Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’

I met up with my friends, Rachel, Paula & Hunter, to have dinner at this new Disney Springs restaurant.  It was the first time dining there for all four of us and having read so many good reviews, we were all very much looking forward to this dinner.  But sometimes when you go into something with very high expectations you are setting yourself for disappointment.  Would that be the case with our Homecomin’ dinner?  Read on to find out.

So let’s begin with cocktails…

Paula and Hunter both ordered a cocktail.  I was happy to see sweet tea on the menu so I went with that for my beverage.  Paula’s cocktail and my tea were delivered fairly quickly…

Basil Smash with Woodford Reserve Bourbon, sour mix, simple syrup and smashed basil leaves

She didn’t really care for this.  I’ve read that the basil flavor is pretty intense with this drink so if you are not a lover of basil, this is probably not the cocktail for you.

I did though like my Sweet Tea

While you can get this with moonshine added, I just stuck with the plain ‘ole sweet tea.

Hunter’s cocktail though didn’t arrive until more than a half hour later…

Bootlegger – RumShine and dark rum infused with blackberry jam, house-made grenadine, simple syrup, and lime juice

When it finally arrived, it was brought to our table by the bartender.  No apology for the long wait or explanation was given by him or our server.  This was one of the many problems we experienced with our server throughout this dinner.

Most of these problems he tried to blame on the fact that he had just returned from a two month paternity leave.  Something he reminded us of several times during our dinner.  However, his long leave of absence could not account for all of his ineptitude.  For instance, he tried to tell us that Hunter could not have okra due to his seafood allergies…because, okra is seafood.  Right? ;) Lol

Anyway, we decided to begin our meal by sharing two of the starters…

We chose the Church Lady Deviled Eggs

Although the egg whites seemed a bit overcooked (and therefore slightly rubbery), the filling was very good.  And the bacon and chives on top were very tasty.  Plus they receive an “A” for the cute presentation in the porcelain egg carton.

The other starter we chose was the Bunch of Puppies…

The hush puppies by themselves weren’t anything special but were improved by dipping them in the pimento cheese…or even better, the red jalapeno jelly.  But overall I didn’t think these were as good as the sweet corn fritters and pepper jelly we had earlier in the trip at Liberty Tree Tavern.

Next came our entree choices.  Rachel chose something from the sandwich section…

Big Fish Sandwich – Grilled fresh Florida fish of the day (this was grouper), hot sauce aioli, iceberg lettuce and tomato, served with house-made barbecue chips drizzled with icebox dressing 

Rachel said, “My sandwich wasn’t anything special.  It was just ok.”

The rest of us went with Chef Art Smith’s Signature Dish…

Fried Chicken served with Mashed Potatoes, Cheddar Drop Biscuit(s) and a pile of pickles

And from another angle…

Everything on this plate was a disappointment for me, starting with the fried chicken…

Normally I think you get a breast, thigh, and leg but I only like chicken breasts so requested and received two breasts.  I believe that I paid extra for this substitution, but can’t find my receipt from this meal so can not confirm.  Unfortunately, this chicken was very greasy on the outside and the meat was a bit cold, dry and tough.  It seemed like the chicken may have sat under the warmer for too long before being served to us.  Consequently, I didn’t even finish one breast, so the second one that I think I paid extra for was a total waste of money.

Next the mashed potatoes…

Again not good.  Instead of fluffy and creamy these were sticky and pasty.

And last, the cheddar drop biscuit…

Though the menu said “biscuits”, implying more than one, you only receive a single biscuit.  But actually one of these biscuits was more than enough.   After seeing a photo of these in a Disney Food Blog review…

Cheddar Cheese Drop Biscuits

…I was very disappointed with the biscuit on my plate.  I was hoping for something like the Red Lobster cheddar biscuits but what I got was not anywhere close.

Paula and Hunter, who shared this, felt the same way about their meal.  They were especially disappointed with the fried chicken, as they had had Chef Art Smith’s chicken before (when they attended his cooking demo a few years ago) and really enjoyed it.  But what we were served didn’t taste anything like the fried chicken they had previously enjoyed.

Ok, so moving on now to the side dishes we ordered to share…

The first side dish we chose was the…

Iron Skillet Sweet Potatoes with Caramelized Cane Sugar

And a close-up…

These were a bit undercooked but I still liked them better than my mashed potatoes.

The other side we ordered was one that I had seen reviewed on the Disney Food Blog and was really looking forward to having.  In the review, the Momma’s Mac and Cheese looked like this…

Momma's Mac and Cheese

Their’s was covered with a crunchy topping that looked really tasty.

Here is what our mac and cheese looked like on the outside…

As you can see, ours had a hard, crusty top layer.  This is not necessarily a bad thing, as long as the noodles underneath are creamy and cheesy…like they were in the Disney Food Blog review.

But our noodles didn’t quite look the same…

…and they tasted pretty much how they looked.

We also got an order of Doughnuts to share.  In the photos I had seen of their doughnuts, they looked like this…

Doughnuts -- Up Close

But ours were actually doughnut holes…

And not particularly good doughnut holes either.

As for dessert…

I really wanted to try the Hummingbird Cake…

Hummingbird Cake

…but nobody else was interested in sharing so I decided to pass.

So during the recent discussion of this meal with my three dining companions, we all agreed that we shouldn’t base our opinion of Homecomin’ on this disappointing meal.  We all plan to give it another try.  In fact, Rachel has already returned…four times!  She said, “I’ve grown to love their fried chicken salad.  So good.  It’s one of my favorite salads ever.  I also love their mac and cheese now.”  As for Paula, Hunter, and I,  this restaurant is still a question mark…yet to be determined.

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