Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Disney World, Gluten Free

There are enough posts out there on other blogs stating how amazing Disney is at dealing with food allergies. They rock. All but one restaurant we visited followed the same process - tell them about your food allergies and the chef will come out and tell you what you can order, if buffet show you what is safe, and then any food you order is brought out by the chef. We were not glutened a single time and we were there for a week.

Here is where we ate, in order of ranking:
  1. Sanaa (Dinner) - Kidani Village Resort
  2. T-Rex (Dinner) - Downtown Disney
  3. Boma (Dinner) - Animal Kingdom Lodge
  4. Crystal Palace (Lunch) - Magic Kingdom
  5. Be Our Guest (Lunch) - Magic Kingdom
  6. Mama Melrose's (Lunch) - Hollywood Studios
  7. 'Ohana (Breakfast) - Polynesian Resort
  8. Garden Grill (Dinner) - EPCOT Center
  9. Restaurant Marrakesh (Lunch) - EPCOT Center
  10. BabyCakes NYC (Dessert) - Downtown Disney
  11. Captain Cook's (Dinner) - Polynesian Resort

Oh Sanaa - what a way to start a vacation!

Our favorite meal by far was our first- we had 10 minutes to get to our reservation after checking in at our room in the Animal Kingdom Lodge next door. Upon arrival we were given a pager for a 10 or so minute wait for our table. Meanwhile we went outside, used the complimentary night vision goggles and looked at some antelope and zebra grazing in the savannah. Upon being seated, the chef came out and basically said nearly everything on the menu was gluten free, assuming we order papadam instead of naan. Now, if you are not accustomed to indian spices, this may not be your favorite place but for us it was pure heaven. Even the Giggler had a great meal - grilled shrimp over rice with green beans. We ordered the bread service (all 9 sauces), 3 salad sampler and a vegetarian entrée to share. Every sauce was excellent and the 9 provided great variety. The vegetarian curry's were served over rice - we ordered a paneer curry + dal) and also delicious. For dessert we shared the blood orange ice cream desert which was tasty but definitely too small for 3 to share had we not gobbled up all of our other dishes. This is one of those meals we will remember for a long time and hope to someday experience again.

T-Rex - great food, great ambiance, great service

First off, many thanks to the tip I read on Disboards that said to get a Landry's Select Card before your trip if  you know you will be dining at T-Rex, Yak & Yeti or Rainforest Café as it puts you basically to the front of the standby line as I was unable to score an advance dining reservation ("ADR" in Disney speak). It costs $25 but you get that credited back when you visit. We were seated within 5 minutes of arriving ahead of a large line of folks.

The chef came out right away to tell us what we could order. We started with the chicken quesadilla appetizer on corn tortillas which we all gobbled up. The rest of our order (which we opted to share) was served to us family style - gluten free macaroni & cheese, a spicy salmon/black bean/rice dish and a big bowl of sautéed green beans. It was all delicious.

The main attraction at T-Rex are the animatronics Dinosaurs. We were seated next to the Wooly Mammoth who moved around every few minutes. We took turns exploring the other areas of the restaurant - each its own theme, all tons of fun to explore.

I hope they open a T-Rex in Northern California some day.

The Rest

  • Boma - great flavor, good variety buffet with some interesting flavors thrown in
  • Crystal Palace - another buffet, salads were out of this world
  • Be Our Guest - get a fastpass for this one and save an hour in line. This was the only place where we did not see the Chef and that was because you order on a screen and you can select allergens which will then only show what you can order and automatically order it with your allergens in mind. The potato leek soup and raspberry lemon cream puffs were standouts.
  • Mama Melrose's - tons of options. I had a pasta/shrimp/vegetable dish while DH had a steak. Giggler had pasta. We went here because we had purchased the Fantasmic dining package which guaranteed us good seats w/o waiting for that night's show. We would not have dined here otherwise - we probably would have gone to the 50's Prime Time Café instead.
  • 'Ohana - the main attraction here is that Mickey, Pluto, Lilo and Stich come to visit. Breakfast was good but not our usual healthy fare- mickey mouse gluten free waffles (which were delicious btw - they use the Bob's Red Mill pancake mix which does not taste this good when I've used it for pancakes - maybe they use special butter in the waffle iron), a small plate of fruit, then a big skillet full of eggs, sausage, bacon and potatoes - all gluten free. Fun to do once, but we'd rather spend our calories on other things.
  • Garden Grill - this was a bit of a disappointment for me as I had very high expectations. I have always loved the ride "The Land" and was very excited to be at a restaurant which revolved around it and served food grown there - but they only showed the "ride" scenes- not the actual garden which is what I think is so incredibly cool - that ride inspired me to become a home gardener. The food was just OK also - tons of meat & potatoes (the tilapia was good) I thought the vegetables would be excellent but we really only got to sample root vegetables - blech.  It was nice for the Giggler to see Mickey and friends again and get some more autographs but I won't be booking this one again. I'll opt for the food court downstairs which appears to use more of the produce grown in the Land pavilion.
  • Restaurant Marrakesh - this was also a disappointment as I had fond memories of dining here 20 years ago. Gluten free options were very scarce. We ended up sharing a chicken kabob over rice with some stewed vegetables. Next time we'll eat at the sit down restaurant inside of the Mexico Pavilion.
  • BabyCakes NYC - this was another one I had high expectations and was disappointed. I found the baked goods were just OK - nothing I'd ever order again, not terrible, but not what I had been led to believe given reviews. We tried cupcake tops, brownies and cookies.
  • Captain Cook's - this was our last meal of the trip and the worst. We had cheese burgers which looked like the burgers served in elementary school w/ some sort of gelatinous gunk on top, along with some very runny overcooked "vegetables" (mainly onion and cabbage). Just plain gross. The good news is they also had some sealed gluten free brownies and chocolate cookies which were actually pretty good -not that disgusting enjoy life brand we were offered throughout Disney World. I wish I could remember the name of the baker -good stuff. We could also get the Dole Pineapple whip which we had been wanting to taste which was also good.

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