Candy Apple Grove's Diner Exceeds Expectations with New Menu
Posted in Reviews
on April 20, 2022 0 Comments
5 min read
Our Comprehensive Culinary Review of Kings Dominion's 2022 Grand Carnivale
Previous Comprehensive Jungle Market Eatery Review
For the second installment in our 2022 Kings Dominion restaurant review series, Zachary and I ventured to the opposite end of the park to try out the new offerings at Juke Box Diner. Previous iterations of this quick service eatery primarily offered burgers and shakes, in keeping with the 50s feel of that part of Candy Apple Grove. The new menu continues the diner-themed tradition but branches out to include a wider variety of entrees.
I know we teased Excavator Tater’s, and we have already conducted that review. But after trying the food at Juke Box Diner, we agreed that it would probably be more immediately helpful to share our thoughts on a restaurant offering real entrees on the meal plan than a french fry focused snack shop.
I will start with the four entrées. It should be noted at the outset that we are a bit concerned about whether anyone will actually want to eat some of these dishes during the main season, given how hot Virginia gets in the Summer. I can see them, however, being perfect in the early Spring and during Haunt.
Chicken Fried Steak
Overall we thought this Southern comfort food was well prepared. The gravy was creamy and thick, and we could taste the pepper. The texture of the steak was good, and we didn’t encounter any gristle. The breading was also well done, neither too greasy nor burned.
Chicken Pot Pie
We were not as enthusiastic about Kings Dominion’s take on a classic savory pie. Rather than baking the ingredients in a pastry shell, they were poured over biscuits like gravy, which seems on its face to be an interesting presentation. Unfortunately, the “filling” was incredibly bland, tasting mostly like mushy peas. The biscuits were better, but we found them thick and doughy.
Given the variety on the menu, we were not expecting to be very impressed by the most generic offering. We were very pleasantly surprised. Unlike the cheeseburgers at Jungle Market Eatery, the two thin patties seemed to be prepared in a classic diner style. The juicy burgers were topped with a lot of melty cheese and encased in a nicely buttered and toasted bun.
This cheeseburger classic was also very well prepared. It had the same great bacon that is being used at Jungle Market Eatery, and it topped with a nice, if sweet, BBQ sauce and two well-made onion rings. As you would expect, all of the flavors worked well together, and Kings Dominion was generous with all of the toppings.
A quick note on the toppings bar, before I move on to the sides. The small buffet next to the cash register appears to offer the same fresh vegetables as Jungle Market Eatery. Unlike that restaurant, however, the toppings don’t seem necessary to prevent the burgers from tasting a bit dry.
Juke Box Diner offers five different sides, which can be paired with any of the entrees. I’ve listed them below in alphabetical order, for lack of any better system.
Alfredo Mac & Cheese
Despite the seeming lack of air conditioning inside the restaurant, the pasta was cold when it was served to us. Perhaps more disturbingly, the sauce was a flavorless, coagulated goo.
We were not fans of the cheap amusement park fries at this location. They were very bland and seemed to suffer from freezer burn. Once again, we recommend going to Excavator’s Taters for your fried potato fix.
While these did not taste homemade, they were fairly creamy and thick and boasted nice, mild flavors. They were on par with fast food mashed potatoes.
These were well made and flavorful. We could see and taste real onions and the batter proved firm and didn’t disintegrate.
In keeping with a trend we are seeing across the park, the vegetables were fresh and colorful. They were perfectly cooked and seasoned, so that their excellent flavors matched their pleasing variety.
Both Zachary and I were very surprised at the end of the day to discover that we completely agreed that the cheeseburger and seasonal vegetables were the standouts at Juke Box Diner. I don’t think either of us expected to prefer the most generic entrée or the least amusement park friendly side.
Juke Box Diner also features a specialty, non-pre-packaged desert: a chocolate cream pie. It was was displayed on a cake stand behind glass, giving off a fun diner vibe. The pie had a great texture, almost like an airy mousse. It also boasted a lovely, if mild, chocolate flavor. It seemed on par with something you would expect to find at a grocery store.
Finally, I wanted to highlight how friendly and efficient the service was. When we walked up, the line was out the door and only one side of the restaurant was operating. Nonetheless, we didn’t actually have to wait too long to get our food. Unlike many similar eateries, they didn’t seem to be running out of items and the line didn’t stop for extended periods of time, while people waited for a specific entrée. The servers were fast and friendly. The cashier was obviously well-trained and handled our very complex order with ease. Our only minor complaint was the lack of knives in the plastic utensil dispenser.
We are super excited to see the overhaul of the park’s restaurants continue outside of Jungle-X. In our opinion, Juke Box Diner now offers a great option for (meal plan friendly!) lunch or dinner at Kings Dominion.
Keep an eye out for our next review, which will focus on the new french fry snack location, Excavator’s Taters (we really mean it this time!). In the meantime, follow us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, or join the conversation on the ParkFans forum.