I've said it before and I'll say it again, just because I like/love a restaurant doesn't necessarily mean it's popular with the masses. Most people judge a restaurant on the food quality alone. There is a whole "package" that I take into consideration when judging a restaurant: food quality, theme, niceness of CM's, how comfortable I am there (comfort level is EVERYTHING to an Asper), even the location of the restaurant can affect its rating. I will rarely judge a restaurant harshly if it fails in just one of these categories but if there are numerous factors on the nega-tivo side, then forget it...one bad experience will keep me from ever trying a restaurant again, no matter how much the general Disney-going population may love it. I do have "issues" to contend with and once a restaurant gets on my crap list, even walking on the same side of the walkway where the restaurant resides might cause me to have a panic moment. When I'm done with something, I'm done (and that doesn't just happen with Disney restaurants, it happens pretty much with every aspect of my life, but that's a topic for another day).
Coral Reef is just such a place. The average Disney guest will either say Coral Reef is just OK or they have very negative opinions of it...rarely does anyone stand up and profess their undying love for it. The food is good, but not excellent and the cost per quality ratio is WAY out of proportion, it's extremely expensive for what you get. The CM's are OK, but we have had more than one bad one throughout the years. It's in a kind of weird spot and requires a bit of navigation to get to (especially since Epcot is so big). But the theming is so amazing and I love the atmosphere so much, I can let all the other things slide. I may not be saluting it from the mountain tops, but I do miss it when we don't eat there and I always try to work it in every few years.
That's the bad part about trying different restaurants and discovering new favorites on a trip...you are only there for a limited number of days, so you can only eat at so many places. Every year the decision-making process of where we will eat is one of the most stressful parts of the planning. I always try to squeeze in a new restaurant, but always secretly hope I hate it so it doesn't get added to the annual roster. That hasn't happened in a long time (unfortunately). Coral Reef always gets considered, but rarely gets added.
Located in Epcot's Future World, at the far corner of The Seas with Nemo and Friends (formerly The Living Seas), Coral Reef Restaurant is often easily overlooked because of it's location. We typically go to that section of the park first thing in the a.m....The Seas is right beside The Land where Soarin' is (the Epcot ride you pretty much have to rush to as the gates open) and where we always have breakfast, Sunshine Seasons, so we usually wander over to The Seas about mid morning (Figment and Journey Into Imagination typically comes after The Land). By dinner time, we're usually at the far end of World Showcase and have to hike all the way back to Future World (and those that have been know what a hike that actually is).
oh, and how about a throwback photo too:
It's also in a weird spot, off to the side away from the main Seas entrance, so it can often be missed unless you know where to look, especially in the dark:
The inside has a "flow" to it and feels a bit like a waterway (and you can barely see the main dining area from the reception area):
It is a very dark restaurant, but there is a reason for this...once you get in the main dining area, this is what you see:
Yes, those are REAL divers in there...who's in the tank, you or them? You are actually looking up at the tank that you look down on in The Seas:
It is a very small dining room as well and seats next to the windows are rare. You can request a table there, but be prepared to wait upwards of two hours, even if you have a reservation! It's also a very loud restaurant for some reason. I always want to whisper when I'm in there but apparently no one else shares that sentiment!
But let's get to the food, shall we? The last time we were there was in 2012 (it's WAY past time to go back apparently), so let's show that meal. We LOVE the drinks there. I don't think we have ever gotten a watered-down beverage there and the glow lights make great collectibles:
My Sister and I got the same entree (and it's the one I typically get there anyway), that year it was Lobster Orecchiette Pasta with white cheddar and basil oil. They vary it up from season to season, sometimes adding veggies or changing out the pasta type, but I do usually get the seafood pasta, in whatever variation they serve it.
Dessert wise, I went with the blood orange cake, but it wasn't that great the the orange "jelly" topping was kind of creepy:
Am's dessert, basically a lava cake with sherbet, was good though:
Oh, and for another throwback photo moment, you can also get lobster tail a la carte and we did that in 2005 (notice the shrimp pasta in the background, I had the same with added shredded parmesan cheese):
and since I was apparently a bit "flash happy" in 2005, here's a photo of an empty table just to show how blue the room really is:
I really do enjoy eating here and, although there is better seafood on property, nowhere do you have divers waving at you. Considering that the behavior of the guests partaking in the Food & Wine Festival seems to be getting worse and worse every year, leaving World Showcase late afternoon and heading all the way back to The Seas in Future World is fast becoming a more desirable idea than it used to be too (and I've started doing it the past couple of years because I get too panicky being around that vibe). I can drink with the best of them, but I don't see the need to gang up, get completely plastered and act like a loud obnoxious idiot when children are present. It's mainly the locals...they have drinking contests, but you can spot them a mile away, they wear matching T-shirts. It's worse on the weekends, FYI, but I've noticed it happening more and more on weekdays. When they are there though, you'll see gangs of twenty or so different shirt groups hanging around...that's when I would suggest you run for the hills and head on over to Coral Reef!