Google+ Allergy-Free Vintage Cookery: Dining Allergy-Free at Disney: Hotel Restaurants


Monday, September 16, 2013

Dining Allergy-Free at Disney: Hotel Restaurants

This is Part 6 of my series on eating with food allergies in Walt Disney World.  You can find all the previous posts here: Part 1: Planning, Part 2: Magic Kingdom, Part 3: Animal Kingdom, Part 4: Hollywood Studios and Part 5: Epcot.

In today's post, we'll discuss some of the excellent restaurants found in the hotels on Disney property.  During our trip, we stayed at the Yacht Club hotel, which is located on Crescent Lake, just across from Disney's Boardwalk hotel and right next to the back entrance to Epcot.  We were able to eat several times at the Yacht Club, twice for breakfast at the casual Captain's Grille, and once for dinner at the upscale Yachtsman Steakhouse (and we even squeezed in some adult time at the Crew's Cup Lounge). 

In addition, we walked across to the Boardwalk and enjoyed breakfast one morning at Kouzzina, the Mediterranean restaurant developed by Food Network celebrity chef, Cat Cora.  To top off our 20th anniversary celebrations, my husband and I had a special, adults-only dinner at the pinnacle of Disney's dining offerings, the Victoria and Albert Restaurant at the Grand Floridian hotel.

View from the Yacht Club toward Bayside Marina.

Yacht Club: Breakfast at Captain's Grille

As we found at every Disney restaurant, the chef at the Captain's Grille came out to our table to talk to us about the allergy-free items he had available.  For the kids, gluten-free Mickey waffles and gluten-free toast could be added to any of the egg or meat dishes on the menu.  The restaurant features a buffet as well as a dozen other menu items, and on our first visit, we chose to order from the menu.

A wide variety of omelette fillings were available for the egg-eaters at the table, but the meats we ordered on the side were quite sparse.  Just a few strips of bacon, or two sausages.  It was tricky to get the boys to balance all their starches!  Even the eggs came with potatoes and biscuits, which we just ignored.  

I chose to eat a side of turkey sausage (which was delicious) and a side of fruit, but the volume of food was rather low for the price.  The next morning, we opted for the buffet, where we could load up on as much meat as we liked, and choose our own fruits as well.  Once we switched over to this method of eating breakfast, everyone was much happier. 

Here is the full menu for the Captain's Grille.

Kouzzina: Breakfast

A few days later, we took a walk across to the Boardwalk and tried Cat Cora's Kouzzina for breakfast. This menu was much more Paleo-friendly, and the gluten-free options were a bit more interesting.

Kouzzina's open kitchen.
We had a wonderful Turkey and Sweet Potato Hash, served in a large bowl.  The hash at the bottom was delicious, full of crumbled turkey sausage, and it was topped with two eggs any style and a yummy arugula salad.  I love having veggies for breakfast!  The dish was really tasty, and filled me up for the whole morning.  (I tried not to eat too much of the eggs, my going-off-the-AIP-experiment having failed a few days earlier.)

Turkey and Sweet Potato Hash
As a nice change from the ubiquitous Mickey waffles, Kouzzina offered gluten-free pancakes with an adorable hidden Mickey in the middle!  The boys were tickled pink by this little gimmick ;)

Here is the full menu for Kouzzina.

Yacht Club:  Dinner at Yachtsman Steakhouse

Another night, we returned to the Yacht Club for some evening swimming and dinner at the hotel.  The Yachtsman Steakhouse is the property's fine dining restaurant, and as you would expect, meat features prominently on the menu.  A glass-walled meat locker is the first thing you'll see as you enter the restaurant, where a variety of steak cuts are aged.

Nighttime at the Yacht Club pool
The lighting was quite low, so my photos of dinner are a bit dark, but imagine the best steak you've ever had and you'll get the idea.  Chef Matt came to the table, and charmed the pants off all of us.  Seriously, he was adorable!  

The gluten-free dinner rolls we had been eating at each restaurant seemed to all be from the same supplier.  They were rice-flour based, and a bit pasty.  At the Yachtsman Steakhouse, however, a rye-type gluten-free roll was available, and the boys enjoyed the variety.  

Which entree is this?  Too dark to tell!

We started with a Charcuterie Board (an assortment of cured meats) that was a big hit with everyone, and all of us tried different types of steak for dinner.  Ratatouille was the side dish of choice (pictured below).  It was prepared in an unusual way, with whole baby vegetables like teeny tiny zucchinis and squashes.  Mashed potatoes were also a fixture on each plate, for those who wanted to try them. 

For dessert, the boys splurged on a Mickey Puzzle, a set of white chocolate pieces that can be arranged to form a picture of Mickey Mouse, then painted with food coloring.  

Here is the full menu for the Yachtsman Steakhouse.

Mickey Puzzle for dessert
Before I move on to the next restaurant, I need to tell you about an amazing drink I had at the Crew's Cup Lounge in the Yacht Club.  When following the Paleo diet, especially when on the Autoimmune Protocol, alcohol is a no-no.  One night, however, the boys went to the arcade and my husband and I decided to sit for a few minutes at the hotel bar -- an activity we haven't enjoyed for years, probably since we had children!

The lovely bartender made me a virgin Coconut Mojito with coconut water, lime, agave nectar and fresh mint.  Boy was that refreshing!  It was certainly not low in sugar, nor was it kind to my blood sugar, but I loved the taste and am thinking of recreating something similar at home with less sugar.  Maybe honey?

Mom and Dad's libations at the Crew's Cup Lounge

Flying Fish Cafe: Dinner

The signature fine-dining restaurant on the Boardwalk is the Flying Fish Cafe, a restaurant we make a point to visit every time we are in Disney.  

No, you can't see us, but you can see the cool sign!
The decor is both modern and whimsical, and the food never fails to disappoint.  The service is excellent as well, and if that wasn't enough, it is located right next to a candy shop for the boys to visit after dinner! 
Ceiling at the Flying Fish
We started with salads, all featuring very fresh and high-quality ingredients, many of which are grown right on Disney property in The Land pavilion at Epcot.  Our favorite is the Roasted Beet salad, which comes with goat cheese, if you're Primal or not sensitive to dairy.

Roasted Heirloom Beet Salad
Gluten-free dinner rolls are available, although they're a bit tough when they cool down.

Gluten-free dinner rolls
The signature dish at the Flying Fish is the Potato-Wrapped Snapper with a Leek Fondue and veal/red wine sauce.  For this, I made an exception.  There was no way I was leaving Disney without eating my favorite meal of all time.  Yes, potatoes are not Paleo, nor are they AIP-friendly, but they make this dish special.  (I didn't eat them all.)

Potato-Wrapped Snapper
I love that Disney has added healthy children's meals to their kid's menus.  It's no longer such a struggle to keep the kids from whining for chicken nuggets and Mac n Cheese all the time, because most Disney restaurants offer something else.  My youngest ate grilled chicken skewers with roasted carrots, green beans and potatoes, and loved them.

Here is the full menu for the Flying Fish Cafe.

Children's Grilled Chicken

Victoria & Albert's: Dinner

Ok, now this one is crazy.  I have never had a dinner like this before, and I never will again because the cost was astronomical, but in honor of our 20th anniversary, my husband and I had an amazing dinner for two at Victoria & Albert's in the Grand Floridan Hotel.

Lobby of the Grand Floridian
I fully understand that this information is not likely to be used by the majority of people reading it, but in the spirit of sharing how wonderful Disney is with food allergies, I would like to present my twelve course dinner at Victoria & Alberts.  Yes, you read that right.  Twelve courses, and all of them spectacular.  I have never eaten so much food in my life!

The dining room at Victoria & Albert's.

Victoria & Albert's features two dining rooms.  In the smaller room, Queen Victoria's Room, there are only four tables (and a gorgeous, lit fireplace).  Each table is served by a pair of two waiters, and the menu is set by the chef ahead of time, based on the fresh foods available to him that week.  When we made our reservation, we were asked about our food allergies, and also what foods we disliked.  Would we eat game?  How about caviar?  Was chocolate a problem?  

Twice before our dinner, the restaurant called to clarify our food options, without telling us what would be on the menu.  I felt a bit guilty that the chef was having to work so hard to create something special that would accommodate our huge list of allergens, but this fellow really outdid himself.  I think he was looking for a challenge!  

And so, without further comment, I would like to share with you the twelve wonderful courses we enjoyed:

1. Maine Lobster "Jar" 

2. Octopus "A La Plancha" with Preserved Artichokes

3. Hot Smoked Niman Ranch Lamb with Fuji Apple and Curry Dressing

4. Fennel Pollen Crusted Diver Scallop in a Salt Bowl

5. Poussin with Roasted Corn and Black Barley

6. Colorado Bison with Caraway Seed Vinaigrette

Cooking the beef on a hot rock tableside.

7. Australian Style Kobe Beef Tenderloin with Oxtail Jus

8. Morello Cherry Pomegranate, Tropical Fruit and Strawberry Sorbet

10. Peach Crisp

11. Mixed Berry Gateau

12. Assorted sweets
Amazing, huh?  This entire meal was gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, nightshade-free, nut-free, and with the exception of the corn, Paleo.

Scott Hunnel was the Chef de Cuisine, and Erich Herbitschek was the Pastry Chef.  I ... was about to explode.

Such a wonderful evening!

Other posts in this series:

Part 1: Planning for your allergy-free Disney vacation
Part 2: Eating in the Magic Kingdom
Part 3: The new food allergy kiosk in Animal Kingdom
Part 4: Eating allergy-free in Hollywood Studios
Part 5: Eating allergy-free in Epcot
Part 6: Eating allergy-free at Disney hotel restaurants
Part 7: The rest of the parks (Downtown Disney, Typhoon Lagoon, room service and more)

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