I have eaten at Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’ restaurant a handful of times over the years and it has never disappointed. Recently our large family group dined at this restaurant, located in the Landing area at Disney Springs, and came away full and happy with our meal.
This venue is billed as “farm-to-fork cuisine showcasing Florida’s freshest flavors.” Owner celebrity Chef Art Smith has deep ties to both the state and Disney: he attended Florida State University, currently lives in North Florida, and was a culinary intern in the Disney World College Program. He also worked as a chef for former Florida governors Bob Graham and Jeb Bush and used to be Oprah Winfrey’s personal chef. (Fun fact: I once ran into him at an arts festival in Tallahassee, but was too shy to say “hello.”)
The flavors at Homecomin’ are very much southern-inspired but are elevated enough to not risk comparisons to Cracker Barrel. You won’t find many “light” or “healthy” dishes on the menu, but it’s worth the extra carbs to occasionally indulge yourself here.
On our recent visit, we sat outside at one of the tables in front of the restaurant and listened to live music. I believe this area is technically part of the Shine Bar and Social section that was added last year. There is also a patio/porch-like area on the side of the restaurant that has a covered roof and screened sides, and you can sit inside as well.
Special discounts are available to Cast Members, Tables in Wonderland, and First Responders/Military. Ask your server for details.
As an appetizer, we ordered the Bunch of Puppies: House-made hushpuppies served with pimento cheese and red jalapeño jelly ($10.00). This is sinfully good! They are piping hot and crispy, and you really should dip them in both the pimento cheese and the jelly because there’s a whole spicy/sweet thing going on there. I have even ordered these as my main entrée in the past, they are that filling and that good!
On the server’s recommendation, my father-in-law tried the Fried Chicken & Doughnuts, which is two pieces of Chef Art Smith’s famous fried chicken served with house-made sugar doughnuts and choice of side item ($28.00). This was huge, and my father-in-law barely finished half of it. I did try one of the donuts, and I am not a donut person, but these were good, hot and fresh out of the oven.
My mother-in-law got the Fried Chicken Salad: Crispy fried chicken over mixed greens, pecan-smoked bacon, egg, heirloom cherry tomatoes, red onion, and cucumber tossed with icebox dressing, cheddar biscuit croutons, and fresh herbs ($18.00). This was also enormous, arriving on a plate that looked more like a serving platter. She got grilled chicken rather than fried and liked the salad, but didn’t really care for the dressing.
Reservations are highly recommended. The secret is out and this place is very popular. Walk-ups can sometimes be accommodated at the bar, but I wouldn’t count on it.
Our dinner reservation was quite late in the evening, and being familiar with the portion sizes at this restaurant, I decided to split some dishes with my husband and my daughter. The Kitchen Plate ($19.00) is a great way to do this – it’s a sampling of three different house-made sides.
It’s a good option for vegetarian diners and it gives you a way to try the best part of the menu: the side dishes!
We got two orders of the Kitchen Plate and chose Cheddar Cheese Drop Biscuits, Creamy Mashed Potatoes, French Green Beans, Momma’s Mac and Cheese, and Roasted Sweet Potatoes. You can order these a la carte as well for $6-$8.
The biscuits are my favorite: pillowy and tender. I saved some of the pimento cheese from my hushpuppies to put on these. The Mac and Cheese is amazing but very rich. I don’t know what they put in the creamy mashed potatoes, but my daughter inhaled them so fast I barely tasted a spoonful. The fact that 6 side dishes could feed three people should tell you something about the portions here!
The restaurant is also famous for its moonshine flights and cocktails. The Moonshine Mash is my favorite: Watermelon-infused moonshine, fresh watermelon, lime juice and simple syrup ($13.00). It’s very refreshing. There’s also Shine on Tap, and many people buy the refillable sipper bottle (currently $22) which gives you lifetime refills for $13.
Homecomin’ is also famous for its signature desserts: Hummingbird Cake, the famous pineapple-banana cake with cream cheese frosting from Chef Art’s bestselling cookbook “Back to the Table” served with a seasonal fruit gastrique and a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream ($12.00) and Shine Cake, an adult only butter cake soaked with moonshine syrup served with a seasonal fruit gastrique and a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream ($11.00). I’ve honestly never had them as I’m always too full to even think about ordering dessert.
There’s also an amazing looking brunch menu which I’ve never tried, but it’s certainly on my list.
All in all, Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’ is really comfort food at its best. There are dishes to please even the pickiest of palates here, and there’s very little chance you’ll go away feeling hungry.
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