*This gluten free dining experience took place in October 2020. It includes information about dairy free options, as well as fish/shellfish, peanut, hazelnut, cabbage, and chicken & turkey allergies.
Dinner at Narcoossee’s
Narcoossee’s, located at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, is a signature dining location that I hadn’t been to since 2011 after a lackluster meal experience with my mom. Brandon had never been to Narcoossee’s, so when the restaurant re-opened in 2020 after the Parks & Resorts had closed due to COVID-19, we decided to make a reservation for dinner to try it out.
COVID-19 & Reopening Notes
On this particular visit, we made reservations for the restaurant a few days before we dined there. I used the My Disney Experience app and found that there was an early evening seating. We have found that eating around restaurant opening tends to be fairly quiet, which is great if you prefer to dine with less people right now. The app worked as it normally does, and we were able to add in our special dietary needs in the app and alert cast members of our needs when we arrived at the restaurant. In this instance, we did not use the online restaurant check-in (which has become hit or miss for actually working) and opted to check-in with a cast member instead.
The Grand Floridian Resort & Spa itself featured many mechanisms to provide sanitization, social distancing, and safety for both guests and cast members. All cast members wore facial masks and some cast members also wore protective shields, as well. All servers in the restaurant wore both facial masks and protective shields. In addition, there were many portable hand sanitizer stations for guests to use. We also saw cast members regularly cleaning surfaces and restrooms throughout our visit.
As a note, at the time of writing this review, we have been to several of the Disney Resorts, including the Animal Kingdom Lodge, Boardwalk Resort, Contemporary Resort, Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, Old Key West Resort, Polynesian, and Riviera Resort. All locations have the same protocols, as far as we have observed. Be sure to check with restaurants and the official Disney World website for additional information about current guidelines and recommendations.
Narcoossee’s is located in a separate building from the Grand Floridian Resort, near the boat docks and set on the Seven Seas Lagoon. It offers great views of the Magic Kingdom and the resort area. The restaurant decor and food is inspired by coastal areas around the globe. So, you’ll see these touches throughout the restaurant.
When you enter the restaurant, you’ll see a brightly colored open kitchen (on this visit, the kitchen area was surrounded by protective shields).
Since it has been a decade since I’d dined at Narcoossee’s, I was curious to see how the decor had changed over the years. To my surprise, the restaurant’s decor hadn’t changed one bit. They were even using the same blue tablecloths and blue & white seat cushions.
Although the restaurant is supposed to have a bright, airy, coastal feel to it, both Brandon and I remarked at how dated it felt. Everything just seemed a bit old, faded, and generally not very contemporary. Of course, there’s always a certain charm to restaurant that stays the same over the years, and some restaurants really hold up well over time. But, Narcoossee’s feels like it could really use a good makeover compared to other signature restaurant’s like California Grill or Topolino’s Terrace.
Our favorite part of Narcoossee’s theme had to be the beautiful views. If you like waterfront dining, Narcooossee’s offers terrific scenery. Although they are not really doing fireworks displays right now, during normal times, Narcoossee’s would be a great spot to watch the fireworks in the evening.
Like most restaurants at Disney World, Narcoossee’s does offer an allergy-friendly menu. You can always speak directly to a chef about options, modifications, and customizations too, especially if you have questions or multiple special dietary needs.
Because the restaurant is a lot of simple steak and seafood, we both felt comfortable ordering directly from the allergy-friendly menu. But we always encourage guests to speak to a chef if there are any questions or clarifications needed and we do this often ourselves.
Prior to our meal we did order drinks. Brandon had a classic gin & tonic. And, I ordered the Skywalker Vineyards Rose. If you’re not familiar with Skywalker Vineyards, it’s the winery owned by George Lucas. I had tried several of the Skywalker Vineyards wines on previous visits occasions, but this was my first time trying the Rose. I would definitely recommend it as the flavors were great, and it wasn’t super sweet or dry. A perfect wine for a hot Florida day.
I was surprised when I was brought gluten free and allergy-friendly rolls, as I expected to be served the Bloomfield Farms brand, which most locations are using now. But, I was served the GNI / Deanna’s Gluten Free brand rolls that Disney used to use more regularly. Both roll brands are gluten free, dairy free and allergy-friendly.
The first roll I had was moderately well heated and quite tasty. It gave me a lot of nostalgia for when Disney was using this brand more regularly. But, the second roll I had was literally as hard as a rock and inedible. Comparing them to the Bloomfield Farms rolls, I have to say I think I now prefer Bloomfield Farms due to the size, texture, and taste. They also seem a lot less likely to be improperly heated, which is important for gluten free bread!
Brandon was served the regular bread service — a sourdough style bread. Brandon said it was just OK and not anything special. One of his biggest complaints with most bread services do not heat the bread making the bread not as tasty in his opinion. He tried both the gluten free and regular bread on this visit and said he actually preferred the gluten free bread overall.
As an aside, do note that while the regular bread is nut free, they do note that it’s made in a facility with nuts. So, you’ll need to use your judgement and comfort level when choosing to consume this bread or not. Thankfully, if you are not comfortable with this, you can enjoy the allergy-friendly bread which is nut free.
Brandon can’t resist a cheese plate. So, we decided to split the Artisanal Cheese Plate, which was marked safe for Gluten/Wheat, Egg, Fish/Shellfish, Peanut/Tree Nut, and Soy Allergies. It was also made safe for Brandon’s other allergies: Chicken & Turkey and Cabbage. This dish, of course, does contain dairy. If you’re lactose intolerant and can tolerate goat or sheep milk cheeses, the restaurant did include some of these cheeses on the plate, so those could be an option for you.
Overall, Brandon and I liked the cheese plate but didn’t love it. We both said it was fairly small for the price and the smallest cheese plate we’ve had in a long time. All of the cheeses were tasty, but I think we both agreed that we’d love to see more interesting and unique cheeses featured on such a pricey cheese plate rather than cheeses we can easily get at our local grocery store. Still if you’re into cheese plates, you could do far worse in terms of quality, so I’d still recommend it.
Brandon was served some regular bread on the side to go with the cheese plate, as well. He liked these a bit better than the sourdough but wasn’t wowed by either.
For my entree, I decided to order the classic Surf & Turf which included Filet Mignon with Butter-Poached Cold Water Lobster Tail, Yukon Gold Mash, Roasted Carrots, and Cippolini Onions. This dish was marked safe for For Gluten/Wheat, Egg, Peanut/Tree Nut, and Soy Allergies. It can be made dairy free with some adjustments and accompaniment swaps, so it’s always worth exploring if you’re interested.
When ordering Surf & Turf, it seems like this would be a slam dunk for an excellent meal. However, it was a bit inconsistent to me. The first few bites of steak were good, but I actually found fat on my filet (which you shouldn’t have). That made it a bit less pleasant to eat. The mashed potatoes were good and the carrots were also pretty tasty. The lobster was probably the best part of the dish and was super buttery, sweet, and not overcooked.
When comparing this dish to the filet at Topolino’s Terrace, it’s a pretty stark difference between quality, flavors, and overall presentation. Topolino’s Terrace’s quality is so much higher that this meal felt like a pretty big let-down in comparison.
Brandon ordered a very similar dish, minus the seafood since he is allergic. He got the Grass Fed Filet Mignon with Yukon Gold Mash, Roasted Carrots, Cippolini Onions, and Red Wine-Oxtail Reduction. This was marked safe for Gluten/Wheat, Egg, Fish/Shellfish, Peanut/Tree Nut, and Soy Allergies. It was also made safe for chicken & turkey and cabbage allergies.
Brandon’s filet had no issues of fat like mine did. He agreed that the dish was good but couldn’t compare to the filet at Topolino’s Terrace or even some other locations at Disney World. Both of us felt like the food, plating, actually matched the decor of the restaurant and overall just felt a bit dated.
If you want to get more information about our visit to Narcoossee’s, we did film our visit and shared it on our YouTube channel.
We’re both glad that we visited Narcoossee’s to give it a try. Having not dined there in a decade, I was surprised to see how little the food and decor had changed. While our meal was not bad by any means, we both thought the food was just OK and pretty overpriced for the quality when comparing it to other signature restaurants. We’d both love to see a refurbishment of this restaurant — both for the decor and the food. There’s so many possibilities for Narcoossee’s, especially with such a great location, that it’s a shame to see it rest a bit on its laurels and not compete with some of the other outstanding signature restaurants on property. For now, it’s not a location we’d visit again anytime soon.
Have you been to Narcoossee’s? What was your experience dining there?