When: April 2, 2016, 7:15 PM
Reservations: Highly recommended
Located in New Orleans Square, the Blue Bayou Restaurant has been the epitome of Disneyland fine dining for nearly 50 years. It’s a fancy table-service establishment, and the food is decidedly on the higher end: steaks, seafood, rack of lamb.
The Bayou’s signature feature is that it’s an indoor restaurant done up as if it were outdoors: sitting at your table, you feel like you’re attending a garden party at a large Southern estate, at dusk. Adding to the illusion, the dining room is co-located with the launch area for Pirates Of The Caribbean. As people load and launch into Pirates, they float down the river, past all the diners. It’s a delightful, kinetic element.
They accept our reservation, and we’re led to our table. Given the “at dusk” effect, the dining room is dark. Each table has a small, shielded light, but the overall effect is candlelight. To compensate for this, the menus are backlit. They look like traditional leather-bound fine-dining menus, but when you open them, they light up. (This is a nice touch.)
The menu itself offers a half-dozen or so items. Each comes with a soup or salad, in addition to the main entree.
I went with the Surf and Turf, and chose the gumbo as my starter.
The first thing to appear was a basket of bread: sourdough rolls and focaccia, with a dish of butter on the side. The bread was excellent; the sourdough was warm and fresh, and the focaccia wasn’t too oily.
A few minutes later, the gumbo showed up. It’s comes in a small cup, and is topped with white rice. It’s a small portion, but totally delicious: chunks of chicken, beans and celery, with a slight spice in each bite. As an “included starter” this was much, much better than I expected it to be.
Finally, the main course arrived. The Bayou’s Surf and Turf is lobster tail, Filet Mignon, green beans and potatoes au gratin.
The whole thing is terrific.
Let’s start with the steak: it’s good-quality meat, accompanied by a dollop of Béarnaise sauce. It was cooked medium-rare, easy to cut, easy to eat, and dissolved on the tongue. I added a touch of salt, but that’s a personal call. Strictly speaking, it doesn’t need it.
The lobster is also wonderful. It comes with a side of melted butter, but the lobster stood on its own. Truth be told, adding butter to the lobster changed the feel of the dish – it became much richer and heavier. Too much of a good thing. I stuck with the lobster, solo.
On the veg side: the potatoes au gratin were just OK. They were a bit thinner in flavor than I expected. And the green beans were acceptable, but unremarkable.
In short: I recommend this. At nearly $50, it’s spendy, but you’re getting good value for your money. If your wallet will accommodate this, you won’t be sorry.
One final note: advance reservations are essential for the Bayou. I witnessed a lot of people being (unhappily) turned away as they tried to drop in for dinner. If you’re planning to dine there, be sure to arrange your reservations a couple of weeks in advance.