Do you remember NBC City restaurant? Now, Walt Disney World fans, I do not mean the failed NBA Experience formerly at Disney Springs. I mean the NBA City Restaurant that existed from 1999 until 2015 in CityWalk area of Universal Orlando. This basketball themed restaurant offered an extensive menu filled with American bar and grill style food primarily. Back then, this menu offered so many items, it got compared to The Cheesecake Factory. The comparisons between those two places ended with the menu. The Cheesecake Factory provides higher quality food then and now compared to the former NBA City.
Ironically, when NBA City closed, a popular rumor for a replacement was something like The Cheesecake Factory. In fact, one rumor involved a franchise opening in Universal Orlando CityWalk. Another rumor revolved around Universal Orlando creating a candy factory like Willy Wonka’s. In this case, the rumor mill proved correct, in both cases, when Toothsome Chocolate Emporium and Savory Feast Kitchen opened in the former location of NBA City.
Even with the vast menu at NBA City, I do not recall it ever offering an appetizer with chocolate covered bacon. Toothsome does, however. The Pork Belly Sliders at Toothsome cost $12.95 on their appetizer menu. Guests get three sliders. These sliders feature caramelized onions, mustard aioli, arugula, and chocolate dipped bacon. All that potential goodness resides within slider size pretzel buns. I mean it is chocolate covered bacon and a pretzel bun. That should be enough said. This should be great, right? The sweet and salty combo should be a treat for your taste buds, right?
Saying this appetizer gets mixed reviews from guests would be generous. Some guests love these sliders. Others claim they are the worst appetizer ever. How can this be? One major aspect involves the pork belly. I am confident from speaking with guests about this appetizer, that many expect a beef flavor with some pork. This is a pork belly slider not a beef slider with a touch of pork.
Almost always, the presentation of these sliders looks great. The portion size rates adequate for a $13 appetizer. However, the quality and preparation of the pork belly pulls these sliders down. Many places at Universal Orlando struggle with pork belly so this should not be a surprise. My experience with the pork belly here involves it being far too dry. That would have been okay if the mustard aioli provided more balance with the rest of components. Mustard aioli tastes fine but failed to combine with the pork belly seasoning in my opinion.
You may have noticed that the chocolate covered bacon has not been mentioned since I started breaking down the sliders. In addition, I have not mentioned the pretzel bun either during that section. Both of those functioned adequately but nothing fabulous. Both of these should have starred in this appetizer but left me indifferent.
I know some people reading this will disagree totally. Their experience with these sliders ended wonderfully. So, you know, that experience may not be yours if you choose these. If it were me, I would order the totchos or the chocolate bread as an appetizer here. Though I dislike them, the brussels sprouts appetizer also gets rave reviews from guests. If you want the taste of pork belly here, select the “May Contain Bacon” burger for that craving.
As always, eat like you mean it!
Pirates & Princesses (PNP) is an independent, opinionated fan-powered news blog that covers Disney and Universal Theme Parks, Themed Entertainment and related Pop Culture from a consumer's point of view. Opinions expressed by our contributors do not necessarily reflect the views of PNP, its editors, affiliates, sponsors or advertisers. PNP is an unofficial news source and has no connection to The Walt Disney Company, NBCUniversal or any other company that we may cover.