Salad Days: The Hollywood Brown Derby Cobb Salad
Do you ever dream of salad? I do.
And, for me, there’s literally one salad in the world, and only one place to get it (actually, 1.5 places) prepared properly: The Famous Cobb Salad and the entree and lunch portion served at The Hollywood Brown Derby and The Hollywood Brown Derby Lounge, respectively.
It is — naturally — my favorite meal, in my ideal sit down spot(s) in the parks.
Origins of the Cobb Salad
Of the Cobb Salady’s origins, Arthur Schwartz, the Food Maven, explained:
“One night in 1937, Bob Cobb, then owner of The Brown Derby, prowled hungrily in his restaurant’s kitchen for a snack. Opening the huge refrigerator, he pulled out this and that: a head of lettuce, an avocado, some romaine, watercress, tomatoes, some cold breast of chicken, a hard-boiled egg, chives, cheese, and some old-fashioned French dressing. He started chopping. Added some crisp bacon — swiped from a busy chef.
“The Cobb salad was born. It was so good, Sid Grauman [Grauman’s Chinese Theatre], who was with Cobb that midnight, asked the next day for a ‘Cobb Salad.’ It was so good that it was put on the menu.
“Cobb’s midnight invention became an overnight sensation with Derby customers, people like movie mogul Jack Warner, who regularly dispatched his chauffeur to pick up a carton of the mouth-watering salad.”
It’s a good story; I’ve heard others. However, it seems fitting that a salad so (initially) unique would be the result of a late-night rummage. So, let’s not question it for now.
The Hollywood Brown Derby at Walt Disney World
As you may know, The Walt Disney World Brown Derby Cobb Salad is created in its full glory, the same way it was in ancient Hollywood.
"You can get the famous Cobb Salad here, too. Great spot outside. Wonderful people watching (or simply relaxing by the bar). It fills up fast, so be sure to be here at opening… #Ho…" #FoursquareFind @ Hollywood Brown Derby Lounge https://t.co/x2ytE3eu3M pic.twitter.com/9InP3RNYib
— Obish-Wan (@jmbishopjr) February 15, 2019
Amazing! And the setting in the Brown Derby is impressive – it’s like you actually jumped back into Hollywood history!
Photos of the historic Brown Derby restaurants and the re-creation in Florida make it seem as if eating in the restaurant became a black tie affair.
But, if you read a little deeper, you find that the real restaurant wasn’t so fancy (at least in what it served).
The Brown Derby wasn’t a fancy restaurant by anyone’s standard. The menu featured traditional, basic dishes at affordable prices. Specialties of the house listed on the 1941 menu include Fresh Chicken Livers sauteed in butter and bacon for $1.50, a plate of Spaghetti Derby for $.85 and Creamed Turkey Derby for $1.50. For dessert, you could have a slice of the Derby’s famous Grapefruit Cake.
Speaking of the famous Grapefruit Cake – it tastes a LOT better than it sounds (but save the grapefruit garnish until the end).
— Walt Disney World Today (@WDWToday) January 2, 2019
Lounging in Hollywood
The Hollywood Brown Derby Lounge is just as cool (and a little less expensive if you order off the lounge menu).
The photo above is of the lunch/lounge version of the salad.
It’s pretty filling, and held me over on a day that I was running around (and was heading to the Tune-In Lounge later in the day).
Pro-tip for getting a seat: Get to The Hollywood Brown Derby Lounge between 15-30 minutes before opening and queueing up. Worked two-days straight!
Ambiance and Atmosphere
While I would contend that the quality of the food at The Hollywood Brown Derby and Lounge is the best I’ve enjoyed at Walt Disney World, there’s no doubt that the setting — particularly inside the main building in the evening — puts the entire experience over the top. Be sure to walk around before or after you sit down to eat. Feast your eyes on the photos and caricatures.
Have you eaten at Walt Disney World’s Hollywood Brown Derby? What’s your favorite dish? Which is your favorite caricature?