The Wolfgang Puck Cafe could be appealing or annoying, depending on how you feel about its location in Downtown Disney West Side.
The tourist zone seems to creep inside the dining area, clashing with the original concept of upscale-casual California cuisine. Not surprisingly, the decor is wild, colorful and playful. Corporate touches are found even on the menu, where a simple motto ("Live, Love, Eat") is flanked by a trademark symbol.
From the moment we entered, we were primed by the tantalizing aromas of fire-roasted pizzas, pastas, burgers and grilled fare. We discovered some delicious menu items, but the barbecue duck quesadilla ($8.95) was a letdown for starters.
Each guest took a slice, and there were polite pronouncements of "Mm, good," but no strong opinions. It was filled with more cheese than duck, and it was topped with chili sauce, sour cream and pico de gallo.
"Puck's Pucks" were by far our favorite, although they were horrendously overpriced. For $11.95, we received two crab cakes the size of powder puffs.
The waitress described them as "90 percent bluefin crab lump meat," which made several of us wonder when crabs started growing fins. But the meat was fresh and sweet, seasoned with mustard caper sauce, bits of carrots and corn and a bittersweet baby arugula salad on the side.
Everyone at our table gave a rowdy thumbs-down to the "signature pizza" ($14.95), which was topped with chilled salmon, red onion and dill sauce. The comments ranged from "Ugh" to "God-awful." The salmon was obviously premium. Yet it was too clammy for our pizza sensibilities.
Spinach papardelle ($10.95) was a pleasing blend of textures and flavors. Wide strips of egg and spinach pasta were crimped on the edges, and tossed with sun-dried tomatoes, Chenel goat cheese, basil and double-blanched garlic cloves.
Service was a bit overzealous. We received three updates in 10 minutes on the status of an appetizer. One guest was still working on his Diet Coke when a waitress swooped in for a re-fill, adding iced tea.
Another friend complained of dizziness at the end of the meal, only half-jokingly. We attributed it to the busy decor and that general lack of bearing that sometimes sneaks up on you in Disney country.