"The Codfather." That's what fellow fisherman call the single guy who hauls in fresh cod for Leaky Cauldron's fish and chips every day. Universal Orlando's relationship with this one man represents the restaurant's commitment to serving commendable food: The fish is caught and shipped daily, meaning the battered filet on your plate is, as one foodservice manager says, "never more than 36 hours old." I think you'll like the British pub fare at Leaky Cauldron.
Leaky Cauldron is the restaurant inside Diagon Alley, the newish second half of the theme park complex's Harry Potter recreations. Before we get to the food, let me just tell you how incredibly cool Diagon Alley is. I felt completely immersed in the story, way more so, even, than at Hogsmeade, the original attraction down the way at Islands of Adventure.
The restaurant keeps with the theme, of course. Here are a couple of snapshots.
So, the food. I wasn't looking forward to it. But WOW, the food. Most of what I sampled was pretty terrific.
Let's start with the drinks.
I was outright dreading these beverages. I liked them, though. They're all mentioned in the Harry Potter books and available nowhere else on property--or in the world, probably. My favorite was the Tongue Tying Lemon Squash. It's essentially slightly fizzy lemonade made with a whole lemon. It would be refreshing on a hot summer day. The Fishy Green Ale is toothpaste minty, but not offputtingly so, somehow. On the bottom, bobas filled with blueberry-flavored liquid offer a fun counterbalance. The Peachtree Fizzing Tea is sort of like Snapple's peach iced tea, only fresher-tasting. And Otter's Fizzy Orange Juice is a smidgen minty. One employee said it reminds him of an orange Tic Tac. The glass' rim is coated with cinnamon-sugar. Beer is also available, this being a British pub.
If I were lunching at Leaky Cauldron with another lady, I'd share the Ploughman's Platter. That would be our meal. The abundant platter has Scotch eggs, which are rolled in flour and deep-fried every day. They're served with a quick-hot horseradish mustard. You'll also find bleu and cheddar cheeses plus Cotswold with chives. These are solid cheeses, not that bland plasticky "product" you'd expect. Apple-beet salad (yes! in a theme park's quick-service restaurant!), slow-roasted herbed tomatoes, leafy greens, and cornichon pickles are on the platter too. English guests probably adore the boozy Branston pickle, which tastes like spirited raisins. I'm too American for that, I guess.
I am not, however, too American for bangers. Leaky Cauldron's is a really nice sausage, better, to me, than most I've had in the UK. Here you can have your weenie with potatoes in bangers and mash. You can have it in a sub sandwich slathered with a mustard-mayo blend. Full-grain, strong brown, and traditional yellow mustards are mixed with the mayonnaise. I wouldn't mind taking a jar of it home. And, bangers are the base of Toad in the Hole. The sausage is encased in Yorkshire pudding (a bread made with meat drippings) and served atop sweet caramelized onions with demi glace. Roasted root vegetables and minted peas are in there too.
The Codfather must fish in good waters. That, plus the Universal chefs have a good batter recipe. The fish and chips were astounding. The batter was crisp yet cakey with a nice flavor--less bland than you'll find in English itself, methinks. The chips, or french fries, were golden and salty, just as I like them.
A quick run-down of the other savories I tasted: Cottage pie and chicken sandwich--good, but the items featured above were more exciting. Lamb, beef, and Guiness stew in a bread bowl: fine, but mild. I suspect it'll be popular with non-adventurous American diners throughout the winter. Fisherman's Pie--a bit fishy for me, but loaded with big hunks of salmon, shrimp, and cod under a potato crusty.
Now, for dessert. In order, I present good, better, and best.
Really good British pub fare inside a theme park quick-service restaurant. I knew Harry Potter was a magical.