Trail’s End (Dinner with Chef TJ…again!)

This was our second dinner with Chef TJ. As always, the food was fantastic and he couldn’t have been a more gracious host (even though it was quite busy being a holiday week!).

Before I get to the glorious food pics, here are a few tips and FAQs:

Reservation Times
Since Chef TJ does Trail’s End and the Hoop De Doo Revue, he can get very busy, especially during the first half hour of each HDDR show. Look at the HDDR schedule (usually 4:00, 6:15, and 8:30) and try to avoid having the bulk of your meal during any times that include the first half hour of each show.
Also try to avoid making a reservation for a time that gives you less than an hour and a half until Trail’s End closes, because you will likely be there at least an hour and a half.
The very best times to make reservations are: 4:45 and 6:45. Either of those reservations allow you the most time before a HDDR show.
I’ve found that Trail’s End generally takes about 15 minutes to seat you, so if you want to be seated at your reservation time, show up about 15 minutes early.

Reservation Days
Generally, Chef TJ works Sunday through Thursday dinners. However, in the restaurant world, schedule changes do happen, so it is possible for his schedule to vary. Unfortunately, there isn’t a way to know for certain ahead of time if he’ll be there or not. However, for the most part, his schedule is fairly consistent.

How Do I Get There?
This is a question that comes up a lot. Trail’s End is very conveniently accessed from the Magic Kingdom. There’s a boat that runs from just outside MK to just outside TE. The ride is about 12 minutes with great views. Boats come about every 10 minutes, so if you just miss the boat, your trip time from MK could be 22 minutes. If not coming from MK, or from a resort that easily accesses MK, then your only other option is busing. You cannot drive straight to the restaurant. If you have a car, you park in the Fort Wilderness Campground parking lot and take a bus to the “Settlement,” which is where Trail’s End is. If you don’t have a car, you take a bus from your resort to that same parking lot and again bus there.
Ft. Wilderness bus info: There are 3 buses from the parking lot to the “settlement;” and of them will do. When you’re returning to your car, the parking area is called the “outpost,” and, again, any of the 3 colored internal buses will take you back. Just don’t board one of the buses that run to other resorts or parks. 😉


Now for the food!

Absolutely everything Chef TJ makes is inspired and fantastic. This was another exceptional meal with him.

Our first appetizer was spring rolls with arugula and multiple sauces. I adore these spring rolls. (Note: The rice paper wrappers have changed, so Chef TJ can no longer offer vegan spring rolls…maybe one day they’ll change back. However, TJ has since created a cheezy sauce for nachos that have been getting rave reviews).
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Next course was his cheezy pepper buns with a delicious chutney, cheeze, and sauce. And southwest corn chowder. Love the flavor combinations on both of these.

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Next up was the carrot ginger soup, which had a nice, sweet flavor and was a great way to cool down after the spicy buns and soup!????????

The last appetizer is my absolute favorite–tempura! Mushrooms and green beans (I’d never had tempura green beans before, but they were AWESOME) with a slaw and multiple sauces again. I have dreams of their fluffy, savory goodness.

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And now, entree time! I love this entree. Crispy, seasoned tofu, tender-crisp zucchini and squash, noodles, and, my favorite, a stuffed tomato! Topped, of course, with lots of delicious sauces.

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How do you top a meal like that, you ask? With the best dessert ever created, that’s how! I’ve told Chef TJ how much I love his tempura, so he made me a tempura everything dessert. Bananas, pineapple, cookies, and then of course lots of ice cream, chocolate sauce, strawberry sauce, and Mickey sprinkles!

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And since it was New Year’s Eve Eve, we got to watch the Magic Kingdom New Year’s fireworks from the dock outside at midnight (my new favorite viewing location outside of MK). Perfectly magical evening. 🙂

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