every quick-service meal in the resort on disposable paper. First it was the dishes, and now even the trays! Yes, I live on the west coast, but it's not just regional bias behind my preference for the real dishes and servingware that Disneyland offers at many of its quick-service restaurants. Give me a proper meal with proper presentation.

This mess offers neither. I quit after five bites.

Replies (12)

Published: June 25, 2014 at 12:11 PM

Another great article from Mr. Niles. Thanks so much for including photos. Both the food and the prices look gross.
Tracy Bates

Published: June 25, 2014 at 12:13 PM

I got the cheeseburger one by accident. Well... I meant to order it, I just didn't know what it was. I thought it weird that it would be a cheeseburger with a side of mac and cheese instead of fries, but there was zero line and I was hungry, so I said why not. I asked the person working and apparently they didn't understand the question because they answered as though that's what it was.

As for the food, the cheeseburger part was good, but the mac and cheese was only tolerable. I won't order one again, but it wasn't so bad that I wouldn't eat it.

That being said, I like that they are trying something different. I don't want a cheeseburger and fries for every meal because that's the only good option.

James Trexen

Published: June 25, 2014 at 1:46 PM

Robert, you made the mistake of ordering mac and cheese anywhere outside your house. I don't know any good places to serve it besides Kraft at home.
Vaughn Miller

Published: June 25, 2014 at 1:51 PM

My family is not able to make yearly trips to WDW so when we do go, I am sorry to say that if we eat in the park it is the turkey leg for me.
Robert Niles

Published: June 25, 2014 at 2:14 PM

James, there was a restaurant here in Pasadena that served the most wonderful truffle and mushroom mac 'n' cheese. No expectation that Disney could match that, but I was hoping for better than this.

Heck, ultimately we're talking about pasta and cheese here -- there are a limitless number of ways to do fun, creative, tasty things with that platform. But, yeah, Kraft would have been better than this mess.

Anon Mouse

Published: June 25, 2014 at 2:56 PM

My daughter loves mac n cheese, but it is always a hit or miss at any restaurant. She hates it at Macaroni Grill and loves it at Souplantation. Based on this track record, I never buy it a la carte from a menu. She can get at a buffet or at home via the Krafts microwave macaroni and cheese.
Vaughn Miller

Published: June 25, 2014 at 3:57 PM

My youngest son has Asperger's Syndrome and loves mac n cheese unfortunately Kraft uses a food colouring called Tartrazine, must be shown in the ingredients if present. We have found out, the hard way, that he reacts very badly to this product and so he has not had Kraft for almost 5 years. If he wants mac n cheese we simply make it for him or if it is in a buffet, and we can find out if all they cooked with was real cheese not short cuts, he can have it there.
Pyra-Danny V

Published: June 25, 2014 at 4:51 PM

Robert- I don't know why I'm always surprised when you write a fooreview...even though I know it's theme park related. Keep em' coming! The pics accompanying are great and... Well... I'll have to agree they look very unappetizing. Maybe Disney should've sold Mac N Cheese noodles with Mickey shapes although that wouldn't do anything for the taste...
Anthony Murphy

Published: June 25, 2014 at 8:54 PM

I usually stick with Columbia Harbor House.

They need to make everything paper at Magic Kingdom. They wouldn't be able to keep up with the crowds!

Gabriel Schroll

Published: June 25, 2014 at 9:23 PM

I also love your food reviews! I love your way with words when describing the tastes, textures, flavors, and overall appeal of any dish. You're quite a talented food critic!

I don't ever think there's a West Coast bias in your writing. I think you're fair and objective, and besides, you were a WDW Cast Member (as was I). If a meal is bad, it's bad wherever it's found, and it shouldn't get a pass because it's from your favorite park. I just hope DLR holds on to the magic that WDW has lost in the area of food options.

I generally stay away from Quick Service, but I'm really glad you review the options because not everyone can afford a $40/person dinner at Liberty Tree Tavern or Hollywood Brown Derby.

Brandon Townsend

Published: June 25, 2014 at 9:58 PM

Wow, another TPI slam against WDW. Didn't see that coming. (eyes rolling)
Can't wait to read more about those perfect parks Universal or DL. No bias here.
Robert Niles

Published: June 25, 2014 at 10:38 PM

Oh, Brandon, I've got something for you, coming up in a couple days. :^)

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