Review of Coral Reef at Epcot

When I’m getting ready to make dining reservations for Epcot, the first thing that comes to find is the World Showcase. I mean, there is really something for everyone there! The food is fantastic and the atmosphere cannot be beat. From Le Cellier, to Restaurant Marrakesh, I have never had a bad meal in the World Showcase.

On our most recent trip to Walt Disney World, I decided to branch out of my comfort zone a little, and book something in Future World. Deciding between the Garden Grill and Coral Reef was difficult – I had never eaten at either. I know the Garden Grill tops the list of many favorite restaurant lists. But for me, the atmosphere promise of Coral Reef won out. I mean, who wouldn’t want to enjoy a nice meal in front of a full sized aquarium?

We normally aren’t big seafood eaters at home (mostly because I have no experience cooking seafood), so I thought this would give us a great chance to open up our palettes a little bit and enjoy something that we don’t often have the chance to taste.

So, was Coral Reef worth the gamble? ABSOLUTELY!

I booked our dining reservations as soon as our 180 day window opened and I was able to get us a dinner reservation at 6:20pm, which is a perfect dinner time for us. When booking dining reservations, you often have to adjust your eating schedule to the availability of the restaurant, so I was very happy that we would not have to veer far off course. That day of vacation, we spent the morning on the Keys to the Kingdom Tour, which ended at 1:00pm, so we had plenty of time to head back to our resort, have a little rest, and then get ready for dinner. We decided before our trip that we wanted to dress up a little bit for this meal. This was the only table service dinner we had booked, so we thought it would be nice to make it an occasion and really enjoy the experience.

Coral Reef

We got to Epcot around 4:30pm so that we could stop and see our pals Mickey, Minnie, and Goofy at the Character Spot (I booked a FastPass+ for this ahead of time). The pictures turned out great and we didn’t have to worry about looking haggard from a day trapesing around the park. We also took a spin on Spaceship Earth (one of my favorites!) before dinner. It was so nice to leisurely walk around Future World before our reservation.

Character Spot

We arrived at Coral Reef about 15 minutes before our reservation to check in. Coral Reef has a lovely sitting area while you wait for your table to be ready. You cannot hear the bustling sounds of the dining room while you are waiting, and it was nice to take a moment to sit down, hold hands, and just relax. We didn’t have to wait long though, our table was ready right on time!

coral-reef-restaurant-gallery11

From previous experiences at restaurants (on and off Disney property), when you are a party of two, sometimes you get pushed to a small back table. While I totally understand that large families need large tables, I sometimes feel as if we are being pushed aside, next to a broom cupboard or something. However, this was not the case at Coral Reef! We had one of the best tables in the restaurant!

The dining room is set up in tiers, so that everyone is able to view the aquarium without looking around other guest’s heads. We were seated on the first tier, front and center to the aquarium, in a large booth the provided us more than enough room. Really, it was so great! There was never a lull in conversation or entertainment because we had a whole wall of ocean life to keep us amused and captivated. Fish of all kinds, sharks, and stingrays – there was always something swimming by to say hello.

coral-reef-restaurant-gallery08

Service was prompt despite the restaurant being full, and although our waiter seemed a little frazzled and apologized several times for delays in service (really, we didn’t even notice or mind!), we were very happy and well taken care of.

Now, on to the food! Oh, the food!

We knew that we were planning on splurging on how cost and calories for this meal, so we didn’t hold back. Usually when we dine out, we each order an entrée and water and we are happy. Not this time! Appetizer, drinks, entrees, and dessert (more on the dessert later!). We wanted it all!

So, what exactly did we order? Let me reminisce a little and I will try not to drool on my keyboard!

Appetizer: Creamy Crab Dip for Two, with fresh spinach and croutons.

This was so good! Warm, rich and creamy, this was the perfect starter course. We had to check ourselves before we started to lick the bowl clean.

Drinks: Aaron order a Bahama Mama which was really yummy (of course I had a sip!). I forget the name of my drink, but it was purple and had a light up cube (hey, I was on vacation, so why not, right?!) and was delicious!

Main Course:

Aaron ordered the Seared Mahi Mahi – with Laughing Bird Shrimp, Hearts of Palm, Jasmine Rice, Cilantro, and a Coconut-Lime Sauce.

Mahi Mahi

I ordered the Pan-seared Verlasso Salmon – with Mushroom Risotto, Baby Greens, and Pinot Noir Reduction.

Verlasso Salmon

These two entrees definitely made our list of best dishes we have ever had! The Mahi Mahi was cooked perfectly and the coconut lime sauce balanced so well against the jasmine rice. Neither one of us is a big fan of shrimp, but I can tell you that there was nothing left on that plate by the end of the meal. And my salmon! I dream about this salmon! Again, the fish was cooked perfectly and the mushroom risotto with the pinot noir reduction was pure decadence. Usually I am one to eat my meals very quickly, but I took my time to savor this for every last bite.

Dessert: The Chocolate Wave with Raspberry Gelato.

Coral Reef Chocolate Wave

A perfect ending to a perfect meal. We were planning on ordering this from the beginning, but our waiter ended up delivering this to us without us asking, free of charge, to apologize for the wait (that we didn’t even notice). We are not ones to ask for or to expect freebies, and it was so nice to be treated to this wonderful dessert!

When we talk about our vacation, we always bring up this meal. I can honestly say that we will 100% be returning here during our next vacation, whenever that may be.

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