Landscape of Flavors at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort (as of 7/2015) – This menu covers the top 8 common allergens (gluten/wheat, milk/dairy, egg, soy, peanut, tree nut, fish and shellfish). Check with the restaurant for modifications and/or other special dietary needs.
*This dining experience took place in June 2015.
If there’s one thing I know, I love a good barbecue. From side dishes to smoked meats, there’s just something comforting about anything cooked low and slow. I can’t say that I’ve found a great barbecue place on or near Disney property… until now! Thankfully, I can now get my gluten free and dairy free barbecue fix at American Q, located at the B Resort & Spa.
The B Resort Resort & Spa located just outside of Downtown Disney and is considered a Downtown Disney Area Hotel. Many of you readers have asked me about the dining options at these hotels for gluten free and special diets diners, and I was thrilled to finally get to check out American Q. This barbecue themed restaurant opened in late summer 2014, and I had been hearing rave things from friends and online from sites like Inside the Magic and Disneyways.com.
First things first. When you arrive at B Resort, parking is valet. But, not to worry! If you’re dining at American Q, it’s free (that’s my favorite kind of valet)! Just make sure to take your parking ticket to the American Q team and have them validate it for you. I love this added benefit provided by the resort. This means, parking is easy peasy when you dine at American Q.
Of course, after getting out of your car, you’ll be intoxicated by the smells of barbecue. In fact, my mom and I both remarked how amazing it smelled, just standing outside of the hotel entrance. Probably the only other hotel that has such amazing smells is Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge which has great restaurants like Boma and Jiko.
American Q has it’s own side entrance, and you’ll find cozy chairs to sit and relax at if you’re early for your reservation. Or, you could enjoy the American Q bar…just sayin’!
After checking in, my mom and I got a chance to take a look at the buffet, which is set up on a flatbed truck. How cool is that? The food looked delicious, and I was excited to see what options would be available to me as a gluten free and dairy free diner. My friend Leah from Our Florida Project had visited American Q, and she told me that they had loads of gluten free options, which made me very excited about my meal.
Our server Ryan greeted us and gave us a full overview of the restaurant, which was great. Essentially, guests have a few options for ordering dinner at American Q. The first, is a la carte. They have a variety of options on the a la carte menu – from ribs to fajitas and everything in between. The other options involve the flatbed buffet.
Remember that flatbed truck I mentioned? This buffet is available in two ways. You can choose to just take part in the flatbed buffet with unlimited salads and appetizers. If you choose the full buffet, you get to dine from the flatbed buffet truck AND you get table side carvings of a various smoked meats. This options is a reasonable $34.95, and believe me, well worth it!
The restaurant also includes a full bar with some interesting cocktails, like Margarita Thyme (which includes blackberries and thyme) or the Pineapple Mojito. I personally can’t resist a mojito, so I ordered the Pineapple version to check it out. It was fabulous, and even better, if you dine between 4-7 p.m. it’s happy hour and 1/2 price!
After ordering drinks, Chef John came out to talk to me about the options available to me as a gluten free and dairy free diner. Surprisingly, the flatbed truck offered a lot of great choices. The seafood salad, roasted potatoes and sweet potatoes, sweet potato salad, collard greens, and salad bar were all great options for me. They even offered to make me some dairy free corn on the cob, as the version on the buffet was soaking in butter (which my mom proclaimed one of the best versions of corn on the cob she’s ever had).
All of the table side carved meats are gluten free. The only item that isn’t dairy free is the vegetable brochette, which can be made dairy free upon request. The barbecue sauces are all made in house and are gluten free, but do contain dairy. If you’re a dairy diner, don’t worry, the meats are still absolutely delicious even without the sauces.
We were the first folks at the buffet that evening, so I was the first person to dine off the buffet, which helped with cross-contamination concerns; however, the culinary team there is great and were very willing to bring things from the back, upon request.
As we were digging in to our first round off the buffet, Executive Chef Justin Leo came by to say hello and to talk a bit about the restaurant. Chef Justin has worked for the Disney Company – serving as Executive Chef at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort. He’s also worked at Hilton Bonnet Creek and the Swan and Dolphin. Because of this, he’s had background and training with Disney’s food allergy protocols and even trained chefs on this while working at various resorts. His knowledge and experience really shined through as he talked about food allergy accommodation at American Q.
Chef Justin explained that the restaurant works to incorporate styles of barbecue from the U.S. and Latin America – which fits my initial description to my mom of American Q, “Brazilian steakhouse style but with barbecue!” They also like to utilize a lot of Florida local products from the meat (which is high quality and grass fed) right down to the types of wood they use to smoke the meats. They make all of their sauces from scratch and really focus on authentic flavors. And their smoking all of their own meats daily, starting at 6 a.m.!
Chef Justin also mentioned that while their dinner is not only gluten free friendly, they also have terrific gluten free and dairy free options for breakfast. They serve gluten free pancakes and Mickey waffles (hurrah!) along with providing staples like gluten free toast. As Chef Justin noted, they do have a lot of special diets guests, so being able to accommodate them is important. Of course, now that I know they have so many great breakfast options, you can bet I’m going to visit for breakfast!
So let’s dig into the food! (Vegetarians, I warn you now…this post is going to be meat heavy. Look away if you do not want to see copious amounts of barbecued meat. Though, don’t be too discouraged! If you visit American Q on Monday nights you can enjoy an entirely vegetarian buffet with their Meatless Mondays).
First up – the flatbed buffet. My first plate consisted of seafood salad, a roasted sweet potato with brown sugar and cinnamon, sweet potato salad, and grilled asparagus. The seafood salad was divine. Filled with bright citrus flavors and a bit of a bite from the red onion and peppers, this was a definite hit in my opinion. It was a bit messy with peel and eat shrimp and more, but don’t let that deter you from trying it.
The roasted asparagus was delicious. Asparagus is one of my favorite veggies. I could have also chosen the roasted mushrooms, which were on the same buffet tray, but I am not a big fan of mushrooms.
The sweet potato salad was served cold and definitely a nice change from traditional potato salad. I love the red onion in this.
My favorite item on my first plate was the roasted sweet potato with brown sugar and cinnamon. The roasted potato was outstanding with great flavor and texture. This was a great compliment to the salty components on my plate.
While we were enjoying our buffet, American Q manager Agnes brought over some Swine Candy for us to try. Made of smoked bacon roasted with molasses & spice, this was absolutely hands down my new favorite dish. I’m not going to lie, I may or may not have had a food moment when I tried this. If you readers know anything about me, you know I love bacon and candied bacon especially. If you go to American Q, even just for drinks. Do yourself a favor. Order Swine Candy.
After my bacon revelation, I hit the other side of the buffet, which included salad. Most of the items like mac & cheese were not safe for me to eat, but believe me I did not lack any food options throughout this meal. One thing I loved were all the meat options as toppings for the salad bar which included, ham, turkey, chicken, and bacon. As a former Midwesterner, meat-filled salads are pretty commonplace on a salad bar there. Though ranch dressing (the Midwest salad dressing of choice) was not safe (dairy-filled), I enjoyed the balsamic dressing a lot.
The collard greens served at American Q were outrageous. My mom and I both agreed that these collards were some of the best we’ve had in ages. They are not vegetarian, so be prepared for a very meat heavy collard green (which wade them even more delicious, in my opinion).
If you can imagine, I was already getting really full but we hadn’t even started with the BBQ meats. At American Q when you want the servers to bring you table side carvings, you put up a sign. When you’re taking a break, the sign goes down. There’s always time for more Q!
Of the table side carvings, we tried out the following:
- Confit of Smoked Turkey Leg
- Bacon Wrapped Boneless Chicken Thigh
- Smoked Pork Shoulder
- Picanha of Beef
- Smoked Chimichurri of Turkey Thigh
- Carolina Style Flank Steak
- Brisket of Beef with Texas Bark
- Vegetable Brochette
- Grilled Pineapple
We loved all the meats, but I have to say that my favorites were the bacon wrapped boneless chicken thigh (everything’s better with bacon!), smoked pork shoulder, brisket of beef with Texas bark and grilled pineapple.
As you can see, I had plenty of options to choose from as a gluten free and dairy free diner at American Q, and best of all? It was all delicious! My mom and I both proclaimed this to be a restaurant we have to take my whole family to dine.
We absolutely adored the ambiance, the food, and American Q team. I have to say a big thanks to Chef Justin, Chef John, server Ryan and manager Agnes for making our meal delicious, safe, and memorable. We will definitely be back to American Q, and hopefully soon!
For more information about American Q located at the B Resort & Spa, check out: http://www.americanq.com/
I was hosted at this dinner as a guest of American Q. I was not required to write this post and all opinions are my own.