Tusker House lunch with lots of allergies and autism
My family has a lot of special needs that make dining interesting to say the least. We've got lots of allergies between the group of us plus DH is a type 2 diabetic (who cheats frequently) and DD14 has Asperger Syndrome which is a high functioning form of autism. Here's our lists of allergies.
DD14: gluten, milk, eggs, citrus (citric acid is ok), yeast, msg, peanuts (minor - cross contamination not a concern)
DD11: milk, hazelnuts, brazil nuts, citrus (citric acid is ok), peanuts (minor - cross contamination not a concern), sesame, blueberry, cranberry, raw carrots, raw fruit skins besides grapes, lima beans, hops, soy products other than Tofutti and Follow Your Heart (soy’s not the problem but we haven’t identified what ingredient in Silk and other soy products cause Oral Allergy Syndrome)
Me: gluten, milk, peanuts (minor - cross contamination not a concern)
On 02/25/12 we ate lunch at Tusker House which is a character meal. Our ADR was for 11:30. We showed up around 11:20 and there were a couple groups ahead of us in line. One party didn't have ADRs and didn't like being told they couldn't be seated but that's what ADRs are for. The other party was for the bar so really nobody was ahead of us to check in. In the past when we've eaten here we've had minimum 20 minute wait before even getting our picture (one time was over 45 minutes past our ADR time) so I was really pleasantly surprised when we were sent immediately around the corner with our buzzer to get our picture taken. There were 2 other groups ahead of us for picture and our buzzer went off in those couple of minutes we were in that short line for pictures. WOW!! What a great start.
Right now I feel like I should mention that DD14 has a lot of touch issues (I'm the only person allowed to touch her most time; sometimes her sister can but her dad and strangers NEVER can; everybody who knows her has come to understand that an "air hug" where you mimic the hug motions with a big cushion of air between you is really a hug to her). Well, DD14 walked right up to Donald and as he put his arm around her (yes, touching her) and DH stood behind her but very close to her (inside her personal space so again, a big deal) at which time she promptly posed with a huge grin, her arms wide and even one leg up like she's kicking (kind of can-can like). At this point, I was thinking that no matter how the rest of the meal goes, this meal has been worth the price of admission (yes I bought the picture so at least I have one picture of this meal despite my lost camera; when the photopass CD comes I'll have to add it to this review).
So, as soon as we're done taking our picture, we're escorted inside. We're brought over to one of the first tables in the dining room so DH asks if we can be moved a bit out of the traffic. No problem. We're actually only moved one table over but it's against a wall so at least that's less movement going by as only one side of the table has access. I put the kids on the side with access so they could get up for pictures and greet the characters easier but that was probably a bit of a mistake. Note to parents whose kids don't like unexpected touch: Goofy can't help but pat kids on the shoulder. He tried coming by twice but I guess he forgot after the first time because he did it again on his second time by.
The restaurant was busy. It took quite a while for Chef Joaquin to come by. Our server actually noticed that he hadn't come by and told us she'd track him down. It seems that there was I think they said 10 other parties with allergies at the exact same time as us. While waiting, our server brought DD14 some soy milk and DD11 some apple juice. The soy milk has changed to a different brand than we were used to. WDW used to carry Silk milk but now they use Kikkomann Pearl. I was a bit hesitant to allow the Pearl becuase Kikkomann states that they don't test for gluten to ensure no cross contamination and they do produce a lot of gluten containing products but I went ahead and let her try it since I saw on several gluten message boards that some celiacs do drink it. She said it doesn't taste nearly as good as Silk.
Once Chef Joaquin came out, he brought us over to the buffet to discuss our options. They were near the tail end of switching from breakfast to lunch which really surprised me because I thought this typically happened earlier. This was lucky for us because they still had some bacon in the back and DD11 LOVES bacon which he included on our platter. Overall, there's quite a bit of food on the buffet that's gluten and milk free but the other allergens made it more complicated. Due to cross contamination the chef did bring us fresh food from the back and OMG was it a lot of food. Let me think if I can recall everything that was on the platters from memory. It was hard to fit it all on the table with the amount he sent out (remember, this was for 3 of us so portions were good size).
- roast beef
- pork tenderloin
- roasted chicken pieces
- mixed root vegetables with African spices
- sauteed green beans
- curry rice salad
- fruit salad (pineapple, canteloupe, honeydew, grapes)
- fried plantains
I know there was other stuff as well on our table but I'm blanking on the rest. This is why I take food pictures. Sigh......
DD14 LOVED the root vegetables. She ate the majority of the bowl. She would have eaten it all but I insisted on getting a little bit. The curry rice salad was odd. The flavour was good but it just wasn't appealing cold which is how it's served. My kids didn't enjoy the plantains but I sure did. I ate half of the bowl that was brought out.
For dessert, Chef Joaquin brought out 3 dishes of Tofutti, each with small cups of chocolate syrup and sprinkles for us to make sundaes and included 2 packs of Enjoy Life cookies for each of us to add to the sundaes.
Other than DD14's issues with Goofy, the character interaction was typical. Characters stopped at the table, signed the autograph book without looking at it other than to make sure not to write their names over the faces in the pictures (we use shutterfly photo books for autograph books), quick pictures then on to the next table. Volume wasn't too bad even though the restaurant is kind of chaotic with people going back and forth to the buffet. I like the muted colours in the restaurant because it's already a stimulating environment plus it just works with the theme. I do miss the lunch being non-character though. We really didn't need the characters and liked how much quieter it was without them (not to mention cheaper). It is what it is though. The food is still just as good.
Despite the speedy entrance to the restaurant, we didn't leave until 1:25 which you'll notice is almost a full 2 hours inside the restaurant. I know that some people say that I'm being overly cautious budgetting 2 hours for meals with allergies but it's a realistic amount of time. Granted, a few of our items had to be custom cooked (the salmon for instance), most of the items just needed to be served from the kitchen to avoid cross contamination from the buffet.
What a great meal overall. We'll be back.
I will note that DD14 ended up with a bit of stomache troubles on our way out which was around an hour later (we went to the 2:00 Flights of Wonder show after lunch). It wasn't severe or anything but she did get some very sudden urgency and was in the bathroom for over 20 minutes before she felt comfortable enough be away from a bathroom in order to get on the bus back to our resort. I suspect it's just that she's not used to that much and that diverse a selection of root vegetables but I wonder if it's related to the brand of soy milk. She really didn't drink soy milk other than that day so I'm not sure which it is. This only happened for a little while so it wasn't a bad reaction making me think it was just eating foods she wasn't used to. She does have issues with starches and if she overdoes it even her digestive enzymes can't completely compensate for it so I don't think it was anything the chef or server did in any way shape or form.
double fisting mickey ice cream bars and germany pretzels
We ate breakfast Tuskers. We had the very last reservation. The interaction with Donald was prices less with Lewis as well (2 1/2 year old that isn't too sure of the char up close). Food was fresh and tasted good. It was a bit loud but it's the nature of the restaurant. Service was average.
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2007 Offsite - Sister's Bachelorette Party