So many of us had our holiday traditions interrupted in 2020, due to everything that was happening. My wife and I have only been in Florida for a few years, and our closest relative is my mother. Since she is in the “at-risk” age category, there was going to be no family gathering on December 25th. Still, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade and start a new tradition. The two of us decided we would eat our special dinner in the shadow of the beautiful tree at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. Whispering Canyon Café is the perfect location for a holiday dinner, and they often offer a special menu.
Whispering Canyon is an all-you-care-to-enjoy, family style restaurant. That really gave it that “Grandma’s House” feel, if Grandma lived in the woods; instead of over the river and through the woods. We were seated right in front of the fireplace, which was the perfect visual setting. Our server, Suzie Q, was outstanding. She was relatable and had quick answers to all of our questions about the special menu.
We started with the Whispering Canyon House Salad with dried cranberries, seed brittle, goat cheese, and cranberry-poppyseed vinaigrette dressing. This was the perfect, light starter for a very hefty meal. The tartness of the cranberry was not over-powering. It was slightly sweet, and the vinaigrette kept the flavors balanced. This salad was a part of the special menu, but is available as a starter for dinner on normal days. I would whole-heartedly recommend this. I think most members of the family will find something to like about this, and it is sweet enough to trick the kids into some veggies before throwing down some meats.
My wife took advantage of the special menu offered for the holiday. The meals come out in skillets, and her skillet was over-flowing with maple-chipotle pork ribs; a traditional honey-smoked ham; slow-smoked pulled pork; smashed potatoes; and a variety of vegetables. There was also a special sweet cornbread stuffing. In her opinion, the pulled pork and smashed potatoes were the stars at the top of this particular tree. All of the meats were fresh and quality. Because the chef had 90% of the dinning room ordering the same thing, it was put together perfectly. When she asked for a second helping of the pork and smashed potatoes, she expected a small plate with a scoop of each. Well, Suzie Q apparently wanted to test her appetite, because she arrived with a full-sized skillet; half full of pulled pork, while the other half had a mountain of potatoes.
As a vegetarian, I was intrigued by the plant-based skillet. This is available every day at Whispering Canyon, and makes this one of my favorite locations on property for vegan offerings. Maple-chipotle barbecued jackfruit, spicy “sausage,” mustard-glazed beefless tips, herb-brushed Trick’n Chick’n, roasted potatoes, and a variety of vegetables. Sausage is always a great vegan option, because so much of the flavor comes from the seasoning. That was a top-shelf part of the meal. I love beefless tips, and they did not disappoint. The Trick’n Chick’n really lived up to its name. While it was clearly a tofu base for the “chicken,” it was seasoned so well that it honestly had the taste and the texture of chicken. It was, however, the maple-chipotle barbecued jackfruit that stole the show. Whether on their pork ribs, or their jackfruit, the maple-chipotle sauce is next level. Jackfruit is such a great option for vegans and vegetarians. It will take on the flavor of what is being used to season it. This tasted like pulled-pork barbecue.
The dessert platter (which also came with the special holiday menu) consisted of flourless dark chocolate peppermint cake, eggnog custard pudding, and a gingerbread mousse tart. The cake was solid, but nothing too out-of-the-ordinary. The pudding was excellent. Unfortunately, the gingerbread mousse tart just wasn’t for us. It was a great attempt, and I am never too rough on trying new things. The flavor combination was just a little off for our tastes. On most days, the dessert options include the Whispering Canyon Pioneer Chocolate Cake, Granny Smith Apple Pie, and the Rice Milk Panna Cotta, which is actually a plant-based and no-sugar-added option.
Most days, in addition to the plant-based skillet I had on this visit, guests can also enjoy three other skillets as their main courses. The Traditional contains the pork ribs, beef brisket, pulled pork, chicken, Western-style sausage, smashed potatoes, and a variety of vegetables. For the total pork lover, there is The Pig which consists of pork ribs, pulled pork, mustard barbecued “Piggy Wings,” Western-style sausage, smashed potatoes, and vegetables. If you aren’t a fan of too many plant-based options, but you also want to stay away from pork and beef, you can opt for The Land and Sea. This platter gives you the spicy vegan sausage, chicken, salmon, barbecue cauliflower, roaster potatoes, and other vegetables.
Whether you are celebrating a holiday, or you are just trying to get a real hearty meal during your Walt Disney World vacation, Whispering Canyon is a place that can most likely satisfy the entire family. Your Ear To There Travel vacation planner will have lots of information on all of the dining options on property. We will also take the burden of making reservations off your hands at no cost to you. With so many restaurants on and around property, it can be hard to know where to start. Let us guide you in the right directions based on your travel party. Still, Whispering Canyon probably has something for every taste in your group.