*This gluten free dining experience took place in October 2018. It includes notes about dairy free options and modifications.
Dinner at Coral Reef
Coral Reef is a table service restaurant located in The Seas pavilion in Future World at Epcot. It serves up a variety of seafood and coastal inspired meals with exceptional views of the coral reef and its marine life in The Seas. It has been nearly 9 years since I’d dined at Coral Reef and Brandon had never been. We decided to go one evening on a whim to try it out.
The theming of Coral Reef is set to resemble, well, a reef. Its main focal point are the panoramic views of the Coral Reefs in The Seas pavilion. So, the restaurant has excellent views fo the marine life depending on where you are seated.
When we arrived at the restaurant, we were there around 8 p.m. — about an hour before IllumiNations began. Because we were closer to the end of the evening, we asked if it would be possible to get a seat with a better view of The Seas. They said it might be a little bit of a wait, but we were seated within in 5 minutes after arriving at the restaurant.
The photos here are as we were leaving the restaurant, when it was nearly empty. One of the biggest things we noticed about Coral Reef is that the decor seems a bit dated. While it does a good job at reflecting the marine life theme, it just felt like it could really use a refurbishment.
We were seated near the front of the restaurant with a view of The Seas marine life. We thought this gave a great view. Our only complaint was that the restaurant’s tables seemed very close together. And, because the restaurant was a bit dated, the chairs were extremely old and uncomfortable. We would have preferred a booth and would definitely ask for that next time.
We were both in awe of the marine life at The Seas. Disney has said that there are are 4,000-plus sea creatures and 85 species of tropical fish in the pavilion. It was so neat to see them up close. Our server Joshua was also a wealth of knowledge and gave us a ton of information about the marine life there. You’ll also be given a small guide to help identify some of the marine life too.
Coral Reef does have an allergy-friendly lunch and dinner menu. You can also ask to speak with a chef if you have questions or need further assistance with ordering due to multiple special dietary needs. On this visit, I opted to order directly from the menu without speaking to a chef, as I felt comfortable with the options I was ordering.
First up, our server Joshua brought me some Ener-G rolls and Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Spread. I usually don’t love Ener-G rolls, mostly because they are never well-heated, but on our visit to Coral Reef I was extremely impressed at how well-heated they were. Even Brandon commented that they were really good. I was also glad to see the Earth Balance served with the rolls.
For my entree, I ordered the Seared Mahi Mahi with Jasmine Rice, Coconut and Cilantro-Lime Sauce, and Avocado-Mango Salsa. It is listed as safe for Gluten/Wheat, Egg, Milk, Peanut, Shellfish, and Soy Allergies on the allergy-friendly menu. I am always a big fan of fish and rice, so this was a good dish for me to order. Overall, I enjoyed it a lot. The fish was a bit overcooked, but I loved the flavors of the sauces and salsa which were bright and citrusy.
Since Brandon is allergic to fish and shellfish, we made sure that we were extra careful on this visit, as restaurants with a lot of seafood are a higher risk for him to eat at. He ended up getting the 10-oz Grilled Top Sirloin Steak with Loaded Mashed Potatoes with Bacon, Creamed Spinach, and Bercy Butter. This is also listed on the allergy-friendly menu with some modifications (roasted potatoes and seasonal vegetables in place of the mashed potatoes and spinach). We confirmed that the dish he ordered was safe for fish and shellfish allergies. It was also gluten free. Guests who are gluten free and dairy free can order the version off the allergy-friendly menu for a safe option. Overall, he said he enjoyed this steak — though it wasn’t his favorite. He really enjoyed the mashed potatoes.
I don’t normally order dessert, but on this visit, I had to try the Chocolate Wave dessert. I’ve always heard that it was amazing for guests who are gluten free. So, it was a must order now that I’ve reintroduced dairy back into my diet. The Chocolate Wave is a Warm Flourless Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Curls and Raspberry Gelato. It is listed as safe for Gluten/Wheat, Fish/Shellfish, and Peanut/Tree Nut Allergies.
Overall, I really enjoyed this dessert. Was it my favorite chocolate dessert? No. But, it was really delicious. I loved the addition of the raspberry sauce and gelato. Brandon, on the other hand, was not a fan of those additions, but liked the chocolate cake portion of the dessert. I would definitely order this if we visited Coral Reef again.
While I wouldn’t say that Coral Reef is on the top of our lists of restaurants to eat, we both agreed that the food was good and the atmosphere was excellent. It’s also nice to dine at a restaurant in Epcot that has an allergy-friendly menu and is run by Disney directly. Since many of the restaurants in the World Showcase are not owned & operated by Disney, they may or may not follow the same special dietary needs protocols. So, Coral Reef can be a great option for those who feel safer with Disney owned restaurants. We would definitely visit again, though I’d love to see this restaurant get a bit of a refurbishment, as it feels somewhat dated. Overall, though, we had a safe and pleasant meal in a unique setting.
Have you been to Coral Reef? What did you think of your dining experience there?