Yesterday (Saturday, January 11, 2014), the new tapas-style restaurant in Morocco finally opened, and I made a visit to Epcot to check it out. “Spice Road Table” is a very small restaurant, sitting on the lagoon side of the Morocco pavilion. Its primary feature is going to be the fact that it sits on the water front, offering guests decent-to-good viewings of the lagoon during IllumiNations.
I walked up to the new restaurant around 2pm yesterday, and was fairly surprised to see that most of the tables were open and available. I was expecting it to be very crowded, even have a wait to get in, on opening day.
When you enter the restaurant, you can see the bar that separates the outdoor seating area from the indoor one. The hostess podium is located here, with a very small seating area (enough for 2-3 people) and also the entrance to the small gift shop.
I approached the podium and the hostess said it would be just a minute to get a table ready for me; I’m not sure what that meant, since all the tables are pre-set with the flatware and silverware. Regardless, just about a minute later, I was led past the bar….
… to a table on the left side of the restaurant, in the outdoor (but covered) seating area. There is also an indoor area on the right side. The hostess did not give me an option nor ask my preference, but I assume I could have stated one if I’d chose to.
As mentioned, this is a “tapas” restaurant, so it’s not the kind of place I think anyone will be coming to get a full meal. Rather, this is a place to sit down for a little while in the middle of your Epcot touring, have a small bite to eat and perhaps a drink, and talk with your family & friends while resting your feet. I took a few pictures of the menu’s drink and food offerings, so you can get an idea of the kinds of food offered and the prices of each.
One of the first things I noticed about the outdoor seating is that there are going to be very limited times of the year in which I, personally, would find it acceptable to sit out there. While the pavilion is covered, the sun was still shining right on me as the late afternoon sun was behind the Morocco pavilion. There was also a bit of a breeze, which had the annoying tendency to blow away the paper coasters every time I lifted my drink. And I imagine that when it rains, if there’s even a slight wind, the tables on the perimeter of the dining area will not remain dry.
I ordered both the appetizer samplers mentioned in the picture above, to try to get a breadth of dining selections to try out. Each sampler arrived in a plate with three serving areas, each its own very small dish.
I found most of the items I sampled to be decent-to-good. The calamari was perfectly crunchy on the outside, and well cooked within. I think my surprise favorite is actually the “chicken roll”. While there is very little actual chicken, and it has more beans and veggies, it had the overall best taste of any of my six dishes. The mussels were also quite good, and it was nice not having to de-shell them myself. I’m not a cooked-fish fan, so I was pleased to discover that the cod croquettes did not have a heavy “fishy” taste to them at all. The only surprise was the lamb sausage. It was just a touch spicier than I had expected. Not burning or uncomfortable by any means, but just enough to make me reach for my water glass after my first bite.
While eating, I looked around the outdoor seating area, and realized there are exactly 5 tables actually at the waterfront. Any other table is going to have a view of the lagoon that includes other people and/or support columns. And to be honest, it’s not a great view of the lagoon to begin with. Two of the islands are somewhat blocking the view of the center, where the majority of IllumiNations takes place. I imagine these tables will be highly coveted, but I stand by my long time assertion that it is better to eat before or after the show, and spend the time to secure an actual good spot outside a restaurant, if you really want to watch Illuminations.
When the server brought the check, I took the opportunity to ask him a few questions. Now, keep in mind, Disney frontline CMs often know pretty close to nothing about the actual plans of management and executives. They mostly report the same rumors and inferences the fan community hears. So take this with a grain of salt, but: he told me first that the restaurant will remain walk-ups only “for a while”, but that they’re working on getting it into the ADR system to accept reservations. Personally, I’d rather it remain walk-ups only, indefinitely. Second, he said that it doesn’t currently take Tables in Wonderland (or any other discounts), and again that they’re “working on” getting the system to accept them. I don’t know much about the inner workings of Disney IT, but it seems like this should not be a difficult thing to do, especially when they have about a hundred other restaurants that already have both of these features. Can’t they just copy the configuration over?
When I got up to leave, I finally saw the interior side of the restaurant, to the right of the bar. Again, still very small, but at least it’s air conditioned. I actually think these folks have a better view of the lagoon than guests sitting in the outdoor patio. So if it is your goal to be here during IllumiNations, I’d try to stake your claim for an interior table, against one of the windows.
Overall, I give Spice Road Table a thumbs-up, conditioned on your expectations being properly set. It’s not somewhere to go for a full meal. But it is ideal for a break from your Epcot touring, a place to sit, relax with your family & friends, have a drink and a small bite to eat, and just enjoy the atmosphere of Epcot’s World Showcase.