*This gluten free only dining experience took place in February 2019. It includes notes about dairy free options and modifications.
Dinner at Shula’s Steak House
Shula’s Steak House, located in Disney’s Swan and Dolphin Resorts, is a table service restaurant and one of the high end steak houses on Disney property. Both Brandon and I had never been to Shula’s. But, I had received a birthday “free entree” coupon as a part of the Team Shula e-club. So, of course, we had to go check it out to see how they accommodated special dietary needs.
It’s been ages since we’ve been in Disney’s Swan and Dolphin Resorts. We ended up wandering around the resort a bit before dinner because it was a beautiful evening with mild temperatures right around sunset.
As you can see, it made for some great photos.
We arrived at Shula’s Steak House a little early – about 30 minutes before our reservation. So, the restaurant host let us know that we might not be seated until closer to our reservation time. The restaurant lobby was very busy while we were there, as it was runDisney Princess Half Marathon race weekend.
After waiting a bit, we were seated near a large mural in the restaurant and near several large parties (which dramatically affected our service and overall restaurant experience).
As you can see, the restaurant has a classic steak house vibe with lots of dark wood paneling. It also has a lot of sports references because the restaurant was founded by Don Shula, former head coach of the Miami Dolphins.
Both Brandon and I love the classic steak house decor, with Steakhouse 55 in Disneyland being our favorite steak house we’ve ever been to. We were hoping that Shula’s would live up to the hype that we’d heard about it. While we enjoyed the theme, the experience in the restaurant, unfortunately, wasn’t amazing.
As you can see the football theme is throughout the restaurant — from the mural behind us shown here to the football menu presented at tables shown below.
As we head into the food portion of this review, it’s important to note that we had some really odd service throughout this meal that impacted our experience.
Our server, Fabiano, was virtually non-existent throughout our meal, and spent the majority of his time taking care of several large parties, including one large party next to us. Another server, Doug, took care of us but seemed very overwhelmed by the tables that he was managing.
We waited nearly an hour for bread and appetizers to arrive at our table, and we spent about 20 minutes waiting for an initial visit to our table from our server. So, the experience, overall from the service perspective was not great. With that in mind, let’s get into the food offered at Shula’s.
Shula’s Steak House is not owned and operated by the Disney Company. But, they do carry a gluten free and dairy free menu. The chef did not come to the table, but our server Doug did go back and forth a few times asking the chef questions for me.
I was offered gluten free rolls, which took a really long time to get, unfortunately. They were, however, worth the wait because it turns out they had Deanna’s Gluten Free rolls which are both gluten free and dairy free. I am a huge fan of these rolls. So, I was excited to see them. Because I’ve reintroduced dairy back into my diet, I did not ask about dairy free / vegan buttery spread as a dairy free alternative.
One of my favorite steak house appetizers is the classic wedge salad. I adored the one I had at Steakhouse 55, so I was curious about this one. The wedge salad is marked gluten free but does contain dairy. If you’re dairy free, I would recommend the seafood appetizers as a good alternative for starters.
Overall, I liked the wedge salad but didn’t love it. The blue cheese dressing virtually tasted like ranch dressing and had no taste of blue cheese in it. That being said, it was a huge portion and could easily be split by two people.
Brandon ordered the classic French onion soup and said it was the best version he’d ever had of this soup.
Brandon and I decided to order two different potato sides to share. Our server questioned us about three times asking if we really wanted two sides of potatoes. Yep. What can I say? We love potatoes.
We chose to order the Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Double Baked Potato. Both were marked gluten free but did contain dairy. If you’re dairy free, I would recommend ordering vegetables, like broccoli or the regular baked potato — both of which were labeled dairy free.
As far as sides go, goodness gracious get the Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes if you can have dairy. They were rich, creamy, delicious, and SO flavorful. Both of us loved these mashed potatoes. We also really liked the double baked potato, which had bacon and cheese in it. It was a good side, but the mashed potatoes were even better.
For my free birthday entree, I ordered the 10-oz filet mignon. This is marked both gluten free and dairy free. We did not ask for a sauce, but our server brought us a side of Bearnaise Sauce, which is gluten free but contains dairy. I didn’t really love this sauce but Brandon loved it.
As far as steaks go, I thought it was good, but not amazing. The portion size was huge. So, if you’re looking for a large steak, this place is for you. It was well-cooked, but we waited an excessive amount of time for the food to arrive — making it a little underwhelming of an experience. We both agreed that we’ve had better steaks at other restaurants on property.
Since it was my birthday, Brandon asked our server if they had any gluten free desserts. Several tables around us were treated to birthday desserts, so he wanted to see if there were any options for me. The server did talk to the chef who said I could have the creme brulee trio with some modifications gluten free.
This included a classic creme brulee, an orange creme brulee, and a chocolate creme brulee. I’m not usually a very big fan of creme brulee, but I loved the chocolate one. Hands down both Brandon and I thought that was the best of the bunch. We also agreed that we wouldn’t order it again and would just skip dessert.
We had some highs and lows with the food that we had at Shula’s Steak House. Some of it was really good, like Brandon’s soup and our potato sides. Some of it was just OK, like the steak, salad, and creme brulee. Even with a free entree, we still spent a fairly large sum of money to eat here. Neither one of us said we would go back from the price and for what we got. Adding to it, the service was very odd and generally not very good. For that reason alone we wouldn’t go back or will wait a very long time before we go. If you’re looking for a steak house on Disney property, you’ll find plenty of gluten free options at Shula’s Steak House, but I would recommend dining someplace else for overall price and service based on the experience we had.
Have you been to Shula’s Steak House? What was your experience dining there?