Thursday, October 11, 2012

Tusker House Restaurant: Gluten Free Buffets DO Exist!

The Animal Kingdom theme park is not an easy place to eat. There aren't many sit downs (just Tusker House and Yak & Yeti, which I will write about on a later date), and the quick service places are all fairly standard. The Tusker House, however, has always been one of my favorite places to eat in all of Disney. The menu is interesting and different and as far as buffets go, it's the best one. For those who are not gluten-free, TRY THE CHOCOLATE MANGO BREAD. I cannot emphasize enough how delicious this fresh baked bread is, smeared with butter. I miss it very, very much. Here is the menu, courtesy of

Lunch Buffet - Appetizers: Spicy South African preserves, Tabbouleh, Hummus and Baba Ghanoush, Endive/Apple/Walnut salad, Caesar salad, Mixed Greens salad, Tomato & Cucumber salad, Sliced Turkey/Ham/Cheese, Tunisian Couscous salad, Green bean & onion salad, Curried rice salad and Fresh fruit. Vegetarian Table: Marrakesh couscous, Vegetable samosas, Spiced Tandoori Tofu, Jollaf rice, and Pearl couscous with sweet basil essence. Kids Selections: PB&J sandwich, Corn dog nuggets, Mac & Cheese, Corn medley, Chicken Drumsticks, Green beans, and Mashed potatoes. Adult Selections: Salmon filet, Root veggies, Seafood stew, Orzo pasta, green bean medley, Rotisserie chicken, potato wedges, mashed potatoes, Carved top sirloin and pork loin, Cape Malay curry chicken, and Basmati rice with almonds. Dessert Selections: Fruit cobbler, Warm banana-cinnamon bread pudding with vanilla sauce, and assorted pastries. Prices vary 15.00-35.99  *

Of this, there are obviously some dishes I couldn't have. The chef came out to our table and walked me through the entire buffet, pointing out what was safe and what wasn't. He also said that if I was worried about cross-contamination (which I was), he would bring me out a plate of whatever I wanted. I picked out a few items and waited at my seat.

Here's what I tried:
Spicy South African preserves
Endive/apple/walnut salad
Tomato and cucumber salad
Mashed potatoes
Salmon filet
Root veggies in turmeric
Rotisserie chicken
Coffee BBQ pork loin
Top sirloin
Basmati rice with almonds

There was more I could've sampled, but this was a lunch and I wasn't able to consume much more than this. The preserved fruit was absolutely out of this world, especially when smeared on the super tender pork loin. The salads were pretty standard, as were the mashed potatoes, but the rice with the salmon filet was incredible. I don't normally love cooked salmon, as I find most places overcook it (especially at a buffet), but it was tender and moist with this amazing tomato chutney on top. I also loved the root veggies in turmeric, they reminded me of my favorite vegetarian dish at Ethiopian restaurants. The rotisserie chicken was surprisingly complex, doused in all sorts of herbs and garlic. I definitely did not feel like I missed out on anything, even with my celiac.

Dessert was a little more complicated. As you can see from the menu, everything has gluten. The chef offered to make me a fruit plate, or a sorbet dessert (I quickly got sick of sorbet after this trip though), and he said he'd also make a cookie plate for me. I opted for the cookie plate, which was full of familiar items, like Enjoy Life chocolate chip cookies. There was also a handful of berries on there. The OMG... It's Gluten Free gluten-free brownie was one of the grossest things I've ever eaten.. I actually spit out the bite as soon as I took it, much to the chagrin of the family sitting next to us. It was prepackaged and solid as a rock, but I can't fault Disney for stocking a crappy brand of gluten-free brownies. Enjoy Life is awesome, so that cookie was great. And after the lunch I just ate, a big dessert was not in the cards.

1 comment:

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