Last week John and I had some time before a park meetup, so we moseyed over to the new Skipper Canteen restaurant in Adventureland.
We'd heard it's almost always a walk-in - no reservations needed (or even accepted, last I checked) - and the rumors are true: the cast members at the exterior check-in podium looked positively GIDDY when we asked for a table.
Here's the interior courtyard, presumably where you wait if the place is full:
Your first look inside is another waiting area/lobby:
... with a pretty eclectic design. It feels like Caribbean meets... Victorian? Which I suppose does equal West Indies...
Here's the little sitting area outside those shuttered doors:
You may notice the lack of any people. We certainly did. o.0
(Granted, this was mid-afternoon on a weekday, but this is also DISNEY, so... foreshadowing?)
There's a nifty contraption on the ceiling:
It took me a moment to realize it was moving on a motor, not just being blown by the slight breeze. It's supposed to be an old-timey fan of sorts, but moves so slowly that it's really just decorative.
Now let's get to the good stuff. Here's the main dining hall:
When I first saw photos of the Canteen, I'll admit I was really disappointed - and this room is a big reason why. Don't get me wrong, it's lovely, but it's not the cram-packed Jungle Cruise homage I was expecting. I hoped for a restaurant-sized Hangar Bar or Trader Sam's, both of which are densely packed with obscure treasures and elaborately themed down to the tiniest detail. This... is not.
However, there is still hope! Because through this "hidden" doorway built into a set of bookcases:
...lies the S.E.A. Room.
The S.E.A. Room (which stands for Society of Explorers & Adventurers) is much closer to what I originally hoped for, and echoes the beyond-stunning Magellan's Restaurant in Tokyo Disneyland.
The prettiest seat in the room has to be this Butterfly Booth:
But there are also stunning carved reliefs and maps around the other tables:
And check out the ceiling!
We shared the room with two other families, but here's a people-free shot from Tom Bricker's review:
(Tom's photos blow mine out of the water, btw, so I highly recommend clicking over to Disney Tourist Blog to see the rest.)
That back wall houses plenty of exotic-looking statuary, masks, and relics:
Of the three dining areas in Skipper Canteen, the S.E.A. Room is the smallest and the Mess Hall is the largest. The Jungle Room is in between in size, and lives up to its name with bold tropical colors and lots of wicker and wood accents:
Mostly dishware on display, but with plenty of fun finds tucked in:
Another colorful stained glass fixture:
So now that you have a sense of what the place looks like, lets talk food.
John, could you hold...?
The menu is somewhat limited (these two pages are it), but the choices are pretty exciting, from noodle bowls to arepas to falafel.
The starter bread is... funky.
My first bite was quite bitter (I forget which herbs our server said are in there, but they're almost... musky? Is that possible?), but fortunately it improved with the honey dip.
We ordered the arepas appetizer, but these are nothing like the sweet fair arepas we're used to:
They come with beef, tostones, and beans, so it's like a build-your-own-taco affair. Everything except the beef was quite bland - the arepas were mostly just bread, then add beans and the yucca starch, and you can imagine why - but I still liked them all together quite well.
John did not.
For an entree we split the Skip's Mac & Cheese, which has layers of ground beef & creamy Bechamel sauce in with the pasta:
This was *also* somewhat bland (adding salt helped), but still hearty and incredibly filling. The two of us together didn't finish the large crock.
For dessert we tried the "Coconut Bar with Pineapple-Basil Compote:"
This was a dense-yet-light-tasting cake with tiny bits of pineapple and dollops of crunchy meringue decorating the plate. It was good, but not great. (And small as it was, not worth $8.)
That actually sums up my feelings on the food overall: kinda good? But not great.
John, on the other hand, won't even grant it a "kinda good." I believe he compared the overall meal to feet? But really, I think he's just bitter we paid $20 for Mac & Cheese. o.0
I should note our server kept asking how the food was - I mean, like, a LOT - which John took as a sign that the food isn't much of a crowd pleaser. I think she could tell we just weren't thrilled - although we kept assuring her everything was fine. I'll be curious to see how much the menu changes over time.
I've heard the wait staff at Canteen is supposed to be in character, ala Jungle Cruise, but sadly we didn't get that on our visit. In fact, with the constant queries on how the food was, we felt more like we were the test subjects on review night than guests at a reasonably high-end restaurant.
In summary, I doubt we'll be returning to Skipper's Canteen, but take that with a grain of "we're really cheap bastards" salt. For theme park food, though, it's fine, and the atmosphere is quite fun if you can get out of the main Mess Hall.
Speaking of which, here are some more shots on our way out:
There were slightly more people around now, as it was getting closer to dinner time.
At the far end of the Hall is an overhead balcony packed with treasures I wish we could see better:
These bits appear to be Christmas decorations - perhaps from the Jingle Cruise?
The Lost and Unfound shelf:
And what appears to be the employee's community clipboard:
My favorite find in the Hall: owner Albert Fall's office, which is over the entrance: