Last night, the Three Broomsticks and Hog’s Head pub at Universal Studios Hollywood’s long-awaited Wizarding World of Harry Potter (opening April 7) were abuzz with childlike wonderment, fantastic animatronic beasts (provided you knew where to find them), and a bunch of journalists taking flash photography of staged dishes while simultaneously trying to live stream their preview meal on Periscope. Accio social media engagement!
The menu is based around simple British pub grub and it generally lines up with its East Coast counterpart at Universal Studios Orlando, though Cornish pasties are conspicuously absent in L.A. Which is a shame, because that’s one of the few foods mentioned in the series—in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire the Triwizard Cup contestants eat pasties during a key lunch, obviously—that isn’t a heavy-handed metaphor for Harry’s purity and innocence (there are spells to regrow bones in a matter of days but the only way to cure depression after a dementor run in is chocolate???).
We get it: This is a theme park and all the food has to be accessible and replicable on a mass-scale while having options that suit all ages and dietary restrictions. But an easy fix to the menu would have been adding six million percent more Harry Potter puns. Come on, who wouldn’t order a Prisoner of Azkabanana Split? We ate our way through most of the menu, and below is our definitive, albeit entirely subjective, ranking of the dishes.
10. This salad
This salad was not very magical. We thought we detected a few hints of magic, but it was actually just a handful of corn. If you need to reducto a few pounds to fit into your Yule Ball dress robe (boom, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire reference #2), this is the move.
9. This other salad that also comes with a bowl of corn soup
Thin carrot strips and radish coins make this salad slightly different than the salad above. But the main difference, of course, is that this salad also has a bowl of soup near it. You’ll remember that Harry Potter famously refused to eat bowl of pea soup offered to him by Cornelius Fudge at the Leaky Cauldron in the Prisoner of Azkaban, fearing, of course, that the soup would instead eat him. Harry would have refused this soup, too.
8. Beef and Lamb Guinness Stew
This is a very British dish. Harry Potter primarily took place in the British Isles.
7. The Sunday Roast
This dish is also very British. It is so British that Brendan Collins—a British (English, more specifically) chef—makes it every Sunday at his restaurant, Birch.
6. Smoked Spare Ribs
This is a uniquely American dish, which may (just conjecture) make an appearance in the upcoming film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Because it takes place in America. All in all though—not bad, and they’re actually smoked in house. Good on you, Three Broomsticks.
5. Lemon Herb Roast Chicken
One of the first dishes Harry ate at the Hogwart’s Welcoming Feast. This will forever have a special place at the table.
4. Fish and Chips
Quite possibly the most iconic British dish, it is not (according to memory and Google search) mentioned once in the entire Harry Potter series. Though it isn’t inherently magical, it was well-seasoned and relatively crispy. That’s magical enough for us.
3. Sticky Toffee Pudding
This was not a bad sticky toffee pudding. It was actually pretty tasty. But out of all the desserts, why would you not have treacle tart on the menu? That’s like all Harry ever ate in the books. You don’t even need to make a real treacle tart—just put sugary things in a pastry crust, slap the name on it, and let the people eat 800 calories worth of literary nostalgia.
2. Bangers and Mash
Total British classic. You got two juicy, mildly spiced sausages covered in caramelized onions and gravy with the potatoes underneath to catch all the runoff. It’s enough to make your mouth aguamenti, if you(‘re nerdy enough to) know what we’re saying.
1. Shepherd’s Pie
Chock-full of ground beef, root vegetables, and what tasted like a well-balanced though still ketchup-based sauce, the Shepherd’s Pie at the Three Broomsticks really stole the show. And, as far as magicality is concerned: According to the Harry Potter Wikia page, our young protagonist/Christ figure eats Shepherd’s Pie in at least three of the books.