In trying to dine at resort restaurants we haven’t been to before (or haven’t been to since we were little), we ventured over to Fort Wilderness to have lunch at Trail’s End Restaurant. Located deep back on the property by Pioneer Hall, it’s a trek to get to, requiring taking a bus from the main parking lot (or a boat from the Contemporary, Wilderness Lodge or Magic Kingdom). You definitely need to plan in advance your arrival, especially if you have a reservation.
We didn’t have a reservation for our lunch, and when we arrived at the check-in podium, we were told it would be about a 10 minute wait. We were nearing the end of lunch service (2 p.m.) by the time we arrived as well. There were some other guests who had been waiting to get in (a couple guests angrily stormed off due to the wait), but we waited for about the 10 minutes we were told when the Cast Member started seating everyone rather quickly.
The restaurant had a Christmas tree on display near the buffet stations as well as wreaths in the windows. Breakfast is an All-You-Care-To-Enjoy Buffet, as is their Dinner. Lunch is served A La Carte.
For his appetizer, Matt ordered the Baked Crock of Venison Chili with Sharp Cheddar and Charred Vidalia Onions. It was served along with some squares of toast, as well as saltine crackers.
The chili is topped with melted cheddar and (not-so-charred) Vidalia onions. The chili was a bit more on the sweet side as opposed to spicy, and we both tasted what we thought may have been a touch of cinnamon.
Under the cheese, the chili was very hearty, but we think the venison may have been cut with some beef. The dish wasn’t gamy, and Matt liked putting some of the chili on the crackers to eat.
I ordered the Rock Shrimp Hush Puppies with a Spicy Remoulade. The dish also came with a slightly sweet aioli. The server who dropped off our appetizers noted that he preferred the spicy remoulade to the aioli, as did I.
The hush puppies were nicely browned and a crust that had a nice crunch to it. The puppies were quite dense as well, making the four that came to the order very filling. I’d still prefer Conch Fritters from Olivia’s at Old Key West, but these were pretty good with good-sized pieces of shrimp throughout.
Moving on to our entrees, Matt got the Barbecue Pulled Pork Sandwich with Corn-Bacon Coleslaw, Pickled Green Tomatoes, and House-Made Potato chips served on a Toasted Roll. The dish arrived looking impressive. The toasted roll looked really appetizing unlike many other buns found on property.
The slaw had a vinegar base and added some nice tartness to the light sweetness of the pork. The pickled green tomatoes also had some tartness as well, and all the elements together paired really well.
The house-made chips were cooked to perfection and none had any sogginess they can sometimes get.
I ordered the Pan-fried Catfish with Southern Collard Greens, French Fries and Remoulade. Our server mentioned it was an excellent choice and the chef working in the kitchen that day made it the best, so I was looking forward to the dish.
It looked pretty tasty upon arrival, with two large but thin filets of catfish. I tried some of the collard greens to start and didn’t care for them. They were pretty bland, and it made me miss the ones served at 50’s Prime Time Café at Hollywood Studios.
The French Fries were pretty standard, and they also had some sweet potato fries tucked underneath the regular ones in the basket. They tended to be a bit on the limp side though.
The catfish was flaky and not too oily from being pan-fried. Unfortunately, there was something about the flavor profile that I just didn’t like. I tried a few bites, and each time I liked it less. I tasted it with the remoulade and even some ketchup to try to help mask the odd flavor, but neither worked for me.
At this point, our drinks had been sitting empty and we were ready to get our check without getting dessert. I’m not sure if the pace was due to it being at the end of lunch service, or if the CM’s are just used to working the buffet format. Needless to say, food took a while to arrive and we never were offered more to drink. I’d still like to return to Trail’s End for either their breakfast or dinner to see how that goes. Despite my entrée being sort of inedible to me, everything else was pretty good and I wouldn’t be opposed to returning at lunch.
Have you every dined at Trail’s End Restaurant? For which meal did you visit and how was your experience?