Citricos – a fine dining experience with gluten, soy, peanut, and pork allergies

Citricos

When my family decided to join us, we could not get reservations to our favorite Narcoossee’s for 6, so we settled on trying a new 2 credit fine dining experience, Citricos, which is located in the Grand Floridian resort (on the monorail).

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Side note: I think in the future if we did the dining plan, I’d do a buffet breakfast and a 2-credit fine dining dinner every night, skipping lunch. Three meals a day was usually too much food and the fine dining locations seemed to have more control and flexibility with their ingredients vs. the regular restaurants, which was important with my multiple allergies.

Citricos roll

For bread service, it seemed to be a GNI roll, warmed well, with a salted butter.
Citricos steak and potatoes
Citricos had several options, but the steak and mashed potatoes sounded the best (had I known many other places wouldn’t have a chicken option throughout the week, I would have opted for the chicken, below). It was in a cabernet reduction that I didn’t care for, but it came with an UNBELIEVABLY good peppadew pepper “slaw!”  If I were going again, I would get no sauce and lots of the pepper mixture!  (I apologize, I forgot to take pictures until we had started eating!)

Citricos chicken    Citricos tropical creme brulee

Citricos dessert options were rather sad with the soy and gluten issues. It was sorbet or tropical creme brulee. Normally I’m a big fan of Disney creme brulee, so I opted for that. This creme brulee was too tart, which was odd for a normally sweet and creamy dessert.
Citricos dessert
If you only had a gluten issue (not soy), the signature chocolate banana torte with chocolate crown would have been a nice treat!

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All Star Sports food court – a Gluten free, soy free, peanut, and pork free review!

All Star Sports food court

This was an unplanned suprise. One evening we had come back to the room after lunch feeling a bit under the weather for (non-food) allergy issues and we cancelled our dinner reservations for Mama Melrose.  While I was so sad to miss Mama Melrose, we still needed to eat. I ventured to the hotel food court but in disbelief that I’d have any gluten free, soy free options.

All Star chicken tenders and maybe not SF fries with ketchup packets

Shockingly, I did. Well, kind of. They had allergen-free chicken tenders and fries in a dedicated fryer.  The fries are labeled with “may be coated in soybean oil warning,” but the chef this night did not disclose this. (I found out on an additional night with a more diligent chef!) Luckily, I can tolerate small amounts of soybean oil and soy lecithin so this was not a disaster for us, but be forewarned if you have a more serious soy reaction! I also was able to get ketchup packets, as the ketchup pump was definitely messy and likely cross contaminated.
All star GF SF dessert
If you use a meal credit in the food court–the drink choices are amazing! Odwalla juices, chocolate milk, orange juice, much more than just your usual soda! Dessert options are good for most people, but for my allergy needs, there was almost nothing! This was unfortunate. They only have a gluten free OMG brownie to offer, which had soy. However, I kept digging for something more than fruit and found this chocolate pudding! It has dairy, but is gluten, soy, and peanut free!

Olivia’s Cafe at Old Key West Resort in Disney World – a Gluten free, soy free, peanut- and pork-free review

One of our yummiest but simple meals of the trip was at Olivia’s Cafe. It’s a cute cafe at Disney’s Old Key West Resort.  The chairs and placemats are a bit mismatched and I asked our awesome waiter, Jason, why.  He told us the short version of the story about the inspiration for the cafe.

Olivia's Cafe

The story goes that Olivia was a woman who loved to cook as a way to occupy herself when her husband went off to WWI.  She would share her food, but ran out of plates and chairs, so she told anyone she’d feed them but they had to bring their own plate and chair.  I wish I had taken more pictures, because the decor was bright and colorful, very pretty in a surprisingly modern way!

Olivia's Cafe at Old Key Resort drinks

Onto the food, well first–the drinks. They had a delicious acai berry smoothie I was able to have (as it would turn out, my only non-boring drink of our trip!), it was so refreshing and delicious!  I also had some cranberry juice, a refreshing change.

Olivia's Cafe at Old Key Resort breakfast

And now–the star: “Poached Eggs and Hash.”  I had done my research before the trip and wrote Disney Special Diets ahead of time as I knew I’d like to try the poached eggs with the sweet potato-white potato hash but it normally is made with ham (and I cannot eat pork). They had not told the restaurant, but the chef, Corey, was amazing and said if I was willing to wait, he’d have some made just for me! The poached eggs were perfect, the hash was very good but the onions were strong–if I was having it custom made again, I’d also ask for no onions.  It normally comes with Hollandaise sauce, which I didn’t think was safe so I just had them skip it.  The platter came with Udi’s toast (done perfectly) and butter in place of the gluten biscuit.  (This meal was gluten free, pork free, soy free, and peanut free.)

As always, I was not compensated in any way for this review.

Coral Reef in Epcot at Disney World – Gluten free, soy free, peanut free review!

Coral Reef view

Next up is the Coral Reef restaurant, in Epcot.  It’s a restaurant beside a massive aquarium and has a beautiful view because of that!

Coral Reef rolls Coral Reef roll and butter

Disney has gone to the EnerG brand of gluten free rolls, which is unfortunate as there are so many better brands out there available! These are edible and even good tasting with butter when they’re warmed perfectly, but if they’re warmed wrong or if they get cool, forget it–they are hard as rocks and literally inedible! Fortunately, they were served just right here! I got to eat 1 and a half before they were too cold and therefore too hard. The black salt on the butter was odd and made things a little messy (it streaked the butter & the plates), but it was yummy!

It was, however, a far cry from how yummy the last visit was–they toasted Udi’s bread in a frying pan with butter and it inspired me to this day to make my toast like that at home! (Chef Larry was cautious and brought me the binder of allergens, as he seemed less familiar than most chefs with the ingredients–but better safe than sorry is okay by me!)

Coral Reef appetizer

The only safe appetizer unfortunately was grilled octopus. Not my first choice and after it looked like it had pieces of ham (I did inform them of the pork allergy, but the chef was a bit unsteady in his choices), I did not eat any of it.

Coral Reef dinner

There are many seafood dishes served here, but I’m not too keen on seafood and there was no gluten free lobster option, so I chose the steak with mashed potatoes and broccolini. The steak was cooked well, as I asked and the mashed potatoes were delicious!  The broccolini is not something I cared for. (I could also have had salmon.)

Coral Reef dessert

I had Chef Rob for dessert, as Chef Larry had left. I remember him from a few visits ago, he is awesome!  One thing I noticed throughout Disney is that so many of the chefs are used to those who are gluten free also being dairy free that many would forget to offer me ice cream or regular butter!  I asked for ice cream and they had Haagen Daas vanilla (made on shared equipment, but I took a chance and seemed okay) with Enjoy Life soft Chocolate Chip Brownie cookies! YUM! If I were not soy free, they had a gluten free chocolate torte that is popular there.

Crystal Palace in Magic Kingdom Gluten free, soy free, and peanut free

Crystal Palace

We have found over several trips to Disney, that although all Disney owned restaurants (beware that not many in Epcot at Disney-owned!) will do a fairly good job at serving safe food and accommodating food allergies, the best food quality and servers/chefs seem to be at the resort restaurants instead of in the parks.  I will start with those places we ate in the parks, since those are often most popular!  We ate lunch at Crystal Palace in Magic Kingdom.  This is a character dining experience and we saw Winnie the Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore, and Tigger too!

*As always, all my meals are gluten free (to the celiac standard), peanut free, and pork-free, but this trip had the added complication of completely soy free (previously I tolerated soybean oil & soy lecithin).

Crystal Palace roasted sweet potato slices best

Crystal Palace is a buffet, which would make me nervous anywhere except Disney. At Disney, they will get you fresh items from the back and supplement as needed. The first item on the buffet and not near any contamination issues were these roasted sweet potato slices, dusted I think with some cinnamon and sugar–they were heavenly! They were the only thing I got from the buffet, the rest the Chef (Ron) brought or made in the back.

Crystal Palace salad

I also had a mixed green salad the chef made in the back, with yellow mustard (my preferred dressing when I’m away from home–more flavor than oil & vinegar, but still gluten and soy free!)

Crystal Palace gross steak great potatoes

Chef Ron also brought me some sliced steak and mashed potatoes from the back, the mashed potatoes were delicious but the steak was too fatty to even be edible. Luckily, we had a large breakfast so I was no too upset at the lack of protein in this meal. It was not my favorite, but tolerable.

Crystal Palace strange seeded rolls

Bread service here was terrible. There were some strange brand of gluten free rolls that made me nervous as they looked to have ground seeds in them (I’m severely allergic to pumpkin seeds)–the chef said they weren’t seeds, but appeased my request for Udi bread. First, it was served very burnt, but on a subsequent trip he realized it and served me some less dark toast. Crystal Palace burnt UdisCrystal Palace bread re-served

For dessert, since I’m not dairy-free, I was able to have the soft serve vanilla ice cream but I was full. They also brought me some Enjoy Life chocolate chip cookies, packaged.

Overall, it was safe and I loved many of my side dishes and the chef was very kind, but I was definitely disappointed in the sub-par meat quality (and lack of meat options) as well as the bread issue.

I was not compensated by Disney in any way, I just like to share my experiences to help others enjoy allergen-friendly travel!

Gluten free and soy free in Disney World

It’s been a while since I’ve written and I’ll work to fix that, but for now–I have exciting updates! We returned from 5 nights, 4 days at Walt Disney World in Florida (and a few days with nearby family there). We got to see it decorated for Christmas, with our visit concluding on Christmas morning. We were on Disney’s free dining plan (however we upgraded for a small fee to Deluxe because I much prefer sit-down meals for allergies to the fast food), so I have many food reviews to post!

DSCF0365 (I loved Animal Kingdom’s unique Christmas tree!)

As always, all my meals are gluten free (to the celiac standard) and pork-free.  For years now I’ve avoided soy like tofu or soy flour, because I also have problems that come from it, but I never bothered to eliminate small sources of soy like soy lecithin (a binder in most chocolates and many other places!) or soybean oil until last year.  I feel much better, so this trip had the added complication of soy free.  I was not compensated by Disney in any way, I just like to share my experiences to help others enjoy allergen-friendly travel!  Restaurants we visited in Disney that I’ll be reviewing in the coming days are:

1900 Park Fare
All Star Sports food court
Boma (several breakfasts & 1 dinner)
Citricos
Coral Reef
Crystal Palace
Flying Fish
Kona Cafe
Olivia’s Cafe
The Wave

ABC Commissary (short review of the allergen procedures, but did not eat there due to soy)