Fresh off of the Magical Express in March, Timothy and I were trying to decide what to eat for lunch near the BoardWalk Villas when we remembered that Big River Grille & Brewing Works had recently reopened. While we had eaten there in the past (pre-pandemic), we thought it would be a good time to check out what the restaurant was like in its reopening phase.
Big River Grille is right along the boardwalk just past the Screen Door General Store and offers a great view of Crescent Lake with its outdoor seating. Since we were there on a cool day, we decided to go for the indoor seating. Inside, you’ll find the bar and limited seating. Tables are spaced out, and sections of the bar are partitioned with plexiglass. However, our high top table was rather close to the nearest bar seats. On a Monday afternoon, the restaurant wasn’t too crowded, so fortunately, this didn’t matter too much. Each table had QR three codes to scan for the food, beer, and wine menus. You’ll also notice some of the brewery equipment visible in the restaurant. After all, Big River Grille is a micro-brewery.
We did not have a reservation, but it was not a problem. The hostess was able to seat us after a quick temperature check. It was a pleasant surprise to find a table service restaurant that accepted walk-ups and had no wait during a busy spring break week. Our server was friendly and prompt. She also checked in with us frequently.
As with just about every restaurant at Walt Disney World at the moment, Big River Grille has a modified menu. Most noticeable was the shorter list of beers. There were 4 options (Southern Flyer Light Lager, Vienna Lager, Big River I.P.A., and the Sweet Magnolia Brown Ale), and the seasonal beer was a mango hard seltzer. Only the I.P.A. was made by Big River. Also, the usual beer flight was unavailable to Timothy’s disappointment. Our server mentioned that the lack of variety was due to them not yet having a full-time brewer back. The food menu was also missing some of the entrees like the meatloaf. Nevertheless, there was still a decent assortment of appetizers, salads, sandwiches, burgers, and entrees on the menu.
I chose the California chicken sandwich ($14.99), which had grilled chicken, Swiss cheese, guacamole, lettuce, tomato, and ranch and was served with kettle chips. It was a tasty combination, and I found the sandwich satisfying. The chicken wasn’t dry at all, especially with the added creaminess of the guacamole and ranch. I liked the crunchy kettle chips but found myself wishing that fries were an option, a minor gripe I remember from the last time we dined here.
Timothy ordered the Black & Blue ($15.99), which is a burger with bacon, blue cheese crumbles, lettuce, tomato, blue cheese sauce, and beer-simmered onions. It also came with kettle chips. He thought the burger was very juicy and enjoyed the rich flavor of the blue cheese and blue cheese sauce. He also ordered the Big River I.P.A. ($8.99 for 16 oz.), which he enjoyed. It is described on the menu as a “classic copper-colored ale” with “a pronounced hop aroma and assertive bitterness.”
All in all, Big River Grille & Brewing Works isn’t at the top of my list of favorite restaurants, but it is a decent and welcome addition to the still reopening boardwalk area.
*Please note that this dining review was conducted during Walt Disney World’s initial reopening period. We ask that you take into consideration that any negative impacts may be a result of situations surrounding the ongoing pandemic, and may not accurately represent the restaurant once the resort has fully reopened.