As all y’all know, Zachary, Luke, and I were lucky enough to be invited to Kings Dominion’s Media Day on March 18th. Although we have already written about their great, new thrill ride, Delirium, we haven’t covered the other fantastic part of that lovely Friday: Chef Paul’s food.
After we had ridden the park’s new frisbee, we wandered over to the seating area next to the Dinner Bell, where a catered buffet was being served out of a tent. Naturally, we tried everything Chef Paul had prepared and later had a chance to speak with him, as well; we want to share both with you.
KD’s head chef presented a wide variety of foods with interesting flavors. Predictably, we loved all of it.
The first station we came to had chips and cheese. Although they weren’t gourmet by any stretch of the imagination, the potato chips were homemade (I believe) and tasted great. Chef Paul told us to look for these loaded potato chips at the Ireland Booth at the Spring Bloom Festival (April 16th through May 15th).
Next we were served a bacon burger slider with bleu cheese crumble and chicken and waffles with sriracha mayo. We really enjoyed both sandwiches. The bleu cheese and sriracha mayo gave them tangy and interesting flavors without overwhelming the other components. According to Chef Paul, chicken and waffles (probably with traditional maple syrup) will be available at the Chicken Shack, when it opens later in the season.
To my delight, there was a massive display with all sorts of cheeses, fruits, vegetables, crackers, breads, and chips. We were even treated to fresh mozzarella. I couldn’t help but fill a plate and graze on some of my favorite picnic foods.
The last savory option included four types of tacos. We were able to choose between pulled pork and shrimp, served in either a hard shell or soft tortilla. There were also tri-colored chips and a variety of toppings. I tried mango salsa with the pork, and it was delicious. The fried jumbo shrimp were really good as well, and will be served at Outer Hanks this season in lieu of the popcorn shrimp from previous years.
Of course there were a variety of desserts, all of which will be available around the park. Chef Paul has created “Delirium cookies,” in honor of the new ride. A prototype version, containing chocolate chips, crushed potato chips, and crumbled Oreos, was served at Media Day. I really enjoyed it. He plans to add several additional ingredients, including nuts, pretzels, kisses, and peanut butter cups.
We also tried his red velvet fried Oreos, which I loved. Chef Paul has not decided where he will sell them, but they should be available somewhere at the park this year. He may also use the red velvet batter to make funnel cake; I’m hoping for some kind of cream cheese topping.
Finally, there were beautifully-decorated cupcakes available. I was expecting the usual, generic dessert staple, but was surprised when I bit into a moist cake, topped with a light, fluffy icing with a hint of almond extract. It was easily the best cupcake I have had in an amusement park.
After we had enjoyed all of his food, we were able to chat with Chef Paul about his plans for the year. We got some interesting scoop, in addition to the tidbits above. I go want to emphasize that all of these plans could change, but this represents his thinking at the moment.
Wayside Grill will be back later in the year with a slightly altered menu. The Moonshine Sausage has been replaced with a corn dog.
Despite some rumors, Chicken Shack will also open further into the season. In addition to the new chicken and waffles, at least one of the chicken pizzas will be back.
Country Kitchen will be serving a new, custom rub on chicken and ribs. Chef Paul told us the chicken will be higher quality and the ribs will be reserved for special events.
Juke Box Diner will still have burgers, but with an upgrade. The menu will include the new, more flavorful bacon previewed at the media event and a newly expanded self-service condiments bar.
Chef Paul is still thinking about what he wants to do in water park; there may be new menus at all of the restaurants. Sharkies has been renovated, and will have new queue lines.
A new fajita combo is being introduced at Borders. The rest of the Mexican menu will remain the same.
There will also be additions at some of the desert stands, including new ice cream flavors at Sweet Tooth. Additionally, Chef Paul will once again create seasonal funnel cakes throughout the year.
Finally, Bistro 75 will return after the Spring Bloom Festival with a similar menu and the same lovely fountain-side seating.
This year there will four booths at the Spring Bloom Festival: Italy, Ireland, Germany, and Switzerland.
Chef Paul hopes to take the food truck to outside events and to use it more inside the park, as well.
Looking forward to August, the BBQ & Brew Fest has been expanded to three weekends.
Lastly, the park has not yet decided on the details for Tower Tastings, but do be on the lookout in the late Summer or Fall.
We really appreciate Chef Paul taking the time to share all of these plans with us. He did emphasize that anything could change, but we think this summary gives you a good idea of the direction he wants to take with the park restaurants this season.