*This gluten free dining experience took place in June 2018.
Dinner at Boatwright’s Dining Hall
Boatwright’s Dining Hall is a table service restaurant located at Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside Resort. It was a longtime favorite of mine for many years due to some pretty awesome chefs who were working there. Chef Tony who used to the head chef there is one of the big masterminds behind the allergy-friendly beignets over at Port Orleans French Quarter. And his work creating special dietary needs options that were delicious and authentic made both Riverside and French Quarter excellent resorts for guests with special dietary needs. Though Chef Tony is no longer there (if you visit him at Restaurant Akershus in the Norwary Pavilion, you’re in for a treat!), I was hopeful that were would still be plenty of great options, when I had dinner there with my family recently. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a great experience when I dined there two years ago, so I was cautiously optimistic.
The interior of Boatwright’s Dining Hall is set to resemble an old shipyard. In fact, you can see the remnants of the shipyard prominently featured with the restaurant’s sign.
The interior of the restaurant is fairly cozy. We found that there was lots of seating available when we dined there and even lots of nice quiet seating towards the back of the restaurant.
There are actually two different levels of Boatwright’s Dining Hall. We always the second level seated in the back, as the front area can get quite hectic and loud.
Boatwright’s Dining Hall has an allergy-friendly dinner menu. It had changed a fair amount since we had dined there two years ago. But, there were still some favorites like the Colonel Peace’s Pieces which includes Crawfish, Oyster, and Okra in a crispy Corn Breading and is gluten free. Unfortunately, this does contain dairy, and on this occasion, I did not ask to see if they could modify it still to be dairy free. Guests can always speak to a chef prior to ordering, although on this visit, I opted not to speak with a chef, as I was only planning on ordering an entree.
Though not special dietary needs related, I have to mention the adorable mason jars the drinks are now served in. So cute and perfect for my unsweetened iced tea!
Our server noted that she would bring me some gluten free rolls, and I asked if I could have some dairy free / vegan buttery spread if they had it. Unfortunately, I was told they do not carry dairy free / vegan alternative and was brought regular butter. Although I have reintroduced dairy back into my diet, I do still try to eat a dairy free most of the time. So, I ended up eating my Deanna’s Gluten Free rolls plain, since I knew my entree had dairy in it.
For my entree, I ordered the Lake Charles Risotto with Blackened Scallops over Risotto with Roasted Yellow Squash and a Meyer Lemon Beurre Blanc. This dish is marked safe for Gluten/Wheat, Egg, Peanut/Tree Nut, and Soy Allergies. Unfortunately, this dish was quite possibly one of the worst dishes I have had in a long time at Disney mostly due to how poorly the risotto was cooked. The scallops themselves were actually fairly well cooked, and I liked the blackening seasoning.
The risotto on the other hand was a nasty gummy mess. I suppose it’s why you see so many cooking shows, like Master Chef or Top Chef, where the chefs have to cook risotto properly. My sister-in-law also ordered this, and she said hers was fine. None of my entree was very hot, so I do wonder if it sat for a bit and got gummy because of sitting for so long. The flavors of the risotto itself weren’t bad. But the texture was so bad that I ended up leaving a good portion of the risotto. But, I did hear from some readers about their experiences, and one reader said this was the best dish they had on their trip. Unfortunately, I can’t recommend ordering the risotto based on my experience.
While I love the flavor profiles of Southern and Cajun style food, I wasn’t overly impressed with my most recent experience at Boatwright’s Dining Hall. This is so disappointing to see a restaurant that I used to love so much falter a bit. I waited two years between dining here and didn’t see any major improvements from my visits. With so many other amazing options at Disney, it will probably be a long time before I head back there. Still, I’ve heard other guests have really great experiences, so if you like Southern and Cajun inspired food, this might be a great restaurant for you. In the meantime, I think I’ll stick with Sassagoula Floatworks & Food Factory and the amazing beignets next door at Port Orleans French Quarter.
Have you been to Boatwright’s Dining Hall? What was your experience dining there?