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Kouzzina by Cat Cora - Disney's Boardwalk

Today, (September 17), I attended a press event to kick off Cat Cora’s new restaurant. Located on the Boardwalk, Kouzzina replaces Spoodles and offers Greek food with a home-cookin’ flair.


Kouzzina Exterior


Guests were greeted by cast members offering glasses of Pellegrino and lime.


Cast Member with Pellegrion


As soon as I entered the restaurant, I could tell a good time was in store. Greek music filled the air as a live combo entertained. (This was for the press event only.)


Greek Combo


Before finding my table, I wandered the restaurant. I was able to snap several of the chefs preparing today’s selections in the show kitchen.


Show Kitchen

Show Kitchen

Show Kitchen


A real wood-burning brick stove is on hand to provide authentic flavors to the breads and other oven dishes.


Wood Burning Stove


Eventually I found my table which was set for the abundance of food to come.


My Table


The afternoon started off with Al Weiss (President of Worldwide Operations for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts) welcoming Cat to the Disney family.


Al Weiss


After his opening remarks, Cat took center stage and thanked us all for joining her on this special day. She also introduced her parents, her partner Jennifer, and their children.


Cat Cora


Next, Cat introduced Chef Dee, an eighteen year Disney veteran who will oversee the day-to-day operation of Kouzzina. We were then all asked to lift our glasses of ouzo and drink a toast to the success of this new venture.


Toast to Success


Today’s event was intended to give the press a sampling of many of the delights available on the menu. Please remember, the pictures I’m showing you here may or may not be served to you as you see them photographed.

Our first dish was Spiro’s Greek Salad. This contained vine-ripened tomatoes, arugula, cucumbers, red onions, Kalamanta olives, and feta cheese. This was a refreshing starter, simple, yet satisfying.


Spiro’s Greek Salad


Served with the salad was Kouzzina Spreads. Here we had grilled pita bread with three toppings, Harissa Yogurt, Kalamata Fig, and Chickpea Hummus. Several of us agreed that we could make a meal out of this appetizer.


Kouzzina Spreads


Another appetizer served was Spanakopita. This is a traditional Phyllo Pie filled with spinach, feta cheese, leeks, and dill. It was light and flakey, just like Phyllo should be. Sorry, I was so caught up in the moment I for got to take a picture.

Our first entrée sample was Pastitsio. This is a Greek-style lasagna with Bucatini pasta, cinnamon-stewed meat sauce, and Bechamel. When I saw the word “cinnamon” I was concerned, but needn’t be. I could certainly taste this flavor, but it didn’t overwhelm. I definitely think that this dish would be enjoyed by picky, younger eaters. Once again, I was caught up in the moment and forgot to take a picture.

Cat said she wanted to include a burger on her menu, but she wanted to do it with a twist. To that end she created the Oak-grilled Lamb Burger served with olives and feta. Now I’m not a fan of lamb, but this burger was okay. I could certainly taste the distinctive lamb flavor, but the garnishes made it more than palatable. Considering my feelings about this meat, this is high praise. Be forewarned. This sandwich has a spicy kick. We all said “whoa” and wiped out brows after the effect set in.


Oak-grilled Lamb Burger


Fisherman’s Stew was next. This contained a generous helping of scallops, seasonal fish, shellfish, fennel, grilled bread, and Ouzo butter. I found this stew to be very good, so good that I went back for seconds. However, I can’t say that there was anything out of the ordinary about this dish. It was tasty, but something that I might find in any seafood restaurant.


Fisherman’s Stew


Our final entrée was the Cinnamon Stewed Chicken. Combined with tomatoes, herbed orzo, and Mizithra cheese, this was my favorite of the main dishes. Once again, the cinnamon added a nice flavor and the orzo was to die for.


Cinnamon Stewed Chicken


A number of side dishes were also presented during the meal. The first was Chilled Salt-roasted Beets on Skordalia (a thick puree). If you like beets (I do), you’ll like this sampling. The Skordalia had a mild flavor that complemented the stronger taste of the beets quite nicely.


Chilled Salt-roasted Beets on Skordalia


When the Sautéed Brussels Sprouts with capers and lemon were served, Cat made an announcement. She assured us that if we didn’t like the Brussels sprouts that our mothers served us as a child (me), there was a good chance we’d like her recipe – and she was 100% correct. They were excellent. I went back for seconds.


Sautéed Brussels Sprouts


The final side dish served was the Oven-baked Gigantes Beans with tomato sauce and olive oil. Think big white-beans. I was pleased with this offering, but given a choice, I’d pick the Brussels sprouts.


Oven-baked Gigantes Beans


For dessert we were given a sampler plate that contained Chocolate Budino Cake, Baklava, and Greek-style Yogurt Sorbet. The Chocolate Budino Cake didn’t do a thing for me. Maybe you have to be a chocoholic to really appreciate it. The Greek-style Yogurt Sorbet was good and lite. I could see myself ordering this. But the stand out was the Baklava. I was in heaven.


Dessert


Also for dessert we were served Tableside Frappe. This drink contains coffee, milk, and natural sugar served over ice. I’m not a coffee drinker so any opinion I would offer would be meaningless. But it was served nicely.


Tableside Frappe


Cat also offers her own wine label called Coranation. These include Sauvignon Blanc from the Napa Valley, Chardonnay from the Russian River, and Pinot Noir, from the Sonoma Coast. All had nice bouquets and discernable flavors.

The afternoon ended with the servers, cooks, and Cat’s mother taking to the floor and dancing around the tables while waving napkins. The mood was festive to say the least.


Dancing

Dancing

Dancing

Dancing


Cat Cora and Kouzzina are a nice addition to the Disney line-up of restaurants. I’m looking forward to coming back here and trying some new selections and some of the treats I learned about today.

For those of you who know little or nothing about Cat, here is a very brief synopsis of her career.


Cat Cora


No stranger to Disney Magic, Cora has hosted instructional cooking demonstrations for Disney Video on Demand and has been a featured chef at both the EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival and Disney's California Food & Wine Festival at Disneyland.

It's no surprise Cat Cora has become a world renowned chef. Her culinary aspirations began at an early age, and by 15, she had developed a business plan for her own restaurant. In 2005, she made television history on Food Network's Iron Chef America as the first and only female Iron Chef, and in November 2006 Bon Appetit Magazine bestowed her with their Teacher of the Year Award, an award she calls, “the greatest recognition she could achieve as a chef.” That month, she was also honored with another great culinary distinction when she was named Executive Chef of the magazine. With a new restaurant recently opened at Macy’s South Coast Plaza and Kouzzina at Walt Disney World, Cat has brought a taste of her culinary influence to both coasts.

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Comments (29)

David Lizewski:

Looks like a great time and a great place to eat!
Thanks again for another excellent piece! we will be at WDW in 4 days! can't wait!!

Karen Gleason:

We had the pleasure of dining at Kouzzina during the restaurants soft opening. The food was wonderful. The spices used are not over powering, they leave a very nice "zing" on the palate. The portions were ample and the Pastitsio was excellent, We even had leftovers that we enjoyed for lunch the following day.

Mike:

Jack,

I always love your blogs! But this one has my mouth watering! Guess I know where my next Disney meal is!

Dawn Leigh:

I am so lucky to be able to bring two beautiful young women this year; who are struggling college aged students. They work at the local watering hole where I frequent. I booked Kouzzina for our last night there, thinking it would be a wonderful way to cap off a wonderful week. I have never personally had Greek food, so I am in for a real experience.

Imagine my surprise when one of my companions saw the reservation list and the accompanying menus that I made up for them last weekend. She LOVES Greek food and teared up just thinking about the whole trip and what a wonderful way to end our week!

Looking forward to it.

Brian:

We had the opportunity of dining here on 9-8-09. We had attempted to snag an ADR prior to our arrival but was told "no availability". Upon arrival at WDW we asked the concierge to check again. Voila, we had an ADR.
The service was friendly and very informative. Management was friendly yet not obtrusive.
Food was outstanding! We had the grilled whole fish and pork t-bone.
We will defiantly return. The Greek donuts for desert were killer!

Marsha Waidelich:

I'm still amused by the fact that "The Mouse" allowed a restaurant run by a "Cat" to be opened at WDW. :)

Erik L.:

Hooray! Thanks, Jack, for such a detailed review of this new restaurant....Jason (my partner) and I have been waiting to hear news of how the restaurant and the food have turned out. We always thought Spoodles was OK but were excited when they announced they were going to kick it up a notch with Cat's help. (And Jason is a food network junkie, so an Iron Chef America fan). With your seal of approval we will definitely have to add this to our "to do list" for an upcoming trip!!

Suzie:

How does this compare to Spoodles? I lament its passing. The food seems definately more Greek.

Jack's Answer:

I may not be the best person to answer this question. I was never blown away with Spoodles. I thought it was okay at best. So to me, Kouzzina is a definite improvement.

Jennifer Baldovinos:

Thank you so much for the great review! We are eating there in October, and I was curious about the dishes with cinnamon in them. I can't wait to try everything.

I always love your blogs and reviews, keep them coming!

Fred Thomas:

Thanks, Jack... You've done it again-- with a wonderful overview of the grand opening. Wish I could have been there... and we plan to during our Nov. trip to WDW.

Bob Eldridge:

Jack! Great job as always!
Can't wait for our Oct 2 reservation!
See you there!

You crack me up - I'd probably be to caught in the moment to take a picture too! Everything looks so good. I always loved brussel sprouts, but with capers and lemon, 2 of my favorite flavor enhancers. Wow. Looked like it was alot of fun. Thanks!

Maria

Linda:

We have a reservation there in December ~ can't wait!! One question... do you know if it is on the Disney Dining Plan?
Thanks!!

Jack's Answer:

Good news. Kouzzina is on the Dining Plan. Yea!

barbara:

jack, you're amazing! any idea when the recipe for the bussel sprouts will hit allears.net? i can't stand them, but would gladly try them this way since they have your stamp of approval! also: can things be ordered without getting dinners? one comment said she liked the donuts. can you just go in and get coffee & donuts...or maybe the donuts 'to go'?

Jack's Answer:

I'm going to state an overall policy for Disney World restaurants, so I have to believe this would apply to Kouzzina as well. Disney does NOT have a minimum that you are required to order or spend in their eateries. So if you want to come in and just have dessert someplace, that's entirely okay. And if you want to go to Kouzzina's and just eat Brussels sprouts, I'm sure that's okay too.

Janet:

What happened with the walk up pizza window? I Loved the Pizza!

Jack's Answer:


I don't know what happened to the pizza window -- if anything. It never occurred to me to check. But here's the bright spot to my lack of knowledge, now you have one more reason to come back to Disney World so you can find out for yourself. ;-)

Dianne Spawn:

We ate there the latter part of August. We did not have a reservation but were able to be seated in just over 10 minutes. The food was great !!!!!. Very flavorful but not over the top. The service was also great and accomodating- they were even able to provide me with a sugar free desert as I am a diabetic. This is one place we will visit again.

Ron Stalsberg:

Thanks Jack for keeping us up to date on all new things at WDW. We will be dining at kouzzina on our first night in December. The food looks fantastic. I'm looking forward to trying several dishes. We will also be dining at Sanaa for the first time on this visit.

Rachel:

Jack,

Another great posting as usual! I was just wondering if you thought this would be an appropriate place to bring a 3 year old? I know Disney is over all a family friend place but I just wanted to get your expert opinion.

Thanks, and please keep up the excellent work!

Jack's Answer:

As you know, Disney bends over backwards to make children welcome everywhere (except Victoria & Albert's). At the press event, Cat made a big point that her restaurant was all about home cookin' and family. In fact, she had her two very young children at the event. So I definitely think you and your three year old will be more than welcome here.

Lisa:

Just wondering if this would be 1 or 2 dining tickets when using disney's meal plan?

Jack's Answer:

You'll be happy to know, Kouzzina only requires one dining credit/ticket. Yea!

CJ:

The press release says the pizza window is still there:

"The restaurant’s spacious interior features an open kitchen, wooden tables and chairs and a walk-up pizza window for casual dining at outdoor tables on the boardwalk."

Jan and Nick:

Just returned from Disney on 9/20/09, and had the wonderful pleasure of dining at this restaurant. Wonderful food, and wonderful atmosphere! Our party of 10, had a wonderful time with all the cast members. We are all Italian, but we felt like Greek Family members. Don't miss this one.

karen:

We had the pleasure of having dinner the night before the grand opening. Cat Cora was "in the house" and was most gracious to our daughter. There were six in the party and we all had something different. It was great. Do not be afraid of the fish! The wait staff was able to fillet it for those who were uncomfortable with the task. Great service Daniel.

Dawn:

We dined here in the end of August. The staff is very knowledgeable about the menu. I thought the fish was better than what we had at Coral Reef. Having never been to the boardwalk before, we loved the entire experience. Found it to be very child friendly (pizza on menu). Highly recommended.

Lynn Nguyen:

I had the pleasure of eating here Sunday the 20th and it was so incredible I went back Thursday the 24th.
The service was wonderful and some of the best food Disney has to offer.
I had the Saganaki (please forgive my spelling we just arrived home this morning I am still on theme park time) and the Greek Salad along with the kids chicken noodle soup and the breads with dipping sauces...mmmmm even the kids soup was good. The butter they serve is topped with black sea salt it is very good. We tried the pastichio..very good, the chicken with orzo...not bad....the lamb burger....spicy but good....the STEAK MMMMMM it was wonderful almost like a chimichuri sauce with it. But the Fishermans stew was great very FRESH!!!! On to Dessert..we tried one of everything I love the one with the big long name that I can neither remember and if I did I could never spell...It is a Semolina custard with a scoop of some gelatto I believe....amazing as were the greek donuts.
Our Waiter TIM was the best as was our Waitress Deborah from NJ.
I cannot wait to visit again this has become my Disney Favorite!!!

Jesse:

I ate there yesterday, and was not impressed. Though the food is amazing, the service is as terrible as it was at Spoodles. I'll be eating at the Big River Grill exclusively, from now on.

Pat:

Ate there on September 21. The food was great. Husband said the lamb shank was one of the best he has had. Our waiter Dale was very good at explaining the menu for us. I had the whole fish and the server did a great job in removing the bones and head. We will be going back here for sure.

My wife and I had dinner at Kouzzina on September 9, a week before the official opening. We had not planned the occasion but had made reservations 90 days before for Spoodle's. I had the fisherman's stew and my wife had a steak. The food was tasty but not a memorable experience on the order of Cal Grill, Jiko or Boma. The restaurant itself had not yet been decorated and was almost empty. It was kind of sad to see the large kitchen staff standing around a lot in the large show kitchen. We might try again in January but only as a second tier choice.

lia kaufman:

just ate there sunday night. Decor is the same as the old Spoodles, service was ok, no music or entertainment at all, as we had hoped for, except for the staff yelling Opa when they dropped something or the grill flame got too high! The brussel sprouts were amazing but the lemon chix soup was cool so I sent it back and after a long time, it came back just as cool. It was late so I didn't bother sending it back again. I ordered the fisherman stew which was ok but supposed to be on orzo, of which there was none. My husband had a steak that was just ordinary. I have to say, nothing to rave about but perhaps we did not order the right things? Except those wonderful brussel sprouts!

jane rotella:

I would not recommend this restaurant at all. The spanokopita and stuffed grape leaf appetizers were flavorless. We were a party of 8 and only 2 people enjoyed their meals.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on September 17, 2009 4:59 PM.

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