I was one of those kids who would finish the newest Harry Potter book a day and a half after it came out. I also had an embarrassing crush on the tapped glasses-wearing main character (Cho Chang be damned!), and longed for the day when I could have the sweet taste of butterbeer on my lips.
That day came last week, when I was able to eat through Three Broomsticks and Hog’s Head Pub at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Universal Studios Hollywood. Thankfully, my childhood fantasy was realized with exceptional execution, with items that even non-Potter fanatics would find enjoyable.
Here are the ten dishes I ate, ranked.
10. Chicken Salad
Unless you are trying to put a shrinking spell on your waist line, there isn't too much reason to order this salad. Granted the roasted chicken used, presumably the same from The Great Feast, is moist and the corn is fresh, but this isn't really why you are here.
9. Chocolate Trifle
It can’t be easy to feed the thousands of diners who walk into the Three Broomsticks daily. That means food needs to be prepared in bulk ahead of time. This is evident in the chocolate trifle, a chocolate mousse and fresh strawberry dessert that spent a little too long in the fridge. Still, you probably would have little problem eating the dessert when put in front of you.
8. Sticky Toffee Pudding
It would be challenging to make a sticky toffee pudding that isn’t delicious, and this one is no exception. Served piping hot with butterscotch chips that add a nice bite and ice cream that slowly drips down the sides, this is something you will certainly want to order as the weather gets cooler in Hogsmeade.
7. Fish and Chips
This British classic is executed well here, with a thin, crispy coating of ale batter on two pieces of cod.
6. The Great Feast
The pièce de résistance at Three Broomsticks is The Great Feast. Exactly what you imagine the students diving into in Hogwarts's Great Hall, this epic meal begins with a large garden salad before an enormous platter of smoked St. Louis ribs, rotisserie chicken, vegetables, roasted potatoes, and corn on the cob arrives. And because this feast feeds four to five adults, it’s actually rather affordable, and not just by theme park standards.
5. Butterbeer Potted Cream
At The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, butterbeer comes in more than just drinkable forms. Beyond the traditional and frozen varieties, it is also offered as a fudge at Honeydukes and as a pot de crème in the Three Broomsticks. This surprisingly well made pudding is topped with butterscotch and whipped cream. With its creamy texture and wonderfully salty notes, this dessert bears a striking resemblance to Mozza’s famed butterscotch budino.
4. Frozen Butterbeer
And finally we get to the butterbeer. While the variety in the book is slightly alcoholic, this one, sadly, is not. The cream soda-like base is frozen and topped with a thick foam that bubbles as time wears on. Given that temperatures can get pretty high at Universal Studios, it’s a nice way to cool down as you stroll through the park, but would be enhanced with a little somethin' somethin'.
3. Pumpkin Fizz
Beyond butterbeer, pumpkin juice was also a popular beverage consumed in the Harry Potter series. At the park it is offered as a flat juice that can be purchased along with Gilly Water (bottled water) at stalls throughout. But at Hog’s Head and Three Broomsticks, opt for the pumpkin fizz. The added carbonation makes the pumpkin pie-reminiscent drink super refreshing, and one of the most delicious foods (or beverages) on offer.
2. Bangers and Mash
Hands down the most delicious entrée I sampled was the bangers and mash. The delicate pork and veal sausage is made specially for the park, and is enhanced by sautéed onions, cabbage, and the requisite side of minted peas.
The best of the four iterations of butterbeer (including potted cream, frozen, and fudge available at Honeydukes), and one of the largest draws of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, is the traditional butterbeer. Yes, it’s sweet, but think of it as a sort of cream soda float that is laced with notes of butterscotch and shortbread. What’s more? The ultra-thick foam creates for a highly Instagrammable #butterbeermustache moment that would do Harry proud.
Pro tip: avoid the lines at the butterbeer carts and grab one from the Hog’s Head at a fraction of the wait.