Scott's note: Mythos is once again a finalist for Theme Park Insider's annual search for "Best Theme Park Restaurant." To vote for Mythos -- or any of the other finalists -- visit ThemeParkInsider.com.
With all the craziness associated with the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando’s Islands of Adventure, it’s easy to forget the rest of the park is still open. That includes Mythos, one of only two full-service restaurants in the park (Confisco Grille is the other). Yes, even with the addition of the new themed area, the rest of the food options, including Harry Potter’s Three Broomsticks restaurant, are counter-service operations.
(Click here to read my review of Three Broomsticks and to see a video.)
I have a feeling that Universal would like to do away with the full-service restaurants altogether and save on the labor costs. Plus, they might think people don’t expect as much from counter-service food. If they could turn Mythos into the same sort of operation where you step up, order your food and pick it up at a window maybe no one would notice that the food has become mundane.
The original plan for Mythos was to have it be a showcase for Steven Jayson, vice president and corporate executive chef for Universal Orlando. But the grand plan for Mythos didn’t pan out. It may be because Universal and Jayson wanted the restaurant to be one thing and the guests wanted it to be another. The original menu had such things as wood-roasted Maine lobster and tempura shrimp sushi, items you might expect to find in a fine dining venue. But the park goers weren’t looking for fine dining, they just wanted a place to eat where they didn’t have to stand in line for their food.
So Mythos today is somewhat different than the restaurant it started out to be. Today’s menu has tortilla soup, a well-spiced tomatoey broth with matchsticks of fried tortillas and a dollop of sour cream. And crab sliders (what was I thinking ordering those?). In terms of flavor -- and indeed overall enjoyment -- there wasn’t anything wrong with the sliders. However, the amount of crab contained therein was rather puny, and the texture was soft. The patties were served on two small but fresh-tasting buns and accompanied by a small serving of potato salad (needed salt) and an unusual compote of cubed watermelon and tomatoes that did double duty as a fruity dessert.
Service was affable and efficient. Many of the servers gave the appearance of actually being happy to be there. Imagine. The restaurant is set in what appears to be an enchanted cave, the walls of which morph from rocky surfaces to mystical faces and even into voluptuous bodies. If there is a story behind the images and the setting, it isn’t explained anywhere that I could see. This particular enchanted cave also boasts a huge picture window that affords a view of what is known as the Inland Sea. I recall a decade ago thinking that the decor was chintzy. I found it oddly comfortable and pleasant this time.
I took advantage of Universal’s dining pass deal that allows guests to enter the park to dine at the restaurant without paying for admission. Here’s how it works: go to the guest services window and tell them you’d like to dine at Mythos. They’ll ask for a photo id and a credit card. They’ll ring up a charge ticket for the full park admission and give you a pass to enter the park and go to the restaurant. When you’re finished, you present the pass and proof that you purchased a meal at Mythos and they tear up your credit slip. You’re allowed about 2 and a half hours, which is more time than I needed. There was talk of suspending the dining pass for fear that people would take advantage of it to slip into the Wizarding World without purchasing a ticket. But with waits to enter the new attraction running two and three times the allotted dining-pass time, there’s no way anyone could easily pull that off.
Mythos is open daily for lunch and pre-early bird dinner. Reservations are a good idea; call 407-224-4534.