*This dining experience took place in April 2014 and also includes a gluten free only review in addition to my gluten free & dairy free review.
I have to admit that when I find a restaurant that I like at Disney, I tend to be a repeat guest, and Boatwright’s Dining Hall located at Port Orleans Riverside has quickly become one of those places for me. I actually think it’s quite a hidden gem on property, and I like it better each time I go back!
Boatwright’s culinary theme is definitely a mixture of New Orleans and Southern cuisines — something I’m always a fan of. It’s definitely comfort food which is both appealing to broad range of diners and very friendly on the budget.
On this particular visit, I brought a friend and fellow GF diner who was working at the Gluten-Free Living Conference held in Orlando. He’s also a huge Disney fan and loves restaurants like Boma. He and his family frequently stay at Port Orleans Riverside but had not eaten at Boatwright’s before. Well, you know that I had to change that!
We were greeted by Chef Paul who also took care of my party during my birthday meal at Boatwright’s, and it was great to see a familiar face. He went over the various options available to us (see my previous post on my birthday for a full list). I had a couple ideas of options that I was interested in after my birthday dinner and it was a hard decision to make!
However, I knew we had to get the Crawfish bites that I had my on birthday and I had made sure to let the chefs know ahead of time that I wanted these (they are normally not GF/DF). I’m not even sure how I could go to this restaurant and NOT order these!
While we waited for our crawfish bites, we were served some GNI brand rolls with extra virgin olive oil. Now, I’ve probably commented on this ad nauseum, but heating up GNI rolls is essential in making these taste good. Otherwise, the texture gets totally crumbly and weird (and unpalatable in my opinion). I have to say, these were perfectly heated! And I am a big extra virgin olive oil fan with bread, so this was definitely a great accompaniment.
Ah, crawfish bites. So delicious! I think it’s pretty clear that I love all things deep fried (really, who doesn’t?!) These honestly are just deep fried perfection (and well seasoned too). Deep fried and seafood just go together. Add in the remoulade sauce…and you just can’t go wrong! As you can see in the photo, there were two sides of remoulade sauce. My friend and I shared this appetizer so there was a bowl for each of us of remoulade. But, you know me…I honestly could have eaten them both myself!
As an aside, if you took all of these components and made them a Po’Boy, I would be in some serious GF/DF heaven. That would be amazing!
It took some serious decision making but I ended up ordering the Jambalaya. It was fantastic. It did have to be slightly modified because of me being GF/DF but it was still fantastic! I andouille sausage was excellent and the shrimp were perfectly cooked. Seafood has that tendency to get overcooked and this was not the case with this dish. If you like Jambalaya, then you simply must try this version! And be prepared to be full. The serving is quite large.
My friend had about as much of a challenge trying to decide what to order as I did (testament to how many great options there are for GF & DF diners). Chef Paul recommended the Blackened fish, which was mahi mahi, and the sides from the Andouille-Crusted Catfish – which included dirty rice, seasonal vegetables, cayenne-butter sauce (which was removed) and a chive aioli.
My friend, awesome person that he is, asked that it also be made GF/DF so that I could try it too. This is another reason I love having friends with special diets – Most of my friends will make sure things are safe for others in the party so we can share.
So, I have to say….I nearly asked my friend to switch. OK, not really, but honestly this dish was outstanding. Like beyond outstanding. The mahi mahi was perfectly blackened and perfectly cooked. I adore asparagus (I’m probably a bit of a weirdo on that one. I adore asparagus and not just on things like Eggs Benedict). And the dirty rice was ridiculously good. Chef Paul mentioned it was made with chicken liver (which is how it’s traditionally made). I know that many people might think that doesn’t sound appetizing, but if you’re a meat eater I would encourage you to try this dish. It will totally change your mind!
Note to self…next time order this dish!
Dessert options for me included non-dairy ice cream and an Enjoy Life Foods cookie “fondue” of sorts. Given that I was a bit full, I opted for no dessert this time but my friend got the Bananas Foster without the angel food cake.
Despite the awful picture that I took – this dish looked really delicious and according to my friend was amazing. Actually, I don’t think he talked the entire time he ate it…it was that good! I have also heard rave reviews about the Bananas Foster dessert from Alexis at Gluten Free in Orlando too, so I think that means it’s a winner! And her review has a great photo of the Bananas Foster too!
As I mentioned early on in this review, I truly think Boatwright’s is a hidden gem on property. Not only is the food amazing and affordable, but the culinary team there is hands down one of the best. They really take the time to make sure they go through the options with you and ensure safety for your meal.
I can’t thank Chef Paul enough for the great meal, and I’m looking forward to heading back again soon (yep, I’m already planning my next visit).
I give this experience an easy 10 out of 10!
Have you been to Boatwright’s? What were your favorite dishes for special dietary needs?