Archives for Posts Tagged ‘gluten-free dining review’
Tuesday, September 1st, 2009
Monday, August 31st, 2009
We got a lazy start on the day, and when we left our resort and went to the bus stop, we decided to take the first bus to arrive, unless it was going to Animal Kingdom (we’d been there twice already). The Epcot bus was the first to arrive, so off we went. On the bus ride, I went through my notes to determine where we could go for lunch and get a gluten-free meal for me. The two top choices were either the Electric Umbrella or the Liberty Inn in America of the World Showcase.
The Electric Umbrella was closer to the entrance, but we had difficulty finding it. It was tucked out of the way and we apparently missed it the first time by going around Planet Earth on the opposite side. By this time, we decided to try for Liberty Inn, mostly because I was anticipating the gluten-free pizza.
We took a boat across the World Showcase Lagoon from Canada to Morocco. At some point in our vacation, we tried to take every available mode of transportation at least once. We missed out on the train that goes around the Magic Kingdom and the Magic Kingdom Ferry Boat, but we’ll try for those on the next visit.
Gluten-Free Chicken Tenders, Cookie & Fruit
When we got to Liberty Inn, we spoke to Earl, the manager, and learned that they no longer serve gluten-free pizza. Waaaah! I had really been looking forward to it. Pizza is the #1 food that I miss the most since I went on the gluten-free diet 14 years ago. The Liberty Inn offered a couple other gluten-free choices, though. My choices were a hot dog with gluten-free bun, a hamburger with a gluten-free bun, Amy’s Macaroni & Cheese, or gluten-free chicken tenders. I chose the chicken tenders, not only because of preference at the moment, but because I’ve never had gluten-free chicken tenders at a restaurant. I’m glad that I did!
I was expecting small chicken nuggets, like what you’d get at McDonalds. Instead, I was treated to 3 rather large pieces of breaded chicken pieces, and they tasted so good! The seasoning was great, and it reminded me of what McDonald’s chicken nuggets tasted like, and what I’d been missing. Their french fries are cooked in their own fryer, but the manager told me that the oil is mixed with the oil from the other fryers at night. He offered to bake some french fries for me, but I decided to go with the fresh fruit bowl instead. Dessert was a gluten-free chocolate chip cookie.
Gluten-Free Chicken Tenders
I ate most of the chicken and fruit, so I didn’t have room for the cookie, so I saved it for later. I didn’t have a good place to store the cookie, though, and it was so soft and moist, it broke apart into crumbs inside the package. It still tasted good, though, when I finally got around to eating it as a midnight snack. I’d never tasted a gluten-free cookie that was that soft and light!
All in all, it was an enjoyable and tasty lunch. We were very happy that we chose to get on the Epcot bus that day!
Monday, August 31st, 2009
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”.
The 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.
As 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.
Sunday, August 30th, 2009
The Riverside Mill Food Court at Port Orleans Riverside is one busy place, but especially in the morning! Everyone comes in to eat breakfast before heading out for a day at the parks. On our 2nd day, I got there too late to find a single seat by myself, so I took my breakfast and sat at a table next to one of the quiet pools. The weather was humid and warm, even at the early hour of 9:30 a.m., though, and I wanted to stay in the shade for as long as possible on our 3rd day. So, I got up a bit earlier and got to the Food Court by 8:00 a.m.
Scrambled Eggs, Bacon & Gluten-Free Blueberry Muffins
I ordered Chef David’s scrambled eggs, bacon and 2 blueberry muffins. He brought it out on a take-away plate and the dome was already steamed up from the heat of this wonderful meal! I grabbed an orange juice and went through the check out register and found my way to a small table over by the windows with a view of the water wheel.
In the beginning, I didn’t realize that I could have ordered gluten-free waffles or pancakes. When I had spoken to Chef Ernesto on our first day, I misunderstood him and thought that they needed advance notice to prepare waffles or pancakes. I found out a day or two later that it’s the pasta that they need advance notice to prepare.
Gluten-Free Mickey Waffles & Bacon
Later in the week, I arrived for breakfast and ordered the gluten-free waffles & bacon, prepared by Chef Ernesto. The waffles were in the shape of Mickey’s head – very cute! And tasty – they were soft and relatively light, which isn’t easy to do with gluten-free flours. He gave me a small jar of Dickinson’s Pure Maple Syrup to go with it – delicious!
Gluten-Free Pancakes & Sausage
The last breakfast that I at at the Riverside Mill Food Court was also prepared by Chef Ernesto, pancakes & sausage. The pancakes were good, but of the weight and texture that I would expect with gluten-free flours. Still, it came with more of the Dickinson’s Pure Maple syrup, and they were the first pancakes that I’d ever eaten in a restaurant. The sausages were links, but I didn’t care for them. They seemed to be undercooked, but I’m sure they were not. I just happen to prefer sausage that is so well cooked that it’s nearly burned.
It might sound mundane, but my favorite breakfast at the Riverside Mill Food Court was the scrambled eggs and bacon. I had that several times. I’m not sure what they put into the eggs, but they were so light and fluffy and tasty! And to have blueberry muffins in a restaurant setting….well, that was a real treat!
Thank you Chef Ernesto and Chef David for the wonderful breakfasts that you prepared for me during our visit!
Saturday, August 29th, 2009
Liberty Tree Tavern, Magic Kingdom
Our Sunday evening dinner was at the Liberty Tree Tavern in the Magic Kingdom. We were careful about when we ate lunch so that we would bring our appetites to our 7:35 p.m. reservation. We arrived 15 minutes early and ended up being seated at 7:20 p.m.
Wait staff are dressed in the clothing from the 1700′s. It reminded me of the John Adams series on HBO. The decor was also of the same time period. It was a rather large restaurant with seating on two half levels. The bathrooms were up a full flight of stairs and there were only 2 stalls in the ladies room! I had to wait a few minutes to get into the bathroom and the ladies waiting with me and those coming out of the bathroom all commented on how small the bathrooms were for a restaurant of that size. It would turn out to be the only downfall of our visit.
Chef Rob came over to our table to talk to me about gluten-free meal options. The “Bill of Fare” shows what foods will be served. First, they have the “Declaration Salad” – tossed mixed greens with strawberry viniagrette dressing. The main course is the “Patriot’s Platter” which consists of roasted turkey breast, carved beef, and smoked pork loin with mashed potatoes, seasonal vegetables, herb bread stuffing, and macaroni & cheese. Everything comes to the table “family style”, so plates of food come out and everyone serves themselves. Since I had a dietary restriction and couldn’t eat all of the menu items but my husband could, they served us individual plates of food. My husband’s plate contained all of the above-mentioned items.
Salad with Strawberry Vinaigrette
Chef Rob told me that he’d bring out some tapioca rolls for me – this was the first time in my life that I’ve had gluten-free rolls given to me in a restaurant, and what a treat that was! Of the items on the “Patriot’s Platter”, I was able to have the roasted turkey breast, carved beef, mashed potatoes, GLUTEN-FREE GRAVY,
and green beans. I was also able to have the salad with strawberry viniagrette dressing.
Gluten-Free Tapioca Rolls
I thought I was going to pass out from the excitement of dining in a restaurant where I could actually have dinner rolls and gravy! Unheard of in any other restaurant that I’ve been to in the 13 years since my celiac sprue diagnosis. The gravy was just excellent over the turkey & mashed potatoes! The carved beef was prepared without fault, expertly seasoned and very tender. I honestly don’t know what part of this meal that I enjoyed more. I was so glad that I had saved my appetite for this fabulous dinner.
Liberty Tree Tavern Gluten-Free Dinner
And then they came out to ask what we wanted for dessert! My husband had a tasty-looking apple cobbler with vanilla ice cream. I would have preferred that, but they did not have a gluten-free version available. Instead, Chef Rob prepared a raspberry sorbet with fresh blueberries and strawberries – delicious! I had stuffed myself at dinner, though, and didn’t have as much room for dessert as I would have liked. What I did eat, however, was thoroughly enjoyed!
Raspberry Sorbet w/ Strawberries & Blueberries
The Liberty Tree Tavern is a restaurant that we both enjoyed and would visit again in the future.
p.s. It was an Extra Magic Hours night at the Magic Kingdom that night and we spent time wandering around the park after dinner. We especially enjoyed the Monsters Inc Laugh Factory. We visited that attraction a couple more times, but it was never as enjoyable as it was on that first night we visited. I’d heartily recommend this attraction to anyone, young or old!
Friday, August 28th, 2009
We eagerly anticipated our reservations for the African restaurant at the Animal Kingdom Lodge, Boma. Neither of us had ever been to an African restaurant, but we were willing to give it a go. And are we glad that we did!
On the back of their menu: Boma is an open and natural space surrounded by a kraal-style fence made of sticks. This Boma provides a safe and sheltered area in the bush. In the evening, its golden light pours out as the fire used for cooking lights the dinner table. Boma – Flavors of Africa, will take you on a journey from the North to the South, and from the East to the West. Anticipate the best in African hospitality. “Where the Spirit of Africa Comes Alive.”
Boma Gluten-Free Meal
Our reservation was at 7:30 p.m., but we arrived 45 minutes early, so we had to wait a bit for our table. It was VERY busy! From our vantage point, we saw many people go up to the podium to try and get a table without a reservation, only to be told that the wait was 1-1/2 hours; most did not want to wait.
Boma Gluten-Free Meal
Our server sent Chef Allison over to our table to talk to me about gluten-free menu choices. Boma has a rather extensive buffet. She took me from one buffet to the next, pointing out the foods that were gluten-free. Unfortunately, I cannot remember the African food names, so I’ll have to let the photo of my plate speak for itself.
The spit-fired Prime Rib and Durban Spiced Roasted Chicken was EXCELLENT, as was the roast pork! The coconut rice was also very good. The one thing that I didn’t particularly care for was the radish/carrot salad; merely a matter of preference.
Gluten-Free Zebra Domes
Although I was not given any gluten-free breads, Allison did make me three gluten-free Zebra Domes. The original ones on the dessert buffet have a sponge cake foundation. Even though I had stuffed myself with the wonderful meats at the buffet, I made sure I saved enough room for dessert!
Peanut Butter & Passion Fruit Tart
Two other gluten-free desserts that were available directly from the dessert buffet. One was a peanut butter tart and the other was a passion fruit tart. I preferred the Zebra Domes, personally, although Rick enjoyed the peanut butter tart more. The passion fruit tart was VERY sweet, and not to our liking at all.
I would return to Boma on our next trip to Disney World, and I’d recommend it for any celiac. Even if you’ve never had African food or are not an adventurous diner, I’m sure you’ll find something to your liking at Boma!
Friday, August 28th, 2009
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
All in all, it was a fabulous first meal at Disney. Thank you, Ernesto!