*This dining experience took place in November 2013.
Howdy folks! This was my first time visiting Fort Wilderness (can you believe it?!), and I’ve been long wanting to visit Trail’s End Restaurant. I’ve heard a lot of mixed reviews on special diets offerings but consistently I’ve heard that it’s a very affordable restaurant with hearty fare. On this particular occasion, my family and I headed to Trail’s End for lunch where the menu is a la carte.
For those who might not be as familiar with Fort Wilderness Campground, it is comprised of cabins which guests can stay in, as well as locations for folks to bring in their campers & RVs. It really has a nice rustic feel to it, and truly encompasses that “camp” feeling. I felt a little bit like I was back at summer camp! Since our family had never been, we really want to explore as well as eat our meal. So, we made sure to hit the Settlement Trading Post across the way on our way out after lunch. We also just meandered a bit and looked at the grounds. It really does feel like you’re totally removed from Disney property, which is kind of a neat thing for this resort! I’m so hoping to go check out the evening campfire now & maybe even the holiday sleigh rides!
But back to lunch! Meals served at Trail’s End are buffet all-you-care-to-eat for both breakfast and dinner, but lunch is a la carte. The fare is a bit rustic inspired – yes, there are s’mores on the menu! It also has a bit of a BBQ & Southern feel to it (they have Shrimp & Grits on the menu & Po’ Boys). I was really curious to see how they handled special diets.
|Inside of Trail’s End – Yep, it feels like summer camp!|
We checked into the restaurant and were seated within about five minutes. We didn’t have much time to sit on the porch, but they did have checkers & rocking chairs (a bit like you would see at Cracker Barrel). That seemed like a great place to sit and relax. Once we got inside, we could definitely see the rustic theme continuing. I loved the wooden slats in the chairs and the overall campground cantina or mess hall feel. Breakfast was just finishing up, and we could see a lot of people still enjoying that. I have to say, the decor was rather charming, as were the cast member uniforms. They all had on jeans and blue shirts with bolo ties. Now, in general, I think bolo ties are a little bit outdated but they really did fit in here!
Our waiter Ken took our drink orders and then notified the chef. One thing I really loved about the drinks — Masons Jars!!! I really miss these from Whispering Canyon Cafe. The fact that they still have these makes me excited. And yes, it totally fits the theme of this location.
|Yes, it’s only water, but it’s in a Mason Jar by golly!|
Once the chef came out he went over the menu. I had to keep reminding him that I was gluten free AND dairy free, not just gluten free but it seemed like I had a good amount of choices. He didn’t tell me there were any safe appetizers (now I hear they can make or get gluten free bread. I know Hoop Dee Doo Review usually has Babycakes on hand, though this may have changed). Some of the options he said were safe:
- Salad with Fresh Berries and Grilled Chicken Breast (minus the blue cheese)
- BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich (on a GF/DF bun)
- Angus Chuck Cheeseburger (on a GF/DF bun)
- Shrimp & Grits (ONLY GF)
- Chicken & Waffles (served with grilled chicken instead of fried chicken, allergy friendly waffles–I have heard reports that it may be possible to get fried chicken GF but only at opening if the fryer hasn’t been used–this was not offered to me, and I really wasn’t up for fried chicken, but it would be nice to know if this is still the case)
Nothing was really standing out to me, except one thing…candied bacon. Yep, you read that right. Candied bacon. Non-meat eaters, I’m sorry I’m going to go on a shameless rant about bacon. I love good, thick cut and flavorful bacon and this one sounded sooo intriguing. The only problem is that it was topping the cheeseburger, and I don’t really eat beef (maybe a burger a few times out of the year but that’s it), so I really didn’t want the burger. I asked if they could make a grilled chicken sandwich instead and top it with the bacon. The chef said he could, and this made me really excited! And it was totally worth ordering. I also was able to get their french fries. Their house fries are a blend of sweet potato & regular fries which is actually one of my favorite fry combos! If you’ve read one of my lunch reviews from Kona Cafe (see one HERE), you’ll see I have actually asked for that combo before!
|Chicken Sandwich with that glorious candied bacon – minus my fries. Don’t worry I got a ton of them!|
First up came the sandwich. I guess they had to make my fries separately in a dedicated fryer (or a pot, not sure) so mine were taking a bit. They wanted to make sure I got my sandwich though first. The bun they served was Udi’s, which I prefer as far as the buns served on property. It’s nice and thick and works just perfectly for a hearty sandwich. The chicken itself was grilled but had been marinated in some herbs. It was quite flavorful and the grill flavor, of course, is very nice. I asked for mayonnaise to top my sandwich is about the only accompaniment I felt I needed with the bacon & chicken. The red onion & lettuce also worked well as accompaniments. I ate the pickles on the side — they were sweet, bread & butter pickles and I’m not sure I would have wanted them with the sandwich. Then, there was the bacon….can this post be an ode to candied bacon? (I think it already is!) This bacon was the BEST! It was thick cut first off, which was very good. As you’ve heard me mention many times, I like the thicker meatier bacon versus the stringier cafeteria style bacon. This was a really nice meaty bacon. Candied bacon is usually made with brown sugar and that’s exactly what this tasted like. My mom makes these chicken bite appetizers made with chicken, brown sugar, chili powder and bacon and it so reminded me of that! The amount of bacon to sandwich ratio was quite generous.
|That’s a lot of fries!|
Now, when my fries came out, I couldn’t believe the portion size. Yikes! That was a lot of fries. I really liked how they were mixed together and really well seasoned. They had some sort of house seasoning on them that was salt, pepper, and likely some garlic or onion powder maybe. They were really good & piping hot. The sweet potato fries weren’t too soggy, which can be really tricky. The only thing that might have made them better? The curry mango mayonnaise from Kona Cafe…Ok, I know that’s not happening! But it sounds good to me!
My family ordered the Po’ Boy & BBQ Pork Sandwich and both seemed to like it. My mom says her favorite BBQ pork is still Flame Tree but that this was her second pick for that sandwich. My step-dad like the Po’ Boy a lot too.
Overall, I thought the restaurant itself was charming. The breakfast buffet from what I could see looked pretty basic but not terrible. We really enjoyed the lunch. The restaurant was very slow when we were there and it was a welcome treat to have such a calm & quite restaurant on property! We all agreed we would definitely come back for lunch again. I thought the lunch menu was quite good for meat eaters, vegetarians & vegans would have a hard time I think.
Rating wise, I would give this a solid 7 out of 8. I almost bumped it to an 8 solely for the candied bacon but I think a 7 is a solid rating for good service, decent gluten free & dairy free menu offerings and quality of the entrees. We’ll definitely go back again for lunch. I’m quite convinced I will be ordering candied bacon every time I go (even for breakfast!)
Have you been to Trail’s End? What do you think of this table service location?