Late in the afternoon last July after a full day on the rides at Disneyland we entered New Orleans Square to dine at the Blue Bayou, a Cajun and Creole style restaurant that is conjoined with the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction. Boats quietly stream through the dining area filled with families on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride as dim lights twinkle, crickets chirp, frogs croak, and the décor evokes a feel of the bayou after nightfall. It feels cooler in temperature, calmer in spirit, and comfortable for allowing our minds and bodies to recharge after a day of fun-filled high energy excitement in the hot summer sun.
Although not surprising during summer break; that afternoon every table was filled. Anticipating this, we had made reservations before visiting the park, and our large party of 12 waited about 20 minutes to be seated. The waiting area was crowded however and some of us explored the shops at New Orleans Square or watched musicians and jugglers stroll by to pass the time. During the busy season, many families walk in to escape the sun and heat looking for a cooler and unique place to dine so making advance reservations is highly recommended.
Soon after we arrived we informed the host that we had dietary restrictions in the form of food allergies and intolerances. Once seated at a very long table we talked with our waiter about our son’s food allergies (dairy, tree nuts and peanuts) and my intolerances. He graciously explained that he would send the chef out to our table to make sure our order was prepared correctly. (Thank you Joel Schaeffer…who instituted this service…it is fantastic) The chef was very helpful and took my order and my son’s order personally, while the waiter took orders from the rest of our table. He crouched down to our eye level, asked what foods we need to avoid and talked about how he would prepare our son’s meal. The chef’s presence, assuredness, and menu suggestions were a welcomed relief to me as a parent and someone who also has a limited diet. We were both able to eat the Tesoro Island chicken, a roasted chicken without any of his allergens or my intolerances …gluten and soy. A side of pasta rounded out our son’s meal. The bread was off limits since it contained dairy however not uncommon among restaurant breads. I was able to indulge in roasted potatoes and vegetables …yum.
When the meals arrived, the allergen free meals had flags in them to identify that they were specially prepared. The chef again returned and informed us the allergen free meals were prepared by him personally. Overall our experience was fantastic. We were very impressed how smoothly things went, especially given how busy it was; we normally dine out only during slow times to minimize risk. Even though it happened almost a year ago our son is still delighted by his experience at the Blue Bayou.
Julie Trone, of Allergy Free Table, has written two books on food allergies, Food Allergies & Schools, Pocket Guide for Educators, and Food Allergies & Children, Pocket Guide for Parents.
To see more tips from Julie, check out this short presentation “Eating out with Food Allergies”