So Britain’s royal couple, William and Kate, made it a year. Who would have thought? I felt the need to celebrate this event so I grabbed my two very-willing taste-testing friends and we headed to the Rose and Crown Pub in EPCOT. I have enjoyed the fish ‘n’ chips from the quick-serve kiosk in the England pavillion for years, but I was really curious about what lie behind that quaint looking pub exterior. Would it be bangers and mash or shepherd’s pie? Or could it be cucumber and watercress sandwiches and lemon curd? Clearly, I don’t know much about British cuisine – but I was about to get an education……
We were greeted by a charming hostess with an accent so thick I couldn’t understand what she was saying, so I just nodded my head and smiled. The charm of all things British had begun! We were going to be seated inside, but I took a chance and asked if there was a table outdoors. Well, we were seated right up against the lagoon with a perfect spot for viewing Illuminations. If only we could stretch our dinner out for 2 hours……..turned out, this wasn’t a problem.
The menu was full of comfort food. Cheese, mashed potatoes, eggs, roasts, cream-laden desserts, chops……..This was a meal I was going to enjoy!
But, having Celiac Disease and being mostly-vegetarian changes how you view menus at a lot of places. Luckily, there’s no reason to be disappointed in Disney’s interpretation of your request. It’s almost as if the chefs are just waiting to get that special order and create something new in their kitchens!
Enter, Chef Matt.
Chef Matt was not from England. It’s ok, keep reading.
Chef Matt took the time to go over the menu with our party. I was not the only diner at the table needing a gluten-free meal. He asked what we were thinking about ordering. I was thinking about ordering many things – Vegetable Pie ‘n’ Mash, Cottage Pie, Mushy Peas, Bubble and Squeak, Cauliflower and Cheese Gratin and Chips were what I wanted. Seriously. I wanted to experience a buffet of British food. When I dine, I dine. Just sit there and enjoy the show.
Chef Matt looked at my choices and pointed out what had gluten in it. He spoke with my friend, who enjoys a fantastic meal just as I do, but doesn’t necessarily need 800 competing flavors running a marathon in her mouth like I do! He asked us to trust him, and he would make us a fantastic meal. My friend decided on salmon as her main dish, and he said he would create around that. He also asked me very pointed questions like: would I eat cheese (well, if it’s important to the dish, then I must), would I eat creme fraiche (yes, drinking it out of a bowl if I had to) and would I eat bacon. Heh. Bacon. A lot of vegetarians will tell you they eat bacon. Why? It’s bacon. Yes, bring it on! This was getting good.
Our table shared an order of fresh, piping-hot, gluten-free
fries chips. And for those of you, like me, that are perpetually disappointed by Disney’s fries, let me reassure you these are NOT Disney fries. These are thick cut, fried, sliced potatoes. No skin on the ends that kids hate. No bland, chemical taste, just real potatoes. Maybe a visual aide would help…..
They. Were. Good.
Usually, I can’t enjoy fries at Disney because there are very few dedicated fryers in the parks. Don’t know what that means? When you are at any dining establishment at Disney and you request fries and mention that you are gluten-free, the manager will let you know if they have a dedicated fryer. That is a deep fryer that is not used for cooking anything other than fries. No chicken nuggets, no fish, no anything that is not a fry can be cooked in that fryer because of the risk of cross-contamination from a gluten-containing food. Some counters will offer to bake you fries in an oven, some will tell you it is a 20-30 minute wait for fries. I usually don’t have the time or patience to wait, so I pass. Resorts are better at the whole fryer thing than parks. But Chef Matt assured me that he gets all his fries from the kiosk out front in the England Pavilion and they are indeed, gluten-free, all the time. And now so does my entire family. All the time.
Hot, puffy, fluffy, soft fries. Did I need dinner?
Shortly after we stopped eating fries – note: I didn’t say finished our fries because I wanted to leave room for dinner – we received our meals. This my friends, is what I received – from the heavens, I am sure of it…….
What, pray tell, is that? Only one of the best meals I have ever had.
It is, in no particular order: a mashed potato tower stuffed with sauteed cabbage and bacon, topped with more cabbage and bacon, surrounded by what seemed like a never-ending supply of fresh vegetables which were lightly roasted, toasted, boiled and fried sitting in a luxurious, dreamy, drenching of creme fraiche.
If it is true that you are what you eat, then this dish sums up my personality perfectly. Foodies will get that. Quite simply, this looked amazing. I hardly knew where to begin.
My first taste was, of course, the potato tower. Melted away in my mouth. Tasted like nothing but goodness. Cabbage, bacon and potatoes. Pure comfort. Then to the vegetables and sauce. Potato wedges, cauliflower, peas, onions, fresh tomatoes, bell peppers, mushrooms and carrots all happily melding together in a creme fraiche sauce. At one point I think I did the food dance. Don’t know what the food dance is? It’s when food is just so flingin’ flangin’ good you can’t help but dance in your seat. My dinner was so good it really required a food waltz.
Luckily, for my friends, I exercised some decorum and did not lick my plate.
(Please keep in mind, that when you are served a special dish like this at Disney, you will probably never eat it again. Next visit the chef may prepare something entirely different for you. Your mileage may vary. Take pictures and enjoy every bite!)
But wait – here’s what my friend had…..
Looks like a little salmon heart, doesn’t it? Topped with grain-rich mustard. Lots of it. Seriously, we were treated, well, like royalty.
Our friend that has no food allergies, lucky her, got to order straight from the menu. She chose the Tomato & Goat Cheese and the Bubble & Squeak. I’m still not sure what that is, but it involves meat, mashed potatoes and gravy, and a frying pan. It looked very good!
How in the world do you top a dinner like this? Well, you don’t, but you can accessorize it nicely with a delicious dessert. But dessert? British desserts? Shortbread? Bread Pudding? I’m sensing a lot of gluten here….
Our server let us know that the Cheesecake with Mocha Cream and Bananas was gluten-free. Cheesecake. Cheese.Cake.
Right as we were being served our cheesecake and delicious Nescafe coffee (no joke, it was good!) the house lights dimmed for Illuminations. Could it get any better than this? Absolutely wonderful company, a delish meal, a dinner show spectacular and this…….
Sorry for the quality of the picture, but it was getting dark fast! Creamy, rich, smooth cheesecake with a chocolate crust. Thick mocha cream with chocolate shavings. Caramelized, slightly crispy bananas. It was almost too much to take in. And in response to your upcoming question, no, I did not eat them all together. I enjoyed each one on its own. I may have put some of the mocha cream in my coffee…….
I hope Wills and Kate make it another year so we can celebrate their love again.