Disney’s Hollywood Brown Derby Review

The Hollywood Brown Derby is one of the most iconic restaurants in the entirety of Walt Disney World. Modeled after the original 1926 Brown Derby in Los Angeles, California, the restaurant embodies the spirit of The Golden Age. 

In this review of The Hollywood Brown Derby at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, we’ll discuss a few meals we’ve had at the restaurant to date. We’ll also look at what it’s like to dine on the restaurant’s exterior patio at the Brown Derby Lounge. 

Before making plans to dine here, you’ll want to know that the Brown Derby is considered fine dining. Reservations can go quickly due to the popularity of the restaurant. So you’ll want to try and secure one as soon as they become available for your trip.

If for some reason, you cannot secure reservations, the other option is to eat at the Brown Derby Lounge. Brown Derby’s lounge is located toward the front of the restaurant and has a separate entrance. 

Walk-ups for the lounge are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. For instance, the last time we dined at the lounge, we were given a 30-minute expected wait. A cast member took our number and text us when our table was ready. 

Related: Signature Dining at Disney World

Disney’s Hollywood Brown Derby Lounge Review

The Hollywood Brown Derby is located on the right at the end of Hollywood Boulevard. It’s right before you get to Animation Courtyard in a semi-shaded area.

Inside, you can expect an air of classiness. Walls are adorned with caricatures of actors and other famous faces. The sketches complement the dark wood tones.

An autograph book is on display in the lobby. Per the inscription, “The following are signatures of celebrity guests who have dined at The Hollywood Brown Derby at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.”

So, if you’re dining at the restaurant and a celebrity happens to be present, someone working there will retrieve the autograph book from the case. Then they’ll present it to the celebrity for their signature.

Unfortunately, I’ve yet to be present when such an event occurs. All the same, I always secretly hope that it might happen when I dine here.

It’s not that I’m a fan girl of anyone in particular, other than maybe Ina Garten. Okay, I’m gushing thinking about meeting the Barefoot Contessa.

But how cool would it be to look up mid-way through lunch and see someone signing the autograph book across the room? I can imagine a hushed wave as everyone looks on, wondering who is signing the book.

Those nearby, mouthing the name of the celebrity. For those of us who can’t read lips, we began to ask our table neighbors, “WHO IS IT?” in a loud whisper.

Pretty soon, the shameless have their cell phone fully zoomed in on the table. What’s such an experience without proof, after all?

Every Disney news blog in town has the story out in less than four minutes. Thankfully, the celebrity is escorted to Club 33 while the news of their being in the park begins to reach the masses.

When you leave, a small crowd of nosy on-lookers awaits outside, madly scrolling the My Disney Experience app for their own reservation. With an air of dignity, you hold your head high with a smug look that says it all.

You, yes you, had lunch with…. I’ll let you fill in the blank. Okay, I got a little off track, but it would be fun to have lifetime bragging rights about the time you had lunch at the Hollywood Brown Derby when a celebrity was present.

Our Latest Meal at the Brown Derby

If you’ve been following along, I recently spent a week at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. During that week, most of our time was spent in the resorts and theme parks.

One of those days was spent at Typhoon Lagoon. Somehow, we still managed to make it to Hollywood Studios for the evening.

Of course, our main reason for visiting Hollywood Studios was because we snagged a last-minute reservation for 8:30 p.m. at The Hollywood Brown Derby. 

We arrived at the Studios near 7:00 p.m., parked the car, and rode Runaway Railway and Star Tours. After that, it was time to head to our dining reservation. 

When we arrived at the Brown Derby, we were seated almost immediately. Even though it was late, the restaurant was pretty packed.

However, by the time we left, we were the last guests of the evening.

We were seated in one of the large half-round booths in the main dining room.

When our server came to the table, she took our drink orders and noted that one of us had a nut allergy. She then made a few suggestions for what we might like to order.

Since we had all eaten at the Brown Derby previously, we had an idea of what we wanted. Kristen ordered the Our Famous Cobb Salad to share with me.

Brown Derby’s famous Cobb salad comes with roasted turkey, bacon, eggs, tomatoes, blue cheese, avocado, and dressing. It comes to the table, as shown in the photo below.

Before the salad arrives, someone will drop off a pair of tongs at the table. When the salad is delivered, your server will come by and ask if you would like to have the salad tossed.

If so, they toss the salad, making a bit of a presentation.

Additionally, there’s an option to add chicken or shrimp to the salad for an extra cost. On my last visit, I ordered the salad minus tomatoes.

At that time, the George Banks shrimp enhancement was available. Unfortunately, I didn’t see it on the menu during our last visit. But the shrimp were expertly prepared and a great add-on.

Kristen also ordered the filet mignon with Walt Disney’s roast beef hash to split with her son. The steak was expertly prepared, the asparagus delicious, and the mushrooms were outstanding.

I went with the sustainable salmon coulibiac. A coulibiac is a kind of fish pie. Traditionally, I believe the fish and other ingredients are stuffed in a pie-like crust.

This rendition appeared to be a cut-out of puff pastry daintily laid on top of the best salmon I’ve ever had. Oh my, this dish was wonderful. I’ve thought about it many times since.

When I ordered the salmon, our server mentioned that the chef recommended it medium rare. So that’s the way I ordered it, and it was expertly executed.

A few other newer menu items at The Hollywood Brown Derby include:

  • Shrimp and Scallops Newberg
  • Tomato Risotto
  • Free-Range Chicken à la King
  • Braised Short Rib

A few dessert items include:

  • 50th Anniversary Celebration Baked Alaska
  • Grapefruit Cake (A Brown Derby Original)
  • Chocolate Coconut Cake (Plant-Based)

You can preview the entire menu for the Brown Derby here on Disney’s site.

Additionally, bread service is included as part of the meal at the Brown Derby. These rolls always have a crispy exterior but are soft on the inside. The salted butter that comes with them is delightful.

Eating at the Brown Derby Lounge

We’ll look at a separate dining experience at Disney’s Brown Derby Lounge. This lounge is one of my go-to’s when I don’t have reservations and want something a step above counter service.

Benefits of dining at the lounge include walk-up seating (based on availability), ordering from the Brown Derby menu, and a pleasant environment. If the weather is nice, you can’t beat enjoying an al fresco meal here.

It’s also fun to do a little people-watching while dining at The Brown Derby Lounge. While you dine, you can relax and observe the comings and goings of other park guests.

Regarding securing a table at the Brown Derby Lounge, you’ll need to walk up to the gate and ask the host for a table. They will seat you if there is something immediately available. Or they will take your number and text you when a table is ready.

If you have to wait, there are several places to sit in the immediate area. Also, you can step inside the Brown Derby to freshen up if needed, there’s a restroom off the restaurant’s foyer.

Once seated at the lounge, a menu is presented on the table. You can request the full menu from the Brown Derby restaurant if you like. The Brown Derby and the Brown Derby Lounge share the same kitchen, making ordering from both menus possible.

The menu on the day of our last visit to the lounge offered several good options. The prices here are slightly more reasonable than the regular Brown Derby menu.

Perhaps, the most popular item here is a smaller version of the famous Brown Derby Cobb Salad. Several tables around us had this option, which was quite a sizable salad for the lower price.

Some of the other offerings included:

  • Charcuterie Board
  • Tuna Carpaccio Nicoise
  • BLT Sliders
  • Our Famous Cobb Salad
  • Shrimp Cocktail

A drink list is available if you are looking for something a little different. Additionally, with a full bar, they can make almost anything you request. You can preview the menu here.

When I originally reviewed the Brown Derby, I ordered the classic margarita flight. Per the menu, the margarita flight features classic, blood orange, and pomegranate margaritas.

The flight might be a good option if you want something light, flavored, and fun. However, I felt that the blood orange and pomegranate flavors had an artificial taste. Unfortunately, I wouldn’t reorder it.

On this same visit, I requested a copy of the Brown Derby’s regular menu. I wasn’t in the mood for a Cobb salad and wanted to see what other salad options were available.

Ultimately, I ordered the local greens and baby spinach salad. Per the menu, this salad has warm bacon vinaigrette with Asian pears, strawberries, Midnight Moon goat cheese, and watermelon radish.

This salad was a definite winner and something I would order again. My salad greens were tossed in the light vinaigrette.

Additionally, the fruit and vegetables were crisp and helped bind this whole dish together. Overall, it was a satisfying salad.

Lastly, I ordered the Artisanal cheese and charcuterie board, which was delicious. It reminded me of our board at Geyser Point at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. However, the duck rillette was much better here at the Brown Derby Lounge.

Related: Geyser Point Bar and Grill Review

Pairing the salad with the charcuterie board worked well over ordering an entree. If there are multiple items your group wants to try, you might also consider sharing a few things.

Overall, Disney’s Hollywood Brown Derby and its lounge are both excellent dining choices. Both locations certainly keep us coming back with their unique menu options and the flexibility of the price points between them.

Of course, The Hollywood Brown Derby is expensive. But since the restaurant is located in a theme park, you won’t feel the need to dress up. Casual theme park attire is the norm.

There’s something extra special about dining at the Brown Derby. If you have an opportunity to dine here, I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as we do.

Make sure to check out the complete list of Disney Dining Reviews. You might also enjoy these specific reviews:

Additionally, you might enjoy learning more about dining with characters. We have a full review of Disney World Character Dining. That guide includes tips on the best meals, photos, and autographs at these dining experiences.

In the comments

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