Multi-Allergy & Autism Dining Review

Discussion in 'disABILITIES!' started by clanmcculloch, Apr 1, 2013.

  1. clanmcculloch

    clanmcculloch DIS Veteran

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    My family has a lot of special needs that make dining interesting to say the least. We've got lots of allergies between the group of us plus DH is a type 2 diabetic (who cheats frequently) and DD15 has Asperger Syndrome which is a high functioning form of autism.

    Here's our lists of allergies.
    DD15: gluten, milk, eggs, citrus (citric acid is ok), yeast, msg, peanuts (minor - cross contamination not a concern)
    DD12: gluten, milk, hazelnuts, brazil nuts, ,sesame, hops, peanuts (minor - cross contamination not a concern), blueberry, cranberry, raw carrots, lima beans, raw fruit skins besides grapes, citrus (citric acid is ok) soy products other than Tofutti and Follow Your Heart (soys not the problem but we havent identified what ingredient in Silk and other soy products cause Oral Allergy Syndrome)
    Me: gluten, milk, sesame, hazelnut, peanuts (minor - cross contamination not a concern), pork (trace amounts ok)

    During our trip we ate at the following locations:
    Cooke's of Dublin post 2
    Babycakes post 4
    Kona Island Sushi Bar post 3
    The Plaza post 7
    Sunshine Seasons post 8
    1900 Park Fair (supper) post 17
    Kona Café (brunch) post 18
    Sci-Fi Dine-In Theatre post 19
    Tony's Town Square post 20
    Biergarten post 21
    'Ohana (brunch) post 22

    In addition to food I'm going to try to explain about environment as it relates to DD15 and her issues associated with her autism.

    Let the drooling begin. ;)
     
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  3. clanmcculloch

    clanmcculloch DIS Veteran

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    February 21 was our arrival day. We knew wed be heading to DTD after checking in so the plan was to go to Cookes of Dublin to try the fish & chips and onion rings I had heard so much about. It was already getting close to noon by the time we got there so there was a bit of a line. It was a surprisingly hot day considering it was only February (I think it was in the 80s) and we were all wearing pants because we just flew in from New England and our luggage hadnt gotten to our resort yet. The line was moving very slowly and DD15 in particular has a lot of trouble coping when shes past her meal times. Thank goodness for the excitement of having just arrived at WDW as well as the excitement of trying her first onion rings or we would have been dealing with meltdowns. Our own ordering seemed to take even longer than everybody elses but in all fairness that was because the cashier was chatting with us and being really friendly and were talkers. I bet the people behind us were getting ticked off.

    The cashier knew immediately what we were asking for when asking for the allergy fish and onion rings. I went over our allergies with her and she confirmed for me that they were free of our allergens and that theyre cooked in a different fryer than everything else. She also told me that shell sometimes order the allergy ones just because they taste better so that was very encouraging. We just asked for cups of water to drink so she gave us 4 small cups.

    DD15 and DD12 at this point headed over the dining area to find a table. The tables are REALLY small. We had to pull 2 together for the 4 of us to have room to fit all of our food. The tables hadnt been wiped so I had to clean the tables and the seat so that DD15 would be comfortable sitting down (she wont sit if there are visible crumbs). The tables are also very close together so I was worried that DD15 would be uncomfortable because we were close to others but she was fine. The indoor dining room is very small but because of the heat and potential for flying insects outside I wanted to keep DD15 inside. At this point shes still really excited so shes coping really well.

    I went to get things like ketchup and noticed that the only vinegar was malt vinegar which means gluten. I asked one of the girls working there if I could get white vinegar (I'm Canadian, what can I say?) and she went into the kitchen to get some. She came out a while later with a condiment cup containing the white vinegar.

    It didnt seem to take too long for the food to be brought out. I think it was less than 5 minutes though I wasnt watching the time.

    All I can say is YUMMY!! The fish was a large single piece of fish. It was nice and flaky and the breading had a great texture and tasted really good. This was the first time my kids ever tried onion rings and they loved them. They were a little greasy but I suppose onion rings are supposed to be greasy, right? The fries werent anything special but fries dont need to be; they were fine.

    Allergy fish & chips
    [​IMG]

    Allergy onion rings
    [​IMG]

    For anybody reading along who doesnt have allergies, heres the regular fish & chips.
    [​IMG]

    I told the kids we werent going to even discuss dessert there because the plan was to head to Babycakes later. They love Babycakes so there were no arguments.

    Overall, we had a really good experience here. Well most likely consider this our go-to place to eat at DTD when we do actually venture there (we rarely do).
     
  4. clanmcculloch

    clanmcculloch DIS Veteran

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    My kids are weird. They love sushi. I mean LOVE sushi. DD12 is very particular about what sushi shell eat but she does still love it. I had promised them that wed get food from the sushi bar at least once during our trip. On our arrival day, we really werent hungry for dinner but I knew we had to eat something so I figured it was a perfect time to get something to go from Kona Island Sushi Bar. We were pretty tired so I just wanted to get it to go and head back to our room to eat there.

    When looking at the display case and menu, I was surprised at how many of the rolls have tempura in or on them. I think in the past weve typically ordered off menu so I never realized.

    I knew we wouldnt want much because we had a big lunch and had been snacking and still had a whole lot of snacks in our room (we had just stopped at Babycakes so we had a half dozen donuts with our names on them sitting in our room). After looking over the menu, I figured some kind of combo would be best so I figured the Kona Combo Plate would work well. Generally we cant get California rolls because most places use artificial crab mean which contains gluten but I know from past experience that they only use real crab and weve enjoyed them in the past. Since I know what I want, I ask the CM at the cash to speak to somebody about ordering with allergies. The CM asks me to wait a minute while he got a chef.

    A few minutes later, out comes a chef. It was Chef Katrina who weve met on a few occasions in the past, the last time being at Kona. We both recognized each other immediately and smiled. It was nice seeing her again.

    Anyway, after a few minutes chatting, we discussed our order. I hadnt realized it but the tuna poke typically has sesame oil making it not safe even using the gluten free soy sauce. I know weve had it before from there but I guess they made it without the oil (another chef made it later in the week in the club lounge without the oil so it can be done but it wasnt a big deal). She asked if plain diced tuna served the way the poke would normally be served would be alright and it was. Actually, its really more to my kids liking that way as they dont like spicy and tuna poke has Siracha in it so this was probably better. She went over our order with the sushi chef and then left.

    I was able to watch the sushi chef and it did look as though he had a separate rolling mat from a different area from the ones he had been using to put together the regular sushi that he had been working with and he prepared it in a different part of the sushi bar.

    Chef Katrina came back with a covered condiment cup containing the gluten free soy sauce (San-J gluten free tamari) while the sushi chef was still working on our food.

    Cant beat freshly made sushi. The Kona Combo Plate consists of (from the left) tuna poke (in this case diced tuna), salmon sashimi and Luau California roll without the pineapple (this was just a request and not an allergy issue because DD12 just didnt want pineapple in her roll).
    [​IMG]

    It would be enough for a single person for a meal. DH got some food from the club lounge so he didnt have any of the sushi. This was enough for the kids and I to each have a bit. Since we really werent very hungry, it was enough so that we still had room for our donuts. We have our priorities straight obviously.

    My only regret about Kona Island Sushi Bar is that we didnt get an opportunity to get full meals there. Theres always next trip.
     
  5. clanmcculloch

    clanmcculloch DIS Veteran

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    What can I say about Babycakes? Well, how about ITS WONDERFUL!! Weve eaten some things from Babycakes before but those were always ordered to restaurants for us. This was our first time actually making our way down there since we typically skip DTD. This trip we had plans to check out DQ so the days plan included going in to Babycakes before heading back to our resort.

    Not being familiar with DTD, I wasnt sure how far it would really seem or how easy it would be to find based only on maps. It was pretty easy to find actually even though I dont recall seeing any signs from the outside. It was only easy to find because I knew it was in the Pollo Campero building. If I didnt know that, Im not sure I would have found it.

    It was around 4pm-ish during Presidents Week. I was nervous that they may be running low on choices by this time of the day because of how big the crowds are this week. I didnt need to worry as they had a pretty full display case. They had a nice variety of different donuts, cupcakes, cookies and other goodies including even chocolate dipped strawberries.

    I should apologize right now because I didnt take any pictures. Im so ashamed. Please dont revoke my dining reviewer card.

    I wasn't sure how wed be able to choose. I asked how long they stay good if refrigerated to which I was told that the cupcakes and donuts should really be eaten by the next day at the latest if theyre going to still taste good and that cookies could last several more days. She did say that if we wanted cookies for eating another day that wed be better off grabbing the ones by the Pollo Campero checkout that are wrapped rather than the ones from the jar at their counter as theyd stay fresh longer. That was fine by me. I did grab several packages.

    We've tried some of the cupcakes before so we decided to go for donuts, especially since Ive read so many reviews saying just how good the donuts are plus we really enjoyed the ones we got the previous year at Trails End. They had 7 different kinds of donuts but I only wanted to get a half dozen (its a little cheaper to get a half dozen or dozen compared to the individual donut price) so I convinced my kids to skip the one with coconut since I dont like coconut very much. The girl behind the counter put them in a nice box for us.

    I must say, I was so disappointed that I had to make sure that they were gone that night. It was torture, but we were forced to devour them. Hee hee hee. OK, they were delicious. I cut each one of them in thirds so we could each have a piece of each one. Later in the week a friend of ours came by to see us and brought us another four. They were gone just as quickly.

    I definitely prefer the texture of the donuts over the texture of the cupcakes. I believe my kids said the same thing. The cupcakes just like the regular cakes when we had them in the past definitely did have a different texture than people who aren't used to gluten free baking would expect though to me the icing texture was more what seemed unusual. The donuts on the other hand had a perfect texture in addition to the great taste.

    The cookies were just as good as I remembered them from a previous trip. My kids liked them over the Enjoy Life ones, though that could partly have been because we also get Enjoy Life at home while these ones are only available to us at WDW. I think DD12 liked the OMG cookies a bit more but DD15 can't eat those one. I liked the Babycakes ones a bit more.

    I had originally planned to pick up some kind of loaf to have for breakfast the next couple of days but we ended up staying club level so breakfast was already being provided by the lounge meaning it would have been overkill. This just means we have to go back.

    Babycakes will be the other part of our go-to meal whenever we go to DTD.
     
  6. Chelley00

    Chelley00 DIS Veteran

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    I froze them on our trip and just pulled out a donut or cupcake each morning to defrost before I showered. They were fine and I couldn't really tell a difference at all.
     
  7. clanmcculloch

    clanmcculloch DIS Veteran

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    I hope I was clear that I was saying that tongue in cheek. They really were delicious.

    Were you staying offsite? I wish we had a freezer in our room but we stay onsite and not in DVC units so no freezer. I'd love that if we could get more at one time. Though, we'd probably just eat them all right away making ourselves sick from eating too much so maybe it's good that I don't get more at one time. Clearly I have issues with lack of self-control.
     
  8. clanmcculloch

    clanmcculloch DIS Veteran

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    We’ve enjoyed The Plaza several times in the past so I was pretty confident in this meal, though the fact that this would be the first time since DD12 went gluten free and the fact that she can’t eat the GNI buns that are popping up all over WDW had me nervous. She can be fussy.

    Like always, when we checked in we were given a buzzer and asked to wait. I think we waited about 15 minutes which brought us up to our ADR time since we were early like everybody is asked to do. We were seated by the front window over by the wall which is nice because that means not a lot of movement around us, not likely for DD15 to get bumped (we sat her by the window) but we can still have a lot to look at with the nice view out the window. Because of the size of the restaurant it never seems to get too loud which is nice.

    I asked the girl seating us for the allergy binder (this is the only TS restaurant where they have ever brought it to the table for me and they always do) but she had to go find it. Our waiter came by to get our drinks and I mentioned that we’d be ordering allergy milkshakes so he said he’d get the chef and also find us the binder. I told him that the girl who sat us was already looking for it but he said he’d make sure she found it. It was at our table a few minutes later.

    Lately I’ve been hearing more and more of people getting different chefs than we were used to so I was a bit nervous since Cousin Ken (he told us to call him that because he spends so much time with us that he feels like family) is one of the reasons we love The Plaza. We asked if he was working and YAY, he was. So of course we spend a while chatting before we ever get to discussing food.

    Of course, we started out with milkshakes. He makes them for us using Tofutti ice cream and Pacific rice milk since the soy milk has gluten and DD12 can’t drink soy milk even though she’s not allergic to soy (see allergy list above). As always, they’re YUMMY.
    [​IMG]

    Next came the discussion about our meals.

    DD15 has never been able to eat any of the breads at WDW so we knew she’d have to get something bunless. She enjoys tuna salad so she asked for a scoop of tuna salad. Cousin Ken opened a new can of tuna and made up a batch of tuna salad for the girls because they can’t eat the regular one, I think due to lemon juice but I can’t remember for sure (I’ve been able to eat it but they can’t so I think it’s citrus). The regular house made potato chips were also off limits (can’t remember the ingredient but I know they were off limits) and he couldn’t make fries due to other things being cooked in the same fryer so he offered her some of the WDW brand chips. These are pretty much her absolute favourite snack so she was thrilled. Later in the meal he brought her a few more for the road. She was THRILLED.
    [​IMG]

    DD12 as I said was the one I was worried about this meal. She used to love the meatloaf prior to going gluten free but the meatloaf has oatmeal making it unsafe. Cousin Ken did confirm that he only had the GNI buns which DD12 can’t eat because they use oranges in them. After Cousin Ken and I tried going through options that might be good without a bun, Cousin Ken said he’d see if he could find an Udi’s bun somewhere in the park. She agreed to have the tuna salad with or without the bun but she’s definitely prefer with. Well, he’s a miracle worker. I don’t know where he had to send a runner to but he managed to get an Udi’s hamburger bun for her from somewhere. Phew! She had the same issue as DD15 with the sides but she’s not a big fan of kettle chips so she didn’t want the WDW brand of chips. She opted for grapes instead. She wasn’t thrilled about not getting fries or chips but what are you going to do? At least she likes grapes.
    [​IMG]

    I remembered reading somebody else’s review of a phili cheese steak sandwich so I thought I’d ask about that. They don’t have any kind of non-dairy cheese so if I wanted it I would have to get it without the cheese. Fine. It would still have the onions and peppers. For those who have never seen the GNI buns, they’re all pretty small. Cousin Ken had to give me two smaller sandwiches since he was using hot dog buns. They tasted pretty good though they would have been better with the cheese. They were nicely seasoned and he grilled the buns to try to improve the texture. They’re definitely not as good as Udi’s in either taste or texture but with the grilling they were ok and at least edible. I decided to give the broccoli slaw a try and I was glad I did. It was a nice alternative to the standard fries or chips. I was nervous about the GNI buns because I had emailed them some questions about cross contamination prevention procedures and never got a response but I didn’t end up having any problems later so I guess they were ok.
    [​IMG]

    For anybody reading along who doesn’t have food allergies, here’s DH’s meal. He got the regular phili with the broccoli slaw.
    [​IMG]

    Every time we eat here I tell myself I’m not going to eat a lot so that I’ll have room for dessert. I didn’t order a milkshake for myself knowing that it would fill me up more plus I also know DD12 never drinks her whole shake so I figured I’d just finish hers. Well, of course, we were all stuffed. Sigh…..

    Cousin Ken has got a great rapport with DD15. Even a couple years ago when strangers couldn’t come near her, she let him get close and didn’t freak out when he touched her arm. He really is like a giant teddy bear. He can also seem to get a smile and some cooperation out of my moody DD12 who sometimes sulks when her options are limited (I get it and don’t really fault her but it’s not like it changes anything so she’s just making herself and the rest of us miserable when she does it).
    [​IMG]

    With the changes in the bread and the lack of side options, I’m not sure if we’ll be back for a while unless it’s maybe an ADR around late lunch time just to get dessert. Cousin Ken is like always amazing but he can only do so much when he doesn’t have as much to work with.
     
  9. clanmcculloch

    clanmcculloch DIS Veteran

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    Every trip we eat at Sunshine Seasons. This trip was no exception. We just love the fact that it’s a CS location in a park where we get to talk to a chef rather than a manager. I know that there are lots of options that are safe for us and that the chefs will even customize something but we seem to have our favourites that we just stick with each trip.

    DD12 loves the chicken. She always gets it. She’s not a big fan of the half chicken but a kids meal is too small with only one drumstick. If you order a meal with 3 drumsticks they charge for a half chicken and give you the same amount of sides, but she only ever eats 2 of the drumsticks. After doing a bit of Mickey Math, I figured out that it made more sense for us to just order her 2 kids meals instead of the adult meal. With both meals she just wanted white rice (there really are more options but she loves white rice). Usually she likes a drink like Poweraide (not that she needs it) but since this was a pair of kids meals she had to get something that goes with a kids meal so she got an apple juice and a water with it. I asked the chef about the dessert options and he said to tell the cashier that he told us to grab something from the allergy shelf for her. The cashier didn’t want to allow the chocolate bar or OMG cookie but ended up ringing it through after we explained that the options available with the kids meals aren’t safe for her due to allergies and that we were following the chef’s instructions. You could see from her face that she didn’t like it but she rang it up as part of the kids meals anyway (I’m not sure why she cared but it seems she did).
    [​IMG]

    DD15 is much more adventurous and will try anything once. Ever since trying the seared tuna, it’s become one of her favourite meals. She orders it in any restaurant that has seared tuna steak on their menu. So of course she wanted the seared tuna this time as well. She can’t have the noodles it’s normally served with so we had to discuss alternate options with the chef. Like DD12, she’s also a huge white rice fan so she typically just asks for a lot of white rice. We were standing by the salad station talking to the chef and she started asking about some of the things on display. After chatting a bit he asked if she wanted to try the beets and being the adventurous eater that she is, she said yes. He gave her both the yellow and purple beets. It turns out she’s not the biggest fan of beets but she ate a bit and I enjoyed the rest.
    [​IMG]

    Like DD15, I’m a big fan of the seared tuna. Like her, I also can’t have the noodles but unlike her, I like the salad. The salad comes with some kind of additional vegetables that go on top and they’re quite tasty. He also talked me into trying the beets and I’m glad he did as they were tasty.
    [​IMG]

    I don’t like these new containers they’re using for serving. I’m pretty sure it’s a smaller portion now. I’m glad I had DD15’s beets because even with that I could have eaten more. I knew we had a big all you can eat dinner ahead of us that night so it wasn’t a big deal but I was disappointed that they were using these smaller dishes in order to cut back on portions (I assume that’s why anyway).

    FYI: They moved the allergy snacks. They were on top of the very first counter immediately on the right once you pass the signs showing what’s available, before you get to any of the actual food stations. They had quite a few options like always, including the ever popular Enjoy Life chocolate bars. They do have a variety of different special dietary needs treats together there so make sure you’re grabbing the right thing. The no sugar added brownies are pretty close to the gluten free brownies, etc.

    The biggest problem we have at Sunshine Seasons is timing our food. DD12’s food comes from a different station than mine and DD15’s and is as simple to serve as just putting stuff on a plate so hers is often ready before ours. We end up having DH get his food and go pay for him and DD12 while DD15 and I are still waiting. It means they’re half finished their meals when we’re just sitting down. I need to do something about how we place the order and actually ask the chef to do hers last next time.

    The only other problem we ever have at Sunshine Seasons is the crowded chaotic feel. There’s no sense of order at the various stations and people are just wandering. While waiting we’re never sure where we’re supposed to stand and we keep having to go back and forth to get all of our stuff together before we go pay. In addition to this, the tables are all very close together and it’s pretty much impossible to get through a meal without your chair being bumped. A booth works a lot better for a kid who can’t handle being bumped but the booths are very limited and your food might get cold while waiting. Even just getting between the tables to get to an empty table can be difficult. The acoustics in the area are also not the greatest making it seem much louder than it should be. I have no idea why but the line at Living with the Land was insanely long (the queue was completely in use and it was still extending quite a bit into the eating area) so that made it even harder to navigate. Luckily Epcot is DD15’s favourite park and she loves the food at SS and was having a really good day that day so she handled it all beautifully. If she had have been struggling at all then I don’t think she would have made it through lunch.

    We’ll definitely be back but like always we’ll eat early and make sure DD15 is still in a really good mood when we go or else we’ll just head back to the resort to eat.
     
  10. stackyallred

    stackyallred DIS Veteran

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    I haven't had the chance to read the whole thing yet, but thanks for sharing! I look forward to reading more! You are such a help to the many looking for allergy questions. I would LOVE to get some fish and chips but I think my soy allergy would get in the way of that... Hope your trip was wonderful!
     
  11. disney fan4

    disney fan4 Mouseketeer

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    Thanks for the info! When we last went to Disney Udi's was available everywhere. Do you think that gni will still be offered when we go in Oct? I am not familiar with that brand. It looks like my son (gluten, dairy and peanut allergy) will be able to eat it, but he will only like it if tastes similar to Udi's buns.
     
  12. clanmcculloch

    clanmcculloch DIS Veteran

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    I really don't know if the fish & chips have soy or not. You'll have to ask. Sorry.

    By October I wouldn't count on many if any places having the Udi's buns. While the Udi's buns have a much better texture, they have eggs while the GNI ones don't. That makes GNI something that covers more allergies which is what WDW is aiming for. It costs more to carry multiple brands so I think more places are switching. Some may keep the Udi's since there are a few that still even have Ener-G but I wouldn't count on it. Taste-wise I don't know that it's much different than Udi's but texture is very different. Udi's has a texture that's a lot closer to regular bread while GNI has a very gluten free type of texture.
     
  13. stackyallred

    stackyallred DIS Veteran

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    On the GNI website it says they do have eggs (egg white) in the ingredients. Did you have a type that was egg free or are egg whites safe for you all? I wish they would have Ener-G everywhere but I'm sure that would alienate someone too, so at least they are trying.
     
  14. clanmcculloch

    clanmcculloch DIS Veteran

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    My DD who is egg free can't have the GNI buns regardless because she's also allergic to yeast. I was surprised that all the buns on the GNI website look like they have eggs yet the package they've got at the resort is egg free. I sent GNI an email asking about this as well as a few other things but I never heard back from them which IMO doesn't bode well for them. I wonder if they made these ones specifically for WDW?
     
  15. mistysue

    mistysue DIS Veteran

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    Please update us if you ever get that response- I also read this, went to their site and was confused that they all list egg whites.
    That's a little scary, I hope they are special and not labeled wrong! :scared1: What a nightmare that would be. I feel so bad when places who are actually trying get mixed up.

    Random extra from another thread I lost somewhere, I emailed enjoy life about their cookies (did you see they are all GMO free now? That made me happy) and they are no longer doing the soft cookies in small packs but did not address my question about whether they made different special packs for places like Disney. Do you know if you got any small soft packs on this trip? Or how long it's been since you saw them?
     
  16. stackyallred

    stackyallred DIS Veteran

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    Thanks for the update about GNI. I did notice in TINY writing at the bottom of their home page a statement about how they are working on a vegan and dairy free version of their breads to come in the near future. Maybe they have already incorporated that into the Disney offerings? I may call GNI. One of the chefs at POP gave me their phone number last year and talked to me about GNI as well as told me to call if I was ever concerned about any allergy issues regarding upcoming trips so maybe if nothing else I can give him a call when our trip gets closer. I will report back on the boards if I find out any solid info. :)
     
  17. clanmcculloch

    clanmcculloch DIS Veteran

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    I thought we got some of the soft cookies but I'll have to look through my pictures. Hmmmm...... My memory STINKS.

    I don't expect to hear from GNI which really does worry me. I really don't like using the phone (it's part of my personal communication issues related to having Asperger Syndrome) so I tend to put off calling places.
     
  18. clanmcculloch

    clanmcculloch DIS Veteran

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    We’ve eaten at 1900 Park Fare for supper a few times, but only once since Chef TJ moved over. DD12 missed that dinner and I lost my camera that trip so I don’t have pictures of him or the food so I wanted to go again so that she could experience his awesomeness and I could capture said awesomeness on film. A few days before our reservation I found out from another chef that Chef TJ was out on leave but I figured that when he worked at ‘Ohana he trained all the staff to do things his way and I’ve seen reports of other chefs doing the “Chef TJ” style meals so I figured I’d keep the ADR even though I wouldn’t get a picture with him.

    I’ll let you know up front, the chef did NOT do things Chef TJ’s way. Bummer!

    We had an opening (4:30) ADR. We typically eat early and it’s important for DD15 to eat on time. This also typically means being seated on time and low crowds for checking in. Well, I made the mistake of booking the ADR on a park day so DD15 was already getting uncomfortable just waiting for them to open the doors to check us in. While we were waiting before and after being checked in it was difficult to create space around her so that she could cope. It’s very bright in the lobby area and something about the tile and brightness and all those people crammed in such a small area just makes it seem over stimulating and stressful. Luckily we didn’t have a long wait, but the opening with everybody shouting Bibbity Boppidy Boo had her freaking out because she was already on edge.

    We were maybe third in line so we were escorted in very quickly, thank goodness. We were given a table right by the kitchen door. It seemed like it might have been too close to everything but her chair was never bumped and we really didn’t notice people passing close to us to get to the buffet so it worked out just fine. In fact, we were always the first table to see the characters so that was kind of nice. We would watch them come out the doors behind us whenever they were announced.

    The chef came out pretty quickly to talk to us. For those of you who know Chef TJ’s style, he makes lots of recommendations. Not this chef. She asked what we wanted. Uh…… what have you got? Anything you want. Uh….. I have no idea, what is there? At this point I asked if we could just walk around the buffet so I could get an idea of what kinds of ingredient she had to work with. I have no idea if she could have done other things or not, but here’s what we ended up asking for based on what we saw on the buffet. DD15 could not think of what sounded good as we were talking and was bordering on meltdown at this point as I tried to get her to make a decision so I had to kind of choose for her to a degree while trying to gauge what would make her happy. TS dinners on park days are very difficult for her.

    The tomato soup (I think it was a Florentine?) was safe for me so I decided to try it. It was pretty tasty.
    [​IMG]

    I was the only person who wanted a salad. I remember how much I enjoyed the creativity and beauty of Chef TJ’s salad (I realize I’m unfairly comparing her to Chef TJ, sorry) so I was disappointed that I didn’t get something like that, but it was still a nice salad. She told me I could just get it from the buffet but I wasn’t comfortable with that considering how much dairy and gluten was all around the salads. She agreed to get me a salad from the kitchen.
    [​IMG]

    I don’t recall how the salmon on the buffet was prepared but I do remember I couldn’t eat it. The chef brought me out a freshly cooked piece. It was very nicely cooked, just a simple sear.
    [​IMG]

    I’m suddenly realizing that I must be missing some pictures. I’ll see if I can find others. I don’t recall what else I ate but I know I put together a hot plate for myself including some prime rib as well as a plate with some fruit and peel & eat shrimp on a cold plate.

    The girls really weren’t asking for a lot. I know DD12 ate some of the fruit and peel & eat shrimp I grabbed but I don’t remember if she got anything else from the buffet.

    DD15 is a huge mushroom lover so she asked for a dish of mushrooms. The chef gladly sautéed some up for her. She said they were delicious.
    [​IMG]

    DD12 is a huge shrimp fan so in addition to the peel & eat shrimp she also asked for some additional hot shrimp. The chef gladly sautéed some up for her. I tried some since there was too much for her to eat and they were plump and tasty.
    [​IMG]

    Both girls decided they wanted a create your own pasta dish. The chef did have gluten free pasta in the kitchen but warned us it would take a while since Tinkyada does take a while to cook. That was fine by us as long as the kids were happy with their food. She gave the girls options for what kind of oil (olive, garlic, a few other choices) as well as what to go with the pasta. Neither wanted sauce, just sautéed.

    DD15’s was tossed with oil, garlic, I think a bit of additional mushroom and lots of fresh parsley.
    [​IMG]

    DD12’s was tossed with oil, fresh parsley and lots of bacon.
    [​IMG]

    They both loved their pasta dishes. They did have lots of other options that they could have in it but this is exactly what they asked for.

    The chef brought one of these for each of the girls. Those are crunchy Enjoy Life chocolate chip cookies with vanillaTofutti ice cream.
    [​IMG]

    The chef brought this for me. I think that’s an OMG chocolate chips cookie shaped with some kind of round cutter (like a cookie cutter but probably sharper) topped with vanilla Tofutti ice cream.
    [​IMG]

    Clearly not Chef TJ desserts. They tasted good and they were done up in a very appealing style. It’s just hard not to be disappointed that they were the exact same components that are served everywhere else when Chef TJ’s desserts are famous, we’ve had it once before and DD12 didn’t get to try it in the past. I know, I know, our expectations are unreasonable and we did enjoy our desserts as well as the rest of our meals.

    Then there was something special for DH. We were staying at the Polynesian in a club level room. I had made sure that the chef in the lounge knew we wouldn’t be there that evening to get any hot food so that she wouldn’t go to the trouble to prepare something for us. She knew our schedule from the Special Diets form and saw that we’d be at 1900PF. Her DH is a chef over there so she asked him to arrange for a sugar free dessert for DH (he’s a T2 diabetic and she had been arranging for a sugar free dessert for him every night in the lounge). Here’s what he sent for DH. I bet it was high in carbs even though it was sugar free and I assume it was made with some kind of artificial sweetener but boy was he happy. Of course he wasn’t told about it until he had already sampled some of the desserts on the buffet and of course he wasn’t about to be rude by not eating it (oh brother). The sacrifices he makes….
    [​IMG]

    As to the characters, I was quite disappointed. I felt like they were all basically phoning it in. They had their basic scripts and didn’t veer from them. I tried kidding around with a couple of them to get them interacting more with the girls and they just smiled, posed and said goodbye before moving on. I did see them spending more time and interacting more with little kids which is great. It just felt like for bigger kids and adults they couldn’t be bothered. DD15 was actually trying to interact so it would have been nice if there could have been more. Maybe it was more that we were the first table so they hadn’t really gotten into it yet. Who knows? At least it wasn’t overwhelming. For some ASD kids it would probably have been a really good thing to be at the first table because that way they don’t have to deal with the anticipation of seeing the characters and having to wait while they went to other tables.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Overall it was a good meal. Since my kids aren’t all that into characters I’m not sure if we’ll be back. I suppose if I can be sure that Chef TJ is there I might try it again but overall it wasn’t anything that stands out over other meals.
     
  19. clanmcculloch

    clanmcculloch DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    Messages:
    5,576
    We dont do a lot of TS breakfasts because DD15s options for breakfast are so limited but I thought I had read that Kona has some good allergy pancakes and that they can possibly do a dairy free macadamia nut butter for the pancakes so I figured Id give it a try. I had wanted to try it ever since I heard about allergy safe Tonga Toast. We were staying at the Polynesian so a late breakfast seating was perfect for a day where we planned to head to a park after lunch. At home we normally eat lunch by 11:30 so an 11:00 ADR was perfect for having us eating maybe around 11:30.

    When we arrived upstairs in the Great Ceremonial House I was surprised by just how many people were up there. We were around 10 minutes before our ADR. It was pretty crowded around Kona. When I went to check in, the CM explained that they were running behind because of marathon runners coming in to eat (the Princess half marathon was that morning). Great&.. He handed me a pager and I asked if it would work over by the gift shop. It would. Phew! I didnt think DD15 would do well near the crowd. Anyway, our buzzer went off right at 11:00 so as it turned out we were seated on time.

    I was worried that with the crowd outside and inside the restaurant that it would be loud but it really wasnt. By the end of the meal the restaurant was only half full and while I personally think it feels almost like theres an echo from the open space (yes I feel echoes; dont ask me to explain it because I think its an autism thing but not one that bothers me), something about Kona is very comfortable for DD15. I suspect its because its in the Polynesian which is one of DD15s happy places (hence one of the many reasons we keep returning to stay there).

    Chef Brett came out pretty quickly to speak with us. I immediately asked about the pancakes for DD15. That was a no-go. He said he doesnt have a surface on which to cook allergy safe pancakes unless Im willing to risk the cross contamination from regular food. Nope. I asked about the macadamia nut butter figuring maybe shed want waffles with that. He said he could probably make some using Earth Balance but that hed never tried it (I didnt realize it was ground up macadamia nuts mixed with butter, I thought it would be like almond butter, cashew butter, etc thats an alternative to peanut butter; I was wrong). I asked DD15 if she would want this and she said no. She had been eating waffles for breakfast every day so she didnt want them, especially after getting her heart set on pancakes (note to self: do not tell an autistic child that there is an option you havent confirmed personally). There really wasnt much on the breakfast menu she could eat so I wasnt sure what to do. Chef Brett had an idea. He said they were already starting to prepare the kitchen for lunch so if she wanted something from the lunch menu he would gladly make it. Thank you Chef Brett! Last time we ate at Kona was for lunch and she LOVED her lunch so that was a no-brainer. She asked for an alternative to the noodle bowl which is basically a bunch of gluten free noodles sautéed with Asian vegetables and a sliced up steak cooked in a teriyaki sauce. It was as good as last time.
    [​IMG]

    DD12 was in the mood for an omelet. Unfortunately, what she wanted was a ham and cheese omelet. According to Chef Brett, they stopped carrying soy cheese of any kind a long time ago because it kept getting thrown out because it would expire. He said that next time I should notify a chef ahead of time that we would want cheese and theyd order it in. Ill keep that in mind since were at the resort half our trips anyway so popping in a few days ahead of time should be easy, unless our ADR is our first day in which case I have my ways of contacting chefs at the Polynesian. Anyway, she ended up getting just a ham omelet. It normally comes with biscuits I think but she obviously cant have that. She also cant have the GNI buns due to citrus so I asked if he had any Udis bagels (I know they have them at the resort somewhere because she had been getting them every morning in the club lounge). He did have them so thats what she got with it, served with Earth Balance margarine.
    [​IMG]

    And then there was me and my desire for Tonga Toast. As it turns out, that was a specialty of Chef Johnny who has since moved from Kona breakfast to Ohana breakfast. Major bummer! Chef Brett said he had never made allergy Tonga Toast but that hed give it a try if I really wanted it. He warned me that it would take a while since the GNI buns are rather dense and take a while to soak up the eggs and then to cook through. That was fine since DD15s pasta would take a while to cook anyway. Since I cant eat pork, I asked what kind of breakfast meat options he had as the Tonga Toast comes with bacon. He had turkey bacon so I ordered that. My meal was wonderful (though I forgot to take a picture of the bacon). The server told me the kitchen had dubbed my meal Tonga Sliders since they were several small stuffed buns, like a slider burger. There was a mashed banana mixture inside each of the buns, theyre coated in cinnamon sugar and I believe he even had to make that strawberry sauce custom for me. DD12 ended up eating some of the strawberry sauce with a spoon because it was good. It was also served with real maple syrup so I was fine with letting her have some of it. The sliders were good both ways. Thats Earth Balance margarine on the plate with the strawberry sauce though I cant imagine needing it and I didnt use it.
    [​IMG]

    Our meal did take quite a while because of our particular requests plus the fact that DH and I are rather chatty people and ended up talking a lot with Chef Brett. By the time we were done eating, the restaurant was half empty with people starting to come in for lunch and the girls were both getting really antsy and anxious to get going.

    Because of DD15s lack of breakfast options Im not sure if well be back or not for brunch (I dont think I should count on her being able to order off the lunch menu and Im unbelievably grateful that the chef gave her that option), though Id love to get the Tonga Sliders again.

    ETA: I just realized that I didn't include the fact that DH and I shared a French Press to drink. I like strong black coffee, DH not so much (I try to make sure I make the coffee on the weekend because his tastes like coffee flavoured hot water while mine tastes like coffee). I really enjoyed it while DH had to add extra cream and wasn't so fond of it. I should probably mention that he sees nothing wrong with Disney coffee while though I don't mind it, I can barely taste it but drink it because I need the caffeine or I'll get a migraine.
     
  20. clanmcculloch

    clanmcculloch DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    Messages:
    5,576
    Weve eaten at Sci-Fi Dine-In Theatre before so we had a pretty good idea of what to expect and that my kids have a dish that they can eat and enjoy (ribs). We havent been since I had to go pork free but I was pretty sure Id be able to find something I would enjoy as well even if it meant a burger.

    Our ADR was at 12:35. It was raining outside as we got out of the Muppets around12:00 so we figured wed see if we could check in early rather than looking around the Streets of America like I had originally planned. I was told they were completely booked and therefore werent allowing anybody to check in more than 15 minutes before their ADR. Sigh&.. We decided to run for the Tatooine Trading Post to shop a bit. DD15 and I really dont like the feel of ponchos (its a sensory thing) so unless its pouring, well just run for it. Which is what we did since it was only a light rain. Thank goodness we didnt get very wet and it had stopped raining by the time we left so that meant we werent sitting through lunch soaking wet. That would have meant meltdown or having to leave without lunch in order to avoid a meltdown.

    We checked in at 12:20. We knew wed have to wait. We saw them turn others without ADRS away. I heard some people complaining that there wasnt a single TS option in DHS available that day and how ridiculous it was, yada yada yada. Book an ADR if you want a TS meal at DHS. Anyway, as I said, I knew wed have to wait. What I didnt expect was to see a bunch of groups arrive after us getting seated before us. I went up after seeing this happen a few times and noticing we were 5 minutes past our ADR time and I asked how long it would be before we were seated and was told it would be another 5 minutes. 10 minutes and a bunch of others who arrived after us being seated before us later and we were finally shown to our car. I can speculate that maybe it was due to our allergies and not wanting to seat too many allergy guests at the same time but thats 100% speculation on my part with absolutely no evidence to suggest that I could be right. I just know I was trying to not let my frustration show to my kids because they, especially DD15, tend to feed off my mood.

    We were given a car at the back of the theatre. We didnt end up with any hitchhikers this time. Our car was on the opposite side of the theatre from where the bathrooms are. When you have a child who seems to like to initiate every bathroom she comes across, that can get old pretty quickly. I dont like walking in front of other guests because of the movie screen so Im glad we were at the back. From the back you have a really good view of the screen and the whole theatre in general. I think I like being in the back.

    Our server came out pretty quickly but since we wanted milkshakes we knew we needed to talk to the chef so our server got us waters. He brought the chef out with him when he brought our waters. The chef went over our milkshake options. In addition to the standard chocolate and vanilla he could also make creamsicle. Woo Hoo!!! I didnt point this option out the girls because I didnt want to have the chef take the time to find out if there was any real citrus fruit in it, plus theyre not so big on the flavour anyway so I got their attention to find out if they wanted chocolate or vanilla. For some reason, they both prefer vanilla Tofutti even though theyre typically more chocolate lovers so they chose vanilla. I decided to go for the creamsicle since I miss that flavour. He wasnt positive off the top of his head of the orange syrup was safe for me or not but he said that if it wasnt that hes use orange soda which is safe. In the past I was told that they have a dedicated milkshake machine but now it seems they just use a dedicated allergy blender which is also fine. Like our previous time here, the milkshakes were thinner than we prefer but very very tasty. I did find that the creamsicle had a bit of a metallic taste but it was still good. DD12 never finishes her milkshakes so I got to have half of hers as well. Oh the sacrifices we make for our kids.
    [​IMG]

    After confirming that the ribs and fries are still safe for the girls, they quickly ordered them and got back to watching their movie clips. Those kids could eat ribs every day if I let them. Theyre not so big on sauce so we asked for the sauce on the side so they could try it and decide for themselves if they wanted it or not. They didnt, but that doesnt mean anything about how good it is since they never eat BBQ sauce at home either. The ribs were once again fall off the bone tender and yummy.
    [​IMG]

    I wasnt sure what options there would be for me since I got the ribs last time I ate here and as I said, Im now pork free. I knew a burger would be an option but thats boring so I wanted to know what else I could get. I havent had a rueben in a long time so I asked about that. The chef asked if Id be ok with it on a hamburger bun since he didnt think he had any regular slices of GFCF bread and I was fine with that. He didnt have any soy cheese so it would be a cheeseless rueben but that was also fine by me. I asked him to confirm that the thousand island dressing was safe and to let me know if it wasnt so I could order something else. It was safe. Instead of the hamburger bun, I think it was a pizza crust that he used. I thought this was better than a bun, especially since the bun would have been GNI. It was pretty good. I dont think he actually grilled it and it would have been better grilled but Im not sure it would have held together. It looks like its more the size of half two thirds of a sandwich but I assume its the same amount of meat that would normally go into a rueben, just stacked to fit the size of the bread. The picture was taken after I already ate half the sandwich so no, this isn't the total size. I enjoyed it quite a bit and would consider ordering it again.
    [​IMG]

    We were too full for dessert. They only had the exact same ice cream and cookies as everywhere else anyway so no big loss.

    The atmosphere in Sci-Fi is excellent for DD15. After a busy morning in DHS, this becomes almost a semi-sensory deprivation area to decompress. The lights are wonderfully dim. The tables are very separate from the tables around us (we put the kids in the front seat which means even if we do have hitchhikers the kids wouldnt have contact with them anyway and people who walk in front of the car are a good distance from the table due to the hood of the car). Everybody seems to try to talk very quietly because of the atmosphere of being in a movie theatre. She can zone out and focus on the movie screen. The seats themselves are great for somebody like DD15 who seeks tactile sensory inputs because the benches are firm, when she sits on the inside she can press against the inside wall of the car, and the table is really close so she can lean on the table and even press into it if she wants. It really is a great atmosphere, nearly the perfect atmosphere for her.

    The short version is that the food and atmosphere are equally good for us and well definitely be back.
     
  21. clanmcculloch

    clanmcculloch DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    Messages:
    5,576
    For the longest time I was reluctant to try Tony’s Town Square because I wasn’t sure just what kinds of options we’d have besides plain old spaghetti with marinara sauce. Well, then I heard that they have MEATBALLS that are GFCF. That’s like, unheard of. We haven’t had meatballs in a restaurant, well, ever, at least not since figuring out the food allergies. Around the same time I heard this I also heard that they make a fresh fruit sorbet every day so between these two items, I knew I now wanted to try it.

    Our ADR was at 12:30. We arrived at around 12:20 to check in and were told it wouldn’t be a long wait. There weren’t many people in the lobby so it was easy to find seats facing the TV where of course Lady and the Tramp was playing. It wasn’t long before we were called to be seated which disappointed DD12 because she loves that movie (yes, movies outrank food).

    Having never been inside the restaurant, I had no idea what to expect. I didn’t realize that there are two very different areas for dining. One is fairly dim with dark wood and the other is bright and feels like you’re in a solarium. If one would be better for you over the other then I’m sure you could ask for your preference when checking in, but I didn’t know about the two areas so we just followed the hostess. We were seated in the solarium area, right beside the window facing out towards Main Street. It was a beautiful sunny day so it was very bright in this room. The ceiling is very high and the room feels really open. While sometimes a dim room is best for relaxing, there’s something about this solarium type room that was just so cheery and welcoming. The pictures of Lady and the Tramp on the windows are a nice touch. The tables felt as though they were far enough apart that you had some good space around you which is unusual for a WDW restaurant so that made the atmosphere that much better. It really was a good overall atmosphere for DD15 even though she typically doesn’t do so well with really bright areas. I guess having been outside all morning made this seem less bright by comparisson.

    Our server came over to greet us very quickly and was very friendly. She took our drink orders and was able to get DD12 apple juice in an Ariel cup (normally it’s a type of lemonade but she can’t drink lemonade). While getting our drinks she quickly got the chef for us.

    Obviously the first thing I asked the chef about was the spaghetti and meatballs and yes, they were safe. YEAH!!! All 3 of us ordered it.
    [​IMG]

    The portion was a very hearty portion for lunch. Those 3 meatballs were a good 2 inches in diameter each.

    Overall, it was pretty good. The spaghetti had good texture though I do prefer mine a little more al-dente. The sauce was a bit chunkier than my kids like but they’d prefer pureed to perfectly smooth if they could get it that way. The meatballs I hate to say were just ok. They tasted like plain old ground beef. I’m very heavy handed with seasonings at home, especially when doing some type of ethnic cooking so when I cook meatballs, I use a LOT of italian seasonings. They weren’t bad, they just weren’t great. I suppose that since they’re for guests with allergies they’re trying to make sure they’re safe for as many common and uncommon allergies as possible so they make them plain. That’s just a guess but it makes a lot of sense to me. I did like them enough to also finish DD12’s even though I was pretty full.

    I think the chef said he had bread but since my girls can’t eat the GNI I skipped it as well.

    I think one of the most shocking things about this meal was how quickly it was served. Those of you who deal with allergies know just how long it can take for the allergy safe food to be prepared and served. Well, it seems they have gluten free pasta par-cooked and the meatballs are pre-cooked and just need to be steamed and tossed in the sauce. This was the absolute fasted meal we’ve EVER been served. I was impressed. According to the chef, the sauce is made fresh daily.

    Even though I was pretty full, I had to ask about the sorbet I had heard about. My source was correct. YEAH!! He had made a green apple sorbet that morning. That’s the one I had seen a picture of so I was excited to try it. The girls, not so much. They ended up splitting some Tofutti ice cream. I did let them try my sorbet but they’re really not green apple people unlike me who loves green apples. The sorbet was really nice and refreshing. I’d definitely order it again.
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    You know, it’s tough when you’ve already got restaurants you like in a park and then you discover another one you like. How in the world am I going to choose going forward? I’m pretty sure we’ll be back.
     

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