While Universal Studios Florida has been consistently updated over the past 5 years, it seems like dining has been ignored for the most part. While some restaurants have seen menu changes, including more vegan dining, there hasn’t been any major changes – until now. Earlier this year, Beverly Hills Boulangerie closed its doors and construction walls went up quickly. Now, the restaurant replacing it, TODAY Cafe, is close to having its official opening and it is a breath of fresh air in a park that needed a dose of it. We were lucky enough to attend an annual passholder preview for TODAY Cafe and we’re excited to share our thoughts!
Gone is the dated theming from the outside. Beverly Hills Boulangerie had an ugly old awning with some random tables and chairs set up for those wishing to dine outside. TODAY Cafe is almost the complete opposite in every way. The building is awning free, allowing plenty of visibility inside thanks to the giant glass windows placed on the front of the cream color building with bright orange accents. The patio is now fenced off making it feel like an actual extension to the restaurant instead of just an afterthought.
Inside the building, it is everything Universal promised it would be – white and orange with studio lighting. The entire layout inside has been revamped. The first thing you see as you walk in the door is the cash register counter. Off to the left of the registers is the pastry counter and the rest of the restaurant is seating. Right now, it’s hard to tell if they have enough seating for rush times, but it should be pretty easy to get a seat most of the day with how tables they’ve added.
The ordering system right now is a little subpar. Assuming there is a line, you have to enter the queue in front of the bread, pastry, and dessert counter before you can order at the register. If you’re looking for bread or pastries then this is ideal, but if you’re going in for a sandwich or salad then you have to wait to order until the guests in front of you choose their selections at the counter. It also offered an opportunity for Team Members inside to upsell the breads, pastries, and desserts, which is okay to a point, but it got annoying when we were asked five times if we wanted any of them.
The menu has at least changed for the better. Beverly Hills Boulangerie had a variety of sandwiches available that weren’t half bad, but not worth going out of your way for. The pastries and desserts were also pretty good, but easily forgettable. It’s too soon to tell whether or not TODAY Cafe will have the same issue, but the new menu feels fresh. There are still the classics there like croissants, danishes, cookies, cakes, and cheesecakes, but some items look phenomenal – particularly the confetti cake.
The Big Apple Cheese – $11.99
As we try to do with any of our reviews, we looked for a vegetarian item to try out. Two sandwiches could fall into this category – the I ♥ Vegan (which is also vegan) and The Big Apple Cheese. We went with The Big Apple Cheese mostly because we preferred the bread it was served on versus the I ♥ Vegan. The Big Apple Cheese red delicious apples, cheddar, pepper jack, Swiss, roasted tomatoes, grilled on farmhouse white bread served alongside fruit or potato salad.
The biggest takeaway from this sandwich is the cheesiness. This is definitely a kicked up version of a grilled cheese and it’s a pretty good one. The cheddar stood out the most, followed by the pepper jack in some bites, but the Swiss cheese was pretty much lost along with the roasted tomatoes. The apples pair so well with the cheeses, which isn’t a surprise to anyone who has ever had a cheese platter in their life, and the bread was simple enough that the ingredients got to shine. The only real criticism is that even half of the sandwich was bordering on too cheesy. I couldn’t imagine feeling well after finishing a whole sandwich. We paired this sandwich with the potato salad and it was nothing spectacular. The potatoes could’ve been slightly softer, but the mayonnaise mixture it was soaked in was light and non-offensive.
The Bulls & The Bears – $13.99
It is hard for me to resist brisket when I see it on a menu and I couldn’t in the case of TODAY Cafe. It was a difficult choice though considering there was a variety of other deli staples like pastrami and Italian sandwiches. The Bulls & The Bears is smoky beef brisket, cheddar cheese, arugula, pickled red onion, horseradish cream, on a crusty baguette.
The brisket was the star of this sandwich – as it should be. It was thin sliced, crispy on the edges, slightly salty and smoky, but mostly just meat heaven. The baguette was definitely crispy on top, but had a lot of give to it, making the sandwich pretty easy to eat while supplying an interesting texture difference. The horseradish cream and arugula essentially were lost, which was disappointing, but the pickled red onion added some sweet and sour tones to round out the savory brisket and cheddar. We got the fruit cup as our side with the brisket and it was fresh, but disappointing. It looked promising with pineapple, blueberries, strawberries, and watermelon on topped, but the good fruit was hiding the fact that the cup was mostly honeydew and cantaloupe.
SoHo – $12.49
We figured that the sandwiches would be the highlight of the meal, but we still thought it was important to try a salad, and I’m glad we did. We opted for the SoHo with roasted cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, arugula, farro, avocado, prosciutto, and lemon vinaigrette.
This salad was simply awesome. The arugula was the base and it was accented with the cauliflower and Brussels sprouts. The was a good amount of farro on top and plenty of avocado and prosciutto mixed throughout the salad. The lemon vinaigrette was light in flavor and it wasn’t soaked throughout the salad. I could’ve used more dressing, but it was probably the perfect amount for the average person. Everything about this salad was fresh. The saltiness from the prosciutto blended well with the crunchiness fo the Brussels sprouts and softness of the cauliflower and avocado. It was just so good.
Cold Brew Coffee & Nitro Cold Brew Coffee – $4.29 & 4.69
TODAY Cafe has a variety of wines and beers to choose from, but they also have a variety of coffee options. I usually get Nitro Cold Brew Coffee at any place that offers it, so I had to get a cup at TODAY Cafe and it didn’t disappoint.
At nearly five dollars it seemed like it would have a lot to live up to, but it was silky, creamy and lacking any hint of bitterness. It is served in a pretty big cup as well, which made it worth every penny. Just a note though, I did not realize they had both regular cold brew coffee and the nitro cold brew, so the cashier automatically thought I wanted just regular cold brew when I ordered. I realized my mistake before paying and it was taken care of promptly and efficiently, and they brought out both varieties for us to have, but we aren’t reviewing the regular version since we didn’t pay for it.
Should I eat at TODAY Cafe?
Yes! Anytime Universal opens a new restaurant, it seems like they take it up to the next level from what was previously in the space before and they definitely did so with TODAY Cafe. The food is fresh and interesting, but not adventurous in any way for picky eaters. The breads, pastries, and desserts all looked amazing and although everything is priced at theme park prices, it is fair for the quality of the food.
What should I order at TODAY Cafe?
From the three options we had, right now I would say the must-have item is The Bulls & The Bears. The three things we had were all delicious, and it appears that no one really walked away with a bad meal after talking to other diners about their experience. Read the descriptions clearly, order the sandwich you think you would typically enjoy, and you should walk away happy!