As part of our experience in the Happiest Place on Earth, my friends and I had the awesome pleasure of dining at the Blue Bayou restaurant in the New Orleans quarter of Disneyland. Located near many of the shops and the famous Club 33, the Blue Bayou restaurant offers patrons a chance to dine in a mysterious, darkened dining room surrounded by New Orleans-themed decor. The ambiance is great, and you really feel as though you have a private table for your party even when the dining room is completely full with diners.
The first thing I would recommend to anyone thinking about dining out at Disneyland is to procure a reservation to this or any of the restaurants at the park, especially if you plan on going on a weekend or during the holiday season. We almost missed out on dining at a sit-down place for this very reason (we went on a Sunday afternoon in November and there were a lot of people in the park from open until close). Even though the Blue Bayou was willing to accommodate us, the wait was still thirty minutes or longer to get a table for three.
I should also take the time here to thank the host staff at the Blue Bayou for allowing us to get a table even though most of the Disneyland restaurants were only taking guests who had made reservations. They saved our lunch experience, especially considering how spectacular things were to come.
After being seated at our table, we were handed menus and offered drinks. I had read that the Monte Cristo sandwiches served here were exceptional, so I was eager to try one for myself. In the end, we all ordered a Monte Cristo sandwich with a cup of chicken gumbo to start (a cup of soup or house salad comes with each entree). I have to admit that I am partial to gumbo after visiting New Orleans so many times over the past six years for work. This has also made me become quite skeptical of places outside of the New Orleans area that claim to serve up a great gumbo. After all, it is hard to live up to the original, much less call yourself one in the same.
Skepticism aside, I decided that a chicken gumbo sounded much more appealing than a house salad (although that is probably not a surprise to all of you who regularly read my blog). If any place deserved a chance to make food from all over the world taste wonderful, it was Disneyland.
Before I had the chance to make such a determination, however, a basket of bread arrived and my attention was drawn elsewhere.
As many of you know, I am partial to great bread. I love when airlines can replicate fresh and warm bread or biscuits onboard an aircraft. I admire when hamburger joints can turn a pretzel roll into a delicious hamburger bun. I crave great sourdough breadbowls filled with creamy clam chowder near Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco.
Thus, it was no surprise that I had high expectations for the bread basket at the Blue Bayou. After all, this was Disneyland. They should know how to bake great breads. In fact, such a task seemed easy compared to transporting us across time and space and giving us magical wishes from giant blue genies.
Much to my delight, however, I was not disappointed.
Bread baskets should contain a great mix of different breads with varying textures and flavors for all to enjoy (or for me to devour on my own). The bread basket at the Blue Bayou had both of these necessary components. There were mini sourdough rolls, Focaccia rolls and standard dinner rolls. Bread baskets should also contain nothing but the best, freshest bread possible. The bread basket at Blue Bayou also contained bread that satisfied these requirements.
Of course, the best part of great bread is that fact that it is great for dipping in soup or sauces. As it just so happened, we were about to receive a cup of delicious chicken gumbo (perfect for dipping) to prepare us for the feast ahead.
Perhaps the best part of the meal was the chicken gumbo. I say this not because the Monte Cristo was terrible. In fact, quite the opposite is true. However, given the fact that the gumbo itself was incredibly delicious on its own and the bread was perfect for dipping and absorbing the great flavors of the soup, this course was almost a culinary heaven for all of us.
The gumbo was rich but not too heavy. The soup was spiced perfectly but not overpowering. The chicken was fresh the rice readily soaked up the flavor from the ingredients in which it was mixed. The only problem was that it was all served as but a single cup and not a full bowl (apparently you can order the soup course as a full bowl but we did not know this at the time we visited the Blue Bayou).
Of course, a diner at the Blue Bayou in Disneyland who samples this chicken gumbo should not expect to taste the same flavor of gumbo that would be served in New Orleans. Clearly the two cannot accurately be compared. Nothing can replicate the Andouille sausage or crawfish found in real Creole cooking. However, on its own, the chicken gumbo is an incredible specimen of delight and we all thoroughly cleaned our cups of any and all contents they once contained.
The Monte Cristo sandwich arrived on a plated with three distinct sauces. Although the ingredients in Disney’s take on the famous sandwich remained largely the same, the breading was slightly different than one might be accustomed to at a traditional diner or weekend restaurant. In this particular take on the old favorite, the bread was fried but soft and rather thick compared to other Monte Cristo sandwiches I have consumed. Two of the sauces were fruit compotes or jams and the third was a cream sauce filled with powdered sugar.
The sandwich itself was excellent, and I loved how the ham and Swiss cheese blended together perfectly with the battered bread and various dipping sauces. My favorite sauce was the sweet cream sauce (no surprise there). The only complaint we all had was that the portions were so huge that we could not finish the entire entree. Yes, I know that may come as a surprise to all of you who follow my various food adventures, but in our defense the Monte Cristo sandwich was actually served as two sandwiches cut into four pieces. Thus, it was a lot of food for one person to consume.
All three of us thoroughly enjoyed our meals and the only thing we would change is perhaps converting the cup of gumbo into a full bowl and serving only “half” of the Monte Cristo sandwich as the main course. This way, patrons would have more gumbo to dip the dinner breads and sandwich into without having to be rolled out of the restaurant at the end of the meal. This is a minor suggestion, however, and everything else about the Blue Bayou was simply amazing.
I highly recommend procuring reservations to the Blue Bayou at Disneyland if you have the chance to do so and can afford it. It will definitely add something to your stay at Disneyland and is also a great way to get out of the heat and crowds and dine in peace with friends and family.
Attire: Resort Casual.
Price: Entrees range from $35 to $51. Drinks range from $3 for soft drinks and iced tea to $7 for specialty non-alcoholic beverages. Split plates subject to surcharge. Some soups may be subject to surcharge.
Atmosphere: Friendly and relaxed. Intimate and relatively private “feel” for those looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of the resort.
Reservations: Highly recommended. There are times when walk-up diners are turned away and wait times for walk-up diners can be 45 minutes or longer.
Location: New Orleans Quarter, Disneyland Resort. Anaheim, California.
Phone: (714) 781-DINE (3463)