Mar 13, 2016

I Ate Everything British-Sounding on the Three Broomsticks Menu at Hogsmeade

I got early admittance into the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood yesterday and decided that I would just buy and eat everything vaguely British-sounding on the Three Broomsticks menu.

There was a decently long line around 6 PM and we waited about 30 minutes before ordering (I suspect once the park opens up to the public, it'll be more like an hour plus). While you're waiting, there's a display of the food so you can form an idea of what you want:

The ordering set up is a bit interesting. You order and pay at a numbered cashier, then you move on to a numbered station to get your food (unless you order the Great Feast, a meal for four, in which case they'll give you a number and bring it to your table). After you get your food, you wait in another line to get seated (it wasn't terribly long so the food didn't get cold or anything but it's not ideal).

Here's everything good and bad (and British pub-like) I tried on the Harry Potter-themed menu (I apologize for the picture quality, the tavern was very dimly lit):

Bangers and Mash ($12.99)
- Grilled English sausage on mashed potatoes topped with sauteed onions and onion gravy and a roasted tomato. Sauteed cabbage and peas come on the side. The sausages were juicy and savory. The grind was fine for a nice softness, and the casing was soft (for those that don't like the snap of a firm casing).

If you like butter, the cabbage and mashed potatoes were more like cabbaged and potatoed butter rather than the other way around. The peas were oddly undercooked and fairly hard.

Beef, Lamb & Guinness Stew ($13.99)
- Chunks of beef, lamb, carrots, potatoes, celery, and onions simmered in a dark Guinness ale and served in a bread bowl (I don't recommend trying to eat the bowl as it was hard and chewy; great for holding stew, not so much for eating). A fresh garden salad comes on the side. You could actually taste the beer in the stew, which had a rich, robust flavor and large, soft pieces of meat and vegetables. This was one of the favorites among my party.

Beef Sunday Roast ($21.99)
- A tender slice of prime rib (I went with medium rare) with roast potatoes, vegetables, and Yorkshire pudding. The beef was most flavorful at the edges. I was a little miffed that there wasn't any horseradish to go with it.

The roasted potatoes were soft with a really nice seasoning to them. Like the peas, the vegetables were oddly undercooked (just checked the menu, apparently they're supposed to be fresh vegetables, so just the peas were undercooked). The vegetables were mostly crunchy. My fork wasn't sturdy enough to spear them.

The Yorkshire pudding (that biscuit-like bread, if you're wondering) was good but overly doughy and thick for Yorkshire pudding. It was best at the crust where there's a richer, slightly fried quality.

Fish & Chips ($14.99)
- Two pieces of deep-fried, ale-battered cod. It comes with fried potato wedges, house-made tartar sauce, and lemon. This dish was solid but unexciting. The batter was crispy and flavorful, but the fish might have been a little overcooked as it fell into pieces when bitten. The fries were lightly seasoned and crispy with that soft, extra potato-y quality you get from wedges.

Lemon Herb Roasted Chicken ($13.99)
- A roasted half-chicken seasoned with lemon, herbs, and spices. Roasted corn on the cob and roasted potatoes come on the side.

The chicken is the "safe" choice if you're looking for familiar flavors. It was deeply flavorful and juicy almost all the way through with just the right amount of tang.

The roasted potatoes were the same as you get with the Sunday Roast and just as good. The corn on the cob seems to come from the same cookbook as the mashed potatoes and cabbages and was super buttery.

Shepherd's Pie ($12.99)
- Ground beef and vegetables covered in a "crust" of mashed potatoes. A tasty meaty stew with a crispy, ridged crust of mashed potatoes. The crust was the crispiest rendition I've ever encountered with a shepherd's pie and made it all the better.

I also went for Butterbeer Potted Cream ($5.29), which is a rich Butterbeer pudding topped with a dollop of whipped cream. I was glad I only got one of these (to share among four people) because it was a very sweet and intense butterscotch pudding; one spoonful went a long way.

For drinks, I went and ordered all three themed drinks (which are also available all around the Hogsmeade area): Butterbeer ($4.99), Frozen Butterbeer ($5.99), and Pumpkin Juice ($4.39).

I preferred regular Butterbeer over the frozen variety, which was like a butterscotch Frappuccino (or Butterbeer Frappucino). The regular version was like butterscotch cream soda with a rich, creamy butterscotch foam. It loses its fizz rather quickly, though, but that seemed essential to foam the cream top as it rises.

The pumpkin juice seemed to be a combination of apple juice, pumpkin puree, and pumpkin pie spices with a sweet tartness from the apple juice and undertones of pumpkin pie.

The only entrees on the menu I didn't try were the breakfast dishes (because they're only served in the morning), the ribs (which is more like American BBQ and offered elsewhere in the park), the Great Feast (which is a combo with ribs and chicken), Vegetable Entree (asparagus with mashed red potatoes, green peas, sauteed cabbage, caramelized onions, and roast tomato) and the turkey leg (which is also offered elsewhere in the park and at fairs everywhere).

Overall, the food at the Three Broomsticks was exceptional for theme park food. There were some hiccups here and there but the dishes there might be my favorite part of the new Wizardling World of Harry Potter area. If I had an annual pass at Universal Studios, I'd eat here over the nearby CityWalk options.

The prices were pretty reasonable as well and were actually fairly comparable to a local British pub in my area.

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