*This gluten free dining experience took place in May 2018.
Brunch at Palo
Palo located on Deck 13 of the Disney Dream is one of the two adults only restaurants on the ship. Palo offers dinner daily and on select days offers brunch. The last time I was on the Disney Dream back in 2014 for a 3-day cruise, they didn’t offer brunch at Palo. So, I was thrilled to hear that Disney has been offering brunch on 3-day cruises when you’re docked in Nassau. Brunch just might be one of my favorite meals, so I knew we had to book it. Brunch is typically offered from 10 a.m. – 12:30 p.m., and I made our reservation for 10 a.m. so that we could enjoy a leisurely brunch.
Having had dinner at Palo on the last cruise I went on, I knew that it was a beautifully decorated restaurant. But, the vibe totally changes from day time to evening, and I was really wowed by how bright and inviting Palo is during the day.
Palo means “pole” in Italian. And, that fits perfectly with the theme of the restaurant which is inspired by Venice. The version of Palo on the Disney Dream is set to resemble a Venetian waterfront, and you’ll find examples of poles inspired by the classic gondolas throughout the restaurant.
When you first walk through the Palo entrance, you’ll notice a beautiful chandelier above. This glass chandelier is actually made to look like different types of pasta and sauces you’ll find in classic Northern Italian fare. It’s quite stunning, and I highly recommended stopping to look at it a bit more closely.
As we learned from our server Corinne and later when we went on the Art of the Theme tour, Palo is expertly themed from the artwork to the chairs and everything in between.
Even the metal artwork near the seating area is inspired by Venice.
Palo has plenty of seating for all sizes of groups and seating preferences. Whether you prefer a cozy booth, a seat in the back, or a close-up view outside, you’ll find it at Palo.
On our visit, we had a lovely window seat. If you’re having dinner at Palo or brunch during a day at sea, you’ll have spectacular views of the ocean. Since we were dining while docked in Nassau, we didn’t really have a great view (it looked out onto the Carnival ship docked next to us), but we still enjoyed the brightly lit restaurant and cozy environment.
Hilariously, our server Corinne remarked that we had our very own Gondolier while at Palo, as one of the cast members cleaning windows came by. I have to admit that we both chuckled at this but were also fascinated by the cleaning and repairs that happen while docked.
Of course, the best part of Palo brunch is the food. Having dined here for dinner back in 2014, I knew that the food was going to be quite good, so I was looking forward to all the options.
Before Corinne went over the meal options and brought out the chef, she brought us each a Mimosa (orange juice and champagne) to start out brunch.
I also ordered an unsweetened iced tea, and was super excited to see that the tea was served with iced tea cubes. This is perfect for those who love tea but don’t like that their tea gets diluted by regular water ice cubes melting. Talk about a nice touch!
After getting our drinks, the chef (whose name I forgot to write down), walked both Brandon and I through the buffet. Since Brandon is allergic to fish and shellfish, the chef advised him what he could and could not eat, in addition to walking me through the buffet. One of the things I liked most about the buffet is that there were several tables with food sections. For instance, their was an entire seafood table that Brandon avoided, while I avoided the pastry / bread table.
The chef also offered to bring me a plate of food from the kitchen if I preferred, and he also noted that when I was ready for dessert he would bring me a plate from the kitchen automatically. He offered to do the same for Brandon as he noted some desserts contained gelatin.
Because I have reintroduced dairy back into my diet, the items I ate at brunch did have a good amount of dairy present. Guests who are dairy free shouldn’t worry though, as they have lots of options that are dairy free or can be made dairy free.
With the buffet, I ended up getting a good amount of seafood — much of which was gluten free and dairy free. This included a scallop with fresh tomatoes and basil, crab legs, two different types of seared tuna, bloody Mary shrimp cocktail, and poached shrimp. I also tried prosciutto wrapped melon, several kinds of aged cheese, and caprese salad.
Everything I enjoyed on my buffet plate was outstanding. The seafood was super fresh and well prepared. The scallops and seared tuna were definitely my favorites of the seafood options. The other item I liked the most was the caprese salad which was just outstanding and so light and fresh.
In addition to the buffet, Palo also has an a la carte menu with breakfast and lunch offerings. Both the chef and Corinne recommended that I try a few dishes to get a taste of all that Palo had to offer. First up, I ordered the famous Palo Grape and Gorgonzola Pizza. This is made on a gluten free crust (I believe currently Udi’s Gluten Free on the Disney Dream). Pizza options are listed on the Palo menu, but this particular combination is not. But, if you ask the culinary team, they can still make it for you.
The pizza is such a unique option, that we just had to try it. It is served with a red sauce, mozzarella, Gorgonzola, grapes, and a red wine reduction. Talk about decadent. Both Brandon and I tried this. I liked it a lot; Brandon thought it was just a bit too sweet for his taste. I would definitely get this again, though next time I might ask for it to be a white pizza without the red tomato sauce base, as I think I would have liked it more without it.
The chef also said they can make gluten free (and dairy free) pancakes and waffles. The waffles are typically served as one giant Mickey shaped waffle (you can see a photo of it on Alexis’s Gluten Free Adventures). But, I was told that their large waffle maker was down that day. Still, I got to enjoy 2 smaller Allergy-Friendly Mickey Waffles topped with powdered sugar and 100% pure maple syrup. I also had the option of ordering strawberry sauce or apple cinnamon sauce.
These tasted just about identical to the versions of allergy-friendly Mickey waffles at Disney World and, I believe, were made using Namaste Pancake & Waffle Mix. They were nice and crispy and super tasty, and I would definitely order these again at Palo brunch. Hopefully, next time we go, they’ll have the big Allergy-Friendly Mickey waffle maker working again!
Although I did not ask for it, our server Corinne insisted I try a gluten free pasta, since we were in an Italian restaurant. She ended up bringing me Gluten Free Pasta with Smoked Salmon, Baby Spinach, Tarragon, Cracked Black Pepper, and a Cream Sauce. I didn’t eat a ton of this, but I did try it. If you like seafood, it was quite good. It’s not a dish I’d probably order again, but I was glad to try it.
As you can see from this photo of our table, Corinne made sure we did not go hungry. In fact, we were both just plain stuffed by the end of the brunch. I really appreciated that she encouraged us to try lots of dishes, but next time we’ll definitely reduce the amount of items we order!
As if I could even eat another bite, Corinne brought out a plate of desserts for me from the chef. Three of the four desserts on the plate contained dairy, so if you’re dairy free, be sure to ask for other options. The gluten free and dairy free dessert on my plate was a champagne gelatin with fruit. It was actually my least favorite of the desserts (I tried a bite of all of them), as I did not like the gelatin texture. But, I’m super glad that it was an option and something that was nice and light compared to the other desserts.
The desserts included an espresso mousse (far left), vanilla panna cotta with mango, blueberries, and strawberries (center), and a raspberry mousse (far right). Every single one of these were very good. The panna cotta was probably my favorite with the raspberry mousse a close second. The espresso mousse was also very good and perfect for anyone who loves coffee.
Both Brandon and I absolutely loved the brunch at Palo. We really enjoyed that it included both a cold buffet and a la carte options. The cold buffet was super high quality with lots of options for any preference or special dietary need. We also found the a la carte options to include unique dishes that we might not have otherwise tried (Brandon enjoyed celery soup and artichoke ravioli — both of which he would not typically order) and classic brunch favorites. Brunch also gave us a chance to enjoy Palo without missing out on our regular rotational dinner too.
The atmosphere in Palo at brunch is so relaxing and our server Corinne was so great, that it made for a wonderful experience that we’re both still raving about even after the trip. We wouldn’t hesitate to book brunch again, though we both agreed that we want to go to Palo for dinner on our next cruise.
Have you been to Palo for brunch or dinner? What did you think of the options available to special dietary needs guests?