Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The Three Broomsticks

For Harry Potter fans, amazing news broke a few weeks ago. For the first time ever, Warner Bros was hosting a special Christmas dinner event on the studio tour, with the Great Hall decked out just like it was in the movies. We weren't going to be in London in December and the tickets were crazy expensive (and quickly sold out), but it made us think back to the closest we ever got to being at the "real" Hogwarts. That was 4 years ago today, when we journeyed to Universal's Islands of Adventure in Orlando, and set foot in Hogsmeade for the very first time.

It was a sunny and hot Florida afternoon, and it was completely packed. (Who knew that many people took vacations in October? Don't kids have school?) Although the Wizarding World of Harry Potter was located at the far end of the park, we sped through all the other Islands to get there, figuring it would be the most crowded (which it was), and since it was the primary reason we had gone that day. Our first destination was naturally Hogwarts Castle, home to the Forbidden Journey ride. Walking around the castle grounds while snaking through the line was exciting, but the ride itself was quite motion sickness-inducing.

After the ride was over, we were ready for some lunch, both to calm our stomachs and because it was late and we were hungry. When in Hogsmeade, where does one go for lunch? The Three Broomsticks, obviously.

The Three Broomsticks was basically a pub/tavern, but that's what were expecting. Although they did serve some standard American theme park fare (like smoked turkey legs, chicken and ribs), they also made an effort to add in some more English items and things mentioned in the books/movies. You could choose from shepherd's pie, fish and chips, or Cornish pasties, or if you had a large group, could splurge on the Great Feast. I don't know if this is what they really ate at a Great Feast in the English wizarding world, but it just sounded like an American barbecue to me (garden salad, rotisserie chicken, spare ribs, corn on the cob, and roast potatoes). Also, as a side note, considering it was at a popular attraction at a theme park, the prices at The Three Broomsticks for all of this stuff (4 years ago, anyway) were surprisingly reasonable, not much more than you'd pay at a regular restaurant.

We got 2 entrees and 2 drinks to split for lunch. The first was the fish and chips, "fresh North Atlantic cod battered and fried with chips and tartar sauce." This was pretty standard fish and chips. They were okay, but it's kind of hard to screw up fried fish and fries. We have had better fish and chips at plenty of other non-amusement park places, but these were fine.

The other main dish we got was the Cornish pasties with garden salad, "flakey pastry pies filled with ground beef, vegetables, and potatoes, served with a side salad and choice of dressing." The salad was fine, mostly lettuce, but it felt good to have some raw vegetables alongside all the fried food and pasties. The pasties themselves were pretty tasty. The filling was well-seasoned and they felt more English and Harry Potter-like than anything else we ate at lunch.

We don't always order drinks when we go for meals on vacation, but we had to during our visit to The Three Broomsticks since they were drinks that they actually get in the books/movies. The first one we tried was the pumpkin juice, which we quite liked. It was perfect for fall, full of pumpkin spice flavor, along with apple and other fruit flavors. After reading the Universal site, it seems like the primary ingredients are apple juice, pumpkin puree, and apricot puree. (There are some copycat recipes online like this one that I'm very curious to try.)

The other drink we tried was butterbeer. We weren't really sure what the butterbeer would be like. We figured it wouldn't taste like beer since it was non-alcoholic, but would it be like root beer? Something else? Turned out it was frothy like a root beer, with the flavor of cream soda, to take A's description of it. It had a really strong cream soda taste. I'm not a huge fan of cream soda, so I took a sip or 2 of this and then passed on the rest in favor of the pumpkin juice. A likes cream soda, so he liked this, but he wasn't expecting it to just be cream soda since it was called butterbeer.

We enjoyed our meal at The Three Broomsticks. It was a good place to relax after being flung in all directions by that ride at Hogwarts, and gave us the fuel we needed for some Hogsmeade exploring (and other rides) later in the afternoon. It wasn't an exceptionally filling lunch, but it was nice. It's also the closest we've ever gotten to eating in the real wizarding world!

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