The Diamond Horseshoe: A Not So Hidden Gem
So, after I finished my meal at The Diamond Horseshoe and was preparing to pay, I shot a text to a friend that said, “This might be the best meal I’ve had in the Magic Kingdom, ever!”
The reply: “Can’t be. The reviews are terrible…”
My retort: “Mine won’t be.”
A Diamond In The Rough?
It wasn’t meant to be a stop on this trip.
I’ve never been to The Diamond Horseshoe; never even stepped inside. But when you are without reservations with a loud grumble coming from your stomach; hey, any port in a storm.
After looking at the line inside Pecos Bill’s and learning of a 45-minute wait at the renowned The Liberty Tree Tavern, the 5-minute sojourn in the would-be saloon was a welcome respite.
Moreover, everyone we encountered was friendly, from the menu wrangler at the bottom of the stairs outside, to the host, to Marvin our excellent server – it was a truly Disney atmosphere.
Couple that with the theming inside — that of a late 1800s American saloon and stage — well, you have two of the three main components of the meal, right.
The Food Was Good. Really Good.
That third part — the food — was delicious, too.
Marvin explained that the meal was served family-style, “All-you-care-to-enjoy.”
The courses started with a Mixed Green Salad (Cucumber, Tomato, Red Onion, and Creamy Chipotle Dressing) and Jalapeño-Cheddar Cornbread (Sweet Honey-Chipotle Butter) and the temptation is to fill up on the appetizers. Enjoy them (ask for the Chipotle Dressing on the side, btw), but don’t fill up. The best is yet to arrive.
What comes next is a Saloon Fest:
- Carved Beef Brisket
- Smoked Sausage
- Citrus-marinated Chicken
- Barbecued Pulled Pork
- Macaroni and Cheese
- Harvest Baked Beans
- Seasonal Vegetables
- Mashed Potatoes
Finally, after you actually do fill up, here comes the coup de gras: S’more Cake: Smoked Chocolate Cake, Graham Cracker-Butter Cream, and Toasted Marshmallow.
Now, I was with a real barbeque lover, who — by the looks of his face — wasn’t expecting much when we walked into the door to see the bright, clean, somewhat loud space that reminded me of a 1950s cowboy Western movie set (think a brighter version of the bad guy saloon in Once Upon A Time In Hollywood).
But as each course arrived, and perhaps well-lubricated by Cigar City Jai Alai IPA, a smile crept across his face.
In the end, and bested by the meal, we looked at remnants (“more fule for the busses” was one Cast Member’s reply when we apologized for the leftovers) and decided that The Diamond Horseshoe was legit. My friend declared that the food is not what he considered “gourmet” barbeque. However, it was much better than the fare concocted at most chains.
“If they are looking for, I don’t know, Tennessee barbeque or something out of a smoker outback, this isn’t it,” he explained. “But if they are looking for tasty, good food — and lots of it — they have that down, pat.”
I’d totally agree.
Moreover, the cornbread was excellent, delivered a little bit of heat, and the salad was ample. The S’more Cake was a fun end to the meal. The highlight of the experience, beyond the setting’s sightlines and the player piano music, was in fact, the meal. Each of the protein offerings delivered, with the veggies, mac-n-cheese, and the mashed potatoes adding comforting nourishment.
The Bottom Line
I’d return. For sure. But not with my picky-eater family.
This is a really great serving of comfort food, complete with sauces and lots of napkins. The Diamond Horseshoe delivers more-than-hoped-for in a faux frontier saloon, with the setting, staff, and meal delivering genuine delight.
And next time, I am going to skip breakfast and lunch and come in ravenous, in order to get my full $39 worth out of the food and fixings.