Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Satu'li Canteen - Disney's Animal Kingdom

We arrived in Orlando last night, and our first stop today was Pandora - The World of Avatar at Disney's Animal Kingdom.

We managed to get to the park when it opened at 8:00, and headed straight to Satu'li Canteen, Pandora's fast casual restaurant, for breakfast.  The theming is that long ago it was an RDA mess hall, but now Na'vi art and cultural items adorn this dining facility.  There were only a few other diners in Satu'li Canteen when it opened, because everyone else was rushing to wait in line for Avatar Flight of Passage or Na'vi River Journey.  We did ride Na'vi River Journey after breakfast, and only had to wait about an hour, but Avatar Flight of Passage had over a three hour wait when we checked, so that will have to wait for another day.

Gluten free items on the breakfast menu at Satu'li Canteen include the pork hash, and steak & eggs.  If you have celiac disease, the steel-cut oatmeal and fruit plate with yogurt-muesli are not safe options, because Disney is not using certified gluten free oats, which I confirmed with a manager.  I am always disappointed when dishes with oats are listed as safe for gluten/wheat allergies on allergy-friendly menus, because no restaurant that I know of at Disney World carries certified gluten free oats.

There are no gluten free options on the Kids' Menu for breakfast, but for lunch and dinner, there are three gluten-friendly Mickey Check Meals.  Guests have a choice of entree served with crunchy vegetables, and greens or rice, with a choice of small lowfat milk or small Dasani water.  Entree options include chopped wood-grilled chicken, slow-roasted sliced grilled beef, and crispy-fried tofu.

There are several gluten free Build Your Own Bowl options on the adult menu:
  • Step 1 - choice of chopped wood-grilled chicken, chili-spiced crispy-fried tofu, or slow-roasted grilled beef for a protein
  • Step 2 - choice of quinoa and vegetable salad, red and sweet potato hash, mixed whole grain and rice, and romaine and kale salad for a base
  • Step 3 - choice of charred onion chimichurri or creamy herb dressing for a sauce
Always ask to see an allergy-friendly menu before ordering, because allergy-friendly options are subject to change.

For breakfast, I ordered the pork hash with slow roasted pork and potato hash, topped with grilled chorizo sausage and green onions, served with natural jus.  The natural jus was very oily, and I would have liked way more potatoes, because the huge majority of the dish was pork.  The hash would be significantly improved with the addition of sweet potatoes, which would add a sweetness I enjoy in my breakfast dishes.  Overall, I was not that impressed, and ate less than half of it.  I did enjoy my fruit plate though, minus the yogurt-muesli.

My gluten-eating daughters ordered the breakfast steamed pods filled with scrambled eggs, bacon, spinach, and cheddar cheese.  They love bao, so they enjoyed the outside of the buns, but did not like the filling.  Keep in mind that my girls are not big fans of eggs.

Dana from Magical Moments Vacations, who is my travel agent and a fellow celiac, recently dined at Satu'li Canteen, and ordered the steak and eggs with vegetable-goat cheese frittata, wood fired herb crusted beef, and chimichurri sauce.  She said it was fantastic, but I was afraid to order it, because I do not like goat cheese.  Her son, who also eats gluten free, had  a side of sausage for breakfast, which he enjoyed.   You can check out Dana's website here.  Her services are free, and it is great to have a fellow celiac who travels to Disney several times a year help you plan your vacation.  Dana also has expertise with Disney Cruise Line, Disneyland, and Universal Orlando Resort.

For lunch, I had the Build Your Own Bowl with chopped wood-grilled chicken marinated with garlic and olive oil, red and sweet potato hash, vegetable slaw, and charred onion chimichurri.  My bowl was good, though I would not say I loved it, but I am excited to see a quick service restaurant with healthier options, and something different than burgers and chicken tenders.  It was also nice to have a real plate and silverware, instead of disposable ones, which fits in with the environmental message of the movie Avatar.  My dish came out on a different colored tray than the one my daughters' food was on.  They had the same bowl I did, but with rice instead of potato hash, and it had a few boba on top, which they did not like.  Besides the boba, they enjoyed their lunch.

Satu'li Canteen does not have any gluten free desserts, which is surprising, because Disney quick service restaurants usually have OMG...It's Gluten Free Brownies and Enjoy Life Chocolate Chip Cookies. Pongu Pongu is right outside though, and we had the Night Blossom, which is a mixture of limeade with apple and desert pear flavors, topped with passion fruit boba balls.

The cast member I spoke to said it was gluten free, but I also took a quick look at the allergy binder.  I enjoyed it at first, but it seemed to have a slightly bitter taste after a while, so I did not finish it.

I had high expectations when I arrived at Pandora today, because of the reviews I have read online, but I don't think we will be dining at Satu'li Canteen again on this trip like I had originally planned.  We are going to the Animal Kingdom again Friday, but we will be having dinner at Tiffins for the first time, and I am leaning towards Nomad Lounge for lunch.

You can read my friend Sarah's review of her dinner at Satu'li Canteen on her blog Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free at WDW.  The chimichurri she had looked a lot greener and thicker than the sauce we had today.

You can read more about Satu'li Canteen on Disney's website here.

December 10, 2017 Update - I just found out that Satu'li Cantten has discontinued breakfast service except during peak times, like Christmas Break. 

What are your favorite gluten free options at Satu'li Canteen?


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