The Turf Club: Bar & Grill – Another Hidden Gem

imageWe’ve all heard of the insanely popular Disney restaurants located in the theme parks and even a few in the resorts.  Chef Mickey’s has become a staple for Guests to take their children to.  The Crystal Palace and Cinderella’s Royal Table at the Magic Kingdom are family traditions to dine at.  And ‘Ohana is one restaurant which almost everyone who has dined at raves about.  But what about the more hidden restaurants?  The ones which can generally be pretty easy to find a reservation for, but end up giving fantastic service and even better food?  For example, have you ever dined at The Wave located on the lobby level of Disney’s Contemporary Resort?  One of my favorite restaurants at Walt Disney World.  If you want a signature dining experience, consider Artist Point.  Located at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, this restaurant has been well hidden from Guests for 20 years.  However, most of their diners are repeat Guests.  So much so, both the Cast Members and diners know each other by name.  But we’re not here to talk about these other restaurants.  We’re here to discuss a restaurant I’ve heard rave reviews about for months and finally had the chance to dine at: The Turf Club Bar and Grill.

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The entrance from behind The Carriage House.

 

Located at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa in their main lobby building, The Carriage House, The Turf Club is their only table service restaurant and is only open for dinner service.  It has both indoor & outdoor seating and is one of the few places on Disney property to still offer a prime rib steak.  The menu went through a slight refurbishment earlier this year, but they kept many of their same offerings.  Not many Guests know about this restaurant, so it can be pretty easy to make reservations for, or even just arrive as a walk-in party, depending on the party size.

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Outside patio. A place I’d love to dine at in cooler weather.

 

The Turf Club also has it’s own bar area located right next to the entrance of the restaurant.  Whether you’re there for a pre-dinner drink or a late night cocktail, this location is a great place to sit and relax.  They also have a billiards table for Guests to play.  We had some time before our reservation, so we decided to sample their specialty cocktails.

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Most Disney restaurants cater the same cocktail menu throughout and a handful have their own specialty cocktails added onto the menu.  ‘Ohana is a great example of this.  As you can see above, The Turf Club is the latter in this situation boasting multiple resort themed drinks.  They also have a feature beer, a Blue Point Toaster Lager and a few dessert drinks.

Dessert Drinks!

Godiva Chocolate Martini – Godiva Chocolate Liqueur, Stoli Vanil Vadkia, White Crème de Cacao, and Frangelico.  $10.75

Banana-Spiced Rum Martini – Captain Morgan Original Spiced Rum, Bols Crème de Banana, and RumChata Cream Liqueur. $9.75

Our pre-dinner drinks consisted of the Magical Star Cocktail, Travers Stakes, Saratoga Cocktail, and the Blue Point Toasted Lager.

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The Magic Star can be found at many locations across property and is quite delicious.  You also get to keep the glow-cube which is partly why it costs $12.

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The Travers Stakes was my favorite with its fruity and ginger flavors.  Very easy to drink.

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The Saratoga Cocktail is a Manhattan; easily the strongest of the night.  Not the smoothest I’ve had.

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If you’re a beer lover, I highly recommend the Blue Point for your selection.  This beer boasted some great flavor and is more along the lines of Samuel Adams Boston lager. They do offer more common brands as well.

As with the entire resort area at Saratoga Springs, the restaurant has many details themed to horses, stables, and so on.  The dining room itself is not very large.  It’s a very quaint space overlooking the river and boat dock behind The Carriage House.  When it gets a bit cooler out, I definitely want to return and dine out back on the patio.

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After we were sat, it was time to sample more drinks and order some appetizers.  The Preakness Cosmo was a standard cosmopolitan… I think.  I don’t typically order them.

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The Three Minutes to Post Time is a Long-Island Ice Tea, minus the Coca-Cola.  Since Long-Island’s are among my favorite cocktails, this was my favorite of the night, especially with the Blue Curacao.   However, it should be noted every drink we tried was fantastic.   They also have a good wine menu for those of you who drink neither beer or liquor.

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Here’s the listing of all of their appetizers.  There’s a number of apps I’m interested in trying, which gives us reason to return.

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For our appetizer, we ordered the Buffalo Chicken Dip.  I love buffalo chicken dip, but this was nothing what I expected.  It was pulled chicken mixed with wing sauce and topped with a bleu cheese sauce.  I’m generally more used to a creamy/cheesy dip for this appetizer, so this was a surprise for me.  However, it had some very good flavor and the home-made chips served with it were excellent.

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Since we weren’t in a rush, I also decided to try their French Onion Soup.  This classic soup is served with its usual melted cheese, but topped with crispy-fried onions!   I’ve had a number of French Onion soups in my life.  They all typically taste the same, but still good.  However, this is by far the best French Onion soup I’ve had in my life. The crispy onion straws on top really added to the soup overall.  And the soups flavor with it’s cheese was delicious. I wouldn’t hesitate to order this again.

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I don’t often find restaurants where I have trouble deciding what to order.  Here, at The Turf Club, there were a number of entrees I wanted to try and couldn’t make up my mind.  So I guess we’ll just have to return to sample more of the menu. Our main entrees consisted of the prime rib and pork tenderloin.

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I’ll say this now.  Steak does nothing for me.  I hate it.  But most others love it.  Being the only location to still serve a prime rib, my wife ordered that medium rare.  The dish comes with mashed potatoes, broccolini, and Au Jus. She greatly approved of this dish.  I tried a piece dipped in the Au Jus and liked it enough.  I will say the sauce had some great flavor to it.  Sometimes, I really think it’s a shame I don’t like steak, but hey, then I’m able to order cheaper meals.  But I will say, if you want a prime rib, this is the place to go.

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I ordered their spice-rubbed pork tenderloin which is served with a mushroom risotto and haricots verts.  Pork tenderloin is one of my favorite cuts of meat and this was suggested to me (as well as the lamb) by our server. So I gave it a try.  This was one of the best pork tenderloins I’ve ever had.  The spices were delicious and the cut was very tender.  The creamy mushroom risotto was top notch and could easily be made into a full entrée if they added a meat into it.  The sauces and risotto combined with the flavors of the tenderloin to give you the type of meal where you just close your eyes to enjoy after you take a bite.  Even if nothing else on the menu interested me, I would come back solely for this pork tenderloin.  It was that good!

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On to the finale!  Here is their full listing of desserts.  I was torn between the bread pudding and the seasonal fruit crisp, but the server recommend the pudding, so I went with that.  It should be noted their cheesecake, sorbet, and fruit crisp all change regularly, which is an excellent reason to try this restaurant at different times of the year.

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The break pudding is served with a salted-toffee sauce and was very delicious.  It was quite hot, so I had to take my time eating it.  I only wish it was served with some vanilla ice cream to help cut through the denseness of the dessert.  And no, it does not beat ‘Ohana’s pineapple bread pudding.

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Their seasonal cheesecake was a chocolate with Oreo crust; another dessert I was tempted to get.  It was quite delicious. It was also nice to learn their cheesecake flavors change regularly and aren’t just the standard slice with strawberry or cherry topping.

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We were also given a cute little cup cake for my father-in-law’s birthday.

Overall, The Turf Club is truly a hidden gem on Disney property.  This has easily won a spot on my top 10 favorite Disney restaurants.  The menu has quite a bit to offer for everyone and there is plenty more we want to try.  Our service was pretty moderate, however, the food was excellent.

Now, maybe I’m overthinking this restaurant.  Maybe it’s not as good as I thought, but I will say we all had an exceptional time at The Turf Club.  Not one thing we ordered we mediocre.  Their specialty drink list is solid, and refreshing to see they have more than just the standard Disney cocktails.  The appetizers and entrees have enough variety where we saratoga-springs-resort-sign-Mcould return three more times and try something new each time.  And their dessert menu, which always seems to be the most challenging to pull off for a restaurant, was very good.  The seasonal items are a great way of keeping the menu fresh and updated.

So if you’re staying at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort or hanging out at Disney Springs and find you can’t get into any of the restaurants, take a boat ride over to Saratoga and enjoy this fabulous restaurant!  You won’t regret it and we can’t wait to return.

 

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About Chris DiPaula

Creator of DiPaula on Disney: entertainment website dedicated to Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, other Florida parks and activities, and other adventures. Co-creator and producer of Parks, Brews, and Geek News: an entertainment website dedicated to the Florida theme parks including Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando, movie & geek news, and food and brews. Chris DiPaula has been an avid theme park and amusement park goer since childhood and a die hard Disney fan for as long as he can remember. He is currently an active concierge Cast Member at Walt Disney World Resort and has worked for The Walt Disney Company since 2011. Previously, he worked for Busch Gardens Tampa and SeaWorld Orlando in the entertainment technician field as well.

Posted on August 30, 2016, in Dining, Walt Disney World and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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