The Leaky Cauldron

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Cauldron hall

I'm apparently on Universal Studio's no-fly list. When it was planning its big media preview of Diagon Alley, the second Harry Potter-themed attraction, I requested media credentials but was refused. You write a few (brutally) honest reviews over the years and you eventually get taken off the invite list.

Maybe it was my review of NASCAR Sports Grille, the one that ran with the headline "What a wreck of a restaurant; The NASCAR Sports Grille revs its engines and sideswipes its customers with a hit of bad service and lackluster food. Forfeit this one, drivers." I didn't write the headline, but the person who did summed up the review nicely, if nicely is the proper word there. It's fitting that Universal recently announced that it is closing NSG November 1. It should have closed years ago.

Maybe it was my review of the churrascaria at Latin Quarter (also closed and converted to Antojitos), which I also found lacking.

Or any of the other lackluster restaurant in and around the theme parks.

Whatever it was, I don't expect to be back in Universal's good graces with this review of the Leaky Cauldron, the dining venue in Diagon Alley, which I finally got around to visiting recently. Most of the food is embarrassingly inadequate, and what they charge for it borders on gouging.

Full English Breakfast at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter's Three Broomsticks Restaurant

Written by Scott Joseph on .

I told you previously about the lunch and dinner service at Three Broomsticks, the quick-service restaurant at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando’s Islands of Adventure. Not many people know that Three Broomsticks also serves breakfast, but so far, that meal has been made available to only selected guests, those who have purchased travel packages or are staying is certain hotels. I was able to sneak in recently to check out the morning meal.

I was most interested in the full English Breakfast, of course. I can go anywhere for a pancake breakfast, and I can get a continental breakfast on just about any continent. But the full English you can get pretty much only in England, for the most part. But now you can also get it at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter -- if you’re among that still-select group.

What you won’t get is an explanation about why a full English breakfast is made up of the components that it is. Those components are: eggs, bacon, sausage, baked tomato, baked beans, mushrooms and black pudding (also known as blood pudding). And I’ll also grant you that, with the exception of the pudding, which is not well-known to American palates, all those components are perfectly acceptable comestibles, including at breakfast. The baked beans particularly have a certain American cowboy allure as a morning meal.

But what I find so curious is that no one seems to know how or why these ingredients came to be accepted as the typical British morning meal. Wouldn’t you think someone somewhere along the way would have asked? Or that some British historian would have looked into it?

Three Broomsticks Now Serving

Written by Scott Joseph on .

three_broomsticks
The entrance to Three Broomsticks

Update: Read the review and see the video here.

I had heard that Three Broomsticks, the restaurant at the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter, finally opened for lunch and dinner, so I flew on out to Universal’s Islands of Adventure. (I wish I could have flown -- I would have saved 14 bucks on parking, but don’t get me started on that.)

Actually, it’s a little generous to classify this as a restaurant. It isn’t even fast-casual, where you order your food and someone brings it to you. Here, you order your food at one station then proceed to a designated window to pick it up, then carry the tray with your food to a table. True, someone stops you at the entrance to the dining area and assigns a table to you, but make no mistake, this is a fast-food eatery.

The menu, however, attempts to be more ambitious. Two of the signature items are shepherd’s pie and fish and chips to reflect the setting of the Harry Potter adventures. J.K. Rowling could have set the books in Provence or Tuscany or any other place known for good food, but no. And by the way, my sources tell me that Rowling has been hands-on in nearly every aspect of the development of this particular island of adventure, which is no doubt why there are so many fun bits of painstakingly minute detail.

I wonder, though, if she’s tasted the shepherd’s pie? If she’s such a stickler, surely she would not have green-lighted this dish. I mean, Great Britain isn’t known for its cuisine, but come on.