After our late lunch at Le Cellier on the day of our arrival, I was hesitant about dining at a Signature restaurant for dinner. Making the reservations for 7:40pm allowed us plenty of time for wandering around Epcot, riding a few rides, and completely unpacking and getting dressed up for dinner at the resort. It’s always nice to stay at one of the property’s that has great dining options!
We walked the short distance to Flying Fish Cafe, watching a boardwalk musician in the few moment’s we had to wait on our table. Soon we were led towards the back of the restaurant and promptly asked for our cocktail order. Jeremy ordered his customary Gin and Tonic, while I opted for a Cosmopolitan…VERY light on the cranberry.
While we waited for this to come, we had the opportunity to look around us. The atmosphere at this restaurant is fantastic, with murals on the walls depicting by-gone circus days, and clean lines that make it elegant and not over crowded. One thing I noted was that there were quite a few families eating, even though the meal came with a signature price tag.
Soon our beverages were placed in front of us, and we ordered appetizers. Of course the waitress was aware that I would be dining Gluten Free, and had called the chef over to the table in advance. He walked me through my MANY options, and we placed our first order. Luckily, I could have more than one appetizer on the menu, so Jeremy and I put our heads together and chose two to share between us. We ordered the Tuna Tartare and Lobster Summer Roll. By this point I was actually getting hungry again!
Entrees were soon to come, and they sounded absolutely delicious as the chef described them, and the small alterations he could make for me. Jeremy decided to go with the Citrus, Sesame, and Szechuan Pepper-crusted Yellowfin Tuna, which came with bok choy, carrots, snap peas, and mushrooms in a delicious asian broth.
I ordered the Signature Flying Fish Cafe Potato-wrapped Red Snapper. He altered the potato slightly so that I could be able to eat it Gluten Free. It was absolutely delicious. I would say that this restaurant does one of the best jobs accommodating those with special diets – quite an award to achieve at Disney World!
Finally came the desserts. Jeremy was able to get the Carmelized Banana Napolean, which had phyllo, a banana mousse, creme caramel, and bitter chocolate. He ate it in its entirety! I ordered the Season Sorbet, which had Coconut, Strawberry and Cherry Coulis. It was just enough after all that other food!
We were both so happy with our meal here, that will will definitely go again. Not only was it convenient to the Boardwalk, but it was a beautiful setting with great food!
When making reservations way back in December, I had decided that going Gluten Free would be a way that I could eat more organically in Disney World. Although there are a few sustainable/organic options in certain spots throughout the world, it would be more than impossible to attempt it everywhere we went – not to mention stressful and a sure fire way of making it a “not so happiest place on earth” for me.
We were going to be doing the Deluxe Dining Plan, so I knew there would be many meals, and many courses, to be consumed. The brands that Disney uses for their gluten free products can be found online or at my local Whole Foods, so I checked on some of the foods to be aware of their practices and ingredients. With this in mind, I booked a week’s worth of dining venues and was excited to get there!
I admit that after hearing Le Cellier would be making the switch to a Signature dinner option, I was excited about the change – fewer people crowding in for dinner, and new changes to the menu that would allow it to compete with the other signatures. There was only one thing I was uncertain of, and that was LUNCH. Suddenly, this would become the most hard-to-get reservation in Disney – one that I would be vying for a full 180 days in advance (as if I didn’t already do that for every one, anyway). But would the quality of lunch go down? Would they still offer the selections that they’ve become known and loved for? I was soon to find out on our arrival day to Disney this year.
After checking in at The Boardwalk, where we discovered we had a lovely villa room overlooking the waterway, we walked speedily to make our 1:30pm lunch reservation at Le Cellier. We waited for less than one minute before they whisked us off to our table. All was cool and dimly lit in the dining room, a vast contrast to the unending heat and brilliant blue skies outside.
The waitress was aware I would be eating gluten free, and she gave me some options before also getting the chef involved. My husband was just excited about all the food choices that was included with our dining plan. He chose a Strawberry Smoothie as his beverage to start himself off with – he had failed to eat anything for breakfast and was ravenous by this point in the day.
For our appetizers, he ordered the Cheese Soup, which he adored. While not much of a bread person, he did make use of the bread service by cleaning up the bowl with one of the pretzel sticks.
The chef had recommended many options for me, but I chose the Tomato Stack because I knew that it would contain less chemicals and pesticides than the beef options. The Stack included Carmelized Onions, Cucumbers, Crumbled Blue Cheese, and Vinaigrette – absolutely delicious! I ate every bit.
Our entrees were to come soon after this. Jeremy ordered the Mushroom Filet, because he had not only heard me talk about how popular it was, but the waitress had also recommended it. One change he made was that he subbed the Risotto for the Cream Cheese Mashed Potatoes. Again, a winner many times over! If Le Cellier does anything well, it’s steaks.
I ordered the Salmon Burger and made some adjustments myself. The Aoili had gluten in it, so the chef prepared it plain, and brought everything out separately so that I could arrange it on a tapioca bun myself. It came with Napa Cabbage Slaw and French Fries (my weakness). The buns are made by Ener-G, and were suprisingly good. I had many over the course of our stay.
Dessert could have been a letdown for me, but the Champagne Sorbet was gluten free and absolutely delicious. Jeremy ordered the Maple Creme Brulee and really loved the crispness of the shell and the hint of maple that tasted of Canada.
It was a great experience, and I was happy to note that quality and service are still a part of the Le Cellier experience even though there is now more of a focus towards their Signature dinner. We will go back – hopefully next year!
This post is part of the Disney Blog Carnival – head over there to see more great Disney-related posts and articles.
Whether going for the first time, or planning a trip as a veteran, 2011 is bringing many new options to Disney, and a few changes (for better or worse) in dining options throughout the World. Epcot has added restaurants in Mexico and Italy, Downtown Disney got a little more eclectic, chef changes have been made at some popular resort restaurants, and Disney’s most sought-after restaurant has now become a Signature dining destination. Whether the changes add spark to your vacation or make you wish for the good ole days, one thing is certain; Disney is aiming to please everyone, one step at a time.
La Hacienda de San Angel
Construction for a new table service restaurant at Epcot’s Mexico pavilion had been underway for over a year, with the unveiling finally occurring September of 2010. With overwhelmingly positive feedback, this restaurant promises great food and a fireworks view to match. Previously, other than a quick service option, Mexico had been lacking outdoor dining options for those wishing to see Illuminations. Every type of diner can be appeased now, as Cantina de San Angel, a counter service restaurant, is attached. La Hacienda offers a menu that’s a step above it’s sister restaurant, San Angel Inn. Dishes are a bit more authentic, with a greater selection, better quality ingredients, and a slightly steeper price tag attached. Also of note is the Tequila selection, which only rivals La Cava del Tequila, located just inside next to San Angel Inn.
If Disney was lacking in any one area, it would have been pizza. Reviews and comments were overwhelmingly synonymous that a good pizza joint would be a gold mine for Disney, and Epcot answered that call very willingly. Via Napoli opened its doors the same month as La Hacienda de San Angel, firing up all 3 of the wood-burning ovens, comically chiseled to appear like faces devouring the in-going pies (in reality they represent Italy’s 3 active Volcanoes). Appetizers, Salads, and traditional Italian Entrees colorfully grace the menu, but it’s the Pizza selection that gets everyone’s mouth watering. The Mozzarella is flown in from Naples, birthplace of the pizza. Water for the dough is found in a spring whose consistency is that of the selection found in Italy, and the Tomatoes are San Marzano – all the makeup of what can be certified “Vera Pizza Napolitana.”
There’s a counter-service option attached to the restaurant as well, once more offering something for everyone, no matter the budget or dining plan.
To say that Disney’s decision to remove McDonalds from Downtown Disney was an improvement would be an understatement. Anything would have been more unique, but adding Pollo Campero to the Marketplace now adds a healthier option, as well. Pollo Campero announced its spicy arrival in November with rave reviews. Legendary chicken, all-natural burgers, salads, wraps and desserts (all of which are Gluten Free!) mark a menu that Disney has termed “Fresh-A-Peel,” offering healthier options.
Speaking of healthier options, Disney has finally heard the growing voice of the special diet community, and cupcake company BabyCakes, NYC has opened in the DownTown Disney Marketplace! These treats are also featured at Pollo Campero, by the way.
All of the cupcakes, cookies, cakes, muffins, brownies, and other treats offered are not only delicious, they are light-years healthier than most other desserts you’ll find. Why is this? Everything is completely free of refined sugar, gluten, wheat, soy, casein, and eggs, making them Vegan, and Kosher, to boot! This is the perfect solution for anyone with food allergies and a sweet tooth.
Chef Changes Throughout the World
Vegans and those with Dietary Restrictions mourned as they heard news that noted Chef TJ hopped a monorail and made the move from the Polynesian’s Ohana to the Grand Floridian. Luckily, 1900 Park Fare has seen a major improvement in the selection offered to those with special diets since then, as has neighboring restaurant Grand Floridian Cafe.
As the premier resort at Disney World, the Grand Floridian must have noticed a decline in food quality and increase in complaints at their classic Character Buffet, and measures were taken to ensure an upswing. One thing is certain, if there’s anyone that can bring something back to life, it’s Chef TJ. Expect great things to come, and a revival of the once-“Gold Standard” for breakfast destinations at 1900 Park Fare.
Le Cellier Signature Dinner
Perhaps the most debated topic in Disney changes has been the convergence of Le Cellier’s two credit, Signature dining experience. Beginning March 1st, lunch at the popular Steakhouse will still be 1 credit on the Disney Dining Plan, but dinners will be a Signature experience, taking 2 credits per person and offering an expanded menu.
For many years, Le Cellier has been perhaps the hardest reservation to obtain when dining at Disney World – both lunch and dinner were booked a full 180 days in advance in many cases. There are both ups and downs to this change. A new signature dinner menu will mean expanded options, an even better quality of ingredients, and hopefully a more attentive staff and quieter atmosphere (i.e. not as many tired children). It will also mean greater ease at getting a reservation. However, snagging a lunch time reservation will most likely become a cunning game of skill, attainable to only the most die-hard Disney dining enthusiasts. To only have one seating at regular dining credit, lunch at the most popular restaurant in Disney will only be reserved by booking the morning of that 180 day mark.
Disney is changing for the better, offering more options, sympathizing with an ever-growing number of food allergies, and upping their level of service. In the coming years, they will even unveil a new Fantasyland, complete with even more ways to keep everyone happy. No matter what, Disney World will always strive to be the Happiest Place on Earth, even if that means changing to match that evolving definition.
This post is part of the Disney Blog Carnival. Head over there to see more great Disney-related posts and articles.
This Holiday season is the first in which my family will be attempting to make everything from scratch, using whole ingredients. Thanksgiving was a trial of sorts, taking many recipes we had always used, and tweaking them to be more nourishing. That, and finding completely new alternatives for store-bought items of the past.
One of these beloved staples that would not be making an appearance on our table this year were Brown and Serve rolls. You know the kind…they come in a pack of twelve, and have two slats down the top, allowing you to pull them apart once they are baked. But news travels fast in a small family, and when the low murmur grew to a roar, I realized that the Holidays wouldn’t be complete without something to sop up the gravy with. Coming up with a bread that would be healthy for us, while also not tasting like a brick, was a challenge for me…I had never baked bread! Queue the PattyCakes. Read more