Sunday, December 27, 2009

a bashful vegan WDW holiday - day 4

Tuesday, December 8, day four, began the same as all the rest, with breakfast in the room. You know, if you're anything like me, you tend to eat a little less healthy on vacation. It's hard not to. What I've found is that simply starting every morning out with my usual routine healthy breakfast really makes a difference in how I feel. There's nothing wrong with treating yourself now and then, but starting the day off right just really makes me feel better.

So today we headed for Epcot, and what I expected to be an amazing lunch. People just rave and rave about Le Cellier, in the Canada pavilion. Of course, the most talked about items are the cheddar cheese soup, and the dairy-heavy desserts. However, I have heard from a few vegetarians and vegans who were treated to a special meal. In fact... well, whatayaknow. I was about to tell you that it even says on the bottom of the menu that they are happy to accommodate special dietary requests. However, that no longer appears to be the case. Hmmmm...

Well, anyway, we arrived early for our lunch ressies, eager for a special dining experience. As we had an early lunch ressie, we arrived before the restaurant was open, and were treated to a song from the cast members. It appears that a number of restaurants on property have sort of an opening ritual, before the first diners of the day are seated. It was cute, and very "Disney".

It's a nice restaurant, though very dark. Le Cellier means "the cellar", and it's meant to look like a cellar (a wine cellar, I believe). I couldn't get any good pix of the interior, but here's a shot of the outside:

We were seated, and as per the routine, our very nice server got the chef to come to our table. Now let me start by saying... he wasn't rude. The chef was polite, and I believe "doing his job". However, once again it was clear that he had not been warned in advance that I was coming. The notes I had made on my e-mailed form had never reached him.

He was willing to make me "something", but, while polite, he did appear a little put out. Now, had this been a more casual place, my opinion would be different. But let's face it: when you eat at a very classy, very expensive restaurant, you expect a higher level of service. When asked what I would like to eat, I gave my usual response, which was "what would you recommend?". Okay, so perhaps that's a bit wishy-washy for the less creative types, but honestly, I don't know what he *knows* how to cook. I can't cook myself, so I'm looking for suggestions on something he thinks he can prepare that will taste good. And I'm not picky. If it's vegan, odds are I am going to enjoy it. Finally, he says, "well, I guess I can try and find some tofu, and put together a little stir-fry dish. However, it's going to take me a little while. Could you, perhaps, order an appetizer, to give me time to get it all together? We can do a vegan version of the tomato stack for you."

Now here's the thing. If he had simply suggested that the tomato stack was a wonderful vegan appetizer, I might very well have ordered it anyway. But by implying that I had to order an appetizer, in order to give him some time... well, it just didn't sit well with me. However, I complied, and yes, the Tomato Stack, with caramelized onions, cucumbers and Yuzu vinaigrette (minus the blue cheese) was a pretty fancy, and pretty tasty appetizer:

After the chef had left to go find tofu, the server brought out our drinks, and Rocky's salad, and the wonderful bread sticks that others have raved about. I should have thought to ask the chef, but it had slipped my mind, so I asked the server to please check if any of the bread sticks were vegan. It took her a while to find out, since the chef had left in search of tofu, but the answer was "no", and no vegan substitute was offered.

When my entree arrived, it was tasty. I wish I was better at identifying flavors as this was actually pretty unique - not your run of the mill stir-fry, though I couldn't tell you just what it was flavored with. I was pleasantly surprised by the taste, and did enjoy it. (Tofu, tomatoes and some mixed greens, in a light, flavorful broth.)

But, it was a fairly small serving. Now, maybe that's not a fair statement. At home, I'd probably consider this a normal dinner; and I suppose the classier restaurants actually tend to have rather small-ish servings. And, if I had some bread to go with this, and a decadent dessert to follow, than I probably would have thought this was the perfect size.

Which brings us to dessert. Our server asked if we wanted any, and my response was something like "well, vegan dessert is sort of hard to come by. Unless the chef has already gone to some trouble, than I think I'll pass." To which she responded that she would go check and see what was available. The answer was a sorbet, or some fresh fruit. I politely declined. Now perhaps their sorbet would have been amazing, but at this point, I just felt a bit disappointed overall, and didn't want to make this any more costly than it already was. Of course, if the chef had gone to any special trouble, I would have happily accepted. That wasn't the case.

Bottom line? It wasn't a bad meal, but I actually left feeling a tad bit hungry, and it was the most expensive we have ever had at Disney... and more importantly, the chef had made me feel a bit like I was a bother. I hate that. I honestly almost didn't become a vegan because I couldn't stand the idea of putting other people out. The only time I ever eat out is on vacation, and part of why we vacation WDW every year is because it's the one place where they don't make me feel like a bother... or at least that's the way it used to be.

In closing, let me just say that both hubby and I are not much into really fancy restaurants. We're homebodies, and what you could probably describe as very casual diners. Le Cellier is really just not our kind of place, I guess. And if money were no object (or if I was on the dining plan), and if I hadn't gone out of my way to fill out that silly online form, I probably would have left Le Cellier content, if not thrilled. However, things got better from this point on, so perhaps I just had a bit of bad luck.

Okay, enough of that. Now onto dinner. Having had a big, fancy lunch (well, expensive, anyway), we both wanted something small and simple for dinner, so we headed to the Beach Club Marketplace to see what we could find. This is really more of a "shop with a little food counter", than a restaurant, but they have some nice options we can't find right at the Boardwalk, and it's close enough to walk to and bring back to the room. (Well, it's a little bit of a walk, but we don't mind.) In addition to the usual fruit cup and chips and side items, they also have made-to-order sandwiches and salads. Hubby got a nice turkey sandwich, and I went for the salad.

Now this actually turned out to be one of the happy surprises of the trip. I don't know if my picture does it justice, but this was a BIG salad. It cost $8.99, but I actually got two full meals out of this salad, and hubby ate some of it, too. I had the choice of Romaine, or mixed greens for the base (I chose mixed greens), and I added cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, shredded carrots, and almonds. (They also had some sort of hot peppers, onions, and walnuts and cranberries - the last 2 items might be seasonal, though.) I chose the Zinfadel vinaigrette dressing. I asked for the dressing on the side - not a problem. Back in the room, I just put the portion I wanted in a separate (Dixie) bowl, and saved the rest in the mini-fridge for later. Worked perfectly, and it was just as good the next day. I added a bagel from the room, and this made a very nice meal.

So, it wasn't a bad day - just a little disappointing. But things got better, so stay tuned for more!


B.J. Herbison said...

Thank you for the trip report, it's useful reading as I plan my April trip.

Have you tried contacting Disney to ask why your e-mail notes hadn't reached the chef? I've heard many reports of good responses from Disney customer service, and the answer might provide insights into how to ensure future requests get to the right place.

Jennifer said...

I have had LESS than stellar success at Le Cellier as a vegetarian who is allergic to mushrooms. I have the mushroom and vegetarian noted on my ADRS but 2/3 times was stuck with a bunch of romaine lettuce and dressing and a heaping of attitude on the side.

I know its a steak house but I also want to eat with my family on vacation.