Dinner at The Turf Club Bar and Grill at Saratoga Springs Resort

Saratoga Springs Resort is laid out a bit differently than we expected, and the bus does not stop at the Turf Club Bar and Grill, although we passed it.  It took us 10 minutes to locate the restaurant.  I think that it must be more conveniently placed for the benefit of guests staying at Saratoga Springs rather than outside visitors.

Tapioca Rolls & Butter
Tapioca Rolls & Butter

They have a rather large menu at the Turf Club.  Chef Glenn said that all the appetizers could be modified to be gluten-free with the exception of the Tomato Bisque and the Onion Rings.  We were on the Disney Dining Plan that did not include appetizers, otherwise I would have given one a try…especially the Crab Cake.  Those are difficult to find gluten-free at the restaurants that I dine at back home.  Available gluten-free (or modified to be gluten-free) appetizers include:

  • Crab Cake with Sweet mango Salsa and Chipotle Mayonnaise
  • Fried Calamari with Roasted Garlic Mayonnaise and spicy Marinara Sauces
  • Mixed Greens Sald with Citrus Viniagrette
  • Caesar Salad
  • Buffalo Chicken Wings with Blue Cheese Dressing and Celery Sticks (usually Blue Cheese Dressing is not gluten-free)
Penne Pasta with Grilled Chicken
Penne Pasta with Grilled Chicken

Chef Glenn said that any of the Entrees could be modified to be gluten-free.  The steaks would be prepared without the glazes.  Available entrees from the menu include:

  • Grilled Tuna with Yukon Gold Potatoes, Frisee and Roasted Garlic Nage
  • Grilled New York Strip topped with Blue Cheese, Portobello Mushrooms, served with Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes
  • Angus Chuck Cheeseburger topped with cheddar and Applewood Smoked Bacon served with Vegetable Slaw or French Fries
  • Penne Pasta with Shrimp with Artichokes, Spinach, Sun-dried Tomatoes, Olives and Garlic (you can also substitute the shrimp for grilled chicken (my choice) or as a vegetarian entree.
  • Spiced Salmon Salad on tossed Arugula with Vine-ripened Tomatoes, Applewood Smoked Bacon, and Roasted Garlic Mayonnaise
  • Prime Rib with Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes
  • Mint-crusted Lamb Chops with Honey-Dijon Glaze and Smoked Gouda Polenta
  • Roasted Free-Range Chicken Breast served with Shiitake Mushroom Risotto and Sweet-and-Sour Cherry Glaze
  • Pork Tenderloin with Red Onion Jam, Balsamic Glaze, with Yukon Gold Potatoes, Frisee, and Roasted Garlic Nage

Prior to the entree, I was served tapioca rolls and a salted butter.  Having bread served at a meal is a double-edged sword for me.  While it was fabulous to be served bread just like any other dining patron, I didn’t want to eat all of the bread so as to save room for the upcoming excellent entrees!

I had the Penne Pasta with Grilled Chicken and it was delicious!  At home, I never cook with rice pasta because I don’t feel that it cooks as evenly, and it’s a bit tougher in texture.  The rice pasta with this meal, though, was well prepared.  The artichokes and garlic, and the chicken, of course,  really added to this excellent meal.  Again I say, there is no way I could be a vegetarian.

Gluten-Free Brownies & Ice Cream
Gluten-Free Brownies & Ice Cream

For dessert, the only option was the gluten-free brownie, which was fine, but I was looking for just a bit more, especially after the flourless chocolate cake that I had had at Mama Melrose’s.  So, I asked if I could have Edy’s vanilla ice cream with the brownie and when it came out, it was artistically displayed and very tasty!

The Turf Club is a fairly large restaurant and themed with dark woods.  We were seated near the windows overlooking a patio area that was overlooking a body of water.  There were many families seated around us, which is what you’d expect of a resort restaurant.  There weren’t any bathrooms in the restaurant, though.  To get to one, we had to go back out to Artist Pointe and near the resort lobby.  I don’t think they expect many outsiders to come to their restaurant.

Running All Over DisneyWorld

You really should be in good physical shape before you go to Disney, especially if you expect to visit all four of the parks and one of the two waterparks.  I was 3 months into my weight loss program when we visited, and although I was more fit than before I started my diet, I wasn’t in the shape that I should have been.  This resulted in my not being able to run and keep up with my husband as we tried to make it to the bus stop before it pulled away from the curb.

We calculated that it was 1/2 a mile walk from our room to the bus stop at the front of the resort.  There’s no particular rhyme or reason to when a bus will arrive for any one of the parks, so sometimes it’s just luck that you’ll arrive at the bus stop just before the bus you want pulls up.

One day, we were heading to the bus stop to head into Downtown Disney.  We were still 1/8 of a mile from the stop when we saw the Downtown Disney bus making its approach.  Rick ran on ahead to the bus stop (he’s a runner and in great shape, so he had no problem making it to the stop).  He asked the driver to wait for me, and I’m sure the driver turned in his seat to see me straggling behind.  Fortunately, there weren’t a lot of people waiting for that particular bus, so the driver agreed to wait. I practically fell into the bus, gasping for breath, managing to thank the dear man for waiting.

At Blizzard Beach, one of the attractions had no waiting time….we just had to climb 127 steps to get to the top.  We went on this ride 3 times in a row.  Winded on the 1st go, a woman at the top asked how many steps there were – 127, I wheezily reported.  The guy she was with, though, had a different number – he said there were 160+ steps.  I figured that I must have blacked out and missed the other 40+ steps.  But, on the 2nd and 3rd go, I recounted the steps and still counted 127.

So, ladies and gentlemen, do yourselves a favor and get into shape before you get to DisneyWorld.  You’ll be glad that you are are when you can run 1/8th of a mile to the bus stop or climb 127 steps three times in a row without blacking out.

Dinner at the Whispering Canyon Cafe

Whispering Canyon Cafe
Whispering Canyon Cafe

The Whispering Canyon Cafe is at the Wilderness Lodge resort.  I think that I’d like to stay at this resort the next time we visit Disney.  It’s very rustic and brings back pleasant memories of time spent in the forests of Upper Michigan…

I had been anticipating our visit to the Whispering Canyon Cafe because of what I had heard about their gluten-free corn bread and the popular Canyon Skillet meal.  It was everything (and more) that I had heard….an excellent meal!

We had taken the boat from Port Orleans to Downtown Disney, and then a bus to the Wilderness Lodge – total travel time approximately 1 hour.  Fortunately, we left plenty of time for travel and arrived before our reservation time of 7:00 p.m.  We were seated at 6:50 p.m.  The restaurant is very rustic with a log cabin feel to it.  We lucked out and were seated at a table for 2 right next to the fireplace.  It had been raining all day, so it was very nice to sit next to a roaring fire, even if it was early September in Florida.

Our Chef was Eddie and he gave me a list of the items from their menu that were gluten-free.  Other than the Canyon Skillet, they included the Whiskey Maple-glazed Trout, Grilled Rib-Eye Steak, Smoked Pork Loin, or Beef Short Ribs.  Only the two remaining items on the menu could not accommodate a celiac, and they were the Meatloaf and the Chicken Vegetable Penne Pasta.

Canyon Skillet
Canyon Skillet

The Canyon Skillet (all-you-care-to-enjoy) consists of: Smoked Pork Ribs, Pulled Pork, Oven-Roasted Chicken, Beef Brisket, Mashed Potatoes, Cowboy Beans, and Corn-on-the-Cob.  It comes with a Mixed Greens Salad with Apple Viniagrette and Fresh-Baked Cornbread.  Coleslaw was also an offering, but that was not considered to be gluten-free.  I could have also ordered an appetizer of Herb Seafood Cakes, but I opted not to try them as there was so much other food to eat.  I kind of regret that now, as I’ve always wanted to try seafood cakes, and they just don’t offer that type of thing, gluten-free, at the restaurants that I frequent back home.

Gluten-Free Corn Bread
Gluten-Free Corn Bread

Eddie warned us, “don’t fill up on the salad and corn bread”, and I’m glad I listened to him.  I saved most of my cornbread (brought a baggie) and brought it back to the resort for breakfast the following morning.  I ate enough of the salad to know that it was indeed tasty with the Apple Viniagrette dressing.

Of the Canyon Skillet, the chicken was my absolute favorite.  It was expertly seasoned and prepared well.  My second favorite was the pulled pork.  Can you tell that I’m a meat lover?  The Canyon Skillet is perfect for a hearty eater.  The ribs were very good, as were the mashed potatoes and corn-on-the-cob.  About the only thing I didn’t care for were the Cowboy Beans, but that was just a personal preference, nothing to do with how they were prepared.

Edy's Ice Cream
Edy's Ice Cream

For dessert, my choices were either sherbert or Edy’s Ice Cream; I chose Edy’s.

It was the best meal that I’d had in a very long time….I just wish we could return to the Whispering Canyon Cafe every month or so!  It’s probably for the best that I didn’t get to try the Herb Seafood Cakes…. to quote my father-in-law, “What if I like it?  What then?”  It’s not as if we can return regularly for an excellent meal.  This restaurant will definitely be on my list when we return to Disney World.

Dinner on a Rainy Night at Boatwrights Dining Hall

Boatwrights Dining Hall DSC06873After our lunch at Liberty Inn, we roamed around Epcot’s World Showcase, taking photographs and collecting more pressed pennies.  We were back in Morocco when it started to sprinkle, so we decided to duck into one of the shops to wait it out.  It rained fairly hard for a while, and when it tapered back to light rain, we went over to the (covered) boat landing in Morocco.  At first, we didn’t think the boats were running – they shut down during thunderstorms, but then we spotted one on the return trip from Canada.

Boatwrights Dining Hall DSC06874

On the way to the bus stop to get back to our resort and dinner reservations at Boatwrights Dining Hall, we tried to stop off at Soarin’, but everyone else had the same idea and the wait on stand-by was 35 minutes (Fast Passes were gone).  We just didn’t have the time to spare, so we headed over to the bus stop.  By the time we arrived at Port Orleans Riverside at 6:40 p.m., it was raining VERY hard.  We waited for 20 minutes at the bus stop for it to let up, but it never really did, so at 7:00 p.m., we made a dash for it, soaking ourselves pretty good in the process.

We were promptly seated when we arrived at Boatwrights.  It was cheery and warm inside the restaurant, just the thing that we needed after spending the majority of our day dodging in and out of the rain.  The temperatures had dropped from the mid-90s to the low 70s and in Florida in September, that is a drastic change!

Gluten-Free Roll & Butter
Gluten-Free Roll & Butter

Chef Carlos gave me several gluten-free choices from their extensive menu.  He said that I could choose the Jambalaya, the Grilled Pork Chops without the Maque Choux, Grilled Tenderloin Medallions or the Blackened Fish Filet but without the Grilled Grit Cake.  He did not recommend the Pasta Shrimp, even though they could substitute the pasta with rice pasta.  They also could not accommodate me if I wanted the Buttermilk Fried Chicken, but since I had had fried chicken the night before (at the 50’s Prime Time Cafe), I didn’t mind.

Slow Roasted Prime Rib & Three Cheese Hash Browns
Slow Roasted Prime Rib & Three Cheese Hash Browns

I chose to have the Slow Roasted Prime Rib with the excellent Three-Cheese Hash-Brown Potatoes.  Instead of being served with Cabernet Sauce, Chef Carlos served it with au jus (which was just fine!).  They started my meal off with a gluten-free roll and butter….something that would never get old for me….to be served bread before a meal in a restaurant!

The Prime Rib was delicious!  I don’t believe I’ve ever had it before, so it was quite a treat.  It’s probably not something that I’ll ever have again as I prefer my meat to be cooked just a bit more, but I’m glad that I tried it.  Now the Three-Cheese Hash-Brown Potatoes were another matter.  I’d never had them before, either, but I just knew that I was going to love them!  What’s not to love about three cheeses and hash browns?  Multiple taste sensations in every bite – yummy!

Gluten-Free Brownie & Ice Cream
Gluten-Free Brownie & Ice Cream

I didn’t really have room for dessert, but I ordered some anyway.  Chef Carlos sent out a gluten-free brownie with vanilla ice cream and a garnish of blackberries & raspberries.  By this time, I’d eaten half a dozen of the pre-packaged gluten-free brownies, but it still tasted very good and when ice cream was added, it was even better!

We’d recommend dinner at Boatwrights if you’re looking for a quiet, intimate dinner atmosphere.  It was just perfect for us on that rainy night in September….very warm and welcoming and the food was delicious!

Dinner at the 50’s Prime Time Cafe

50's Prime Time Cafe DSC03875

Hands down, the most fun we had at dinner was at the 50’s Prime Time Cafe at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  We had heard that it was a fun experience to dine here, and those stories weren’t exaggerated.  When we arrived, we were asked to have a seat in Dad’s Den; the place was packed!  At first, it was SRO, but eventually, as people were seated, we were able to take a seat.  Shortly thereafter, we were shown to our table.

The entire restaurant is decorated as if you’re in someone’s home….in the 1950s.  There are TVs everywhere you look, airing sitcoms that were popular in the 1950s… Dennis the Menace, I Married Joan, The Dick Van Dyke Show, and The Real McCoys.  The tables are formica with matching pattern chairs.  We were seated in an area where the tables were close together, so it was as if we were dining together.  Not quite as close quarters as what we found at the Biergarten, so it was much more enjoyable. The server introduced us to the couple next to us as being from Champaign, IL.  They were there to celebrate their 37th anniversary….said that their secret was “not going to be mad and keeping up with communication”.

50's Prime Time Cafe Waiting Area DSC03866

TV at 50's Prime Time Cafe DSC03877The servers are dressed just like Grandma used to dress in the 1950s, and were often heard to exclaim, “No dessert for you if you don’t clean your plate!” or “Get your elbows off the table!”.  In fact, our server, Melissa, said that she’ll never be able to waitress anywhere else because people just wouldn’t t like it if she were to bark out these orders.

Chef John was just marvelous!  He said that he could make about anything on the menu gluten-free, including Dad’s Traditional Meat Loaf, Mom’s Old-Fashioned Pot Roast or Aunt Liz’s Golden Fried Chicken.  I chose the fried chicken – something that I’d not had in a restaurant in 14 years.  He told me that there’d be a 20-minute wait for the chicken, but we told him we didn’t mind as the atmosphere was more than entertaining.  I received a wing, thigh, breast and drumstick – I ate it all except the wing.  They also served mashed potatoes and Southern Greens.  The mashed potatoes were seasoned with something that I couldn’t quite put my finger on (pan drippings of some sort, perhaps?); it just wasn’t my preference.  The Southern Greens appeared to be a mix of kale and either spinach or collard greens.  They were seasoned, too, possibly with bacon drippings…again, not my preference, but both expertly prepared.

Aunt Liz's Golden Fried Chicken (GF) DSC03885As you can see, the servings were ample, so there was no way that I could clear my plate.  True to form, I was told that I would receive no dessert if I didn’t finish my dinner!  I pleaded and cajoled, though, and Melissa took pity on me and let me have dessert.  Gluten-free choices for dessert was a sugarless cheesecake, strawberry, chocolate or caramel ice cream sundaes, or a gluten-free brownie.  I chose a chocolate sundae, complete with whipped cream and a cherry on top.  It came in a glass that reminded you of what was served in the 1950s diners.  It looked so tantalizing that I completely forgot about taking photos of it for this review!

And again I say, this was the most entertaining dinner of our vacation.  We would definitely go back again, but next time, we’d be sure to keep our elbows off the table.

Biergarten Restaurant, Germany in Epoct

Biergarten Restaurant
Biergarten Restaurant

Our first table service reservation at DisneyWorld was at the Biergarten Restaurant in Germany (World Showcase at Epcot).  This would be the first of many table service meals in which I would actually be able to eat with my husband, and we were eagerly anticipating the experience.  We’d been to the German restaurant back home, and the chef was always able to bring out a couple menu items that were gluten-free.  I’m not the biggest fan of German food, but I knew there were going to be items on the menu that I would enjoy.

The Biergarten Restaurant is a buffet-style restaurant. Inside, it’s decorated as if you’re in a German village.  We had made reservations 90 days in advance and I somehow expected a table for two.  Instead, we were seated at a table with 6 other guests.  I was surprised and hoped that it wouldn’t be that way at the other table service restaurants that we had reservations for during our vacation (it wasn’t).  Rick & I aren’t the type that look to meet new friends when we’re on vacation; we’re on vacation to enjoy one another’s company.  Still, it was entertaining to sit with them – they provided some very funny and interesting stories about their lives in New Jersey.

Biergarten Gluten-Free Salmon, Carrots & Broccoli
Biergarten Gluten-Free Salmon, Carrots & Broccoli

Chef Charles walked me through the gluten-free choices in the vast buffet.  I had many choices!  Most of the meats and sausages are gluten-free, and even though I am not much of a fan of German sausages (gasp!), I did want to try the gluten-free German sausage meatloaf.  Typically, meat loaf is made with bread crumbs and off-limits for a celiac, so the idea of any kind of meatloaf, even a sausage one, was very intriguing to me.  They had bone-in rotisserie chicken, and it was the best chicken I’ve ever tasted in my life!

Chef Charles prepared the salmon for me as the version on the buffet had a lemon dill cream sauce (Bremerhaven style).  The sauce sounded awfully good to me, but the way Charles prepared the salmon was excellent and very tasty!  He also prepared the cauliflower and carrots without the glaze.  They were plain, but okay.

Biergarten Gluten-Free Meat & Potatoes
Biergarten Gluten-Free Meat & Potatoes

I am a meat-and-potatoes kind of gal, and the roasted potatoes and carved meats were right up my alley!  But that rotisserie chicken remained as my favorite.  Expertly seasoned and prepared.

There are three levels of seating in the restaurant, in a semi-circle around the stage where performers dressed in traditional German-style clothing play music for the diners.  The tables were placed very close together, though, which made it difficult for those sitting on the inside of the table to get in and out to go up to the buffet.  Fortunately, we were sitting at the end of the table, so we had room for the camera equipment and tripod.

Biergarten Entertainment
Biergarten Entertainment

The entertainment really added to the atmosphere of the restaurant!  While we ate, the entertainers started a new set that lasted for about 20-30 minutes.

Biergarten in Germany, World Showcase at Epcot
Biergarten in Germany, World Showcase at Epcot

All in all, the meal at Biergarten was satisfactory.  For a celiac, there were many choices, but nothing out of the ordinary that I would receive in any other restaurant.  There were no gluten-free bread or rolls offered as was done at the restaurants that we would visit later in the week.  The quality of food was excellent, though.  I can’t stop thinking about that rotisserie chicken!  Perhaps if I were more of a German sausage fan, I would have enjoyed the meal even more.  Plus, we had both eaten a rather large late lunch, so we weren’t as hungry as we could have been by the time we arrived at the restaurant for our 7:00 p.m. reservation.

Riverside Mill Food Court – Lunch for 2

After we checked in at Port Orleans Riverside (the smoothest check-in we’ve ever experienced!), we dropped our bags in the room and headed back to the resort’s food court for a quick lunch.  The Riverside Mill Food Court is large and able to accommodate the guests in the 2000+ room resort.  There is plenty of seating available and several different food counters as well as a sizable beverage cooler.

Riverside Mill Food Court
Riverside Mill Food Court

We easily found a manager and explained that I am the celiac in the family and needed to speak to the chef about food accommodations for both lunches and breakfasts.  She introduced us to Ernesto.

He took me from one food station to another, explaining what foods I could eat and what was off-limits.  For breakfast, he could prepare eggs, gluten-free waffles or pancakes, bacon, sausage, blueberry muffins.

For lunch, he said that he had gluten-free hamburger buns on hand and french fries in a dedicated fryer.  All but the obvious types of salads could be ordered; stay away from the Ranch and Cesaer dressings, though.  Italian dressings are gluten-free.  He could do corn pasta, but he asked that I call ahead 1-2 hours if I decided that I wanted that.  At the meat carving station, the beef and chicken are gluten-free.

Cheeseburger Basket Gluten-Free
Cheeseburger Basket Gluten-Free

I decided to order the cheeseburger and fries.  It was delicious!  The burger was cooked to perfection (well-done) and the fries were just like homemade!  They were a thick cut and tasted better than any fries I’d had in a long time.  The only fries I’d eaten in a restaurant prior to this was at McDonalds and they just didn’t compare to the fries at the Riverside Mill Food Court.  Plus, a  burger with an actual bun and not wrapped in lettuce!  Pure heaven.  I ate every bite.

We were on the standard dining plan, and counter service meals include the entre, dessert and a beverage.

Brownie Gluten-Free
Brownie Gluten-Free

For dessert, I selected the gluten-free pre-packaged brownie.  I didn’t eat this right away as the burger & fries really filled me up.  When I did eat the brownie, I found it to be very tasty – a bit heavy, but more moist than other gluten-free brownies that I’d had in the past.  Rich and tasty!

We had purchased the souvenir mugs, so instead of getting a separate beverage, we opted to fill our mugs at the beverage station.  We would go back time and time again to the beverage station for free refills.

Cheeseburger Gluten-Free Meal
Cheeseburger Gluten-Free Meal

All in all, it was a fabulous first meal at Disney.  Thank you, Ernesto!