While we paid a visit to Whispering Canyon Café in the Wilderness Lodge for breakfast two years ago, we still wanted to return for dinner. Being as big of carnivores as we are, we anticipated enjoying the meal, even if the atmosphere of the restaurant is a bit on the rowdy side for us (as anyone in the lobby during meal time can attest to!). We had a reservation shortly after they opened for dinner service, and we were promptly seated and brought some water while we looked over the menu. While the restaurant is known for its “All-You-Care-To-Enjoy” entrée, they also offer Starters and a “Lighter Side of the Trail” for those who prefer a bit more portion control.
The meal starts with cornbread and whipped butter. The cornbread almost looks fake in the picture to me, but this was some fantastic cornbread! It was incredibly soft and its sweetness was balanced with the butter. I kept cutting off little pieces, and I had to be reminded to save room for the dinner.
Since we each wanted to try an assortment of foods, we both ordered the Build-Your-Own “All-You-Care-To-Enjoy” Family Platter. The menu invites you to start with three of six available meats: Kansas City-style Smoked Pork Ribs, Barbecue Pulled Pork, Herb-baked Chicken, Hand-carved Oak-roasted Beef Strip Loin, Citrus-crusted Market Fish and Western-style Sausage. Our waitress said we could order as many of the options as we liked, so we asked for some of each with the exception of the fish. It was only after the dinner while I was going through the pictures that I realized we never received any of the Barbecue Pulled Pork! D’oh!
Neither of us were expecting much from the chicken, despite being surprised by it at Disney’s Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show. This chicken too was incredibly moist and well-seasoned, with a slightly crispy skin. This ended up being Matt’s favorite on the plate, but we were served enough in the first “round” that we didn’t need to reorder.
Matt and I had mixed reviews on the ribs. The ones I grabbed from the plate were tender, not too fatty, and just shy of fall-off-the-bone. The flavor on these was great and you could see a smoke ring on them. Matt’s, on the other hand, were a bit tough. Nature of the beast, I suppose! We did end up ordering a few more of these, however.
The strip loin wasn’t the most appealing meat on the platter, but it’s flavor was solid despite being a bit tough and overcooked. The two slices were enough for us.
The sausage was my favorite, but it was in really close contention with the ribs. There were some elements of the seasoning that reminded me of breakfast sausage which we both enjoyed. We ordered some more sausage with the ribs.
Alongside the meats, we were served Seasonal Farm Fresh Vegetables, Herb-crusted Yukon Gold Potatoes, Cowboy-style Baked Beans and Corn on the Cob.
The vegetables consisted of Green Beans and Carrots, of which we are fans. They were simply seasoned with what tasted like salt, pepper, butter and garlic, we had no issues finishing our veggies.
The corn was well-prepared and had a nice, natural sweetness. Of course we both covered that up with plenty of that whipped butter from the cornbread.
I was anticipating roasted potatoes (and that may have been the case at one point), but were both happy to see a dish of mashed potatoes come out. They were thick yet smooth, dotted with pieces of potato skins. You know, where all the nutrients are. ;) Can’t say we didn’t order another dish of these!
Cowboy-style Baked Beans
While baked beans and I are NOT friends, I gave them a try. I actually liked them at first until their sweetness came through. They were reminiscent of Flame Tree Barbecue’s version, with pieces of pulled pork and a smoky, BBQ sauce flavor to them. One bite was enough for me, and while Matt likes baked beans, these weren’t in the style he prefers.
It was at this point we needed to take a serious breather from eating. While I stuck to water and Matt to Diet Coke during the feast, it was time to sip some moonshine! Whispering Canyon Café features moonshine from Troy & Sons Distillery, and they offer both a margarita and a flight showcasing their flavors.
I opted for the Moonshine Margarita, a concoction of Troy & Sons Platinum Moonshine, St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur, fresh Lime Juice, and Agave Nectar topped with Soda Water. Upon first sip, I got a bit of that burn from the alcohol. It was one of those initial sips that make you turn into Ric Flair. After you’re prepared, however, you can appreciate the subtle nuances in fruit flavor that make this a delicious margarita.
Matt ordered the Moonshine Flight which features a 1/2 oz. pout of each Platinum, Oak Reserve, and Blonde Whiskey. He mentioned the cards pretty much hit the nail on the head with their descriptions, and while he enjoyed each pour, the Blonde Whiskey was his top pick.
Troy & Sons Platinum
Nose: Vanilla, wine, fruit intrigued
Palate: Chocolate, fruit, malt and oak
Troy & Sons Oak Reserve
Color: Tawny Gold
Nose: Caramel, fruit and wood smoke
Palate: Hint of sweet oak and pepper
Troy & Sons Blonde Whiskey
Color: Rich Amber
Nose: Exquisite caramel
Palate: Vanilla oak and buttery maple
Finish: Exceptionally smooth and balanced
And then we finally moved on to dessert. Three desserts are served: Chocolate Cake, Cheesecake, and Fruit Buckle. The Chocolate Cake had a coffee flavor to it, the Cheesecake was enhanced by caramel, and the Fruit Buckle featured both strawberries and peaches.
I like cheesecake, and its presentation in the Mason jar was indeed cute. It was a touch difficult to get some of each component in each bite at first, but as room was made, it became easier. Just ask Matt; he finished the whole thing! At least I enjoyed the bite I had. ;)
Since Matt isn’t a fan of coffee at all, he didn’t like the bite of this cake that he took. I, on the other hand, like the bitterness of coffee (even though I don’t drink it), so really liked that it helped balance out the sweetness of the cake. There was enough coffee flavor that I was able to focus on it over the chocolate
The strawberry and peaches in this dish were delicious and gave a light feeling to the dessert. The cake layer on top wasn’t too sweet, and the whipped cream quite good. Matt did a number on the strawberries underneath as he’s not a fan of peaches, but overall it was a dessert win from both of us.
Here’s a look at the menu from our visit:
We had a great experience at dinner and, for the most part, enjoyed every bite of food we had. With the overcooked-but-flavorful Hand-carved Oak-roasted Beef Strip Loin being the low point of the meal (and again, really not that bad considering), Whispering Canyon Café really surpassed our expectations. Kids rode hobby horses around the restaurant and ketchup migrated from table to table, but we had a blast watching the families enjoying themselves in the atmosphere (well, except one guy who really got annoyed by all the ketchup coming to his table… that was HILARIOUS to us!). We’ll definitely be returning, because there are still several items on the menu that aren’t offered in the Family Platter we want to try, and we can’t wait until that day comes!