Walt Disney World Review: Kona Cafe

Kona Cafe

Kona Cafe GF menu cover

Set on the second floor of the Polynesian Hotel (along the monorail from Magic Kingdom) is the Kona Cafe. This was our first visit to this restaurant, but I’d read many good things about allergies here.  It’s open to the walkway and overlooks the Polynesian foyer.  To me this makes it look like a lunch sandwich style place, not fast food but not a normal sit-down dinner place either, but they serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner as a sit down meal (non-quick service).  We dined for lunch.

Kona Cafe GF menu

They are trying out a special gluten free menu, which gave me a starting list of options. However, once I spoke to the chef and we removed the pork, peanut, and soy options…almost no options were left. Chef Amber was very kind and knowledgeable, she offered to make me a salad for the appetizer. The salad was good but be warned, their almond pieces are chopped and spread throughout the salad, which I did not enjoy but were too small and plentiful to pick out. The greens were great, the citrus vinegrette was yummy, and the pear pieces were delightful.

Kona Cafe salad too many almond pieces

The entree was to be plain chicken and white rice for the entree. She served the chicken with a delicious mango puree (not pictured unfortunately!), but I thought being served absolutely plain chicken with rice was a restaurant fail. Could they not have cooked it in the mango puree or added cheese or something? The rice was also hard and dry :-(. The mango puree was heavenly!

Kona Cafe bland chicken with mango puree

We had a reminder here that you must always be diligent for yourself, even with the best chef. I always bring a list of my allergens, since I have several, but the chef still almost missed the chorizo in the soup as pork!  She may have realized it in the kitchen, but luckily I stopped her before that.  My side was just fruit.

Kona Cafe dessert2

For dessert, I had already discovered when the chefs came out with no real offering to suit my needs (they usually offered just fruit or sorbet), I would ask for ice cream and enjoy life cookies.  For some reason, this wasn’t usually offered, but was always available when I asked! So here I had vanilla ice cream and Enjoy Life soft baked brownie cookies!

Overall, I appreciated another safe meal but was disappointed with having no real choice and very limited flavor.  I had bigger expectations, but I would order the salad again without the almonds and perhaps return for the mango puree if it could be worked into the chicken/rice as it was cooked.

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McGuire’s Irish Pub: Gluten free in Pensacola

While in Pensacola, we also visited the famous McGuires Irish Pub.  Here people sign & staple dollar bills to the ceiling.

McGuires Pensacola 2015 2

They have mug holders like pubs in Europe do, where people have a mug they keep at the pub on a certain hook to use which entitles them to cheaper drinks.

McGuires Pensacola 2015 4

The decor and atmosphere were great.  The drinks were cheap.

McGuire's Irish Pub decor     McGuire's Irish Pub decor 2

Since my group had already planned to eat here, I called ahead and thankfully found out they had a gluten free menu.  Again, it isn’t necessarily a restaurant I would pick as a celiac, but I had to make do since I didn’t have my own car there.

McGuires Irish Pub GF menu in Pensacola
Since I don’t eat pork or love seafood, I was yet again left with very few options. I decided to order the Irish potato skins (without bacon) and tenderloin bites–2 appetizers for a meal.

McGuires Irish Pub GF in Pensacola

The Irish potato skins scared me at first, as it had brown pieces of what looked like bacon, but the waitress double checked with the kitchen and found that they were the rind pieces of the gouda cheese.  They were delicious and safe thankfully, a plate of them filled me because that was my entire meal.  (They would not serve the tenderloin bites well done and I don’t like my meat undercooked. There was also a crouton on the plate when it came out rare–needless to say, I was just grateful for the potato skins at that point.  People there seem to like their meat uncooked and don’t like to accommodate any other tastes!)

McGuires Irish Pub mint GF in Pensacola

There were no gluten free dessert options, sadly.  To keep with the $1 bill theme, after dinner mints were served. No clue if they were gluten free, so I didn’t eat them.

(I was not compensated for this review. This is just my own personal experience and opinion to help others.)

Wednesday Review: Cascadian Farm gluten free cereal

Cascadian Farm Organic Berry Vanilla Puffs

At home, I’m not a big cereal eater, but when traveling, it’s a great way to be sure I have a gluten free breakfast or snack option!  It doesn’t need to be kept cold or warm.  It’s usually easy enough to find milk in a hotel or gas station nearby, and if you aren’t flying, you could take shelf stable milk or non-dairy milk with you.

Cascadian Farm GF berry vanilla cereal box

This cereal is delicious! It’s Organic and non-GMO berry and vanilla flavored corn puffs, a bit like a gluten free flavored Kix cereal.  They use organic yellow and purple corn, so there is not even any dye!  There is also no corn syrup (high fructose or otherwise). I have to love that this is a very socially-conscious company too, even has a plant-based liner!

Cascadian Farm GF berry vanilla cereal

Pop it in a Ziplock container and it won’t get crushed on your trip.  It also doubles as a bowl, so you can just add milk and you have breakfast!

I was able to find this at my local Whole Foods, Kroger, and Target, so it seems pretty easy to find! It’s also available on Vitacost.com if you don’t find it in stores locally.

(This is just my own personal opinion and helpful hints, I was not compensated in any way.)

Fish House: Gluten free in Pensacola, FL

It’s time for another weekly installment of Restaurant Review Sunday.  This past week I traveled to Pensacola, FL and was in a unique situation with very limited choices.  The restaurants I ate at would not have been my first choice as a celiac, but I did manage to find something safe and keep from starving.

The first night my group ate at the Fish House.  This is a nice location on the water that has a sister restaurant beside it called Atlas.  Both menus had some options with a GF next to them on the menu, so that was why we ate here.

Fish House patio
(Picture credit: http://www.pensacolaburgertour.com/old/results4.html as I forgot to take my own of the entrance.)

The gluten free selections were limited, especially considering I’m not a huge fan of seafood: my choices for main entrees were steak, salad, or fish.  I choose the sirloin steak.  For gluten free sides (that were also pork/nut free), there was cheese grits, asparagus, and not listed but mentioned in the special was fingerling potatoes.  I had my favorite fingerling potatoes and asparagus. (I apologize, I forgot to take a picture until I had already started to eat my steak.)

Fish House GF Pensacola

My steak was severely undercooked, so I sent it back.  It took a while and when it was returned to me, it was very fatty and tough.  I was happy it was safe, but it left me a bit unsatisfied, I also splurged for dessert. The vanilla bean creme brulee was delicious.

Fish House dessert GF Pensacola

Overall, it was safe, but expensive and the quality wasn’t great.
(As always, I wasn’t compensated for my review and this was my own personal experience and opinion.)

Wednesday Review: Banana Pudding with gluten free Vanilla Wafers

I’m going to try to stick to a bit more of a system. Mid-week (Wednesday-ish) I’ll post a review of a gluten free item.  Then on the weekend (Sunday-ish), I’ll post a review of a restaurant.  Hopefully this will bring balance and consistency to my blog.  Sometimes I post a ton of restaurant reviews right after a trip, but then I have nothing to post for a while.  Let me know what posts mean more to you and if you like the new schedule!

Our first Wednesday Review is a 2 for 1.  European Gourmet banana pudding and Kinnikinnick gluten free Vanilla Wafers.

Banana Pudding GF

While the European Gourmet organic banana pudding doesn’t specify gluten free, I contacted the company and they said it is.  I wanted a dye-free, natural or organic pudding (that was also gluten free, nut free, soy free, and carrageenan free–quite the tall order) so this was perfect!  I used Lactaid milk, as I can handle dairy but lactose is hard on me.  I haven’t tried it with a dairy-free milk alternative, but it might work.  This is a pudding you have to cook instead of instant, but it’s worth it to me to have the good ingredients!

The Gluten free vanilla Kinnikinnick wafers are just like you remember vanilla wafers–these are gluten free, nut free, peanut free, dairy free, and soy free (they use sunflower lecithin instead of soy–yay! but it is made in the same facility as some soy).

The only thing that would make this better is some whipped cream!

*As always, these opinions are my own and I haven’t been compensated for the reviews.

Flying Fish Cafe – gluten free review at Disney World

Flying Fish Cafe

(I haven’t completed my dining reviews from last Christmas at Disney…I will cover those in the next few posts.)

This was a fine dining (read: 2 credits on Disney Dining Plan) restaurant along Boardwalk Disney–the area mostly for Disney Vacation Club members.  It was a bit tricky to find, but has a nice water walkway and scenic area to enjoy before or after dinner. We even saw a large turtle swimming in the lake while waiting for our dinner reservations. It’s next to the new Trattorio al Forno. I wish I had known, but the Boardwalk Bakery there has gluten free treats–I didn’t even think they would and didn’t look!
Flying Fish cafe exterior        Flying Fish cafe interior
The ambience here was nice enough, but it didn’t scream fine dining to us.  There was a story (as everything at Disney has) that the restaurant is themed around the post WWII era of carnivals.
Flying Fish cafe roll Flying Fish roll gross
The bread service was a brand I’m not sure about, but it was disgusting! It literally tasted like cardboard and I’ve never had to say that about a gluten free food!
Flying Fish gf crab cake
Luckily, things got better when the chef (I didn’t catch his name, but a large African-American man who was amazing!) talked about the choices for appetizers and entrees.  He said you tell me what you want, I should be able to do almost anything on the menu!! I had a gluten free (and the rest) crab cake for the appetizer! It was delicious, although some strong raw onion pieces in the mix detracted from the crab flavor!

The entree, which was so good I forgot to take a picture of it, was salmon. They even asked how I liked it cooked, which delighted me as I enjoy my salmon more like well-done, slightly crispy and it’s typically served medium-well!
Flying Fish Caramel sundae
The dessert here was tricky, but when I suggested ice cream and asked about the salted caramel sauce, he said that was doable. (There was a sundae on the menu with candy crumbles and other syrups that might have been okay, but just one was enough for me!) Yumminess!

While the bread service turned me off here, this overall was a very enjoyable experience overall and another testament to the theory of doing 2-credit dinner fine dining restaurants for dinner with mulitple food allergies!

Lebanese Taverna – gluten free in Washington, D.C.

Lebanese Taverna

(Apologies for the lack of a picture!)

When in Washington, DC, a great gluten free option is Lebanese Taverna.  It’s conveniently located near the zoo and across from the Woodley Park Metro stop, so you don’t need a car!  The menu was well marked with GF for gluten free options and the servers were generally knowledgeable. I had the chicken kebabs with red rice and some veggies (not marked GF because it comes with Lebanese rice which is not gluten free, but if you substitute for red rice, it is gluten free).
It was not as impressive as last year, as there were fewer vegetables and I do not like the red rice (last year it was a simple steamed white rice I believe), BUT the garlic white dipping sauce was still delicious and if you ask, they will serve you rice crackers when the others get a pita like bread. I didn’t have any issues as a sensitive celiac.  (Side note: sadly their lunch menu was no longer a more reasonable price than dinner, it’s the same menu.)