Dining On the Disney Wonder Eastbound Panama Canal Cruise – Part 3

My husband Lee and I spent two weeks on the Disney Wonder as it traveled from San Diego to Galveston, going through the Panama Canal.  In this blog series I cover our experiences in the various dining rooms – what we liked, and what we didn’t.

Moving to day #8:

One of my favorite meals on any Disney cruise is brunch at Palo. We did that  at the halfway point of our cruise.  For those unfamiliar with Disney, Palo is the specialty restaurant on board, featuring Northern Italian cuisine. There’s an additional fee for dining there, plus gratuity. While dinner is served every night, brunch is generally only offered on sea days. Sometimes it can be difficult to book brunch, but we had lots of sea days on this cruise!

Palo Brunch – Disney Wonder

Brunch is a combination buffet and a la carte. The buffet items are cold, but there’s quite a selection of pastries (warm sticky buns!), seafood, cheese, charcuterie, fruit, appetizers and of course desserts.

Palo Brunch – Disney Wonder

New to us was a cheese counter with I think eight different cheeses.  These in addition to all of the sliced cheeses that were already on one of the tables. Cheese heaven!

Palo Brunch – Disney Wonder

The menu of entrees prepared to order includes items like flatbreads, pasta, eggs benedict, frittatas, fish, chicken Parmesan, waffles, and pancakes.  It’s nice to dine here in a larger group where you can order a flatbread or two and sample just a couple of slices.  But next time I need to remember that I shouldn’t order an entree – just make a second trip to the cold buffet! There was so much there that I didn’t try, and while the entrees are good I think I’d rather sample a few other items instead.

Palo Brunch

Something different this time… our server wanted to take our entree order prior to taking us on our tour of the buffet, and that seemed odd. It felt like we were being a little rushed, to be honest. Though I didn’t feel that way for the rest of the meal – just the beginning.

She told us the chef was making arancini, and we started with one of those.  Deep-fried rice balls with saffron and cheese inside, as I recall. It was really good.

Saffron Arancini – Palo Brunch

I had the Parmesan-Crusted Chicken Breast, which is always excellent here.  So tender.

Parmesan-Crusted Chicken Breast – Palo Brunch

Lee ordered the Pennette Pasta with smoked salmon in a spinach, tarragon and black pepper cream sauce.  It was a lot of pasta…he didn’t finish it.

Pennete Pasta – Palo Brunch

We of course had to make a trip to the dessert table. Wow! So many choices!  I’m glad they are small servings.

Desserts – Palo Brunch

Our server asked if we liked chocolate… uh, yeah. And so she brought us a warm chocolate lava cake. It’s not on the menu but is available if you have a server who knows to ask for it. It was pretty good, though it wasn’t quite warm all the way through. That chocolate sauce was yummy, though!

Chocolate Lava Cake – Palo Brunch

We were pleasantly full when we left – we’ve done Palo Brunch often enough that we know how to pace and not stuff ourselves silly.

Dinner #8 was the International menu in Triton’s. I enjoyed seeing some different items on these special menus. This one had menu items from around the world – Italy, Norway, Greece, The Netherlands, England, Russia, Thailand, Switzerland, plus the ones we ordered.

I started with a Vietnamese Spring Roll, which apparently had to be made special for me because it contained bell peppers – not mentioned in the menu description. Who puts bell peppers in a spring roll? Especially when it already had shrimp, noodles, cilantro, cucumber, basil and lettuce. My pepper-free spring roll was good, though.

Vietnamese Spring Roll – International Menu

Lee had the Argentinian Beef Empanada, served with chimichurri sauce.

Argentinian Beef Empanada – International Menu

For a second course we both chose Canadian Cheddar Cheese Soup, with bacon bits and chives. It was good – not as good as the version at Walt Disney World’s Le Cellier, though.

Canadian Cheddar Cheese Soup – International Menu

I selected a vegetarian dish as my entree: Danish Vegetable Turnover.  Puff pastry filled with goat cheese, asparagus, white cabbage, peas, cippolini onions and chard. The veggies were good other than the chard, but the pastry was pretty unappetizing – only the end pieces were still crisp and flaky.

Danish Vegetable Turnover – International Menu

You may have noted that goat cheese cheese was listed as the first ingredient… this was the extent of the goat cheese in my turnover. Small crumbles with little flavor. Disappointing.

Danish Vegetable Turnover

Lee had the Indian Prawn Curry, a coconut curry served over Jasmine rice.  He enjoyed it. The crisp roll of pappadum was a nice touch.

Indian Prawn Curry – International Menu

I tried the Canadian Ice Cream Sundae for dessert, with butter pecan ice cream, maple syrup and roasted pecans.  It was really good – a big hit at our table.

Canadian Ice Cream Sundae – International Menu

Lee ordered Irish Warm Guinness Pudding with butterscotch sauce and vanilla ice cream. He was happy with that.

Irish Warm Guinness Pudding – International Menu

Dinner #9 – this was the day we went through the Panama Canal, so we had the Panama Canal menu that night in Animator’s Palate. I was underwhelmed by this one – there wasn’t very much on the entire menu that appealed to me.   I started with Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese Napoleon – layers of cream cheese and smoked salmon with pumpernickel bread, garnished with caviar.  But again it had to be made special for me because it contained bell peppers.  What? But I’m glad they did because it was excellent – larger than I expected, too. The salmon, bread, and cream cheese together in a bite had a wonderful texture and flavor. It was in my top three appetizers for the entire cruise.

Smoked Salmon Napoleon – Panama Canal Menu

Lee chose Warm Cheddar Cheese and Applewood Smoked Bacon Tartlet with a sweet onion sauce.  He liked it, and it was very attractively presented.

Warm Cheddar Cheese and Applewood Smoked Bacon Tartlet – Panama Canal Menu

We both had Cream of Cauliflower Soup, and that was good. It didn’t taste much like cauliflower to me (and I like cauliflower).

Cream of Cauliflower Soup – Panama Canal Menu

I didn’t see any entrees that I liked, so I went with Oven Roasted Salmon Filet, one of the three “Lighter Note” offerings that are available every night. Served with steamed vegetables and choice of steamed rice or baked potato. I should have remembered that the baked potatoes aren’t really baked… they are rather hard and not fluffy. The fish was fine – a little dry. The best part was the steamed vegetables, which were perfectly cooked – tender but with just enough crispness.

Oven Roasted Salmon Filet

Lee chose California Grill Fire-Roasted Pork Tenderloin, served with goat cheese polenta and zinfandel reduction. This was nicely cooked and not dry. A good dish.

California Grill Fire-Roasted Pork Tenderloin – Panama Canal Menu

For dessert Lee ordered the Panama Ice Cream Sundae with butter pecan ice cream, little meringue kisses, and chocolate sauce. It was yummy.

Panama Ice Cream Sundae

Against my better judgement (I really should know better) I decided to try the Warm Churros with dulce de leche dipping sauce. When our server came out with the rest of the desserts he apologized to those of us waiting for the churros – they were still being prepared and he would bring them out as soon as they were ready so they would be warm. Well… not so much. I knew they would be pre-made churros, but these had been refrigerated/frozen, and despite the delay the kitchen did not get them completely warm inside. The churros were tough and they weren’t crisp at all.  Worst thing I had on the entire cruise.

Warm Churros – Panama Canal Menu

Dinner #10 was the Frozen menu, but we were in Palo for dinner instead. We sampled the Frozen menu on the inaugural cruise of the Disney Magic to Norway three years ago and this was essentially the same menu.

Dinner at Palo was quite a different experience than the dining room. No one under age 18 allowed, for one thing. There’s a dress code there – dress pants, slacks and collared shirts are recommended for men and a dress, skirt or pants and a blouse are recommended for women. It worked out that it was semi-formal night on board, so we wore to Palo what we would have worn to the dining room anyway.

Dinner at Palo begins with the antipasto cart. We watched our server prepare a plate for us with olives, bresaola and prosciutto, Parmigiano, artichoke hearts, and roasted peppers.  And then we ate it all.

Antipasti Cart – Palo Dinner

There was bread service, also – yummy with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Bread Service – Palo Dinner

There are multiple food categories on the menu: Antipasti, Insalatine, and Zuppa, La Pasta, Piatta Vegetariano, Il Pesce, La Carne, and of course Dolce.  You can order as many or as few items from each as you would like. Most of the servings are not large, so you won’t get stuffed quite so quickly.  Or you can do as we did and share – that way you can try multiple items. It’s all good… I’ve never had anything at Palo that hasn’t been a quality dish, though of course I like some things better than others.

I started with the Tomato Mozzarella Caprese – sliced beefsteak tomatoes with buffalo mozzarella, basil, olive oil and arugula leaves.  About 1000% better than the one I had in the dining room – these tomatoes were fresh and had a wonderful flavor. Lee doesn’t care for fresh tomatoes, but he enjoyed the mozzarella and arugula.

Tomato Basil Caprese – Palo Dinner

Lee ordered the Soft Potato Gnocchi in tomato sauce, garnished with kale and caramelized grape tomatoes. Very tender and the sauce was so flavorful.  It all just melted in your mouth. Well, except the kale.

Soft Potato Gnocchi – Palo Dinner

We split a plate of Butternut Squash Agnolotti – with sage-brown butter topped with amaretti and buffalo mozzarella. Delicious.

Butternut Squash Agnolotti – Palo Dinner

For entree I had Saffron Arancini – I had sampled a small portion at Palo brunch a couple days earlier.  Fried risotto balls on a ginger and carrot puree with kale and heirloom tomato salsa. Also excellent.

Saffron Arancini – Palo Dinner

Lee ordered Sea Scallops, seared and served on a celeriac puree with baby vegetables and crispy leeks, with a prosecco and black truffle sauce.  He said the scallops were perfectly cooked. Another delicious dish.

Sea Scallops – Palo Dinner

For dessert we of course both ordered the Palo Chocolate Souffle. (If you want to make it yourself, here’s the recipe.) To be honest the souffle was the main reason I wanted to dine at Palo. Unfortunately it was not as good as I remembered – mine was a bit overcooked and too crispy on the outside. I also thought I remembered the chocolate sauce being a darker chocolate.

Palo Chocolate Souffle

Overall we had an excellent meal, and it was a nice break from the crowded and noisy dining room.

More dining and photos to come – please check back for the rest of our dining experiences aboard the Disney Wonder Panama Canal Cruise!

Have you dined at Palo? What did you think? Leave us a note here, or better yet, click here to leave your thoughts in our Rate and Review section to help others as they plan their trips!

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Laura Gilbreath is a native of San Diego, CA. She has been making the trek up Interstate 5 to Disneyland since she was a small child and terrified of talking tikis and hitchhiking ghosts. She and her husband Lee enjoy trips to Disneyland and Walt Disney World, as well as sailings on the Disney Cruise Line.

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One Reply to “Dining On the Disney Wonder Eastbound Panama Canal Cruise – Part 3”

  1. Hi, Laura! I’m enjoying reading all about food on your Panama Canal Cruise! great reviews! Great pirate costumes too! Any runDisney races coming up for you?