Boatwright’s Dining Hall is the table service restaurant at Port Orleans Riverside in Walt Disney World, serving southern cooking. This review details our meal here, with food photos, thoughts on ambiance, and other details about Boatwright’s. In terms of basic info for vacation planners, this is a 1-credit table service restaurant on the Disney Dining Plan, and accepts Tables in Wonderland for a 20% discount.
For most of the year, Boatwright’s is the only on-site table service restaurant serving both Port Orleans Resorts. When Dixie Landings and Port Orleans Resorts were consolidated in the early 2000s, the table service restaurant at French Quarter was closed. Prior to that, Bonfamille’s Cafe was its table service restaurant, and has opened intermittently in recent years for dinner during busier seasons (as Scat Cat’s Cafe).
Despite that, we’ve never seen Boatwright’s more than two-thirds full. Most of the time, it’s maybe half-full, at best. This probably at least partly explains why Bonfamille’s has not reopened much since the resorts were consolidated. (It’s likely that Boatwright’s is busier during Free Dining season–so don’t expect an empty restaurant if you’re visiting then.)
Alright, let’s step inside the rustic shipyard warehouse to savor Boatwright’s down home, New Orleans cooking…
In terms of ambiance, Boatwright’s is interesting. The main dining hall (top photo) is a large space with the skeletal hull of a lugger fishing boat suspended above the tables as its centerpiece. This is pretty cool, and accomplishes the shipyard vibe nicely.
Beyond that, there are a series of smaller, more intimate rooms that feel like a mashup of a southern home and the backrooms of a shipyard. One has a fireplace with antique shipbuilding tools on the walls (just how gramma used to decorate!) and others have framed prints of boat blueprints.
Throughout the restaurant, the lighting is warm and moderately low, creating a pleasant ambiance overall. I wouldn’t say Boatwright’s is downright cozy, but it’s not loud and chaotic, either. Tables are space sufficiently far apart, and there’s a decent chance no one will be seated adjacent to you, anyway. The theme is nice and quaint, but beyond that boat skeleton, it’s nothing that’ll blow you away.
All meals at Boatwright’s start with the sweet cornbread. If there’s one thing you’ve heard about Boatwright’s before, it’s probably that they have excellent cornbread. This is partly because it’s the only thing everyone who dines here eats, but also because it’s a standout item.
Warm, sweet, and melt-in-your-mouth delicious, this is a must-try. In fact, if Boatwright’s served <$10 “bottom-less” cornbread, I’d be tempted to spend the better part of the afternoon hanging out here.
For entrees, Sarah ordered the Boatwright’s Jambalaya, which is described on the menu as “a New Orleans dinnertime favorite! Slow-cooked shrimp, andouille sausage, and chicken in a spicy sauce served over rice.”
Sarah was warned that it was a bit spicy when she ordered it, and it did have a bit of kick, but nothing that would be overwhelming to most palates. We both thought this was a pretty standard jambalaya–not bad, but nothing remarkable, either.
On the other hand, my Deep South Shrimp and Grits were fantastic. This dish consists of sustainable rock shrimp in a traditional style (also available in New Orleans Barbecue-style) over our creamy Charleston-style grits.
There was a lot going on in this dish, but the flavors came together in a complementary fashion. Nothing, not even the creamy grits, overpowered the flavor. The shrimp here were hearty and tasted great–none of that rubby or frozen taste–and the grits were rich. I’d highly recommend this if you’re dining at Boatwright’s.
For dessert, we elected to split the Doubloon Bread Pudding, which was highly recommended by our server. Consisting of house-made bread pudding with ice cream, seasonal accompaniments (whatever those are), and a chocolate doubloon, this was a huge disappointment.
The bread pudding had the density of a hockey puck, and seeming about as “house-made” as a Little Debbie treat. Perhaps we got a bad sample, but this goes down as one of the worst desserts we’ve ever had at Walt Disney World. It also goes down as one of the rare times we haven’t finished our dessert, as we both made the wise decision of forgoing finishing in favor of more cornbread.
Overall, we mostly liked our experience at Boatwright’s, but are in no hurry to head back. You could probably have a fairly enjoyable meal there if you played your cards right with the menu. We suspect that Boatwright’s is not on most guests’ radars, and that’s understandable (aside from Port Orleans fans who make it family tradition to dine here, and probably love it for reasons rooted more in nostalgia than cuisine-quality). There’s no reason to go out of your way to eat at Boatwright’s, but there’s no reason to go out of your way to avoid it, either. If you’re staying at Port Orleans Riverside or French Quarter and want a convenient table service meal, this will do the trick. I know that makes for a pretty dull review and conclusion, but they can’t all be “ZOMG, BEST/WORSTEST RESTAURANT EVAR AT WALT DISNEY WORLD!!!1!!”
What do you think of Boatwright’s Dining Hall? Do you think it’s fairly average as far as Walt Disney World restaurants go? Have any of your own experiences dining here to share? If you don’t like Boatwright’s, why not? Share your thoughts or questions in the comments!