Last week at Universal's Wizarding World of Harry Potter, I was not only lucky enough to be able to get a tour of Hogwarts castle, but also to get a first tasting of some of the "Potter"-themed food and drinks the park will be providing. The restaurant menu for The Three Broomsticks and Hog's Head Pub is up at MTV Movies, but here is a chance to give you a chance to read what you really want to know: how it all tastes!
The high point was definitely getting a first sip of butterbeer. It's something I've been looking forward to for a while, and drinking the refreshing beverage out of a chilled plastic tankard was the culminating experience in my long search for the authentic taste of butterbeer.
How can something with a taste reminiscent of shortbread cookies and butterscotch be refreshing, you might ask? Probably because the delicious foam on top manages to stay separate from the actual cool beverage the entire way down. Trust me, this one doesn't disappoint.
There's also a frozen version of butterbeer which isn't quite as good. The flavors don't come across as strongly, and the taste just isn't the same. But we were also doing the tasting in mid-March when the temperature was in the 70s, so by the time June, July and August roll around and guests are dying for something chilly, frozen butterbeer will probably be the way to go. The pumpkin juice is also surprisingly refreshing for tasting like pumpkin pie and having a nice aftertaste of nutmeg. It's a bit tough to get through more than a couple of sips of the strong, rich beverage though.
Surprisingly, the second most delicious thing on the menu is the strawberry peanut butter ice cream. I am a bit of a peanut butter and ice cream buff myself, but this is the surprising king of the (semi-)solid treats. The flavors blend together perfectly, another perfect treat for a very hot Orlando summer day. If you're having trouble remembering where exactly in the books strawberry peanut butter ice cream pops up, it is when Harry and his friends are walking around Diagon Alley in "Prisoner of Azkaban." If you were curious.
Universal head chef Stephen Jayson said that he's been very conscious of making the food as authentically English as possible when constructing the menu. The fish and chips are by far the high point of the faithfully British fare. The fried fish are made with fresh Boston cod, and the combination of the delicious fish with the perfect fried exterior was all together mind-blowing. Forget the fact that this is way better than any food you should expect to get at an amusement park; it is hands down the best fried fish I've ever had. Unfortunately, the potato wedges that come with the fish aren't as impressive.
On the food side, the honorable mentions are the side dishes. The corn on the cob is roasted in the husk, the roasted vegetables and potatoes are both delicious and healthy and the side salad that comes with the meal is a high step up from any theme park salad I've had before. Though I missed out on tasting the rotisserie chicken, the others that did said it was quite tasty, and that the ribs were similarly good as well.
The shepherd's pie is not your typical Americanized version with layers of ground beef, mashed potatoes, cheese and corn. The small dishes we got of each were decent, but didn't do much to impress. However, here's a theme park that's selling shepherd's pie to begin with, which is impressive enough. Also, the apple pies are overly sweet and loaded with way too many raisins. Stick with the strawberry peanut butter ice cream, folks. It will be very much worth your while.
While no prices have been released yet for the menu, you can expect it's going to be a bit more expensive than your typical chicken fingers or cheeseburger (which are already ludicrously overpriced). The one thing that can be said about the menu at the Three Broomsticks is that Universal has really put out the effort to make their food as healthy as possible, if that is any compensation.