This year's festival expands with 11 food marketplaces, compared with just six last year. In addition, the festival is taking over the menu at the Paradise Garden Grill, which is where Disney is serving higher-priced, entree-sized selections.
Comparing the prices this year with similar items offered last year, Disney has backed off at the top end, but raised prices on less-expensive items. There's no food item at the marketplaces as expensive as last year's $8 Wagyu Beef. It's back this year, but for $7.75. That was the highest food price I saw at the marketplaces, but other selections were up this year, with the White Cheddar Ale & Bacon Soup going up 50 cents to $6, and the Meyer Lemon Macaron rising from $3.50 to $4.75. Disney is offering two mac n' cheese selections this year, a Bacon at $7.50 and a French Onion-topped dish at $7.25. Both are up from last year's Triple Cheese Mac with Chicken, which cost $6.
Here are the full food menus, which I posted to Twitter earlier today:
In the interests of not overwhelming either my stomach or my bank account, I limited myself to four selections to try today. My first pick came from the Garden Grill. I've been longing for Disneyland to add a fish n' chips dish since, well, ever, so I could not resist the Beer Battered Cod with Steak Fries, Sweet Slaw and Spiced Remoulade [$12.99]. Note that although Disney does not offer Annual Passholder discounts at the marketplace booths, it does apply the AP discount at the Garden Grill, which knocked $1.95 off my price.
Let's compare this with my current go-to for fish and chips in a local theme park, from The Three Broomsticks at Universal Studios Hollywood's Wizarding World of Harry Potter. We've got two nice cuts of cod here, though I thought the batter a bit thin compared with Universal's. But I loved Disney's spiced remoulade and I'll call the fries a draw. (For your reference, here's how I do the math on fries: Fry > Potato. So I'm not a fan of deep-fried mini baked potatoes. Heck, I'd rather have a freshly-fried potato chip, instead, or at least some well-salted, crispy shoestrings over steak fries. YMMV) But served on a real plate, not thin plastic, and costing a couple bucks less than Universal's, Disney's battered cod wins my west coast theme park fish n' chips allegiance.
Walking back down toward Pacific Wharf, I next tried the Cage-free Deviled Eggs with Farm-raised Smoked Trout & Cream Cheese [$4].
This was my favorite of the four dishes I ate today. Sure, it's rich, but I loved the way that the flavors of the smoked trout and the chives complemented the richness of the cheese and the egg.
Next, I opted for the Duck Confit on Potato Smash with Meyer Lemon Preserves [$7].
I envisioned the "Potato Smash" as some form of mashed potatoes, but it turned out to be crushed tater tots. Which, given the math on potatoes that I revealed above, should have been a welcomed surprise, but I feel like the fried potato diverted my taste buds' attention from the duck. The lemon preserves had their say, too, and everything came together nicely, but... it didn't wow me the way that other selections did.
For my final pick today, I tried the Fried Artichoke Carbonara, with Garlic Aioli & Smoked Bacon [$6].
The cut was a bit thin on the artichokes, which left their flavor a bit lost underneath the fry. But the aioli delivered a nice kick, and OMG smoked bacon. Try any of these components on their own (okay, expect the bacon) and you're wondering why you shelled out this kind of money. But get a bite with all the flavors together, and... well, there's that "wow" moment I missed with the duck.
The DCA Food & Wine Festival runs daily through April 16.
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