04 January 2021

Grand and Elegant Dining

What’s the fanciest meal you can have at Walt Disney World? If you were visiting between 1971-1988 your answer could have been the Gulf Coast Room. If this restaurant doesn’t sound familiar, I assure you that you are not alone.
Situated on the Level of the Americas, the Contemporary’s ballroom level we all mostly bypass on our way to the Grand Canyon Concourse or as the elevator pitstop to California Grill, the Gulf Coast Room was hastily thrown together to answer the call for fine dining and evening entertainment during the early years of the Vacation Kingdom. When the solitary park, the Magic Kingdom, was closing in early evening, guests and conventioneers were looking for something to do and eat. Disney sectioned off a third of the Grand Republic Ballroom and turned it into a fine dining destination.
First thing to note is that the Gulf Coast Room had no windows, so there were no views to enjoy. Instead, ambiance was created with high-back chairs, candlelight, fancy linens, wallpaper, strolling violinist, a strict dress code, and tableside preparations of dishes. The menu highlighted fresh ingredients and presented the height of culinary flair for its day and age, including frog legs, rack of lamb, Alaskan crab, Steak Dianne, and Pompano en Papillote.
The fine-dining experience, second only to the Empress Room for early Walt Disney World sophistication, was likely the meal of the vacation for many couples. That said, it hasn’t garnered as much fond reminiscing as other restaurants of the era. For our first recipe of the new year, we thought we’d dive into the deep annals of Disney history and attempt a dish from this unheralded corner of the Contemporary. We opted to take a run at one of the Gulf Coast Room’s  beloved appetizers, the Blue Cheese Patties.


6 oz. Blue Cheese (at room temperature)
6 oz. cream cheese
1/3 Cup Flour
2 Tbsps. Milk
3 Slices Fresh White Bread
2 Eggs
Process bread slices in a food processor to make fine crumbs, set aside in a pie pan.
Process half of the blue cheese and cream cheese in a food processor until well blended.
Set aside and process remaining blue cheese and cream cheese, mixing together in a bowl once finished.
Roll cheese mixture into 12 small balls, flatten to form patties.
Beat eggs and mix with milk.
Dip patties in flour, then egg mixture, and lastly in bread crumbs.
Brown on both sides in buttered skillet, 3 to 4 minutes.
Our first look at this recipe made us think that there was room for improvement. As an attempt to head off some trouble, we made half of our patties with the white bread crumbs and the other half with panko bread crumbs. Turns out, however, there was much room for improvement.
The blue cheese we used was double creamed, and between that and the cream cheese this was a very loose and creamy mixture from the get go. It was basically impossible to form balls or patties. We chilled the mixture, then made the balls, chilled them again, flattened them into patties, and chilled them one last time before the dredging and pan frying. They still came out very messy.
Using the panko instead of white bread did make the frying go a bit easier, but the end results weren’t great. The cheese mixture needs a stronger binding agent, such as introducing panko into the mixture before trying to make balls. Also, since ingredients are very different in today’s markets, with a better-quality blue cheese, I’m not sure there’s a need for the cream cheese. Additionally, I would add some salt, pepper, or other form of seasoning to the bread crumbs to give it more than a one note flavor. Lastly, I would recommend using olive oil instead of butter for a more uniform cooking.
Overall, I wouldn’t recommend taking on the Blue Cheese Patties. The Gulf Coast Room may have been the height of elegance in its heyday, and I’m the first to admit that my culinary skills and equipment aren’t up to the same standards as Walt Disney World’s, but I’m willing to bet there are better dishes to attempt from this Contemporary dining experience.

1 comment:

Mini-V said...

With cream cheese and blue cheese, this sounds like I would definitely have to take a hard pass on this item (lactose intolerant). :)