Saturday, August 8, 2015

Coral Reef Restaurant - Epcot

Earlier today, we had lunch at Coral Reef Restaurant, one of our favorite restaurants at Epcot.  

Coral Reef, a table service restaurant located at The Seas with Nemo & Friends, is open for lunch and dinner.  I love all the underwater theming, and every table has views of the aquarium, so you can watch turtles, sharks, stingrays, a variety of fish, and even some humans swim by as you dine.  Be sure to ask for a table near the windows, or one near the middle of the restaurant for the best views of Disney's living coral reef.  

Coral Reef recently adopted an allergy-friendly menu that lists options for people for gluten/wheat, milk, egg, soy, fish/shellfish, and peanut/tree nut allergies.

All four appetizers on the allergy-friendly menu were listed as safe for gluten/wheat allergies.  On previous visits, I have ordered the creamy lobster soup and the charbroiled octopus, both good options which you can read about in my Coral Reef review from last summer.  I was so excited when I saw the crispy Rhode Island calamari listed as gluten free, because I love fried calamari.  The heirloom beets salad is another appetizer option.  Gluten free entrees include the grilled New York strip steak, pan-seared Mahi Mahi, seared rainbow trout, and oven-roasted chicken breast.  For dessert, I could choose between The Chocolate Wave, a molten chocolate cake with raspberry gelato, or mango sorbet served with fresh berries. 

Gluten free options on the allergy-friendly kids' menu include the Jr. reef garden salad, grapes, grilled fish of the day, grilled chicken breast tenders, Jr. reef steak, and mango sorbet served with fresh berries.  

My meal started with gluten free bread, and butter with Hawaiian sea salt.  

I failed to take photos of my rolls and the aquarium today, but thankfully I have pictures of the bread from a previous visit.  Coral Reef uses Ener-G rolls, which are not my favorite, but they were heated well today, so I enjoyed a few bites with butter.  

My whole family loved the calamari, which is served with roasted corn relish and tomatillo sauce.  My daughter Katie and my husband decided that it is now their favorite fried calamari at Disney, though I might give a slight edge to the calamari at Trattoria al Forno.  Gluten free calamari is also available at the Flying Fish Cafe and Narcoossee's.  

I always order the seared rainbow trout at Coral Reef, because it is one of my favorite entrees at Disney World.  The allergy-friendly menu says it is served with white beans, arugula, tomatoes, crispy bacon, and balsamic vinegar.  I figured that the brown butter I love so much was not mentioned on the new menu because this dish is listed as being safe for people with gluten/wheat, egg, milk, peanut/tree nut, shellfish, and soy allergies.  The regular menu still listed the brown butter, so I asked our server if they could make mine with the brown butter, because I can eat dairy.  She came back after talking to the chef and told me that they are no longer serving it with brown butter at all, even for diners who have no allergies.  

The picture above is my seared rainbow trout entree from our meal today, and the one below is from a previous visit.  The trout I had at lunch was hidden underneath a pile of arugula, and the skin was not crispy like it has been in the past.  I also would have liked more of the aged balsamic vinegar, which lends so much flavor to this entree.  I really missed the brown butter, which was such a fantastic element in this dish.  They did bring me some melted butter on the side, which I appreciated, but it didn't seem to be browned, and it lacked that nutty flavor I so love with brown butter.  

I wonder if the change was made to make this dish more allergy-friendly, which is sad, because they could just serve it without brown butter to people with dairy allergies.  My entree was good, but not amazing like it used to be.  

For dessert, I ordered the The Chocolate Wave with vanilla ice cream instead of the raspberry gelato it is usually served with.  This molten lava cake is served warm, and is always a wonderful way to end a meal at Coral Reef.  

Overall, we enjoyed our meals at Coral Reef, and I look forward to dining there in the future, especially because I can't wait to have their calamari again.  

You can read more about Coral Reef, and make advance dining reservations on Disney's website here.  

What are your favorite gluten free dishes at Coral Reef Restaurant?  


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