This past weekend, I spent some time in Hollywood Studios doing some research for the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World, where I had the dubious task of doing food evaluation. Because deciding if food is good or bad is so subjective, I brought along a crew of distinguished foodies who yearn for the opportunity to see what Disney has to offer (okay, they were my friends who happened to be available and never turn down a free lunch). For this test, we stopped by Fairfax Fare on Sunset Boulevard to check out what this counter service restaurant had to offer.
If the Fairfax Fare name doesn't ring a bell, that may be because it's somewhat new. Last year, Disney did some changing of restaurants on Sunset Boulevard. It killed off the Fairfax Fries restaurant, the counter service shack near the Disney Vacation Club booth that sold McDonalds french fries and replaced with Toluca Legs Turkey Company, which as you might imagine, serves turkey legs. Tolulca Legs had previously been further down Sunset Boulevard and it was replaced with Fairfax Fare (I hope this makes sense).
We opted to have lunch on a rainy day at Hollywood Studios and huddled under a table to figure out what we wanted to eat. To my surprise, Fairfax Fare had actually changed their menu since they had opened. Originally there were beef brisket items on the menu in addition to a selection of BBQ foods, but Disney had paired down the menu to just a few items, minus the aforementioned beef brisket. It was already a strike against the place, as whenever a restaurant's menu is cut back, it's never a good sign.
After figuring out what everyone was going to eat, we placed our order and $96 later, we had our food to try. With apologies to the DisneyFoodBlog, we did our best to sample the food and give our thoughts. I set the criteria as simply as I could think of: give the food a letter grade (A through F) and would you order the item again. Simple, right?
Let's start with the good and that was by far the Fairfax Salad. The salad was prepared on the spot and included fresh ingredients. This wasn't a bagged salad that was prepared a few days ago, which is especially good if there's an item or two on there that you don't like because you can have Disney not include the item in the salad. Overall the salad looked good and tasted good and two people had the salad, and rated it a "B+" and "A-" and both said they would definitely order it again.
The next best item on the menu was the Barbecue Pulled Pork sandwich. It was a good sized sandwich and the pork, while not the best pulled pork sandwich he had ever tasted on Disney World property, was still up to standards and he gave it a solid "B" rating and would order it again.
The rest of the menu at Fairfax Fare did not do as well, unfortunately. The chili hot dog was likely the next best item, but it was your average, run of the mill Disney World hot dog and was less than impressive. The chili they include with the hot dog was good, but overall, this option lacked enough to make it something we would want to order again. We gave it a "C" rating.
Sadly, the bulk of the menu, which includes BBQ chicken and ribs, were awful. We found both the chicken and ribs to be dry, overcooked and lacking any real flavor. For the chicken, a few people tried the chicken and we all agreed this chicken was definitely not as good as say Boston Market or Kentucky Fried Chicken. The skin of the chicken was this leathery, hard to cut mess that had no flavor what so ever. The chicken meat itself was unremarkable and so we gave the chicken a "D" rating.
The ribs fared no better than the chicken, suffering the same overcooked and dried out taste. The person who sampled the ribs only managed about two ribs before abandoning hope and returning to his pulled pork sandwich to seek some semblance of actual flavor. He went as far as to give the ribs a "F" rating, but I bumped it up to a "D-" simply because it was actually pork (or at least once was).
Overall, we found the experience an unfortunate experience. I'll be the first to admit the counter service options at Hollywood Studios aren't the best in Walt Disney World, but I was hoping for a better experience than this, given the opportunity to have something different than a burger. The so-called "barbecued" options on the menu were awful and it's a shame that Disney has this sort of food out there. Given the menu has been changed twice in the last 18 months or so, I'm hoping the third time may be the charm but I'm not holding my breath. I'm not sure who thinks this constitutes good BBQ food, but it's certainly not. I can handle mediocre food, but I found much of it to be just inedible.
If you're looking for a good salad, I would definitely recommend the Fairfax Salad. It looked and tasted great and it's a bright spot on an otherwise sad menu. We were all hoping for the other items to be as good as the salad, but unfortunately we didn't see that happening. For your next trip to Hollywood Studios, we have no choice but to recommend skipping Fairfax Fare until further notice.
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