We’ll take a quick couple of trips out to Port Orleans Riverside to check out Boatwright’s and River Roost.
Boatwright’s Dining Hall is technically the restaurant Riverside and French Quarter share.
It’s located across from the lobby at Riverside. You can walk or boat from French Quarter fairly easily and most buses that stop at French Quarter will stop at Riverside immediately after before heading to their final destination. Just ask first or you may want to preemptively bring your noodle with you just in case you end up at Typhoon Lagoon instead.
The restaurant sits next to a busy thoroughfare that connects the resort’s quick service with the rest of the main building.
Despite that fact, we didn’t suffer much noise pollution from those hurrying between the pool and their chicken quesadillas, despite being seated right next to the walkway.
The view from our table. As Disney describes it, after trying to get the page to load four times:
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’.
I guess. Speaking of the joys of My Dazney Experience, I tried to book a Disney cruise the other day, only to have the page error out for an hour straight. Ended up booking a Carnival cruise for one sixth of the price. With the savings, we can bring our own jars, inflatable raft, and oar.
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, pork tenderloin medallions, 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.
Props to whatever UCF creative writing grad scored this gig making things up about restaurants.
Meals start with complimentary cornbread and honey butter. This may be the best bread service on property.
I started with one of the three unique drinks from the cavalcade of carnival-worthy cocktails, despite my reveling days coming to a close some number of years ago.
This is the Lynchburg Lemonade – Jack Daniel’s Whiskey, Triple Sec, and Sweet and Sour topped with a Splash of Sprite – $8.75. It was on the strong side and tasted like a whiskey sour.
Lisa’s equally strong The Big Easy – Southern Comfort, Myer’s Original Dark Rum, Peach Schanpps, and Tropical Juices – $8.75.
This was mostly dark rum and pineapple juice, which was just fine with her.
Rounding out the choices, the Southern Hurricane – Southern Comfort, Orange Juice, Pineapple Juice, and Grenadine – $7.50. This was not as strong, perhaps because it’s $1.25 less than the other drinks. Or perhaps because it’s not a Northern Hurricane, where we tend to drink six to eight ounces of bottom shelf liquor over ice. Anyway, this one ended up being mostly fruit juice with a splash of SoCo. YMMV.
We started with a bowl of the Chicken and Andouille Gumbo – Slow Cooked in a Cajun-spiced broth (Hey everybody! I made gumbo!) – $6.99. The soup was loaded with chicken and sausage in a moderately spicy broth and then topped with rice. We really enjoyed it and it was served piping hot. It’s also an excellent accompaniment to the sweet cornbread.
I was not able to capture an attractive image of Lisa’s Crawfish Ètouffée – Crawfish simmered in a rich Seafood Sauce over Rice – $17.99.
We were pretty excited to finally try Boatwright’s. Lisa loves New Orleans and her favorite princess is obvi Tiana, so she had been looking forward to the Ètouffée. Unfortunately, what can only be described as a vat of crawfish, was light on the spice and nearly devoid of flavor. There was certainly a ton of it – the bowl was big enough to be served at a buffet, but I don’t think a portion large enough to serve a hungry family of four makes up for the lousy execution. We were not impressed.
Compared to the crawfish buffet (GET IT? BECAUSE IT RHYMES WITH ETOUFEE HAHA), my serving of Jambalaya – a Creole recipe with Spiced Chicken Thighs, Andouille Sausage, Shrimp, Rice, and Vegetables, was kind of humorously small.
Topped with two strips of sausage and supported by two medium-large tail-on shrimp, it was a fine portion, but I was able to polish it off without much trouble. There were several smaller shrimp mixed in with the rice. The dish was slightly spicy, but far from overwhelming, as is typical with Disney fare these days. For every one person that will send back a bland dish, there are probably a dozen that would send back a spicy one.
Warning: iPhone pic:
I had a similarly priced Jambalaya at House of Blues a few weeks before. I preferred that dish, which was packed with sausage and shrimp and brought a little more fire.
We had high expectations for Boatwright’s and they weren’t quite met, due mostly to the lackluster crawfish entree. The cornbread is very good, service is friendly and efficient, and my jambalaya and gumbo were all serviceable. Not outstanding, but fine. If you’re staying at Riverside, a meal at Boatwright’s is a convenient choice, particularly if you find yourself back at the resort during an unexpected meltdown or storm. But I wouldn’t classify it as a destination restaurant or one you’d necessarily want to make a point about returning to if you were out at the Parks.
About a week before dining at Boatwright’s, we stopped at River Roost for Monday Night Football, after a round of minigolf at Winter Summerland. I’ll do a mini-golf blowout one of these days, but we really enjoyed Summerland. It was far enough out of the way at night that there were a total of eight people there over two independent courses.
Riverside boasts a food menu similar to Boatwright’s next door with food service through 11pm. The Crawfish Bites, Gumbo, and Shrimp & Grits should look familiar from the restaurant.
Lisa ordered an entirely unbloggable prosecco. Sometimes a girl just wants a bubbly white wine.
I ordered a still-bloggable Habanero Lime Margarita. While not quite as good as a $37 La Cava, it had a bit of a kick to it. Couple that with a bite from the tequila, tempered nicely with the lime and sour mix, and it made for a nicely balanced cocktail. Recommended if you’re in the neighborhood.
We ordered the Prime Rib Sliders – Caramelized Onions, Blue Cheese Crumbles, Horseradish Sauce, Watercress and Cajun Potato Chips – $13.99.
Upon ordering, our server warned us that “there are only three sliders.” I’m not sure what she thought we were expecting. Perhaps I look so massive that she was concerned Lisa would get shortchanged on meat. That turned out not to be an issue, thanks to the overwhelming amount of blue cheese stuffed inside each bun. I like blue cheese okay, but it seems like it should have been a third or fourth fiddle to the prime rib, onions, and horseradish, but it was really the only thing you could taste. Even after pushing some of the iceberg size chunks to the side, the flavor lingered. Also disappointing.
I don’t know if Disney gets these chips for free or they’re made out of discarded churros and Mickey pretzels or what, but they’re “literally” served with everything these days.
As usual, they’re okay. They have a nice crunch, but the flavor is bland. There was nothing Cajun about them.
We also ordered the Cajun-seasoned Crawfish Bites served with Remoulade Sauce – $10.49.
Looking over the description, my brain perked up and told me, “WE DIDN’T GET ANY STINKING REMOULADE SAUCE!” But it’s apparently that drizzle on top. Unfortunately, these bites suffered a similar fate as the Etouffe. They were lightly fried and crispy, but extremely bland. A remoulade dip on the side would have gone a long way and if I was smart enough at the time, I would have inquired about a cup.
Again, the Riverside food was not outstanding. We didn’t exactly hate anything, even with the bland crawfish and blue cheese sliders, but it did leave something to be desired. I’m not in a big hurry to get back to either spot.
Riverside does have one thing going for it, which is Abita beer on draft. Turbodog (pictured above), Purple Haze, and Amber are available on draft for $6.50 or as a sampler for $7. Turbodog is my favorite of the bunch. It’s a 5.6% English Brown Ale with the typical profile – slightly sweet with toffee and caramel notes. It differentiates itself with the earthy Willamette hops and British pale malts.
Abita Purple Haze is a wheat beer with raspberry puree added after the filtration process, giving it a sweet, subtle raspberry flavor. Unlike a lot of beers of this style, the raspberry flavor doesn’t come across as artificial. It smells a bit better than it tastes.
Abita Amber is a 4.5% Vienna Lager similar to Sam Adams Boston Lager. It’s not quite as good, but it’s the most straightforward of the three offered, with a clean, crisp flavor.
One strange thing about River Roost was that the specialty beverages that are available are completely unadvertised. You’d think they’d advertise their Hurricane and Big Easy over the standard lounge menu.
I’m sure several people will comment on the virtues of Bob.
Two quick stops.
Here’s the current Riverside Mill dinner menu:
I don’t know if that brownie has the bad kind of pixie dust in it or what, but they really, really want you to order one.
Probably back to Food/Wine next.