Chef Art Smith's Homecomin': A Delicious Trip to Old Florida

by Donna Fesel, contributing writer
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Sign outside of Chef Art Smith's Homecomin' in Disney Springs. Photo by Donna Fesel.

I am a huge fan of Southern food. Give me some greens, grits, fried green tomatoes, catfish—I love it. I’m fortunate to live in a city where there are lots of great places to enjoy Southern cuisine, but my favorite places to eat Southern food are the eateries big and small (and food trucks!) throughout the South. I’ve traveled to Nashville, Memphis, Raleigh, Charlotte, Charleston, Savanna, lots of towns in Florida, and loads of tiny spots where my family has pulled off the highway and found some magical Southern food.


Sign outside of Chef Art Smith's Homecomin' in Disney Springs. Photo by Donna Fesel.

So when I heard that Art Smith (former chef to Florida governors Bob Graham and Jeb Bush, and Oprah Winfrey’s personal chef through 2007) was returning to his Florida roots to open what he called a “farm-to-fork” restaurant at Walt Disney World’s Disney Springs, I counted the days until I could visit.


Outdoor seating outside Chef Art Smith's Homecomin' in Disney Springs. Photo by Donna Fesel.

First chance we got, on our first night of my family’s most recent Walt Disney World vacation, we ate at Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’ in The Landing section of Disney Springs. No stranger to successful restaurant ventures (in Atlanta, Washington D.C., and Chicago, Smith also participated in the menu design of the popular LYFE restaurant chain), Art Smith is a son of Florida.  He was born and raised in Jasper (midway between Tallahassee and Jacksonville).


The door pull at Chef Art Smith's Homecomin' in Disney Springs. Photo by Donna Fesel.

Smith is also no stranger to WDW; he worked in a WDW kitchen as part of the Walt Disney Magic Kingdom College Program. Homecomin’ brings Smith home to WDW and allows him to share his Florida roots and recipes featuring locally sourced ingredients.


Retail area in the entry of Chef Art Smith's Homecomin' in Disney Springs. Photo by Donna Fesel.

As we approached Homecomin’, I noted the fun and rustic signage encircling the building, and noted the cozy screened in porch and outdoor seating areas. Even the front door is not forgotten, with door pulls featuring a sculpted rooster. We were seated immediately.


The unusual farm-themed chandeliers at Chef Art Smith's Homecomin' in Disney Springs. Photo by Donna Fesel.

As we waited to order, I was taken with the sheer number of interesting Southern items to look at, including my favorite—some chandeliers seemingly created from old farm feed bags. There was even a little area to purchase souvenirs and cookbooks.


A plate bearing Chef Art Smith's motto and his signature in the entry of Chef Art Smith's Homcomin' in Disney Springs. Photo by Donna Fesel.

Another don’t-miss? A plate inscribed by Smith with his mantra, “Food is Love.”


Interesting decor at Chef Art Smith's Homecomin' in Disney Springs. Photo by Donna Fesel.

The dining room is anchored on one side with a gracious open kitchen where you can sidle up to see the masterful culinary staff at work.


The open kichen at Chef Art Smith's Homecomin' in Disney Springs. Photo by Donna Fesel.

Once seated, my husband ordered a Moonshine Flight (three small portions of distilled flavored alcohols, and served with candied pecans and a pickle juice palette cleanser). We enjoyed sipping the small portions of interesting and delicious drinks.


The Moonshine Flight at Chef Art Smith's Homecomin' in Disney Springs. Photo by Donna Fesel.

Next up: Appetizers. My son and husband love deviled eggs. They ordered the Church Lady Deviled Eggs, served standing up in an adorable egg carton. They were creamy and topped with crunchy bacon. Since I never met a pimento cheese recipe I didn’t like, I ordered theJasper Board, consisting of an assortment of Southern specialties including the cheese, smoked fish dip, shaved ham, bread and butter pickles, buttermilk crackers, and more candied pecans. It was simply delicious and plenty to share.


The Church Lady Devlied Eggs at Chef Art Smith's Homecomin' in Disney Springs. Photo by Donna Fesel


The Jasper Board at Chef Art Smith's Homcomin' in Disney Sprtings. Photo by Donna Fesel.

For entrees, I ordered Art’s Fabulous Fried Chicken. It is brined in buttermilk and served with mashed potatoes and a cheddar drop biscuit. The chicken was wonderful, crunchy coating, moist meat. The biscuit was a little pillow of yumminess.


Art's Fabulous Fried Chicken at Chef Art Smith's Homecomin' in Disney Springs. Photo by Donna Fesel.

My son ordered Momma’s Mac and Cheese. It was rich and cheesy, and came in an adorable little cast-iron pan. My husband ordered Shrimp & Grits, served with tomato gravy and Tasso ham. He found the shrimp to be cooked really well, and the spice level was there, but manageable.


The Shrimp & Grits at Chef Art Smith's Homecomin' in Disney Springs. Photo by Donna Fesel.

We passed a relaxed few hours at Homecomin’. The food was very tasty, the service was warm and friendly, and the atmosphere was comfy and inviting. We’ll definitely return, as usual I planned poorly and ran out of room before dessert, there’s a Hummingbird Cake there with my name on it.


Momma's Mac and Cheese at Chef Art Smith's Homecomin' in Disney Springs. Photo by Donna Fesel.

Have you visited Homecomin’? I’d love to hear what you thought.

 

Comments

  1. By carolinakid

    Enjoyed the review, but that looks more like a hen to me on the door, not a rooster.

  2. By stan4d_steph

    I have enjoyed all the meals and cocktails I've had at Homecoming. Definitely would recommend it.

  3. By davidgra

    We enjoyed eating there a couple of months ago, but probably won't go back. The food was a bit too much toward the bland end of things, and it was significantly overpriced for the quality; we don't mind paying "Disney" prices for good food, but we'd prefer that it be better than what we normally get at home.

    The portions are also HUGE. The two of us split an appetizer and each had our own entree, and neither of us could finish it all. If we were to go back at some point, we'd only order one entree to share. It's no fun feeling like you're wasting money by leaving half your meal on the table.

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