Monday, November 28, 2011
BJ's Restaurant and Brewhouse
BJ's Restaurant and Brewhouse. My family was recently on vacation at Disney World in Florida and I noticed an advertisement for BJ's Restaurant in the greater Orlando area. BJ's Director of Contract Brewing, Michael Ferguson, better known as Mufasa, has been a regular guest on The Brewing Network. His brewing knowledge, passion for drinkable beers that go well with food, and his laughter were very memorable. I made a mental note to try going to a BJ's Restaurant if the opportunity presented itself, and was able to convince my family to go there after Disney closed for the night.
The atmosphere of the restaurant was a bit similar to an Applebees, but much more modern, with an impressive bar area and the requisite television screens. There were large posters on the wall of their different label art, along with a cool mural of farmers and barley fields. The decor was tastefully done and very welcoming. The restaurant offered a full selection of the BJ's beers and we tried the Piranha Pale Ale, Nutty Brewnette, Tatonka Stout, and their triple berry cider (not sure of the name and it is not on their website). We really liked the pale ale and the brown ale for their interesting and nuanced flavors, but all of the beer went well with the food. The Orlando location also had a large number of guest taps, which is unique for most brewpubs I have experienced. The guest beers ranged from local brews from the Orlando Brewing Company, to craft beer standards. I commend the use of guest taps, and is shows a more sophisticated view of the craft beer industry than many brew pubs offer. They can make money off the other beers, and although perhaps not as much as their own pints, it should help draw a more diverse crowd to the restaurant.
The food was also excellent. The BJ's menu was huge, well over 12 pages, and was almost overwhelming. This included the normal pub fare, but also a wide range of deep dish pizzas, entrées and desserts. There were a number of items under $20 and that was a welcome change from the prices our family was paying in the Disney parks. The pizza and appetizers we shared were very good and would happily go back again.
To sum it up, the experience was all I hoped for from the information I heard in the interviews with Michael Ferguson. The meal was a memorable part of our vacation and I only wish they had a location in Virginia. If you ever have a chance to go, I highly recommend it.