We recently took a trip down the bayou to Boatwright’s Dining Hall at Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside. This rustic, surprisingly intricately-themed restaurant has been at Riverside since 1992 and boasts some of the most interesting Imagineering tidbits at any Disney Resort restaurant. For example, did you know that the huge boat that hangs above the restaurant is unfinished because the workers were all too busy eating dinner to finish it? If you’ve ever noticed the boat launch just outside the front door, it’s so that when the workers finally do finish the boat, they can launch it right into the water (I don’t think they’ll ever finish, though.)
Let’s take a look at dinner and see what makes Boatwright’s one of the most underrated dining experiences on property.
The cornbread at Boatwright’s is legendary. Dare I say even better than the infamous Trail’s End cornbread?
The cornbread is always fresh, doughy, warm, and a perfect way to start off your comfort food inspired meal. The cornbread also comes with a side of whipped butter, which melts perfectly into each nook and cranny.
French Onion Soup Au Gratin – $9.00
The French Onion Soup is a classic, and seeing as though New Orleans cuisine does have its French roots, it makes sense that this would be offered as an appetizer.
While the soup was satisfactory, it’s far from the best onion soup you’ll have on property. (That honor must go to the piping hot cauldron of onion soup one is served at Chefs de France.) To draw some contrasts, where the consomme in the Chefs de France is mostly comprised of fresh broth, you can tell they’ve thrown in a few bouillon cubes in this broth, and that’s not always a good thing. While the bread and cheese on top were also good, it would’ve been nice to have the top layer of cheese baked a bit more, till it bubbles and browns on top. If you like French onion soup and nothing else appeals to you on the appetizer menu, this is a safe choice.
Crawfish Mac and Cheese (Served as a side) – $10.00
One of our reviewers got this as a side, seeing as though the All-You-Care-To-Enjoy is not for the weak hearted or the small-stomached. Luckily, the portion of the Crawfish Mac and Cheese is large enough to make for a meal, and has enough crawfish bits to round out the protein in this dish (so you aren’t essentially just eating a bowl of carbs.)
Do be warned that if you are averse to shellfish, or your only exposure to shellfish prior to this dish is, say, shrimp or lobster… you’re in for a pungent surprise. If you’ve never had crawfish before, they taste very strongly, and are slightly more rubbery than shrimp. While the peppery creaminess of the cheese sauce will cut the strong flavors of crawfish, do expect a strong seafood flavor. Otherwise, the shells were perfectly cooked al dente and the ridges were perfect to hold in the hearty, cheesy sauce. If you aren’t feeling up for a full platter, definitely get this as a meal or a side to share.
All-You-Care-To-Enjoy Chef’s Platter – $33.00
Boatwright’s All-You-Care-To-Enjoy Chef’s Platter works similarly to Whispering Canyon’s skillets.You start by getting a massive plate full of sides and meats, and you can re-order whichever items you like after completing your initial plate. Or, you can re-order an entirely new plate, if you have the stomach for it. The Boatwright’s Platter comes with Mac and Cheese, Street Corn, Green Beans, Mashed Potatoes, Nashville Hot Chicken, Smoked Sausage, Ribs, and Beef Brisket.
Sides – Mac and Cheese, Street Corn, Mashed Potatoes, Green Beans
The Street Corn was average. I’ve never really been a big fan of mayonnaise on corn, and for such a comfort-food inspired dish, I would have liked to have seen regular corn on the cob. (In retrospect, you probably could order just boiled corn by asking for it without the toppings.)
The Mac and Cheese was easily the winner as far as sides go. The creamy, melted cheese paired perfectly with the shell pasta. I easily could have eaten this as an entree, as some at our table did.
The Mashed Potatoes were also satisfying. Nobody likes stale mashed potatoes, but these were extremely fresh, buttery, and another great comfort food-inspired side.
Finally, the green beans were warm and heavily salted, which may not be for everyone. I did enjoy how salty these were as they provided a contrast from the mild mac and mashed potatoes, however make sure not to fill up on green beans without saving room for your meats!
As for the entree side of the plate, the smoked sausage was up first. I’ve never really loved the chewy texture of sausage, and this one was no exception. It did have a nice spice to it, but other than that, I didn’t feel that it was as fresh as it could’ve been, and it certainly wasn’t a stand-out part of the platter.
Similar to the Smoked Sausage, the ribs didn’t really stand out much here. While they were prepared well, fell off the bone, and were tremendously juicy, but the meat just seemed to be no different from your typical Applebee’s ribs.
Barbecued Beef Brisket
The Barbecued Beef Brisket was a solid step up from the sausage and ribs. They were extremely tender, flavorful, and juicy. Scraping some barbecue sauce off the ribs (or just asking for a side of sauce) and adding it to the brisket also added extra flavor, making this meat extremely enjoyable.
Nashville Hot Chicken
The winner of the entire plate, and possibly the entire meal, was the Nashville Hot Chicken. The boneless chicken strips are tender and extraordinarily crispy with the fried skin. The hot sauce these are doused in gives them such a unique flavor compared to traditional chicken, while still providing that comfort food feel. This was by far the best part of the Chef’s Platter, and we did end up ordering a few more orders of Nashville Hot Chicken before throwing in the towel for the night.
Overall, Boatwright’s is a must when staying at Port Orleans Resort. (If you’re over at French Quarter, do make a trek on over––or take a boat!) The ambiance was warm and cozy (while still being a very open space, filled with fun props along the walls), and the waitstaff was wonderful. Best of all, the food came out hot, fresh, and fast, making this the place for ideal casual night out.