I may not be a bear (or really like honey, for that matter), but I can sympathize with my favorite four-legged, red sweater-wearing mammal. After a long evening of anticipation, interviews, and pure adrenaline, I was ready to try the all-new fare being promised in the Leaky Cauldron and throughout Diagon Alley. There was so much that I “bear-ly” had room for it all!
Throughout the evening we made many stops for nourishment. Our first was at Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlour to sample many of the wonderful, new flavors being offered. They handed us a Butterbeer soft serve sample as we walked in, and oh. em. gah. I am a huge fan of the frozen Butterbeer (and actually, too, the warm version we got to try back in January!), but this… to repeat, oh. em. gah. I did all but lick the little cup it was in (maybe I did lick it, a little anyway…). I actually even got another sample to eat while I was waiting in line to grab a full cup of another flavor. The first one that I tried was the Earl Grey and lavender. I am a huge tea fan, so this was one I was looking forward to. It’s incredibly yummy! It is the perfect blend between the strong citrus of the Earl Grey and the earthy, woody flavor of the lavender. I tried the salted caramel blondie next. I am not a huge, huge fan of caramel on its own, but this was actually quite delicious. It has a smooth texture, which was an odd contrast to how caramel normally feels in the mouth, but that didn’t deter me from gobbling it up. I would have a hard time eating a whole cup of this since it’s pretty sweet. The last one that I tried was the chocolate chili. My tummy doesn’t like me when I eat spicy things, but since this was one of the only chocolate options (besides plain chocolate, which is available), I had to give it a go. WHOA. It has a good kick! This is another flavor that, while I enjoyed it, I would have a hard time eating a whole dish of. Later that evening, I snagged a few bites of my friend’s dish of the sticky toffee pudding flavor, and that, too, was amazing. Very strong toffee flavor, which I just happen to love.
I personally don’t drink alcohol, but my friend and colleague Caleb tried the new brews that evening. He said that the Wizard’s Brew has a slightly sweeter finish, while the Dragon Scale is a malty lager, but both bring their own unique taste. I managed to grab myself a bottle of Gillywater – and then promptly forgot to get around to add a flavor to it. So unfortunately, I can’t speak to that. But the bottle is nice! I hope that they decide to replace all bottled water in the park with the Gillywater. It’s fun and really makes the experience more whole.
The following day, we were lucky enough to be randomly chosen for a VIP dining experience in the Leaky Cauldron. Unlike most of the press, which lined up to order a single dish and drink from the menu, we were given small samples of almost every item on the menu. They started us off with the Ploughman’s Platter, which according to Universal is a feast of English cheeses, crusty bread, cornichon pickles, apple beet salad, a Branston pickle, and a Scotch egg. I despise pickles, so I tried the bread, cheeses, salad, and the Scotch egg. All were delicious, except the cheese, but that’s only because of my personal tastes. They’re on the stronger side, and I prefer my cheese mild. The Scotch egg was very authentic and very yummy. Eggs are my favorite food on this planet, so I was happy to devour several of those golden goodies. The salad had a nice, tangy dressing on it, and the bread was your average pub bread. Overall, a good starter for a family of four. It’s a lot of food, so unless you’re dreadfully hungry, it would be too much for only a couple.
Next up was a platter of the main dishes: toad in the hole; cottage pie; fisherman’s pie; beef, lamb, and Guinness stew; a banger pub style sandwich; and fish and chips. I personally tried the cottage pie, which was very good. I don’t generally eat beef, but how am I to write a review of the food if I don’t eat it? The texture of the components was different than I am used to, but that didn’t deter me. It was a good sized portion, seemingly perfect for a lunch or even dinner. Next up I tried the toad in the hole, which was oh, so very yummy. Anything that reminds me of a breakfast food is going to get high rankings in my book. The sausage was delish, and the Yorkshire pudding was perfection. I tried a few of the chips (french fries, ICYMI) from the fish and chips platter but left the fish to others. They were good but nothing out of the ordinary.
Throughout the meal we were, of course, sipping on a few of the new drinks to be offered in Diagon Alley. I had the Tongue-Tying Lemon Squash, which was as lemon-y as a drink can get: very tart and sweet. I love lemon, though, so I thought it was delicious. Could be overpowering to some. Our friend Megan from matthew-lewis.com had the Otter’s Fizzy Orange Juice, which is a carbonated beverage with cinnamon on the rim! I had a quick sip of that and remember thinking that it was yummy but can’t recall what it tasted like.
Our meal ended with a sample of two of the new desserts: the sticky toffee pudding and a honey, raspberry, and granola Cranachan (a layered dessert similar to a parfait)! They were both very delicious, the sticky toffee pudding edging out as my favorite. Regardless, we promptly cleaned the platter of the samples and finally leaned back in our booths, full from the fabulous meal.
Over the last year I’ve eaten a few times at The Three Broomsticks in Hogsmeade. The food is good yet traditional, and I would say that that holds true for the fare at the Leaky Cauldron. I love that Universal is providing visitors with two mostly completely different menus, new drinks, new desserts, the works. It makes both restaurants an absolute MUST for visitors. Just save room for the Butterbeer soft serve.