Once again over Memorial Day weekend, BGWFans braved the crowds and the weather to taste and review everything at Busch Gardens Williamsburg’s annual culinary extravaganza. This year Zachary and I (Nicole) were joined by Renee, Thomas, and Tony.
Despite the forces of nature and a Code Purple at the park, we successfully tried, scored, and discussed all of the food items at this year’s event. We decided against reviewing the new Island (“Icelands?”) Freeze booth, because we didn’t want to have to try all of the frozen cocktails throughout the event.
Like last year, we have opted to split our review into two parts:

  1. This article scores each dish and provides our thoughts on each booth.
  2. Our second piece will look more broadly at the trends we identified this year, as well as our individual recommendations.

As in the past, we decided to score desserts against desserts and savory dishes against other savory items.  Thus, we have identified both savory and sweet “Best in Booth” winners for each kiosk. A dish will not win Best in Booth by default.  So, for example, when there is only one sweet option, it will not be selected for Best in Booth (Sweet), but can compete for Best Dessert overall.
Before proceeding, I’d like to note that one of the few things the entire group agreed on was how improved the event was as a whole. We would strongly recommend that everyone try a few dishes, even if you were disappointed in the past.
So, without further ado, presented in alphabetical order, here is our review of the 2017 Busch Gardens Williamsburg Food & Wine Festival.

Jump to a specific booth?

American Southwest

Chocolate Lava Cake

Fudge brownie cake with molten Ancho-spiced Chile chocolate filling

Booth Price Rating (Out of 5)
American Southwest $4.00 4.2
Recommended By
Renee
Busch Gardens Williamsburg Food and Wine Festival 2017 Chocolate Lava Cake

Fish Taco

Chile-spiced tilapia with red cabbage slaw, pico de gallo, and cilantro lime sauce

Booth Price Rating (Out of 5)
American Southwest $4.50 3.8

Ghost Pepper Guacamole

Spicy hot guacamole with Tajin seasoned tri-color tortilla chips

Booth Price Rating (Out of 5)
American Southwest $4.25 3.6

Sonoran Spice Pork Taco

Spice-rubbed pork carnita with jicama-chayote slaw in a soft tortilla

Booth Price Rating (Out of 5)
American Southwest $4.50 4.1
Best in Booth(Savory)
Busch Gardens Williamsburg Food and Wine Festival 2017 Sonoran Spice Pork Taco

Asia

Bánh Mì

Vietnamese-style sandwich of marinated pork and pickled vegetables on crispy bread with lime and nuoc mam slaw

Booth Price Rating (Out of 5)
Asia $5.00 3.8

Ginger-Lemongrass Custard

Creamy custard infused with fresh ginger and lemongrass

Booth Price Rating (Out of 5)
Asia $3.25 4.8

Lettuce Wrap

Vegetables and tofu wrapped in tender butter lettuce with toasted almonds and sweet chili dipping sauce

Booth Price Rating (Out of 5)
Asia $4.00 3.8

Mushi-Gyoza

Japanese-style steamed chicken dumplings with citrus ponzu sauce

Booth Price Rating (Out of 5)
Asia $5.00 4.4
Best in Booth(Savory)
Busch Gardens Williamsburg Food and Wine Festival 2017 Mushi-Gyoza

Canada

Cheddar & Lager Chowder

Sharp cheddar and Canadian lager chowder with smoked paprika oil

Booth Price Rating (Out of 5)
Canada $3.25 2.1

Mac & Cheese with Peameal Bacon

Creamy macaroni and cheese with cornmeal-crusted Canadian bacon

Booth Price Rating (Out of 5)
Canada $4.25 2.4
Best in Booth(Savory)
Busch Gardens Williamsburg Food and Wine Festival 2017 Mac & Cheese with Peameal Bacon

Pumpkin Caramel Mousse

Spiced pumpkin mousse with caramel, topped with maple syrup

Booth Price Rating (Out of 5)
Canada $3.25 4.5
Recommended By
Nicole
Busch Gardens Williamsburg Food and Wine Festival 2017 Pumpkin Caramel Mousse

Venison Sausage & Corn Porridge

Wood-fired venison sausage and creamy polenta with apple cider and caramelized onions

Booth Price Rating (Out of 5)
Canada $6.00 1.7

Caribbean

Gamba Fritters

Caribbean fried shrimp dumpling with Pickapeppa dip

Booth Price Rating (Out of 5)
Caribbean $5.25 4.7
Best in Booth(Savory)
Busch Gardens Williamsburg Food and Wine Festival 2017 Gamba Fritters

Jamaican Jerk Chicken

Jerk-marinated chicken drumsticks with guava barbecue and grilled pineapple salsa

Booth Price Rating (Out of 5)
Caribbean $6.00 3.3

Mojo Shrimp

Citrus and garlic marinated shrimp on heart of palm, black bean, and corn relish with lime cilantro vinaigrette

Booth Price Rating (Out of 5)
Caribbean $5.50 4.2

Pineapple Rum Upside-down Cake

Cake with sweet pineapple-rum sauce

Booth Price Rating (Out of 5)
Caribbean $4.25 2.6

Crêpes & Coffee

BLT Crêpe

Crispy bacon, spinach, and sun dried tomato with Old Bay aioli

Booth Price Rating (Out of 5)
Crêpes & Coffee $6.99 2.9

Choco-noisette et Banane Crêpe

Hazelnut-chocolate spread and bananas

Booth Price Rating (Out of 5)
Crêpes & Coffee $4.99 4.3

Poulet Cordon Bleu Crêpe

Braised chicken and ham with Swiss cheese and dijonnaise sauce

Booth Price Rating (Out of 5)
Crêpes & Coffee $6.99 2.6

Spinach, Strawberry & Goat Cheese Crêpe

Spinach, strawberries, and goat cheese with toasted almonds and balsamic glaze drizzle

Booth Price Rating (Out of 5)
Crêpes & Coffee $6.99 4.4
Best in Booth(Savory)
Busch Gardens Williamsburg Food and Wine Festival 2017 Spinach, Strawberry & Goat Cheese Crêpe

French Quarter

Bananas Foster Cheesecake

Vanilla and pecan-crusted cheesecake with orange-rum caramel sauce and sliced banana

Booth Price Rating (Out of 5)
French Quarter $4.00 3.4
Best in Booth(Sweet)
Busch Gardens Williamsburg Food and Wine Festival 2017 Bananas Foster Cheesecake

Beignets

Fried doughnut squares, topped with powdered sugar and drizzled with caramel

Booth Price Rating (Out of 5)
French Quarter $5.00 3.1

Chicken & Andouille Gumbo

Creole-spiced stew with shredded chicken and spicy sausage over rice

Booth Price Rating (Out of 5)
French Quarter $5.00 3.8
Best in Booth(Savory)
Busch Gardens Williamsburg Food and Wine Festival 2017 Chicken & Andouille Gumbo

Muffuletta

Sliced mortadella, salami, ham, and provolone with olive spread on sesame bread with Cajun coleslaw

Booth Price Rating (Out of 5)
French Quarter $5.00 3.5
Recommended By
Thomas
Busch Gardens Williamsburg Food and Wine Festival 2017 Muffuletta

Germany

Currywurst

Knockwurst with curry-spiced tomato ketchup and roasted potatoes

Booth Price Rating (Out of 5)
Germany $4.25 3.4

German Chocolate Cake

Rich chocolate cake layered with sweet coconut icing

Booth Price Rating (Out of 5)
Germany $3.00 3.2

Schinkennudel

German-style noodle, baked with cured ham and cheese

Booth Price Rating (Out of 5)
Germany $3.25 3.6
Best in Booth(Savory)
Busch Gardens Williamsburg Food and Wine Festival 2017 Schinkennudel

Schnitzelwich

Pork schnitzel slider with sliced lemon and caper sauce

Booth Price Rating (Out of 5)
Germany $5.25 1.9

Hawaii

Haupia

Sweet coconut mousse with Kona coffee ganache

Booth Price Rating (Out of 5)
Hawaii $3.25 3.9
Recommended By
Zachary
Busch Gardens Williamsburg Food and Wine Festival 2017 Haupia

Huli Huli Chicken

Sweet pineapple and soy BBQ chicken served with orange and purple sweet potato salad

Booth Price Rating (Out of 5)
Hawaii $5.00 3.8
Best in Booth(Savory)
Busch Gardens Williamsburg Food and Wine Festival 2017 Huli Huli Chicken

Spam Slider

Fried spam with Sriracha mayonnaise and grilled pineapple, served with
pineapple and coconut coleslaw

Booth Price Rating (Out of 5)
Hawaii $5.00 3.5
Recommended By
Zachary
Busch Gardens Williamsburg Food and Wine Festival 2017 Spam Slider

Tuna Poke

Soy and sesame sushi tuna in a wonton flower with wasabi aioli, served with wakame seaweed salad

Booth Price Rating (Out of 5)
Hawaii $6.00 3.2

India

Mango Burfi

Mango and coconut snowballs

Booth Price Rating (Out of 5)
India $3.50 3.7
Recommended By
Thomas
Busch Gardens Williamsburg Food and Wine Festival 2017 Mango Burfi

Samosas

Savory pastry filled with curried potatoes and peas, served with mango chutney

Booth Price Rating (Out of 5)
India $5.00 4.4
Recommended By
Tony
Busch Gardens Williamsburg Food and Wine Festival 2017 Samosas

Spicy Potato Curry

Garbanzo beans, sweet peas, and potatoes, stewed in coconut milk with curry spice

Booth Price Rating (Out of 5)
India $4.50 4.8
Recommended By
Nicole
Busch Gardens Williamsburg Food and Wine Festival 2017 Spicy Potato Curry

Tandoori Chicken

Spiced yogurt marinated chicken with cardamom ginger rice and cucumber raita

Booth Price Rating (Out of 5)
India $6.00 4.9

Ireland

Bangers with Colcannon

Irish sausage with mashed potatoes, cabbage, and Guinness brown sugar gravy

Booth Price Rating (Out of 5)
Ireland $5.25 4.1
Recommended By
Renee
Busch Gardens Williamsburg Food and Wine Festival 2017 Bangers with Colcannon

Guinness Mousse

Dark chocolate and Guinness mousse with whiskey-infused whipped cream

Booth Price Rating (Out of 5)
Ireland $3.50 3.8
Recommended By
Tony
Busch Gardens Williamsburg Food and Wine Festival 2017 Guinness Mousse

Irish Cheese Sampling

Sage Derby, Blarney Castle, and Dubliner cheeses, served with apple-raisin chutney & cream crackers

Booth Price Rating (Out of 5)
Ireland $4.50 4.6
Best in Booth(Savory)
Busch Gardens Williamsburg Food and Wine Festival 2017 Irish Cheese Sampling

Italy

Mini Cannoli Trio

Traditional, strawberry cheesecake, and chocolate-hazelnut mini cannolis with chocolate-dipped shells

Booth Price Rating (Out of 5)
Italy $5.50 3.9

Panna Cotta

Vanilla cream pudding, served with strawberries

Booth Price Rating (Out of 5)
Italy $3.25 4.4
Best in Booth(Sweet)
Busch Gardens Williamsburg Food and Wine Festival 2017 Panna Cotta

Tiramisu

Italian parfait with sweetened mascarpone cheese, layered with espresso-soaked lady fingers

Booth Price Rating (Out of 5)
Italy $3.25 3.8

Mediterranean

Baklava

Sweet pastry with nuts and honey between thin crispy filo pastry layers

Booth Price Rating (Out of 5)
Mediterranean $3.50 3.8

Falafel

Chickpea fritter with sesame dipping sauce

Booth Price Rating (Out of 5)
Mediterranean $3.75 2.5

Halloumi

Griddled Greek cheese with clover honey and crushed pistachios

Booth Price Rating (Out of 5)
Mediterranean $4.25 3.5

Lamb Burger Slider

Seasoned ground lamb on pita bread with feta cheese spread, cucumber, tomato, and olive

Booth Price Rating (Out of 5)
Mediterranean $6.00 4.6
Best in Booth(Savory)
Busch Gardens Williamsburg Food and Wine Festival 2017 Lamb Burger Slider

Spain

Chorizo Empanada

Spicy pork sausage pastry pocket with cilantro lime cream

Booth Price Rating (Out of 5)
Spain $4.25 4.2
Best in Booth(Savory)
Busch Gardens Williamsburg Food and Wine Festival 2017 Chorizo Empanada

Gazpacho con Ceviche

Chilled tomato cucumber soup with citrus-oyster mushroom salsa

Booth Price Rating (Out of 5)
Spain $4.00 3.5

Tapas

Paprika-roasted Marcona almonds; Marinated olive medley; Manchego cheese with Membrillo–quince paste

Booth Price Rating (Out of 5)
Spain $5.00 2.9

Venera con Jamón

Scallop, wrapped in cured ham with saffron rice, and romesco sauce

Booth Price Rating (Out of 5)
Spain $7.25 4.0

Virginia

Bacon & Cheddar Hushpuppies

Cornmeal fritters served with honey butter

Booth Price Rating (Out of 5)
Virginia $3.25 3.3

Pecan, Bacon & Chocolate Bars

Sweet pecan caramel bars topped with smoked bacon and chocolate drizzle

Booth Price Rating (Out of 5)
Virginia $3.25 3.1

She-Crab Soup

Crab bisque finished with sherry, an Old Bay crostini, and a Chesapeake blue crab salad

Booth Price Rating (Out of 5)
Virginia $5.75 3.7
Best in Booth(Savory)
Busch Gardens Williamsburg Food and Wine Festival 2017 She-Crab Soup

Smithfield Ham Tasting

Red Eye country ham, Applewood carved ham, and ham pate, served with a honey biscuit, apple butter, honey mustard, and whole grain mustard

Booth Price Rating (Out of 5)
Virginia $4.00 2.6

Zachary and I would like to thank Renee, Thomas, and Tony for their participation and invaluable insights. By bringing a wide array of experiences and preferences to the table their inputs lend credibility to our recommendations and observations.
Next week we plan to publish our thoughts about the event as a whole, as well as the specific recommendations for both savory and sweet dishes from our tasting team. So, be on the lookout; follow BGWFans on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter; and join the discussion on the ParkFans Forum.

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