Product Reviews, Restaurant Reviews and Recipes: All GLUTEN FREE!
After completing our first cruise last year (also with Disney Cruise Line) and experiencing the great service, amazing GLUTEN FREE food choices and entertainment onboard, we opted to celebrate the New Year from 2016 into 2017 aboard the Disney Dream Cruise with a stop in The Bahamas and Disney’s Castaway Cay island. Of course, once onboard, there was no stopping me from eating and being dinned as that’s such an important part of a Cruise holiday. And the options, selection and choices are pretty amazing given you are in this metal box, floating across oceans.
Starting with the rotational dinning for dinners (where you are allocated a specific table and a pre-named restaurant for your evening meal and your Server and Assistant move with you so that you build a rapport and relationship with them), I shall review my culinary experience on the Disney Dream cruise:
GLUTEN FREE Dinner: Animators Palate on the Disney Dream:
This amazing restaurant is enchanting with the walls filled with screens which come alive during the dinner. It is brightly lit with a key influence from Mickey the Mouse with the chairs reflecting the key style of Mickey and a huge nod to animators and cartoons. You are able to interact and have a conversation with the animated turtle Crush whilst enjoying a beautiful meal. The clean crisp lines of the table, the beauty of the simple crockery including a knife shaped like a paint brush adds to the theming of this excellent restaurant: a great first night aboard the Disney Dream ship. Compared to our last Cruise, I think they have included more GLUTEN FREE options on their Menus as it I always had an option and on many courses and for several meals, I would have a choice of dishes.
I am a true northern and despite the warm Florida temperatures, I think a “Baked Potato and Cheddar Cheese Soup” sounded divine. Indeed, I know the one at EPCOT Canada’s restaurant isn’t GLUTEN FREE but this version had the “GF” next to it on the Menu. It was thick, rich and creamy and little specks of bacon or pancetta added to the flavour. And I was brought GLUTEN FREE Bread which then happened every evening (by the Server).
The staff did a great job in remembering our drinks and my specific bread so that at every evening meal it was there: and delivered quickly. I didn’t want the salad course so moved straight onto the Entree.
For my Entree, I opted for the “Lemon Thyme marinated all natural chicken breast“.
This main course felt a little out-of-balance as the vegetables were spare (all cut into stylish squares and very tasty: just not enough of them!) and the chicken was presented on the mash. It was well flavoured meat and a little jus to add to the taste. For my dessert I had the “Chilled Mango Moose” which was again presented really well. It looked like a picture on my plate and very stylised with a couple of chocolate tracks across the plate and the tropical fruit sauce dabbed on. It was creamy and light and again (was probably a little small!).
So a lively restaurant which is entertaining whilst you eat your dinner with the animated “fish” creating shapes for all guests to guess what they are. Occasionally, characters (such as Crush the turtle) come into screen and then ask questions to guests. If you respond, he will converse with you or indeed, get angry when you ignore him!
Interestingly we learnt, later on the cruise, that whilst the Dream and the Fantasy were sister ships, the technology at the Fantasy’s Animators Palate was more advanced and the drawing of cartoon characters converted into a mini cartoon whilst you’re eating was not part of the dining experience on the Dream. This was a magical and quite extraordinary creative show on our last cruise: such a shame they are all a little different!
GLUTEN FREE Dinner: Enchanted Garden on the Disney Dream:
Another evening, and another Disney restaurant. This time at the Enchanted Garden which is meant to be like a french court garden with ornate metal works, greenery and even the lights are meant to be like flowers. They’re meant to open and close, and change colour during the evening’s meal but I confess that I wasn’t sure they did!
For our New Year’s Eve meal, it didn’t matter which restaurant you were in as the Menu’s were all the same. It was a grand affair with excellent meal choices, even for a Coeliac! This restaurant is perhaps the dullest of the three offerings on the Cruise (which we found last time) but in order to appreciate the better ones (like Animators Palate) one needs an “average” to compare it to!
Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised that seafood appeared quite a lot on the Menu, after all we had just had a port day in Nassau, The Bahamas and several courses featured seafood. My “New Year Seafood Sampler” was very beautifully presented. Shrimp, lovely smoked salmon as well as crab which looked a real picture. It tasted fresh and delicate and not too fishy…
As for my second salad course I opted for the “Shrimp Garden Salad” which actually was more seafood and less salad leaves. It was another very light dish but one that really felt refreshing. It had a zing with the lime marinated shrimps. For my Entree, I went for the “Veal Loin topped with pulled Maryland Crab meat and Bearnaise glaze” which was lovely. I had requested not to have the Polenta and made a request for potatoes but strangely this was ignored and I received my dish, indeed, without the polenta but with no accompany or side dish. IKt was tasty with a rich sauce which was sweet from blackberries.
Now on the Menu, there wasn’t a dessert marked as Gluten Free which was rather usual so our Server had to go and check with the Chef /Head Waiter which one I could have, or what alternative they would provide.
I was given the “Panna Cotta Pot” which was very creamy and I managed to have a few spoons of this but I limit my intake of dairy as too much is not good for me. It was good although disappointed that the Menu hadn’t indicated my selection.
Another good evening meal with a solid “theme” if somewhat ordinary in-comparison to other restaurants onboard. Our final night was at the Royal Palace restaurant:
GLUTEN FREE Dinner: Royal Palace on the Disney Dream:
The last of the final restaurant for rotational dinning is meant to represent the Princesses of Disney and is a right regal affair. There are mural nods to the Princesses as well as thick heavy table clothes and golden napkins, whilst the staff look like they’ve stepped out of Cinderella with dark blue tunics and lots of gold buttons. Even the bread basket is a nod to the coach for Cinderella:
We were lucky to have our last Dinner in here, which also meant that for our final departing breakfast, we would eat here at the Royal Palace.
For my Appetizer, I choose the “Iced Lobster and Jumbo Shrimp” which was presented like a picture on a plate. Whilst there wasn’t a huge portion of lobster it was a great “pretty” starter. And even the horseradish cream wasn’t too over-powering.
This was followed by a soup course (or a salad if I had wanted). I went for the “Potage Parmentier” which was a lovely leek and potato creamy soup. It wasn’t to thin or indeed too thick and had a good depth of flavour to it with my Gluten Free bread.
My main course was the “Crispy Roasted Duck Breast” which was very tasty if not very crispy. It was a generous portion with a whole breast as well as a duck leg along with a very sweet mash (made of honey parsnips) and cabbage! The sweetness of the duck red wine jus as well as the roasted duck and the mash was quite overwhelming but a good filling course.
This was one of the best desserts I have had onboard. It had the crunch and crispness of the sugary topping alongside with the creaminess of the brulee. And yes, without the biscotti, it was gluten free! Another grand dinner at this beautiful restaurant.
GLUTEN FREE Late Night Snack: Luigi’s Pizza on the Disney Dream:
A great option for a late night snack is ordering and consuming on one of the top decks a whole GLUTEN FREE Pizza. At Luigi’s Pizza Counter, they have (already made) regular pizzas but you can request a Gluten Free one and they will call over a Manager. He will fill out a pink slip capturing your details (State Room No, Name and order requirements) before handing it over to the staff to make. It is a cumbersome process but one that ensures that the right attention and care is given. It is always then delivered (when cooked) piping hot and delicious. I was naught as two nights out of three, I treated myself to a pizza (which I largely ate all of it myself!). But I am excused as part of my holiday was to put some weight on so eating was a great way of doing that!
GLUTEN FREE Breakfasts: Royal Palace on the Disney Dream:
For breakfast, you are able to visit either the Royal Palace or Enchanted Garden restaurants for a ala carte breakfast and /or visit Cabanas (the primary buffet with endless counters of food). We did both over the short break as the buffet was easy in terms of choosing a selection of Gluten Free foods and the Chef would be called and Gluten Free toast was ordered and delivered.
At the Royal Palace Restaurant, I found the s the fixed plates a little restrictive and found that I designed my own breakfast by amending their Menu selection.
The staff don’t mind you choosing from the various menu options so I went for the Children’s fruit (Melon Boat on a sea of strawberry yogurt) which wasn’t as generous as I thought it could have been. But presented really well! My main course was BBQ baked beans with friend onions and slices of bacon, alongside my Gluten Free Bread rolls.
A glorious Gluten Free Breakfast.
GLUTEN FREE :Lunches: Cabanas on the Disney Dream:
Lunches were taken in the Cabanas Buffet which offers serveral counters of food. Of course, on my first adventure into Cabanas, a Chef comes out to meet with me and walks me through the main cabinets to advise what I can eat, and which dishes I should avoid. I was surprised that some basics (like the sausages for breakfast: contained gluten) whilst some of the dishes were obviously covered in breadcrumbs and /or coatings which were not suitable. But plenty of seafood and fresh salads.
Whilst I was quite “British” in my attitude, it was surprising how many guests seem to pile it so high on their plates and then only pick at the food: wasting a lot of fresh food. I know that it is a benefit and a well know perk of cruises to eat and always be eating but the sheer amount of wastefulness was surprising and disappointing. I found the selection to be good if somewhat confusing sometimes as many dishes were mixed up along the buffet.
Guaranteed not to go hungry: even Gluten Free eaters are catered for!
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This information was correct as at publishing in January 2017.