derryX Disney Dines: Hollywood Brown Derby (Hollywood Studios)

I guess you can color me guilty of having an agenda. I’ve been trying like hell to get to the bottom of the origin of the Cobb salad. Since it’s pretty much accepted canon that it was conceived by Bob Cobb at the Hollywood Brown Derby, all it was going to take was finding a Hollywood Brown Derby and I could have the historical, dare I say, iconic salad, right?

Albany had a Hollywood Brown Derby for a while, but when I went, they didn’t have a Cobb salad anywhere on the menu (they may have put one on right before they closed, but I found out too late). When we decided to go to Disney, one of the first things Cassie did was make reservations to eat at the Hollywood Brown Derby in Hollywood Studios without telling me. When she revealed this glorious tidbit, I was excited like a little kid, especially since she stressed that they indeed have a Cobb salad on the menu.

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As part of the deluxe dining plan, one person could eat there and experience an appetizer, entree, and dessert with two meal credits. You get three meal credits per person and two snack credits per day on the plan, so it’s no big deal to save an extra credit if you carefully plan your breakfast (or lunch) and snacks. So basically, the meal was included in our vacation.

Pixie dust

When we arrived, it took them a moment to get our table ready. I actually was busy making a phone call when Cassie was seated. When I got to the table, she told me the waiter said Tinkerbell left us some pixie dust since we were just married. Then he came over with a champagne toast on the house for seeing our “Happily ever after…” buttons.

Champagne toaster

After that was done, I felt like a celebration was in order. We just got married and I was just about to have a Cobb salad at a satellite of the place where it was conceived. So I plunked down $11.25 on the Citizens of Hollywood Martini Flight of the Stars.

Citizens of Hollywood Martini Flight of the Stars

Citizens of Hollywood Martini Flight of the Stars
Citizens of Hollywood Martini Flight of the Stars

They were pretty good, and, not unexpectedly, my favorite was the Honey Darling which is made with my favorite gin, Bombay Sapphire. For under $12 bucks, it was a pretty good treat.

Here are some pictures from the various sections of the menu for your edification.

Brown Derby menu

Appetizers

Entrees

Desserts

I think by now we know which appetizer I ordered…

The Hollywood Brown Derby Famous Cobb Salad – with finely chopped greens, turkey breast, egg, bacon, tomatoes, crumbled bleu cheese, avocado, chives and Cobb dressing.

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Um…

It was the most morally deflating dish I’ve ever been served. Just about everything that could be technically wrong actually was. The greens were chopped to the point of infinitesimal smallness; they were bruised beyond belief and tossed with a flavorless “Cobb” dressing. The egg was chalky and miserable. The bacon was cooked to oblivion, crumbled painfully small, and served ice cold. The tomato was your run-of-the-mill hothouse variety and had no flavor. The turkey breast was diced and had a spongy texture. The biggest travesty on the plate was the texture of the avocado pieces. I can’t fathom how you can get a piece of avocado to disintegrate on a fork, but they did. Everything was so cold, even the plate; it’s possible they have these already prepared in the refrigerator. The only redeeming bits on the plate were the blue cheese crumbles.

C’mon, Hollywood Brown Derby. Bob Cobb’s name is all over this. You can do better.

The remainder of the meal was much better.

For dinner, I had the spit-roasted American Bison over wilted locally grown winter greens, tossed in an herb-shallot vinaigrette, with roasted fingerling potatoes and a cocoa espresso barbecue sauce.

Spit-roasted American Bison over wilted locally grown winter greens, tossed in an herb-shallot vinaigrette, with roasted fingerling potatoes and a cocoa espresso barbecue sauce $38.00

Spit-roasted American Bison over wilted locally grown winter greens, tossed in an herb-shallot vinaigrette, with roasted fingerling potatoes and a cocoa espresso barbecue sauce $38.00

Spit-roasted American Bison over wilted locally grown winter greens, tossed in an herb-shallot vinaigrette, with roasted fingerling potatoes and a cocoa espresso barbecue sauce $38.00

Spit-roasted American Bison over wilted locally grown winter greens, tossed in an herb-shallot vinaigrette, with roasted fingerling potatoes and a cocoa espresso barbecue sauce $38.00

Spit-roasted American Bison over wilted locally grown winter greens, tossed in an herb-shallot vinaigrette, with roasted fingerling potatoes and a cocoa espresso barbecue sauce $38.00

Actually, this dish was a technical masterpiece. The wilted greens were properly seasoned, and the potatoes were cooked until perfectly tender and creamy. The cocoa espresso barbecue sauce was delicious; tasting it was like tasting a tug of war between sweet and bitter – neither side won. The bison was prepared medium rare (not even a touch over), and it was delicate and rich. It was surprising that such a perfect dish came from the same kitchen as the Cobb salad.

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That says it all.

For dessert, the Banana White Chocolate Toffee Tower (on Cocoa-Almond Cookie and Bananas Foster) sounded great.

Banana White Chocolate Toffee Tower - on Cocoa-Almond Cookie and Bananas Foster

There was a pretty strong background flavor from rum, which actually really made this a complex and interesting dessert. The tuile gave the dish some visual dimension and brought some crunch to a fairly soft dish.

The portion sizes were just right. Had some of the pride that went into the entrees and desserts been put into the Cobb salad, it would have been a perfect meal, which is actually a big surprise because this is in the middle of an amusement park.

I’m not ready to let the matter of the Cobb salad go, though…not by a long shot!


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4 thoughts on “derryX Disney Dines: Hollywood Brown Derby (Hollywood Studios)

  • Jeni B

    huh… well, I never would have guessed the food would be good there.. but I’m not surprised by the Cobb Salad. Sadly, Disney does have to try to appeal to everyone and palates around the country are certainly different. But good to know about the bison.. I may reconsider and put this place on the list for our visit in December.
    Glad the button’s paid off!


    • derryX

      I totally understand the point about appealing to a wide variety of palates, but I can’t see how that salad would appeal to anybody!


  • Aida J. Cherry

    I read some of the negative reviews so I was hesitant to go here. However my daughter begged because she always heard about the place, and to tell you the truth the episode on “I Love Lucy’ with the brown derby is one of my kids favorites. So i made reservations. Even with reservations we had to wait a bit which seemed strange since once we were seated the place looked halfempty.We came for lunch and after reading reviews decided to stick with the favorites. We bothhad cobb salad and soup and grapefruit cake. I thought the food was delicious. We bothhad dressing on the side and i barely used any of mine. I thought the cobb salad was alreadyflavorful. I know people complained about the salad being too finely chopped but i loved it.I also ordered mine not mixed up. All of my requests were met by our waitress who was bothfriendly and helpful. Grapefruit cake was delicious also. She gave us both grapefruit cakeand Cobb salad recipes. It definitely is pricey but I would go again. The ambiance was quite lovely and pictures were cute to look at !



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