Hi! Morgan here, with Neverland Navigation Co and Neverland Navigation RADIO. Today we are taking a trip to a restaurant in one of WDW’s resorts. Jake and I have found that some of the BEST restaurants on Disney property reside in the hotels. This is GREAT news because resort restaurants are usually easier to get reservations at than park restaurants. They are the hidden gems in the WDW restaurant world. So today, we are hoping to find another in Port Orleans Riverside as we try Boatwright's Dining Hall!
Port Orleans Riverside is a beautiful “moderate” hotel on Disney Property. It is themed to look and feel like the Louisiana countryside. You will see water mills and giant oak trees, and the main swimming pool is themed like an abandoned sawmill on Ol’ Man Island. There are horse-drawn carriages, slow-moving boats, and even a fishing hole. The whole ambiance makes you feel like you have left the hustle and bustle of Disney World and have been transported to the slow-moving countryside. This is also one of only 4 Disney hotels that allow dogs! If you want to see my blog or our vlog review about Port Orleans Riverside click here. --> https://bit.ly/3AMUfwS Click our video below if you’d like to SEE our review of the food that we tried at Riverside's sit-down restaurant. Or scroll past and keep reading.
The restaurant we are about to review is said to serve Southern Louisiana Bayou cuisine. The first thing you will see when you walk into this restaurant is the giant skeletal hull of a logger fishing boat hanging above everything. The restaurant is located in the main building next to the quick-serve food court and the bar. Just beyond the bar is the country store themed gift shop and the check-in area for the hotel.
Before we even ordered they brought out a loaf of cornbread on a cutting board with butter piped into the shape of a classic Mickey right on the board. The cornbread was sweet and did not have corn kernels in it. Most of our party loved it and thought this was a real highlight of the meal. It was certainly a fun presentation. I prefer savory cornbread so this wasn't my favorite, but if you like sweet cornbread you'll love it.
We started with the Mardi Gras Fritters. Deep-fried pimento cheese with pepper jelly on top. I was more excited about this appetizer than anything else on the menu. They were good, but they didn’t meet my high expectations. I think that is because I wasn’t expecting what was delivered. I am not blaming them for this, but I will do a description for you so you will know what to expect. The fritters were crispy on the outside and completely melted pimento cheese in the middle. The jelly on the top added a spicy and sweet kick. It was good. I would order it again, but some things to note are; that it is sweet and the pimento when melted doesn’t really taste like pimento. The sweetness was fine for me but Jake felt it was a bit too sweet to be an appetizer. The pimento melted into an oily cheddar. Now that I think about it makes perfect sense. Pimento is made of cheddar cheese and mayo and mayo melted would essentially just be oil. So it didn’t have that pimento flavor or feel that I was hoping for.
We also got the French Onion Soup. It was good. There isn’t much to be said about it. It was like basically every French Onion Soup I have ever had. If you like French Onion Soup I would recommend it.
When it came to entrees we tried two entrees (but one of them was a sampler so we could try multiple things) and a side of Fried Okra. I will start with the Fried Okra. I love Fried Okra. I always order it when it is offered and I was looking forward to it. This Fried Okra was not good. Instead of cornbread coating, which is traditionally how fried okra is made, it had breading like the fried chicken had. Then they pummeled it with a cajun spice mix. An overpowering and excessive amount of cajun spice was on the okra. It was almost inedible. I only ate a couple of them and then gave up.
The first entree we are going to talk about is the Nashville Hot Chicken. It was a decent fried chicken plate. Jake compared it to Publix Fried Chicken. But it wasn't Nashville Hot Chicken. Now that I think about it, why was Nashville Hot Chicken even on the menu? Is it country bayou cookin’? Regardless, this wasn’t really what it said it was anyway. It wasn’t spicy like Nashville Hot chicken is supposed to be. Nashville Hot Chicken usually has hot sauce and cayenne pepper added to the coating and a spicy sauce added on top after. It is generally served with white bread and pickles to combat the extreme heat of the chicken. The chicken here did not have the sauce on top, it was not served on white bread, and instead got a shake of cajun spice over the top.
Next, I’ll tell you about Boatwright’s Jambalaya. The Jambalaya was good but also suffered from overuse of the cajun seasoning shaker. I love heavily seasoned food and am generally complaining about restaurants under-seasoning their food, but this restaurant crossed the line with the cajun spice. Everyone at our table said that while they thought it was good they couldn’t eat a whole portion of this entree because of the spice. Are you starting to see the theme here? They should change the name of this restaurant to Cajun Spice or something because it is the predominant and overpowering flavor of nearly everything.
Lastly, for the entrees, we got the Chef’s Sampler. This was the best thing we ordered and the thing I would most highly recommend. That’s not to say there weren’t problems with it, unfortunately. Let's start with the negatives so I can end on a high note. One of the three entrees you get to sample in the sampler is the Nashville Hot Chicken. Or Nashville Not-Hot Chicken as I like to call it here. Oh, also Not-Nashville. Just Chicken. Anyway, you know our issues with the “Nashville” “Hot” Chicken. The sides were green beans, mashed potatoes, and Mac n Cheese. The green beans and mashed potatoes were standard and good. The Mac N Cheese was oddly not cheesy. It was like shell pasta in a creamy sauce. Like they ran out of cheese and never added it. So weird and not good. It also came with good Smoked Sausage. For the stars of this dish, the ribs were great and the brisket was great! The Brisket was my favorite. It was fatty in a good way and flavorful and not coated in cajun spice. I wish they served the brisket alone as an entree, that is definitely what I would be recommending.
For dessert, we got the Mississippi Mud Creme Brûlée. This is the second item on this "Louisiana" menu with another city or state in the title of the dish. Weird. We enjoyed the flavor of this dessert. However, here is the description: "Chocolate Creme Brûlėe, Chocolate Ganache, Chocolate Gluten Free Shortbread cookie, garnished with fresh strawberries and more ganache. As a big fan of chocolate ganache, I was excited and then disappointed by what arrived. As you can see in the photo below there was the chocolate Creme Brûlėe, a strip of ganache, and a singular cut-up strawberry. No shortbread cookie, no "more ganache." So that was disappointing. It was a good dessert though. The other thing was that we didn't feel like it really fit in with the country theme of the restaurant.
Overall this restaurant is a little better than just okay. Their problem, it seems, is they think they can just sprinkle (or dump) cajun seasoning on everything and that makes it Bayou cooking. They are also very heavy-handed with said cajun seasoning. Tiana would be ashamed of you Boatwright. There are so many more layers of flavors that define Louisiana cooking.
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