NATIONAL REPORT—Culinary treats abound in this look at some of the latest goings-on at destinations around the country, including lunch classics at Walt Disney World, mushroom delights at Omni Hotels and Resorts, and an anticipated opening at Trump International Hotel & Tower Chicago.
Woody’s Lunch Box to Offer Up Nostalgia at WDW
When the new Toy Story Land opens on June 30 at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, guests will have a chance to get a heavy helping of nostalgia at Woody’s Lunch Box. Shaped like a giant Woody-themed lunchbox, the location will serve up classic on-the-go menu items with a creative twist.
“Everyone has a special food memory, so it can be tricky putting a modern spin on the favorites,” explained Lenny DeGeorge, concept development culinary director for Walt Disney World. “We honored these classic dishes by using the best ingredients to elevate the flavors. How we constructed the sandwiches was important, such as layering the ingredients in a specific order, to maximize textures and flavors. Why have a cold sandwich when you can have a toasted hot, gooey, cheese-filled one?”
Menu items include the following:
- S’more French Toast Breakfast Sandwich: A chocolate ganache- and marshmallow-stuffed French toast topped with graham cracker crumbles
- Grilled Three-Cheese Sandwich: To ensure a soft middle, Disney chefs created a sharp cheddar cream cheese spread, layered in provolone and cheddar and wrapped the sandwich in garlic butter-grilled French bread.
- BBQ Brisket Melt: With a nod to cowboy Woody, this Texas-style smoked brisket features cheddar, Monterey Jack, pickles, BBQ sauce and garlic butter-grilled sourdough.
- Totchos: Bite-sized potato barrels, corn chips, chili and queso
- Lunch Box Tarts: A modern interpretation of a breakfast toaster pastry as a handheld dessert, featuring a choice of Raspberry Lunch Box Tart garnished with icing and dried fruit, and Chocolate-Hazelnut Lunch Box Tart, garnished with icing and caramelized bacon
Healthier menu options include the following:
- Smoked turkey, tomato, and lettuce on multigrain bread: To give it a kick of flavor, Disney chefs add a creamy Dijonnaise.
- Banana Split Yogurt Parfait: Layers of banana-vanilla Greek yogurt (with a hint of honey), bananas, strawberries and pineapple topped with granola and chocolate chips
- Other healthy options available at Disney’s Hollywood Studios include fresh fruits and vegetables, salads, grilled meats and fish.
In addition to fountain drinks and lemonade, beverage offerings include a classic Barq’s root beer float and a Mystic Portal Punch (PowerAde Mountain Berry Blast with flavors of lemon-lime and tangerine). For the adults, there’s a Grown Up’s Lemonade with cherry vodka, Odwalla Lemonade and black cherry purée.
Omni Originals Showcases Mushrooms
This month, guests at Omni Hotels & Resorts can enjoy the latest rendition of the Omni Originals culinary series, which showcases morel mushrooms as the cornerstone of this installment’s menu. The program, which launched in 2017, is designed to “surprise and delight guests’ palates through innovative dishes and cocktails.”
Items on the specialty menu play on the growing popularity of plant-based dining. These dishes include the following:
- Charred Forager’s Toast: Morel mushrooms, garlic, white wine, asparagus, burrata and tarragon
- Earth Day Eggs: Morel deviled eggs, smoked salmon, pumpernickel rye, pickled morel, radish
- Spring Skins: New season potato skins, smoked chicken, spinach, morels, Gruyère, red chili
To toast the warmer weather, Omni created the Morel Smash, a blend of Cruzan Rum, strawberries, lemon juice, morel syrup and rhubarb bitters; and the Morel Old Fashioned, which includes morel-infused Elijah Craig Bourbon, house morel-infused honey syrup and angostura bitters.
Additionally, to commemorate Earth Day, Omni properties across the country will celebrate Mother Nature on Saturday, April 21, with morel mushroom-themed lobby activations.
Trump Chicago to Reimagine Restaurant Concept
Trump International Hotel & Tower Chicago is evolving its Michelin two-starred restaurant into a new dining concept. Scheduled to debut later this year, the downtown Chicago restaurant will have a new name; a transformed design; a “vivacious” atmosphere; and a high-quality take on approachable dining, according to the company.
Executive Chef Nick Dostal, who recently received the Jean Banchet Rising Chef of the Year Award, said, “People tell us they love the quality and thoughtfulness of our food, but wish they could enjoy it more frequently. We listened, and the time is right for this evolution. Without compromising our dedication to guest dining and an unparalleled level of service, we are excited to demonstrate our team’s capabilities in a new era of more approachable dining.”
The restaurant, with a name yet to be revealed, will feature views of downtown Chicago and an a-la-carte menu of contemporary American cuisine with influences drawn from European and Asian cuisine. Both the food and cocktail menus will incorporate house-grown ingredients from the culinary team’s 16th floor terrace garden, which will expand its footprint even further this spring.
The inclusive, contemporary space will include a large dining room bar—a focal point for socializing and enjoying both classic and innovative cocktail creations. A 100-seat dining room with a variety of seating options, such as high tops, tables and banquettes. The floors, furnishings and lighting will undergo a complete redesign, save the views overlooking the skyline, Chicago River and Lake Michigan.
Adding to the breadth of the team’s culinary domain, the Chicago restaurant and bar will extend to the 16th floor terrace, lending a 200-seat al fresco dining component during Chicago’s warm-weather months.