Disney trips are usually all about your plan, especially when it comes to dining. But sometimes you luck into a reservation you didn’t think you’d get at the last minute or you end up somewhere new and unexpected. Our visit to Homecoming – Florida Kitchen and Southern Shine was a little bit of both. We were heading to visit friends in Florida and since Orlando was on the way we obviously needed to stop by Disney Springs. I knew Homecoming had just opened but I had no idea if we’d be able to get in since they were only taking walk ups at the time. Lucky for us there was no wait and we ended up having one of the best meals we’ve ever had on Disney property.
Homecoming is Chef Art Smith’s newest restaurant. Located in Disney Springs, it features southern favorites and pays homage to Florida’s agricultural history. Chef Smith grew up in Florida and participated in the Walt Disney World College program. Homecoming is currently the only Walt Disney World Resort restaurant “paying homage to Florida’s rich agricultural heritage by highlighting local ingredients and farm-to-table cuisine.” If you love southern food this is definitely the place for you!
Like any self respecting southerners we started out with sweet tea. It’s always refreshing on a hot day and there was just enough sweetness so it didn’t feel like you were drinking pure sugar. We also wanted to try out an appetizer and the Bunch of Puppies, house-made pimento cheese hushpuppies served with red jalapeño jelly, peaked our interest. They ended up being our favorite part of the meal. Perfectly fried and had a nice spice. The red jalapeño jelly was a great accompaniment that added a little more heat but it still wasn’t overpowering. (I’m not a fan of really spicy food.)
Since we ordered an appetizer and really wanted to try dessert we decided to split Art’s Fabulous Fried Chicken, which is Homecoming’s signature dish. The chicken is buttermilk brined for 24 hours and that produces in the juiciest fried chicken you’ll probably ever eat. We had a wing and a thigh and both were cooked perfectly. Andrew recommends using the homemade hot sauce that you find at the table. I think he wanted to steal the bottle. 🙂
The 3 piece meal also comes with creamy mashed potatoes and cheddar drop biscuits. The potatoes are a big portion so if you want to split a meal too there is plenty to share. The potatoes were creamy and delicious. The biscuits were good but were not the star of the show.
Andrew also ordered a side of Southern slaw. I didn’t have any myself but he was pleased and loved the spiciness of the dish.
It was hard to decide what we wanted for dessert. Everything looked so good but we ended up splitting the Shine Cake which is Chef Art Smith’s signature dessert. It’s described as an adult only butter cake soaked in moonshine syrup and it’s served with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream. It’s a pound cake (but we didn’t find it to be too dense), had great flavor, and reminded me of eating dessert at our church’s homecoming meals as a kid. The ice cream was also delicious. Our server told us that it was made locally. I was transported back to eating homemade ice cream on my grandparent’s porch. That’s southern food at it’s finest, y’all!
At Homecoming you’ll find a separate entrance for the Shine Bar to the left that leads to a wrap around, covered porch. There is also a grab and go window where you can order a fried chicken, fried catfish, or chopped pork sandwich, BBQ chips, fries, and either the shine cake or a bunch of doughnuts for dessert. It’s a great option for a quick bit or a treat to take back to your resort. We didn’t try any drinks this time but I am looking forward to sampling some of the crafty moonshine & resort cocktails.
We felt right at home. The decor has a very relaxing feel and the Cast Members were all so friendly. We constantly had someone coming by our table to check on us. And in one instance I looked up to see Chef Art Smith himself checking on us. (He is so nice!) So yes, the restaurant was new and shiny, we were immersed in the the Disney magic for the first time in a long time, and I was star struck but I am telling you Homecoming is amazing. We are already planning a return visit and there aren’t many Disney restaurants we visit multiple times.