Monday, July 20, 2015

Akershus Royal Banquet Hall Dinner - Epcot

Last Friday, I celebrated my birthday at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall in the Norway Pavilion at Epcot.  

Before last week, we had never had lunch or dinner at Akershus, but my daughters and I had breakfast there with all the ladies in my family on our annual trip to Disney, before we moved to Orlando.  None of us were particularly impressed by our meal, so we never went back, but after hearing great feedback from blog readers about dinner at Akershus, we decided to give it a try for my birthday.  

Akershus has an extensive allergy-friendly dinner menu, with plenty of gluten free options to choose from.  

I did talk to a chef, but it wasn't really necessary.  We had advance dining reservations for 4:55, when Akershus opens for dinner, so the "Taste of Norway" buffet was untouched when we were seated.  When I am concerned about cross contamination on a Disney buffet, I always ask for food from the back, which the chef at Akershus was willing to provide.  I mainly wanted to speak to him about dessert options, because it was my birthday, and I wanted a nice dessert to celebrate.  

Akershus is an interesting mix of traditional table service, buffet, and family style dining.  At lunch and dinner, the royal feast starts with a "Taste of Norway," the buffet portion of the meal.   

Gluten free options on the buffet include the mixed green salad, assorted cheeses, grilled asparagus, sliced meats, beet salad, potato salad, quinoa salad, pear and apple salad, smoked salmon, peppered mackerel, smoked trout, and peel-n-eat shrimp.  

I chose the pear and apple salad with pecans, balsamic and parsley, and the quinoa salad with apples, balsamic, maple, pecans and chives.  I thought both salads were delicious, and my family enjoyed all the food they tried from the buffet as well.  

While we were sampling dishes from the buffet, Disney princesses began to invade our room, moving from table to table.  For my daughters, there is no bigger form of torture.  For several years, my girls, who are now 10, have intensely disliked character dining, and it can make our meal pretty unpleasant as they complain about interacting with the characters, and having to take pictures.  Thankfully, because it was my birthday, they did very little complaining.  My girls took a picture with Belle when we entered the restaurant, and Princess Aurora, Snow White, Cinderella and Ariel visited our table while we dined.  

The traditional table service part of the meal is that you pick one hot entree from the menu, which you order from your server.  All but one of the seven entrees are gluten free, so we had a lot to choose from.  The first dish we tried was traditional Kjottekake - Norwegian meatballs served with olive oil mashed potatoes, green beans, and lingonberry jam.  We all thought the meatballs, mashed potatoes and green beans were great, but my girls didn't want the lingonberry jam.  I love jam, but thought the dish didn't need it, though it was fun to taste the dish the traditional way it would be served.  

Our pan-seared salmon was served with steamed rice and green beans.  The menu mentioned pickled fennel slaw accompanying this dish, but it was noticeably absent, which was fine with me, because I don't like the black licorice taste of fennel.  I thought the salmon was cooked and seasoned well, and we all enjoyed it on top of the rice.  

I personally would not have chosen our third entree, the oven-roasted chicken, but my daughter Emma had her heart set on ordering this dish.  I thought the chicken was nice and moist, and the seasoning on the skin was pretty amazing.  I also enjoyed the sauteed garden vegetables and fingerling potatoes it was served with.

The final entree we ordered was my favorite - the red wine braised beef with olive oil mashed potatoes, green beans, and strawberry port demi.  I could have eaten a whole plate of the fried onion straws on top, and I would have asked for more if we weren't in a hurry to get on the road to Fort Lauderdale.  The beef was so tender, and the strawberry port demi it was served with was heavenly.  I wish I had asked for the recipe.  The green beans that accompanied three of our four entrees were fresh tasting, and cooked and seasoned well.  Other gluten free entrees include the oven-baked cod, and a huge grilled pork chop, which looked pretty amazing.  

The only disappointment of our meal was that our server brought me out a gluten-filled cupcake for my birthday.  This has happened to me on previous birthday dinners at Disney, and it is something I have never understood.  Just bring me a gluten free brownie or bowl of ice cream with a candle stuck in it instead of a gluten-filled cupcake or cake.  I hope they don't do this to kids, who I would imagine would be pretty heartbroken.  

While my family was sampling my cupcake, I got to check out my birthday card signed by the Disney princesses.  

The family style portion of the meal is the dessert course.  My family received a plate of three desserts to share, but I ordered a traditional rice cream with berries for myself.  The strawberry topping that is usually served with the rice cream is not gluten free, so I asked if I could have some fresh berries.  If you like rice pudding, you will love this deliciously creamy rice dessert.  You can view the recipe on The Disney Food Blog.  2018 Update - the strawberry topping on the rice cream is now gluten free. 

Other gluten free dessert options include raspberry sorbet, assorted allergy-friendly cookies (Enjoy Life and OMG...It's Gluten Free), and a variety of different ice creams made from rice, coconut, or soy milk.  

Overall, we really enjoyed our dinner at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall.  Dining there is pretty pricey, like most all-you-care-to-enjoy character meals at Disney.  We were able to use our Tables in Wonderland card to save 20%, but there are blockout dates for this restaurant.  I am really glad we cancelled our Be Our Guest reservations, because I enjoyed this meal much more than our last dinner at Be Our Guest.

You can read more about Akershus, and make advance dining reservations on Disney's website here.  You can view the allergy-friendly breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus here.  

What are your favorite gluten free dishes at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall?  


  1. Thank you so much for all of your wonderful reviews! I have been using them to plan our meals when we visit Disney World in September as I have celiac disease as well. I will also be there for my birthday and we have reservations at The Crystal Palace since Pooh is my favourite. What would I need to do to get a birthday card signed by Pooh and Friends? That sounds like a great idea and I would absolutely love it for my birthday. I did mention it was my birthday when making the dining reservations and wondered if I needed to do anything else. Thank you!

    1. I did not note that is was my birthday on our reservation, but my husband told our server, who brought out the cupcake and the card.

  2. Any updates on the gf breakfast? Hoping you or someone else has checked it out since. Thanks!!

    1. Jeanine - I have their allergy friendly breakfast menu on my blog, but we have not dined there for breakfast in 9 years. I don't remember enjoying it then, so we have not been back.