Well, it’s been open almost a year and we’ve finally gotten the chance to dine at Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’. Located at Walt Disney World, this new addition truly brings Southern cooking to the melting pot of dining which has become Disney Springs.
From its Shine Bar to its outdoor seating, Homecomin’ truly feels like home in the South! And thanks to Chef Art Smith, that classic southern style cooking has been elevated to fit in perfectly with the quality of cuisine we’ve come to expect from the WDW property.
Before we get into the food, here’s a little bit about the restaurant itself. Chef Art Smith named his newest restaurant Homecomin’ Florida Kitchen because it truly is a homecoming for him. For starters, his hometown is Jasper, Florida, which is where he learned his mother’s family recipes featuring local ingredients. And while Chef Smith has restaurants in Naples, Chicago, Atlanta, and D.C., Homecomin’ also marks his return to Walt Disney World. Back in 1981, he participated in The Magic Kingdom College Program, now just known as the Disney College Program. I’d say this definitely feels like home for him because it is.
To begin our evening, we started at the Shine Bar with just a couple drinks. Asking for the bartender’s recommendations, she gave us her moonshine suggestions, explained the flavorings, and also told us what are most popular.
Blue Hooch – Blue Flame moonshine, lemon-infused moonshine, blue curacao, house-made4 simple syrup, fresh lemon juice and a splash of Sprite. Our strongest shine on tap. $12.00
Apple Pie A La Mode – Ole Smokey Apple Pie Moonshine, vanilla vodka, apple juice, cinnamon, house-made simple syrup, and a dash of lemon. $12.00
I’m a sucker for anything blue raspberry or with blue curacao in it. So I immediately ordered the Blue Hooch, which the bartender told us was the most popular drink ordered, plus the strongest! That’s always a bonus. I can handle a strong drink, and I thought the Blue Hooch was delicious. But keep in mind, the lemon-infused moonshine adds quite a bit of pucker to it, so if you don’t like the taste of alcohol, lemon sour, or both, this drink isn’t for you.
The Apple Pie a la Mode was delicious and definitely more of a dessert style drink since it was sweet. With the risk of sounding redundant, the drink definitely tastes just like apple pie. That’s the only way to describe it. It doesn’t taste strong and it’s full of flavor, so if you want an after dinner drink, this one’s for you.
Taking a look at the appetizers, there’s so much we wanted to try. I’d already heard great things about the deviled eggs and biscuits, so those were on our radar.
Church Lady Deviled Eggs – HFK-style whole deviled eggs, garnished with bacon. $10.00
Thigh High Chicken Biscuits – Three biscuits topped with Chef Art’s famous fried chicken thighs and bread butter pickles. Drizzled with hot honey. $13.00
So while we didn’t actually order apps, one of us did order two of them as an entree. I’ve loved deviled eggs pretty much as long as I could remember, but I’ve never seen them served standing up, so that was a nice spin. I’ve also had them seasoned with Old Bay or paprika, and even had crab mixed in. The Church Lady Deviled Eggs were much simpler, but the bacon adds that little something to make them worth getting. A perfect appetizer to share for your table.
The Thigh High Chicken Biscuits were everything you could imagine. The chicken was crunchy on the outside and tender on the inside. The biscuits were soft and moist. And even though their are topped with honey, they weren’t sticky themselves. Overall, a great, filling chicken biscuit.
The Mood Ring – Our color-changing recipe featuring mango and basil-infused moonshine, simple syrup, and “magical” lime. $12.00
Sweet Tea Shine – Sweet tea, fresh-squeeze lemon, and moonshine. $12.00
Fig and Berries – Fresh muddled strawberries with Dobel Diamante Reposado Tequila, fig jam, agave and lime juice. $11.00
Royal Sangria – Pavo Real red wine, fresh seasonal fruits, agave, lime juice and blackberry brandy. $11.00
So of course, during dinner we just had to sample more of the drink menu! And let me tell you, I think we’ve found a new favorite bar at Disney Springs because we did not find one drink we did not like (except for the Sweet Tea Shine, but that’s only because most of us don’t actually like tea. The one of us who ordered it liked it, but didn’t love it).
Let’s start with The Mood Ring. Just as we hoped from the name, this drink does change in color, which is an awesome little gimmick, and no it’s not from a glow cube. The drink is a bit on the lemon-lime side of flavor due to the pure lime juice it’s served with, but that’s what creates the color change as you pour it in and mix it. Very fun drink.
As already mentioned, only one of us liked the Sweet Tea Shine. This drink is for those who love tea, because for all of us who sampled it, that’s all we tasted. But for Zack, a true born and raised southern, the drink lacked the nostalgia and flavor he grew up with and the moonshine seemed to overpower the flavor of the tea.
The Fig and Berries drink was absolutely delicious. All of the flavors blended perfectly well together. I pretty much hate tequila and had no clue it was even in the drink. Order this if you have a “girly drink” craving, but also want something strong.
Sangria became my gateway to wine and now I love both. My wife ordered the Royal Sangria and literally had zero complaints. She’s sampled many kinds of wines and sangrias over the years, so I can usually catch her critiquing it here or there, but she said this drink was great. If moonshine isn’t for you, the Royal Sangria is a great way to sample a house drink without ordering something standard like beer or wine.
One last drink was sampled, that I unfortunately do not have a picture of is the Rumshine Punch. It contains strawberry rumshine, blackberry brandy, banana liqueur, pineapple juice, and house-made grenadine for $12. Out of all of the drinks we sampled, this was probably the smoothest because it literally just tasted like juice, which also makes it the most dangerous. If you’ve ever been to a college party and sampled ‘Jungle Juice,’ this is exactly what is reminded all of us of.
Art’s Famous Fried Chicken – Buttermilk-brined for 24 hours, then perfectly fried and served with creamy mashed potatoes, a cheddar drop biscuit, and love. $27.00
I’ve had a good amount of fried chicken over the years, regular and boneless, ranking all on levels of quality. But this chicken is probably, the best, fried chicken, I’ve had in years! Every single bite was perfectly crunch. The chicken was juicy and tender. The skin is perfectly seasoned and the pieces weren’t too greasy. I’m not always big on mash potatoes, so these were good enough for me, and the gravy that came with it was typical southern gravy. But the biscuit, good lord! I wish it had come with more than one. I took my time eating it so I could savor every bite. Just like the chicken biscuits, it was so moist, it needs no butter whatsoever.
Fried Chicken Sandwich – Buttermilk-brined for 24 hours and double-batter, dressed with hot sauce, aioli, iceberg lettuce, tomato, and bread and butter pickles. Served with house-made barbecue chips, drizzled with icebox dressing. $17.00
Bryan ordered the fried chicken sandwich and was in heaven the entire time. The sandwich was crispy and flavorful thanks to the mixture aioli and hot sauce. Plus, just like my pieces of chicken, it was juicy and tender on the inside.
The chips were absolute perfection. I would honestly substitute my mashed potatoes for these chips easily. They’re seasoned well and the icebox dressing, which is best described as HFK’s take on ranch, is a genius addition. It’s just enough that the chips don’t get soggy.
He also ordered Momma’s Mac and Cheese as a side for $8.00. Another item I thought I’d taken a photo of, but I forgot to. The dish was incredibly creamy and topped with melted cheese. Heaven in a bowl, really. It’d be difficult for me to not order this every time, no matter which dish I ordered as my entree.
Fried Chicken & Doughnuts – Two piece of Chef Art Smith’s famous fried chicken served with house-made sugar doughnuts and creamy mashed potatoes. $25.00
Lastly, Zack ordered the fried chicken & doughnuts. This dish is pretty much the same as Art’s Famous Fried Chicken, only instead of a biscuit, you get to small fried sugar doughnuts. While Zack is a fan of the combination of sweet, salty, and savory flavors, this dish seemed to push those boundaries a touch. The doughnuts were fried to crisp perfection and light and airy on the inside. The sugar coating and side of syrup adds just enough flavor that it doesn’t overpower the rest of the dish. Zack agreed the skin of the chicken was seasoned so well, it “sends the diner’s taste buds to paradise.” But his only complaint was his chicken didn’t seem to be as moist as some restaurants back home in Tennessee.
Overall, Homecomin’ Florida Kitchen is a knockout and a huge with for Disney Springs. We couldn’t have been more satisfied with our meal. The Shine Bar definitely has a strong menu as far quality and variety goes. The food menu has many options for everyone to find something they’d like, and even though we all got variations of chicken, we definitely want to return and try other options they offer. Even the desserts sounded great, but we just had no room left in our stomachs. The atmosphere is great and of course feels very southern, at home, and fits in well with the Disney Springs theme of the Town Center. And to top it all off, instead of being able to grab an after-dinner mint as you walk you, you’re offered a nice piece of salt water taffy. (I recommend the blue!)
So there you have it. Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’ is the place to go to get your southern fix at Disney Springs. Don’t believe us? Give it a try yourself. Either way, it’s definitely become one of our new favorite restaurants at Walt Disney World! Thanks for reading. Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for all of your geeky needs!