We’ll drop by Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside Resort to see what River Roost has to offer.
The lounge operates just off of the lobby with some plush seating leading to the main bar area.
It’s a sizable space that fills to capacity most nights when Yehaa Bob performs.
Currently, you’ll find him at the piano on Wednesday-Saturday nights from 8:30pm through 11:45pm, which means you’ll find me on my way out no later than 8:29pm. If you are or are not interested, you can pull up his current schedule here via the calendar towards the bottom of the page.
Otherwise, it’s a relatively comfortable bar with ample seating. The space probably loses a point or two on intimacy, if that’s what you’re looking to experience. Boatwright’s, the resort’s table service restaurant, is located down the hall, as is the busy quick service. But the open, communal “feel” plays well in the evenings when the music starts and the bar stools are pointed conveniently at the televisions overhead that are usually keyed into a popular sporting event.
All but the Mardi Gras Fritters and Andouille Sausage-Cheese Dip are exclusive to the lounge.
Specialty drink choices were recently updated with no mention of the popular Sazerac or Southern Hurricane.
Your bartender can still make either, in addition to just about anything else from the full bar.
The $11.25 “Rum-A-Rita – Bayou Select Rum, Bayou Satsuma Orange Rum Liqueur, Fresh-squeezed Orange Juice, Fresh-squeezed Lime Juice, Sour Mix” is probably 5% less yellow and orange than it looks in the picture. The Bayou Rum is interesting in that it’s matured in bourbon barrels, which gives it a surprisingly oak-y character that you won’t find from the likes of Bacardi. The cinnamon and nutmeg spiciness of the Select is mellowed a bit with some vanilla, all of which contrasts really well with the juicy citrus flavors from the Satsuma Liqueur. Add a bit of zest from the lime and more fresh orange flavor from the fresh-squeezed juice and you have a well-balanced cocktail that doesn’t suffer from the syrupy-ness of a lot of Disney’s tequila-based margaritas. Fresh, tasty, and somewhat authentic as the New Orleans distillery uses 100% locally produced sugarcane and molasses.
The $10.50 “Citrus Smash – Bayou Satsuma Orange Rum Liqueur mixed with Orange Juice and topped with Tonic Water” features a couple of the same ingredients. The liqueur is really sweet on its own, but the tonic water does a nice job of cutting that, in addition to making for a more-drinkable beverage as you’re not dealing with the full viscosity of the fresh-squeezed orange juice. I think it would work a little better by the pool, but it’s a fruity, easy-drinking option if that’s what you’re looking to try.
The $11.25 “Riverside Sunshine Peach Lemonade – Skyy Citrus Vodka, Peach Schnapps, Peach Puree, and Odwalla Lemonade. Garnished with a Lemon Wedge and Peach Slice.” This was a very sweet, very peachy drink that would be a good choice for anyone looking for a cocktail that completely masks the flavor of the alcohol. Again, it’s something that I think would be more enjoyable poolside rather than surrounded by the wood and copper of River Roost, but it’s another fruity option if that’s the direction you want to take it.
I like the $11.25 “Sazerac – Bulleit Rye Small Batch American Whiskey, Agave Nectar, and Peychaud’s Bitters with a splash of Pernod.” It’s strong, spicy, and slightly sweet with no extra fluff.
The $11.75 “Southern Hurricane – Myers’s Original Dark Rum, Bayou Silver Rum, and Tropical Juices topped with a float of Southern Comfort” has been mostly juice in my experience, which is a shame because the Hurricane is usually the drink you go to when you’re looking for something that packs a real punch. You may have better luck.
Three Abita beers are available on draft – Amber, Purple Haze, and Turbodog. Try a flight with all three if you’re unfamiliar, but the Turbodog is my favorite of the bunch – the beer offers slightly sweet toffee and caramel notes with earthy Willamette hops and British pale malts. The Purple Haze has a sweet, subtle raspberry flavor and the Amber is your straightforward, crisp lager with a sweet caramel aftertaste.
Nine food items are offered from 5pm to 11pm and we start with the $11 “Loaded Potato Puffs with Carolina Pulled Pork, Abita Beer Cheese, and Pico de Gallo.” This was a large, shareable portion of golden crispy tots served with a lot of flavorful, creamy beer cheese sauce. The tangy pulled pork was a chintzier portion than I would have liked and the pico seems to be an afterthought, but as far as Disney bar food goes, this was satisfying. It would be a 9/10 with some more pork.
The $13 “Bayou Wings served with Crispy-fried Pickles and Buttermilk Ranch” was a surprisingly large pile of chicken – 13 meaty wings in all. There’s a little bit of a Cajun vibe here with a nice creole spice rub that seemed to be sweetened up with some brown sugar and a little bit of a tangy barbecue sauce. The buttermilk ranch was cool and creamy with a little bit of garlic and some herbs. while the pickles added a couple of crunchy, acidic bites. A real winner on flavor, quantity, and overall value.
Here’s a particularly lousy picture of the $15 “Bourbon Burger with Bourbon-Bacon Jam, Smoked Cheddar, and Garlic Aïoli served with Cajun Steak Fries.”
For about the same money as you’d pay for a quick service burger in the theme parks or a resort quick service, River Roost’s version seemed to be put together more intelligently. There was quite a bit of perfectly-melted cheddar cheese involved and the jam had a pleasant, sweet and spicy quality to it with some salt from the bacon. But the garlic aioli was again oily and overpowering and you can see how mushy and wet the arugula is in between the bun that was a little too thick given the lack of crunchy vegetables. But it was as good as a $15 quick service burger – probably just not any better. The Cajun Steak Fries were great though – as crispy as they were spicy.
As usual, I did a lousy job of capturing the immense size of the $14 “Hummingbird Cake – River Roost’s Signature Dessert…Pineapple-Banana Cake soaked with our Bayou Spiced Rum, Roasted Pecans, and Cream Cheese Frosting.”
This is much more of a spice cake than your traditional hummingbird cake – it’s also incredibly dense, which makes the large slice go even further. Then you’ve got incredibly sweet, thick layers of cream cheese frosting with plenty of pecans mixed into the batter providing crunch. Then you’ve got the crispy pecan brittle on top, which would probably be enough dessert for most people in its own right. Definitely share this delicious monstrosity. I can’t imagine any single person making a dent in it. Very good. Very big.
While we didn’t order them this time around, the $9 “Mardi Gras Fritters – House-made Pimiento Cheese Fritters with Pepper Jelly” are fantastic.
Overall, River Roost serves its purpose well as far as Moderate Resort lounges are concerned. It’s a comfortable stop for a drink and a casual bite to eat if you’re not in the mood for the ruckus atmosphere of the food court, but don’t want to commit to a more formal sit-down dinner at Boatwright’s. There are some real winners with the wings, tots, fritters, and cake.
If a more substantial meal is what you’re after, check out my review of Boatwright’s, which recently added an all-you-care-to-enjoy option.