This review reflects our experience from October of 2017.
There are few names that stand out when you are looking into dining with a special diet in Disney World. One of the most common names is Chef TJ. Chef TJ has made himself known through the years at Disney by offering above and beyond dining experiences for those with special diets, whether you have an allergy or are vegan. Currently Chef TJ can be found at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort at the Trails End Restaurant.
Trails End Restaurant is a little off the beaten path when it comes to Disney dining. But it is worth it if you can snag a reservation with Chef TJ. He often works weeknights (Monday-Friday) for dinner services. He is also taking care of the special diet diners at Hoop-De-Do Revue, so his meals can take a while. If you are traveling just on Disney transportation, you can take a boat from Magic Kingdom or Disney’s Contemporary and Wilderness Lodge Resorts. If you take a boat you will be dropped off near the restaurant. If you drive or take a bus from another park to Fort Wilderness Campgrounds you will need to take an internal shuttle to get you back to the Settlement Depot where Trails End is. This resort is a campground, which means it is huge, so walking from the Outpost to the Settlement is not recommended.
We have dined with Chef TJ at Trails End several times, each time just gets better and better! This trip we dined with our friends who were visiting Chef TJ for the second time. When we checked in we noted our vegan diet and they marked it on our ticket for our server. When I told them of our diet they handed me a buffet guide for major allergens, as a vegan without allergies these are pretty useless. Once seated we asked our server if Chef TJ was here today, he smiled and said yes. After a few minutes Chef TJ came out to greet us. He mentioned that there were several other vegans dining that evening and he was busy with Hoop-De-Do so we may be there for a while. He offered to show me the buffet but I joked about having gotten the buffet guide. Knowing how much food he was going to prepare we declined a view of the buffet. Soon after that Chef TJ began our biggest Trails End meal to date.
Our first course arrived and it was an arugula and beet salad. This salad is very earthy but very good. If you’re not a big beet fan you may not love this. This is a nice light start to this meal.
After he brought out the salad he came out with two bowls of pasta wheels with marinara. He said they were for our boys so they also had something to eat. They both ended up eating from their bowls for the whole meal. We also may have taken a few, or more, bites from their bowls too.
Next was one of our favorites, samosas! These potato and pea samosas come smothered in what we believe to be a sweet and sour sauce, which adds a unique flavor to them.
Our third course was another favorite, okay we have a lot of Chef TJ favorites, nachos! Now these are a special dish because Chef TJ makes this vegan cheese sauce in house. These crispy tortilla chips come covered in vegan cheese, onions and a balsamic drizzle.
Our fourth course was something new for us, a smoked tomato and watermelon salad. This dish comes in a vase filled with smoke that you have to slowly remove for special effect. The only other time we have seen anything like this was one of the non-vegan dishes at Victoria & Albert’s. The smoked tomatoes were great, I was indifferent on the watermelon.
Fifth came another new one, and it was amazing. Mushroom tempura! Please make this again Chef TJ, this was killer. The tempura was fluffy and crispy with a perfectly cooked mushroom inside. These were one of our favorites of the night.
After the tempura came a green bean salad. This salad was cold with white beans and black eyed peas. None of us really loved it, it was good but based on everything else we had that evening it wasn’t anything special.
Along with the green bean salad he brought out fried corn on the cob. You read that right, fried corn on the cob. What! This was amazing. The corn was crispy and juicy and I want more of it. Not sure if these counted as two courses or not since they came out at the same time but we’ll say they did.
Our seventh course was a bowl of broccoli soup. This soup reminds me of the broccoli cheese soup I once loved from a famous sandwich chain. We were all so full and couldn’t truly enjoy it, but I would eat this all the time if I could.
Now our main course, number eight, finally came. Our boat of grilled vegetables, fried tofu and a fried rice. This is so good, but by the time you get it you can hardly enjoy it because you’re full of everything else that you couldn’t stop eating. I love the tofu in this dish, its perfectly crispy and has a sweet and sour sauce on it. The grilled vegetables are delicious and we have found this is a great cold breakfast the next day in your resort room.
Finally our last course, number nine came and it was dessert! I had told Chef TJ that I was unable to eat bananas currently so he made sure to not use any banana in our dessert tower. This time our tower has fried Oreos, Enjoy Life soft baked chocolate cookies, strawberries, Tofutti chocolate ice cream, cotton candy and chocolate syrup. This dessert is always such a treat. It’s hilarious to see others sitting near you stare at the crazy dessert in front of you. It’s hard to eat, which makes it fun. Also the fried Oreos are A-MAZ-ING.
We love dining with Chef TJ. He is such a joy and really makes you feel so special when you’re there. He makes sure you are able to eat way too much like everyone else enjoying the buffet. He does an amazing job for everyone with special diets, I always recommend anyone go see him with any allergies or other special needs. This meal often takes over two hours, so plan for an early reservation. Stay after dinner and catch the Electrical Water Pageant out in the water before you head back to your resort.
Would we go back?
$$ (you get charged the buffet price, nothing extra)
Corey & Melissa