Olivia's Cafe

by Sue Holland, contributing writer

Olivia's Café, a wonderful full-service restaurant tucked away at Disney's Old Key West Resort, is so good that it's worth a trip, even if you are not staying at Old Key West.

When Disney decided to enter the timeshare market, it did so by opening a resort called Disney Vacation Club located between Port Orleans (now Port Orleans French Quarter) and Downtown Disney.

Disney built the second Disney Vacation Club (DVC) resort, and renamed its original timeshare resort Disney's Old Key West Resort. Modeled and themed after the houses in a section of Key West, Florida known as “Old Key West,” Disney has done a wonderful job simulating this beautiful neighborhood.

Although Old Key West is a DVC resort, people who are not members of DVC can also book villas. When owners at DVC use their membership to stay elsewhere, that frees up availability for non-members.

Entrance to Olivia's Café.

Olivia's Café is located in the area known as Conch Flats, which is also home to the main pool, front desk, health club, and most other amenities. The restaurant is convenient to the main parking lot, the boat arriving from the Marketplace at Downtown Disney, and the final bus stop before leaving the resort.

Disney describes Olivia's Café as “Conch Flat's premiere gathering place to enjoy simple American cuisine among the locals.” In addition to an excellent menu for three meals, each day brings a number of daily specials and the entire menu is available for take-out.

Breakfast is served from 7:30 a.m. until 10:30 a.m. There used to be a character meal featuring Pooh and friends, but that has been discontinued. From my experience, the regular menu is superior to the food served during the character breakfast, although the small dining room meant most people received several visits from the characters during their meal.

In addition to the usual eggs, bacon, French toast, pancakes and omelets there are a couple of less common items. Ocie's Poached Eggs and Hash is two poached eggs over sweet potato hash, and although I do not care for sweet potatoes, it's definitely interesting! There are also smoothies (key lime, mango, and more common flavors) and some lighter foods such as yogurt, oatmeal and fresh fruit.

The indoor dining area is bright and airy.

Lunch begins at 11:30 a.m. and Olivia's Café is one of the few Disney restaurants to not have a period of being closed between lunch and dinner. The lunch menu continues until 5:00 p.m. and then the dinner menu begins, with dinner ending at 10:00 p.m.

My favorite meal here is lunch, for a number of reasons. With five and a half hours dedicated to this meal, there's no pressure to finish some other activity in order to get there during the more common three- or four-hour lunch periods elsewhere. Prices on some items are lower at lunch and in those cases, the portions are a bit smaller. Many people find it attractive to book a very late lunch and have that serve as dinner as well.

The beginning of the lunch period is much busier than the end, and it's not uncommon to see Disney cast members coming from their offices to eat here. Priority seatings are accepted, but generally not necessary.

Some of the more interesting appetizers include the following, available at both lunch and dinner.

  • Blue Lump Crab Cake – with slaw and citrus remoulade $7.59

  • Shrimp and Artichoke Dip – served with baked pita chips $7.29

  • Shrimp Fritters – with Cajun tartar sauce $5.99
  • Buffalo Wings – served with celery sticks and blue cheese dressing $6.99

  • Olivia's Kettle Soup or Traditional Conch Chowder – Cup $3.29; Bowl $4.49

  • Fresh Mozzarella Salad – with tomatoes, red onions, sweet pecans, balsamic syrup and field greens $8.29

The addition of sweet pecans to the Fresh Mozzarella Salad makes this item stand out as one of my favorites anywhere in Walt Disney World. Perfect for a summer lunch, this salad is cool and refreshing, and full of flavor!

The Kettle Soups are worth checking out as well. One favorite of mine is the Buffalo Chicken Soup, which is spicy like buffalo chicken wings and quite filling. The Conch Chowder has always been popular, and at lunch there are a number of salads available that are not listed above.

Among the more interesting entrees you will find the following, which are available at lunch and dinner unless otherwise noted.

  • Grilled Filet Mignon Paired with Lobster Stuffed Shrimp – accompanied by a scampi butter with mashed potatoes and mixed vegetables $21.99 (dinner only)

  • Slow Roasted Prime Rib – With baked potato, mixed vegetables and au jus 9 oz $16.99; 12 oz $19.99 (dinner only)

  • Sauteed Florida Snapper – with a mango butter over lobster risotto, broccoli and carrots $19.99 (dinner only)

  • Coconut Shrimp – fried golden brown and accompanied by rice pilaf, seasonal vegetable and pineapple-orange dipping sauce $18.99 (dinner only)

  • Penne Pasta and Asiago Cheese – With sun-dried tomatoes, baby spinach, olive oil and garlic $15.99; add grilled chicken $3.00; add shrimp $6.00 ($9.59 at lunch)

  • Baked Dorado Filet (Mahi Mahi) – On a bed of warm greens, sun-dried tomato caper vinaigrette, balsamic onions, and roasted potatoes $17.99 ($10.99 at lunch)

  • Barbecued Ribs – full slab of ribs served with cole slaw and a baked potato $18.99 (dinner only)

  • Olivia's Roast Beef Sandwich – tomatoes and mozzarella cheese on a ciabatta roll served with au jus and french fries $18.99 ($10.99 at lunch)

  • Jumbo Shrimp Alfredo – sauteed shrimp, fettuccine and vegetables in a creamy alfredo sauce $18.99 (dinner only)

  • Blue Lump Crab Cakes – With slaw, cornbread wedge, field greens, and citrus remoulade $16.99 (dinner only)

  • Buttermilk Chicken Breast – deep-fried and served with mashed potatoes, white gravy and sautéed seasonal vegetables $9.99 (lunch only)

A signature item that has been very popular, the Buttermilk Chicken Breast is now only on the lunch menu. The boneless chicken breast is quite large, and although this is a pretty heavy meal for Key West, it's absolutely delicious. There are also a number of different sandwiches available at lunch, including a Rueben, burger, and club sandwich.

When the weather is not too hot, dining outside is very pleasant.

The desserts offered are all terrific, and the mid afternoon hours are perfect for a visit to sample just a dessert and coffee. Among the offerings are the following.

  • Chocolate Lovin' Spoon Cake – for the chocolate lover – rich chocolate drenched fudge cake served on a raspberry coulis.

  • Olivia's Own Deep Dish Caramel Apple Pie – streusel topped deep-dish apple pie drizzled with a warm caramel sauce.

  • Keylime Meringue – made-from-scratch graham cracker crust filled with a tart, cool, rich and creamy key lime filling topped with a light meringue, served on a vanilla sauce and a hint of raspberry.

  • Chef's Choice Cheesecake – Ask your server for the chef's cheesecake selection of the day. We will serve it drizzled with a rich chocolate or raspberry sauce (go for both!).

  • Brownie Sundae – a buttery, chocolate chewy brownie topped with ice cream, chocolate sauce and whipped cream.

The desserts can be seen on a tray inside the restaurant, and your server may bring it over to your table towards the end of the meal. Years ago Olivia's was home to the best key lime pie, but they have since removed it from the menu. These desserts are large enough to share, and except for the sundae can be packaged to bring back to your room.

Children have their own menu, featuring the usual assortment of items such as burgers, chicken fingers, hot dogs, spaghetti, grilled cheese, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. At breakfast there are also a few meals for children, such as Mickey waffles, small pancakes, and even simple breakfast cereal.

Photos of DVC members adorn the walls at Olivia's Café.

One tradition Disney Vacation Members used to follow was providing a framed picture of themselves on vacation. These photos were hung on the walls outside and inside Olivia's Café, and eventually overflowed into Community Hall. At this point there is no wall space for additional pictures, unless a member wants to simply update their existing photo. It can be fun to look at the photos, whether you know anyone or not. In many of the group shots it's easy to see that the subjects are having a great time creating lasting memories!

Whether you're staying at Disney's Old Key West Resort or not, Olivia's Café is a good bet for a delicious meal. The service during my visits has always been excellent, and the cast members are very friendly and efficient. It's a wonderful place to take a break from the heat before heading out for more fun in the parks, and I'm confident once you give it a try you will be back again and again.