Boatwright’s is the table service restaurant that Port Orleans Riverside and French Quarter share. It’s located at the Riverside, so French Quarter guests will need to walk, bus, drive themselves, or take the boat over. My preference in this case is either walking or taking the boat. The boat travels from Downtown Disney, picks up and drops off at French Quarter, and then travels to Riverside. So guests staying at French Quarter are just a stop away from the Riverside dock.
The restaurant is located in the main building in between the River Roost lounge and Riverside Mill quick service.
As mentioned a few days ago, the Moderates have received some resort-specific merchandise:
It’s not a ton of stuff (currently anyway), but you can at least bring home a mug, hat, throw, or ornament. If it sells, we’d be more likely to see apparel and such.
According to Disney,
Dine in a rustic shipyard warehouse and savor the flavor of tasty New Orleans cooking.
Hanging lanterns illuminate the cavernous dining hall, and the skeletal hull of a lugger fishing boat is suspended on high as its centerpiece. Warm yourself by the fire as you spy antique shipbuilding tools on the walls: C-clamps, saw blades, axes and more. Season your dinner with salt and pepper housed in a dandy tool box and wipe your maw with a shop rag—clean, of course! But first, get into some good eatin’.
N’awlins favorites like Cajun crawfish bites, gumbo and jambalaya offer a tantalizing taste of the Louisiana Bayou. Keep rollin’ down the river with voodoo chicken, sweet tea-brined pork chops, prime rib or andouille-crusted catfish. For dessert, bananas Foster angel food cake, bread pudding and pecan pie weave their black magic. A cavalcade of carnival-worthy cocktails is available to revelers 21 years of age and older, as is a kids’ menu for little picayunes.
Whoever comes up with this stuff is underpaid. No matter how much they get paid.
While the restaurant is largely open, low walls and short hallways help separate a few different dining spaces and offer a bit of intimacy. It doesn’t “feel” like you’re dining on top of another group like some restaurants (not naming names Le Cellier and San Angel Inn).
Like Shutters at Caribbean Beach and Maya Grill at Coronado Springs, Boatwright’s is strictly dinner-only, serving from 5pm-10pm:
Speaking of props to whoever writes this stuff, Boatwright’s menu underwent a serious change in October of last year. Two separate meals will actually comprise this review – one from September 5, 2014 and one from January 18, 2015. Boatwright’s unfortunately falls right around the big October menu change on the review calendar, which renders reviews shortly before that change obsolete. Above is the current 2015 appetizer menu. Below is the September 2014 menu:
While many of the same dishes are still available, “Barbecue Shrimp” becomes “N’awlins Barbecue Shrimp,” Pimiento Cheese Fritters become “Mardi Gras Fritters,” Seasonal Spinach Salad” becomes “Amelia’s Salad,” etc. Obviously “the data” says people are more likely to order something with a catchy name #story. The rest of the menus are current:
Boatwright’s menu is on the unique side with at least an attempt on several New Orleans classics, in addition to three nice Abita selections on draft and three unique cocktails.
The $10.25 Sazerac – Bulleit Rye Small Batch American Whiskey, Agave Nectar, and Peychaud’s Bitters with a splash of Pernod is one of my favorite drinks on property. Interestingly(?), Bulleit bourbon comes from the Four Roses distillery in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky , which is now owned by Kirin Brewery Company in Japan. Anyway, this is not the most authentic reproduction of the Sazerac, but it’s a very good, strong, spicy, slightly sweet whiskey cocktail not unlike an Old Fashioned.
The Ramos Fizz – Hendrick’s Gin, fresh Lemon and Lime Juice, and Agave Nectar topped with Soda Water is another venerable New Orleans classic. Again, not exactly a faithful reproduction of the drink (which includes egg white – the original recipe actually dictated that the drink must be shaken for 12 minutes), but the right flavors remain. This is a surprisingly soothing, well-balanced, drinkable cocktail so long as you enjoy gin and citrus.
River Roost was able to faithfully reproduce Mardi Grogs’ signature cocktail from the Port Orleans French Quarter pool bar, the “N’awlins Ice:”
- .5 ounce blueberry curacao
- .5 ounce blackberry brandy
- .5 ounce peach schnapps
- .5 ounce banana liqueur
- Add pina colada mix and ice, blend, and top with dark rum
Refreshing for those that prefer a blended beverage.
The Abitas are also worth trying, depending on your style preference.
The Ol’ Man Island Oysters – Lightly Fried Oysters with House-made Rémoulade and Watercress Salad – $12.99 consists of four fried globs of oyster in varying sizes with some watercress in the middle. I am not really an oyster person and after trying an oyster glob…I’m still not an oyster person. Sometimes you will see a review where someone will try steak and say they loved it “even though they don’t like steak” which seems like sort of a silly thing to say. If you liked the steak than you might like…steak. Anyway, these were nicely, lightly fried with a remoulade sauce that provided a curry kick to the ooey gooey oysters inside. You could give ’em a whirl if you like oysters, but at 13 bucks, this doesn’t seem to offer much value with the largely tasteless and useless lettuce providing little added value.
The Mardi Gras Fritters – House-made Pimiento Cheese Fritters with Pepper Jelly – $8.99 were significantly more popular. They’re also available at River Roost without a reservation next door:
And next door at the French Quarter’s Scat Cat’s Club:
That location also features evening music. The fritters are otherwise deep fried balls of cheese in a peppery, sweet sauce. You can’t go wrong.
The Kids’ menu:
Kids’ meal pricing has gotten a little weird. It’s usually cheaper to order a Mickey’s Check meal or the full regular meal (in this case also $8.59) than it would be to order just the entree and drink a la carte. So in essence, it costs more money to get less should you wish to skip dessert. At this particular meal, we also had a terrible time switching out the strawberry yogurts listed with the fish and beef skewer meals for ice cream sundaes. Even after talking with a manager, I don’t think anyone at the restaurant realized what “without substitutions” in this context meant. Of course, they ended up switching out the yogurts for the sundaes, but you would have thought we were demanding a whole pecan pie to go delivered by Mickey Mouse for free.
Anyway, back to the food.
We’ll start with the September meal and then jump forward to January. I ordered the Voodoo Chicken – Buttermilk-marinated crispy Chicken Breast with Red Beans, Rice, and Collard Greens topped with Redeye Gravy – $19.99. It’s a menu mainstay and a well put together dish – the chicken is tender inside the crispy coating and the redeye gravy adds a peppery kick if you’d like to dip the chicken. The collard greens were prepared well, retaining a nice salty crunch and the kidney beans enjoyed a hearty, robust flavor. It’s not the most innovative dish in the world, but it gets the job done.
The Louisiana Lugger – Our Sweet Tea-brined Pork Chop with Sweet Potato Hash and Citrus-Whiskey Glaze – $23.99 makes excellent use of Disney’s standard pork chop with a sweet citrus sauce helping to bring out the pork’s natural flavors. Prepared to your specifications, it’s usually executed well.
Don’t be shy about adding a side of southern greens (collard greens).
Moving on to January 2015 with the Milz family of Mama Melrose fame. One of the best parts of dining at Boatwright’s is the complimentary cornbread and sweet honey whipped butter. Mmmmmmm.
Boatwright’s $7.49 Crescent City Gumbo – Chicken and Andouille Gumbo Slow-cooked in a Cajun-spiced Broth is one of my favorite soups on property, jam packed with chicken and sausage in a piping hot, mildly spicy broth and topped with rice. It’s excellent here, at River Roost, or at Riverside Mill. Somebody not particularly hungry or with a small appetite might be able to get away with a bowl as an entree, particularly if you eat five or six hunks of cornbread (recommended).
An updated pictures of Boatwright’s Jambalaya – A New Orleans Dinnertime favorite! Slow-cooked Shrimp, Andouille Sausage, and Chicken in a spicy Sauce served over Rice – $18.99. On the previous review, I noted the small portion size, particularly compared to the sprawling portion of Crawfish Etouffee Lisa ordered.
This is what I was served about a year ago. The 2015 portion is considerably larger, more than doubling the amount of shrimp and sausage, in addition to a larger pile of rice and a juicier sauce. The price is up a dollar. The jambalaya is prepared well with hints of spice from the sausage and sauce, supported with a few medium-size shrimp. If you like Zatarain’s, you’ll like this.
Peggy ordered the $21.99 Charleston Shrimp and Grits – Sautéed Shrimp with Vegetables, Tasso Ham, and fresh Herbs served over creamy Cheese Grits, a dish not unlike what’s served over at Olivia’s at Old Key West. And actually, Peggy ordered the shrimp and grits at Olivia’s on this very trip and preferred the slightly different presentation over there (very bloggable comparison, you may just have a future in blogging). The grits here are a little runnier and it’s more of a creamy, buttery shrimp soup with the ham adding a salty component. It’s not a bad dish by any means, but I think a few of the others are better executed.
Lisa ordered the Flambeau Fish – Today’s Sustainable Fish Selection lightly Blackened with Corn Spoon Bread and Peach Mostarda. Protip: If you ever see “sustainable fish – market price” on a Disney menu, it’s going to be mahi mahi. Although to Disney’s credit, they don’t serve it as “yellow snapper” and charge twice as much for it. “Mostarda” is not the word I would have used for the applesauce-like sauce spooned on top, but it added a subtle fruity flavor, livening up what is often a bland fish. The corn spoon bread on the side is sweet and delicious and in my estimation, should be served with everything everywhere. It’s a nice, lighter entree option.
I ordered the Turbodog Barbecued Ribs with Cajun Steak Fries and House-made Coleslaw – $21.99. The cajun steak fries were the best part of the meal with zesty spices that brought out the flavors of the perfectly crispy, meaty potatoes. It would be nice if these were available elsewhere as they were considerably better than Disney’s usual bland, limp, tasteless fry.
The ribs were overcooked and fatty with mushy meat and a blander barbecue sauce than I was hoping for with the Abita Turbodog name-drop. There was still a lot of meat and of course I ate it all, but this particular preparation was not executed particularly well. You might have better luck and it’s not a bad value for the money compared to what you would pay for a rack of ribs elsewhere.
Dessert options. Amusingly, after our fight with the staff over 72 cents worth of ice cream, nobody ever asked if the rest of us wanted anything. I’m sure we could have demanded it though.
Overall, like with the other Moderate resort table service restaurants, Boatwright’s isn’t necessarily a destination restaurant that you want to go out of your way to visit. But it is pleasant enough with reasonable-for-Disney prices, excellent corn bread, and food that is often very good. Cornbread -> Gumbo -> Jambalaya should be a home run and other entrees like the fish, chicken, and pork chop are excellent. I don’t have any qualms about recommending a visit for a laid-back, convenient meal for guests of either Port Orleans property.