A Vegetarian at Mickey’s Table Part II
How we learned to stop worrying and love the mouse!
by Susan Shumaker and Than Saffel
authors of Vegetarian Walt Disney World and Greater Orlando!
This is the second of a two-part series on Vegetarian Dining at WDW.
Editor's Note: This story/information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all current rates, information and other details before planning your trip.
Counter Service and Buffet Restaurants
For the mobile consumption units known as families, there are fast food (or, in the genteel dialect of Disneyspeak, "quick service") restaurants galore, as well as "all-you-care-to-eat" buffets. These eateries are designed to handle the bulk of the food business in the parks, with an approach that's closer to military precision than culinary finesse.
According to Franz Kranzfelder, the menu of each quick service restaurant is largely dictated by the public's tastes: if an item doesn't sell, it's substituted with something that does. Despite the fluidity of the menus, these are the toughest places to find something decent as a vegetarian, primarily because there are no chefs waiting to whip something up if you don't like what you see on the menu board.
That having been said, quick-service food at Disney can be surprisingly good, and a few oddball items–like veggie burgers and vegetarian rollups–do find their way onto the occasional menu. Throughout Vegetarian Walt Disney World and Greater Orlando, we include grids and recommendations to help you find the spots that do the best job catering to vegetarians, but–with a little advance planning–you'll have no problem finding these on your own.
Table Service Restaurants
It is in the table service restaurants that vegetarians will find the widest selection, and the best preparation. Organic produce, low-fat meals, and even tofu frequently grace the menus at many of Walt Disney World's finer establishments.
Our favorites? We've got quite a few (don't get us started!), but there are some places we never miss when we're on property, and one more where we'd love to eat every time (if only we could afford to!). The former category includes the California Grill and Artist Point, the Pacific Northwest-inspired specialty restaurant in Disney's Wilderness Lodge.
At Artist Point, chef Anette Grecchi's interpretations of the continent's simplest and earliest comfort foods– earthy staples like whole grains, root vegetables, squash in autumn and melon in summer–mesh perfectly with the Craftsman-inspired woodwork of the Lodge's dining room. Look particularly for | creative grain dishes, like the smooth and savory forest mushroom risotto.
To make the widest variety of food available to the largest audience, Anette builds many of her dishes, from the stocks right up to the seasonings, to be vegan-friendly, adding cream or meat only as a garnish. With a few minutes' notice, she and her team can whip up beautiful entrées that are a feast for the eyes as well as for the palate.
"We can pretty much accommodate any special request with 48 hours' notice," she encourages. "If a guest calls us and lets us know that he or she is vegetarian, we'll let them know what is currently on the menu. We can find out right there and then if we need to make special arrangements for them and cook something special." "Usually," Anette continues, "our vegetarian guests are amazed at what we can do."
Of course, there are standouts in other resorts, and in the theme parks–and some chefs definitely do a better job with tofu than others!–but that will have to wait for another issue of ALL EARS. 😉
Bon appetit! Susan and Than