Universal Studios Hollywood is offering sneak peeks of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter before it opens to the public April 7. There's something for every Harry Potter fan at the new attraction, which brings to life the cobblestone streets of Hogsmeade Village.
For now, though, let's talk about the food.
A short walk past Hogsmeade station and Honeydukes sweet shop leads to Three Broomsticks restaurant and Hogs Head pub, the site of a media taste testing Wednesday night to show off the British-inspired menu. Those expecting dishes straight from the books such as stoat sandwiches, corned beef, and steak and kidney pie might be disappointed, but the menu pays a worthy tribute to hearty pub staples such as shepherd's pie, bangers and mash, and fish and chips.
Anyway, what matters most is they serve Butterbeer, the butterscotch-flavored drink enjoyed by Harry and his friends.
Cheerful servers greeted guests at the door of Hogs Head pub with glasses of nonalcoholic Butterbeer, which in the real world bears a strong resemblance to a creamsicle. Hog's Head brew is available in three varieties from behind the bar, which faithfully replicates the intimate, spartan inn and pub chosen by Ron
as the secret meeting place of Dumbledore's Army.
The pub is adjacent to Three Broomsticks, a rustic tavern of heavy wooden tables and chairs within the cavernous vaulted ceiling. In the rafters, suitcases and steamer trunks sit outside doors leading to lodging rooms at the wizard's inn. Relics that only real fans will recognize hang from the walls (wink).
Much of the menu borrows from its East Coast counterpart, which opened nearly two years ago at Universal Studios Orlando, but there are a few new dishes on hand at the new location. By far, the most memorable one is the Butterbeer potted cream dessert served in a small pot. The chocolate-flavored option brings to mind a mousse, but the Butterbeer option is saccharine overload like no other.
Honorable mention to the sticky toffee pudding and chocolate trifle.
Surprise hits of the menu were soups in four varieties -- ale and cheese, corn, potato and leek, and Guinness stew -- served faithfully with a side of soda bread. They don't make for the prettiest pictures, but that's how you know they're good. Otherwise, vegetarian options such as cabbage and roasted vegetables are perfectly edible, but you probably won't go there for the asparagus.
Of the ambience and food, a true Harry Potter fan at the event approved: "It's just like the books and movies," she said. "I can't wait to come with my friends."
Those looking for delicacies truly inspired by the books should hold out for sweet shop Honeydukes, where chocolate-covered frogs and jelly beans in a variety of flavors will be available.