Posted: 9:58 am Saturday, August 20th, 2016
By Ann Kelly
Whatever your definition of comfort food might be there’s a very good chance you’ll find it at one of the newest dining additions at Disney Springs. Chef Art Smith’s Homecoming Restaurant has the Southern touch that makes you want to sit for more than a spell and forget something like calories exist. Art is a sixth-generation Floridian and has a love affair of his own with Disney. He worked as a culinary intern in Disney’s college program, and now he’s come full circle – and home – with Homecoming.
I spent a morning out on the porch under the ceiling fans getting to know just what a gem Homecoming is. Let’s start with the privilege of savoring the very first Cheddar Cheese Drop Biscuit to come out of the oven that morning – light, flaky, and just rich enough to make you reach for a second. The appetizers? How about Bee Haven Fried Green Tomatoes with thinly shaved ham and a remoulade sauce that you would swear someone’s grandmother was making just for you back in Homecoming’s kitchen. Then there’s Art’s Fabulous Fried Chicken. Not just any chicken, thank you. Lovingly marinated in buttermilk for 24 hours giving it a tenderness that you’d be hard pressed to find anywhere else. Oh yes, that plate is just about enough for two but good luck getting someone to share.
But all that lovin’ from the oven didn’t end there. The grand finale of the morning was the parade of desserts that was headed for our table, but had the eyes of everyone seated on the porch, wishing it would stop for their table. Unbelievable treats like Art’s Hummingbird Cake, the signature Shine Cake (yes, we are talking real moonshine) and Auntie’s Chocolate Cake that’s just this side of sinful. But that’s the South. It’s just our way to indulge when you know Art Smith’s mom Addie had something to do with. Wouldn’t be polite not to, and yes, we shared with our other friends on the porch.
The interior of Homecoming is a loving tribute to the South and to the talents of Florida artists and craftsmen. Have a seat at the bar and notice the beautiful reclaimed wood used to create it, along with one amazing table using Florida camphor and eucalyptus. Then there’s the mural above the bar also specially created for Homecoming by Tampa’s Matt Callahan. And yes, that is a still, and those are church benches. Moonshine jugs, comfy chairs and a staff that takes friendly and attentive to a new level. I don’t believe that Art or Mama Addie would have it any other way. Check my gallery of favorite shots and start thinking about what you’ll be ordering soon.
My personal thanks so our friends at Disney that made it a the perfect morning, especially Heather McPherson who handles the marketing for Art Smith’s Homecoming. You know Heather well from her many years at the Orlando Sentinel as Food Editor. We’re very much kindred spirits in the food world and I’m looking forward to a return trip to James Beard Award winner Art Smith’s Homecoming and a chance to dish with Heather soon. Have a seat and join us out on the porch of Art Smith’s Homecoming and listen to some wonderful stories about Art, the family and the restaurant in Ann Kelly’s Kitchen.
WORDS OF WISDOM FROM ANN KELLY’S KITCHEN
Keep calm and add butter – Author unknown but deeply appreciated