Sunday, July 13, 2014

Coral Reef Restaurant - Epcot

For the past 6 years, we have gone to Disney World at least once a week, and before that, once a year, when we didn't live in Orlando.  Believe it or not, in all that time, we have never dined at Coral Reef Restaurant until last night.  This restaurant was highly recommended by some of my blog readers, so I was really excited to try it.  

This hidden gem is located in Future World at Epcot in The Seas with Nemo & Friends Pavilion.  

I loved the theming, from the seahorse door handles, to the wall panels and lighting that make you feel like you are under the sea.  

We arrived at least an hour before our advance dining reservations, but we were able to be seated right away.

Large windows on one wall of the restaurant give every table a view of The Seas with Nemo & Friends aquarium.  We watched turtles, sharks, stingrays, a variety of fish, and even some humans swim by as we dined.

Shortly after placing my order with Chef David, a basket of gluten free rolls was brought to the table.  They appeared to be Ener-G rolls, which are not a favorite of mine.  Thankfully, there aren't too many Disney restaurants that serve them anymore.  

I ate a couple of bites with some butter with Hawaiian sea salt.  The butter would have been great on GNI rolls, the gluten free bread I am usually offered when I dine at Disney.  

For an appetizer, I ordered the Creamy Lobster Soup made with tarragon and brandy, which I would definitely order again.  It was very tasty!  

The star of my meal though was my entree.  I ordered the seared rainbow trout with a warm salad of white beans, arugula, tomatoes, crispy bacon, aged balsamic vinegar, and brown butter.  

Oh my goodness, this was one of the best fish dishes I have ever eaten!  The fish was cooked perfectly, and after talking to our served Kevin, I decided to eat the crispy skin.  I loved the combination of vegetables with bacon and brown butter, and the aged balsamic added a sweetness to the dish, which I always enjoy when eating fish.  My aunt ordered this dish as well, and raved about it as much as I did.  

My uncle ordered another gluten free option, the seared salmon filet with quinoa, salsa verde, and crisp vegetable slaw.  My aunt and uncle both loved their meals, and said they rivaled any fish dishes they have eaten at the fancy restaurants they dine at in New York City.  

Chef David also recommended the seared Mahi Mahi with laughing bird shrimp, hearts of palm, jasmine rice and cilantro, with a coconut-lime sauce, but I don't like coconut, so I passed on this dish.  My husband and daughter Kate enjoyed their lobster and shrimp orecchiette pasta, but I am not sure if they have gluten free pasta available for this dish.  If you are not a fan of fish, Coral Reef has other options like grilled New York strip steak, roasted pork belly, oven-roasted chicken breast, and marinated grilled vegetables & vegetarian chick'n breast.  I am not sure about the gluten free status of these dishes, but Disney chefs are very accommodating.  

Chef David told me that there was only one gluten free dessert option, The Chocolate Wave, which is a chocolate lava cake served with raspberry gelato.  

The chocolate cake was served warm, and had a molten chocolate center.  I'm definitely ok with only one dessert option when it's a cake like this!  

When I heard the dish was served with raspberry gelato, I almost asked for vanilla ice cream instead, but I decided to try the dessert as is.  I raspberry gelato was delicious, but there wasn't enough of it, and I am a bit of a traditionalist.  I like vanilla ice cream and whipped cream with my lava cakes and chocolate souffles.  Next time, I will be asking if I can substitute vanilla ice cream, or I am even willing to order a bowl of vanilla ice cream if they have it.  The more the merrier.  

My aunt doesn't eat sugar, so she ordered fruit for dessert, and received a beautiful bowl of berries and melon.  

My aunt and uncle feel that the meals they ate at Coral Reef Restaurant were the best they have ever had at Disney, so we already made advance dining reservations for their return visit at Thanksgiving.  

My fish was definitely one of the best entrees I have ever eaten at a restaurant in Disney World, but I prefer the chocolate lava cake at Kona Cafe, because of the how it was served.  

November 29, 2014 Update

Last weekend, we dined at Coral Reef Restaurant for lunch.  My gluten free bread came out quickly, and was heated perfectly.  I ate most of it, because if was so good with the salted butter.  

My husband and I shared the charbroiled octopus with Mediterranean potato salad and grilled lemon appetizer, which we both really enjoyed.  

Six of us ordered the trout, because it was so amazing on our last visit, and it certainly didn't disappoint.  This dish will keep me coming back to Coral Reef on a regular basis.  

My husband and daughters thought the oven-roasted chicken breast with a creamy polenta cake, pearl onion, bacon, and black trumpet mushrooms was very good, but again, I forgot to ask about its gluten free status.

We finished off our meal with the Chocolate Wave, but on this visit, we requested vanilla instead of raspberry ice cream.  Next time, I will ask the chef to leave the chocolate shavings and sauce off the plate, and request a bigger scoop of vanilla ice cream.  The presentation was beautiful, but I love the simplicity of a molten chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream and maybe some raspberry sauce, but nothing else.  

You can view Coral Reef's menu, 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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