DFB welcomes Guest Author Sara McCaslin with a review of Boatwright’s at Port Orleans Resort Riverside in Walt Disney World. Stop here for southern hospitality!
On Oct. 3, 2015, my dining companions (my husband and two dear friends) arrived at Port Orleans Riverside Resort for our 6:15pm advance dining reservation at Boatwright’s. The four of us were enjoying the delights of Disney’s Deluxe Dining Plan for a few days and wanted to experience new sit-down places. Before our trip, I heavily researched many menus and reviews via the Disney Food Blog and decided to give Boatwright’s a try. The menu was intriguing with many comfort food options.
We arrived at Port Orleans Riverside via Disney’s bus transportation. Diners can also use the waterways from Disney Springs to travel to either Port Orleans Riverside or Port Orleans French Quarter. Port Orleans Riverside resort is a lovely, pleasant place to stay while at Walt Disney World. My husband and I have called this resort home twice throughout the years. We enjoyed both stays but did not take advantage of the resort sit-down dining option during those stays. Shame on us because Boatwright’s is a hidden treasure among the expert theming and exciting character experiences of other resort and theme part eateries.
Diners can access Boatwright’s from either the front or back of Port Orleans Riverside. If entering from the front of the resort, simply turn left at the lobby entrance to see the lounge and the dining room is just a few steps further. If entering from the back of the resort, perhaps after arriving via the boat, simply walk along the marina to your right and look up to view the welcoming Boatwright’s sign. This door will usher you directly into Boatwright’s check-in and waiting area.
As a moderate resort sit-down dining location, Boatwright’s was not super busy when we arrived for our 6:15pm reservation. We were seated immediately in the boat frame/tools area. The theming here is antebellum era boat construction. While that doesn’t sound as fun and fancy as Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater or Cinderella’s Royal Table, it is still expertly executed.
The boat frame and tools area is bright, large, and impressive with ample space between tables for private conversations and interaction. Although this area features soaring ceilings, the noise level never became a nuisance.
There is an additional seating area that features a cozy brick fireplace, more tools, and a lower ceiling. The lighting level in this room was on the low side but I adored the chandeliers. These lantern-esque fixtures reminded me of my grandparents’ house.
After being seated, we were greeted by our server Carl. We informed Carl that we were on the Deluxe Dining Plan. This means each adult in our party could order an appetizer, an entrée, and dessert. Our meals also included a soft drink, tea, or lemonade.
Carl let us know that at Boatwright’s, non-alcoholic strawberry daiquiris and Pina coladas were available as drink options on the dining plan. (I’m not sure about re-fills on these drinks as we only needed the one serving.) I opted for the Pina colada and my husband chose the strawberry daiquiri. Both were tasty, fun options. One can only enjoy so much unsweet tea. 😉
Boatwright’s offers a full bar as well, and a specialty cocktails menu. Our friends chose the Abita Amber and traditional strawberry daiquiri. Both were reported as delicious.
The menu was what drew us to Boatwright’s with many offerings of southern and Cajun options.
Our meal began with a healthy serving of cornbread and butter — a traditional southern staple. This, however, was sweet cornbread and a tasty start to the meal. Now, at my house growing up, our cornbread was NEVER sweet. It was cornmeal, oil, an egg, and some milk. So, I was not introduced to ‘sweet’ cornbread until college. Boatwright’s cornbread is amazing. One could snack on this stuff throughout the day and feel good about that decision.
Speaking of decisions, it was now time to make some appetizer and entrée decisions. The four of us agreed to order different items to share and compare. This means we ordered four different apps, four different entrees, and four different desserts. The Deluxe Dining Plan is a LOT of food. We’ll just ignore the fact that we had lunch at Chefs de France earlier that day – appetizer, entrée, and dessert there, too. Again, it’s a lot of food.
We were, as they say, up to the challenge!
I chose Amelia’s Salad as my starter. This seasonal salad included mixed greens, blue cheese, an apple vinaigrette, and pumpkin seeds for some added crunch. I asked for the blue cheese on the side as I’m not a huge fan of this sometimes powerful cheese. I was happy to be able to add a bit here and there.
We also ordered the Mardi Gras Fritters for the table. They were delightful with a good balance between sweet and spicy. The pimento jelly really stood out here and we were all excited about this dish.
Appetizer #3 was the Pirogue Platter. We enjoyed numerous combinations of cheese, apples, prosciutto, and small bread bites. The cheese selections included Wisconsin Cheddar, blue cheese, a red wine goat cheese (the table favorite), and brie. The Mardi Gras fritter pimento jelly was served with this dish and made for some delicious pairings. I never met a cheese board I didn’t like. 😉
The final appetizer was the N’awlins Barbecued Shrimp. This was, by far, the best of the four starters. It had great garlic flavor and perfectly cooked shrimp. We dipped some of the cheese board bread in the broth. Amazing!! (This dish is now an entree on the menu!)
At this point, we were all starting to feel a bit overwhelmed at the amount of food. Yet, we pushed onward towards the entrees. I chose General Fulton’s Prime Rib for my main course. This steak was cooked to perfection with a spicy rub on the outside. The asparagus still had a slight crunch to it. The mashed potatoes were standard but good. The sauce, however, was excellent. Served on the side, it was nice to decide how much I wanted with each bite. Nice touch.
There was no way I could eat all of this steak no matter how much I wanted to. I will be back to enjoy each and every bite in the future. I also ordered a side of sautéed mushrooms. These were good and a great accompaniment to the steak and veggies. Like the cheese boards, mushrooms and I get along great.
My husband ordered the Charleston Shrimp and Grits. His only complaint was the inclusion of mushrooms, which could not be left out of the serving. Aside from this, his assessment was that this dish of shrimp and grits was better than the same dish offered at Olivia’s. That’s a bold statement for sure. He enjoyed it!!
One of our friends ordered the Ponchatrain Pasta and really liked the sweet corn in this dish. She opted to omit the shrimp from the dish due to allergies. This was no problem for the kitchen. She said the sauce was hearty but not too heavy and that most of it sat on the bottom of the bowl, so stirring was necessary.
The final entrée was The Big Easy 10 oz. New York Strip Steak served with crawfish mac and cheese. The steak was cooked well and the sauce was served on the side. This was good because after trying the sauce, our friend determined he preferred the steak without the sauce. The crawfish mac and cheese had a strong bacon flavor that somewhat overshadowed the cheese and crawfish flavors. They may want to (gasp!) cut back on the bacon in this dish.
Here is the dessert menu.
Our dessert selections included the Crème Brulee for me. As a no sugar added option on the menu, this dish tasted good but did not have the traditional burned sugar topping. There was an attempt to burn something on the top but it did not translate to the fun crunch of most sugar filled brulees. If one is concerned with sugar intake, this would be a great option.
The next selection was the Doubloon Bread Pudding. My husband described this sweet ending as dense with fruit and berries baked inside. Paired with vanilla ice cream, this dessert earned an honorable mention from the table. The bread pudding flavor changes seasonally.
The Bourbon Street Pecan Pie was also selected. It was a small, individual pecan pie similar to the ones available in plastic packaging in the grocery store. It was not served warm nor with ice cream. Both elements would have greatly improved this dessert selection.
The final dessert, and the hands down favorite, was the Red Velvet Cheesecake. This dessert was perfection. It tasted like red velvet cake should, not too sweet but rich and delicious. We all enjoyed this simple dessert.
Overall, Boatwright’s at Port Orleans Riverside was worth the time away from the parks and other character infused resort eateries. If you are looking for great food, relaxed atmosphere, great service (Thanks Carl!!), Boatwright’s should be among your dining reservations. Speaking of service, it truly was outstanding. Carl answered our menu questions and made our dining experience even better.
As I stated, the Deluxe Dining Plan is sometimes food overload. The next time I dine at Boatwright’s, I will arrive hungry. I’m looking forward to another great dinner.
Have you dined at Boatwright’s? Let us know in comments below!