Tag Archives: restaurants

PHOTOS: Disney’s Be Our Guest Restaurant

On our most recent trip to Disney World we had dinner at the new Be Our Guest Restaurant.  It was amazing.  We wanted to share our photos with you.  Check back for a review of the restaurant.

Walt Disney World Dining Review: Gaston’s Tavern

By Tom Driver

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Exterior of Gaston’s Tavern
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The fountain in honor of Gaston

My eyes lit up when my wife mentioned a new restaurant called Gaston’s Tavern would be part of the recent additions to Fantasyland in Disney’s Magic Kingdom.  I loved the spitting, roughhousing and clanking of mugs from the tavern scene in the movie Beauty and the Beast.  “That’s a great idea,” I told my wife,  “a place for all the weary, stroller pushing men to relax for a few minutes and enjoy a cold adult beverage.”  Unless you resemble a diminutive Frenchman named LeFou, Gaston’s Tavern seems like a fun place to hang out.  “It’s not like that,” she tersely replied.

The tavern is adorned with Disney’s expected attention to detail.  Visitors are greeted with a statue of Gaston in all his narcissistic glory but at the expense of poor LeFou.  The entrance is a testament to the host’s philosophy of using antlers in all of his decorating and the interior continues the rustic theme highlighted by Gaston’s hunting trophies on the walls and enough wood to build a small village. The barrels displayed above the counter sporting names like Trois Blondes Biere and Chateau Blunderbuss are fun but just a tease to those wishing they were real.

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“I use antlers in all of my decorating…”

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Despite being Gaston’s footstool Lafou owns the tavern’s headliner – LeFou’s Brew.  A combination of frozen apple juice and toasted marshmallow topped with a passion fruit and mango foam.  It’s tasty.  My daughter tried to finish every last drop inside her souvenir cup before sampling the snacks we ordered.  She opted for the stein with Gaston and LeFou’s picture over Belle’s goblet;  the refreshing concoction is also available without the extra souvenir.

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Lefou's Brew in souvenir mug Lefou’s Brew in souvenir mug
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We got 10 thumbs up for LeFou’s Brew!

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Gaston’s Tavern is not a quick service restaurant so don’t expect burgers or hot dogs with a side of french fries.  The menu consists of snacks, and that’s how it would be tallied for those using the dining plan, with the most hearty, and expensive, being a roasted pork shank for $9.49.  The rest of the snacks range from $2.99 up to $4.39.  Our family sampled the cinnamon roll, chocolate croissant, mixed fruit cup, apple slices with caramel sauce and the hummus and dip.

Pre-packaged apples and dip
Pre-packaged apples and dip
Pre-packaged hummus and pretzel chips
Pre-packaged hummus and pretzel chips

The cinnamon rolls are comparable to anything one would find in a fine bakery.  The huge chunks of light and fluffy bread are served at the perfect temperature in that the icing was just beginning to melt but not enough to disappear into the roll.  The chocolate croissant was delicious but messy; powdered sugar seemed to land all over the customers, especially little ones, and the tables, but cast members were quick with a rag.  We also tried the mixed fruit, sliced apples and hummus and chips.  They tasted quite bland, as one might expect from a prepackaged snack.

Cinnamon Roll
Cinnamon Roll
Chocolate Croissant
Chocolate Croissant

Our family had lunch at Gaston’s Tavern, however this was only accomplished because we had a large breakfast.  If one is really hungry the pork shank, which another patron heartily recommended, might do the trick but it’s not likely to appeal to everyone in the family.  We skipped it because a hot, humid day and a hot piece of roasted pork wasn’t an appealing combination.  We recommend stopping by for a mid-meal snack of LeFou’s Brew and either the cinnamon roll or the croissant.  There’s no real brew but LaFou’s mixture combined with a bakery treat are worth the visit.

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Dirty Frank’s Hot Dog Palace, Columbus’s home for hot dogs

Dirty Frank's Hot Dog Palace
Dirty Frank’s Hot Dog Palace

My five year old daughter loves Dirty Frank’s Hot Dog Palace.  Whenever our family is looking for a place to eat in downtown Columbus she votes for Dirty Frank’s.  My wife heard about Dirty Frank’s from former co-workers and, after a visit to the Columbus Metropolitan Library’s downtown location, she took our daughter there for lunch.  They both loved it and the next time we were all downtown they talked me into giving it a try.

If you are more than a little apprehensive about trying Dirty Frank’s it’s understandable.  Dirty Frank’s is located at 248 South 4th Street between East Rich Street and East Main Street.  From the restaurant, the Greyhound Terminal is one block north and Franklin University is a block east.  While this isn’t the worst area in downtown Columbus, not even close, it’s not the first place one would normally think about when choosing where to take the family out for a meal.  Because of the location parking can also be an issue and parking on South Fourth Street, or one of the nearby side streets is the best option.  Don’t forget to bring change for the meters.  There is a pay-first parking lot directly across the street.  My family has not had any trouble finding a spot close to the front door but we’ve only gone on weekends or after the evening rush.

The last reason one might be apprehensive about trying Dirty Frank’s Hot Dog Palace is that it’s a restaurant which features hot dogs.  While it’s true some children have survived on a diet consisting only of hot dogs, applesauce and goldfish crackers most adults don’t order hot dogs when they dine out unless you include the ballpark, which I do not.  After all, how much can you do with a hot dog?  Dirty Frank’s proposes one can do quite a lot; their menu offers over 40 variations of ways to top a hot dog.

The Octodog on Mac & Cheese
The Octodog on Mac & Cheese

My daughter loves the Octodog, a hot dog cut in the shape of an octopus and served over Mac and Cheese.  She orders it every time and never fails to clean her plate.  My wife and I have chosen a different dog every time and haven’t been disappointed yet.  Among some we have enjoyed, The Doginator, the Brisket and Slaw Dog and the Slappy Pappy’s Super Sloppy are solid choices.  A favorite for both of us is the Cowgirl Carmen which is a hot dog topped with meat coney sauce, cheddar cheese and crushed fritos.  If members of your party have special dietary needs, Dirty Frank’s provides vegetarian and vegan alternatives for many of their hot dog offerings as well as gluten free buns.

The hot dogs are not served with a side dish and we have discovered one order of tater tots or fries is more than enough for our family to share.  The little one is typically full after the Octodog and Mac and Cheese leaving my wife and I to share the side dish, and one order is more than enough for us.

In addition to the dogs and sides, Dirty Frank’s offers a full bar with an impressive selection of beer and speciality drinks.  If old school, poor college student beer is your preference one can choose from Schlitz, Old Style and PBR.  Prefer to keep your beer local?  Try the Pale Ale from Columbus Brewing Company, the Dortmunder Gold from Great Lakes or, just based on the name alone, the Thirsty Dog Old Leghumper Robust Porter from Akron, Ohio.  This is also one of the few places around town that offers Red Pop and Grape Soda in addition to the usual assortment of soft drinks.

The interior is decorated in what can best be described as ‘80s hair metal chic with Michael Jackson, Hall and Oates and skater influenced accents to provide the proper balance.  The decor has to be seen to be fully appreciated, and anyone alive during the 1980s will definitely appreciate the artwork.

Lastly, a word about the staff and service – excellent.  On each and every visit we have been treated with prompt and courteous attention.  The wait staff has always been respectful, friendly and willing to provide suggestions.  They also serve the kids’ drinks in cups with a lid without needing to be asked which, as any parent will tell you, is very much appreciated.

The only negative about Dirty Franks Hot Dog Palace is the limited seating.  The dining room is very small and fills up quickly during the lunch and dinner rush.  It is not uncommon to see a line going out the door and onto the sidewalk.  However, this is usually not the case during off peak times so, with a little planning and preparation, this inconvenience can be avoided.

The next time you find yourself downtown with the family, skip the chain restaurants and give Dirty Frank’s Hot Dog Palace a try.