Epcot on Monday opened its long awaited restaurant Space 220, an upscale dining experience with an expansive room and windows that look out into space and the Eastern Seaboard, 220 miles below (give or take a couple of hundred miles).
It’s a cool immersive effect with diners seated near large windows that look out to spacecraft zooming by, astronauts zipping around on hoverboards, and the green vastness of the curve of the earth (take that, Flat Earthers!). It’s sort of like dining at the Coral Reef restaurant in the Living Seas pavilion but with space through the windows instead of sea creatures (though the sea creatures have the advantage of being real).
No Elon Musky rocket is needed to access the restaurant, which is located on the Centauri Space Station. Instead, you’re whisked upward in a space elevator – excuse me, Stellarvator, which I’m sure should have a trademark symbol after it. During the ride, you can look through the glass bottom to see Epcot and Florida slipping away; look overhead to see the space station coming into view.
It’s a very smooth transport, almost like you’re not moving at all. (Click the video below to get a feel for it.)
Entrance into the big, open dining room offers an impressive wow.
The menu is a little more down to earth.
The executive chef is Marc Kusche, whom you may remember from Hamilton’s Kitchen (2014-2016). The restaurant is operated by Patina Restaurant Group, which also operates the restaurants at Epcot’s Italy pavilion as well as several brands at Disney Springs, including Morimoto Asia and the Edison.
Instead of starters there are “lift-offs,” with such things as Big Bang Burrata, Starry Calamari, and Neptuna Tartare. Inevitably, you’ll find the entrees listed under the “Star Course” heading – a seared tuna; salmon in a beurre blanc; chicken; macaroni and cheese; and a burger (at least on the lunch menu).
I chose the Starry Calamari just to see if I felt silly saying it. (Only a little.) It was a basic offering of squid ringlets with some peppers thrown in, all nicely breaded and crisply fried, served with two dipping sauces, a spiced up marinara and roasted red pepper citrus aioli (both good).
For my Star Course, I selected the flat iron steak, mainly because it didn’t have a cutesy name (Cow that Jumped Over the Moon Steak, for instance). It was cooked beautifully to my requested medium rare and had a delicious coffee-based rub on the cap. It was carefully sliced and fanned next to fingerling potatoes (which the menu said would be smashed but were not; I smashed them myself). The meat itself was on a stack of haricot vert as though to hold them down should they become weightless.
(Question: Does Centauri have its own kitchen with fryers and grills or is everything sent up from an Epcot commissary via a separate freight Stellarvator?)
For dessert, we were offered the Sticky Toffee Pudding Cake, a nicely custardized pudding with caramel and chocolate sauces surrounded by little pearls that I’m guessing represent the large number of low-orbit satellites recently launched into space.
Space 220 offers prix fixe menus: two courses at lunch for $55 and three courses at dinner for $79. (I was invited to dine as part of the media event at the grand opening.)
This is definitely an upper tier dining experience. I’d put it on a par with California Grill’s early days, before it brightened up and became nothing but a place for families to (loudly) watch fireworks. The, ahem, atmosphere here is serene. Lighting is low and the sound system plays the sort of ethereal music I associate with getting a massage. Twice I had to stop myself from undressing and lying face down on the table.
(Question: Can you see the nightly fireworks shows from Centauri Space Station?)
Exiting the restaurant is also accomplished via the Stellarvator. When I was leaving, a couple of people pushed through a door marked “emergency exit.” “They’re going to free-fall back to earth,” someone nearby surmised.
I left the restaurant at 11:29 a.m. and passed a long line of park goers waiting to get in. A cast member at the end of the line was announcing that there would be no more availability for the restaurant.
Space 220 is in the Mission Space area of Epcot. It is open for lunch and dinner daily. Dining reservations can be made online.