The Blue Bayou (ribbit ribbit — sorry, obscure Muppet Show joke)
located in Disneyland

As mentioned elsewhere, I ended up at Disneyland yesterday and among other things, thanks to a reservation from friend Julie, had lunch at what I still think is one of the best spots in the place for any kind of food, the Blue Bayou. Unlike many of the other grazing grounds in the place and thereabouts, it’s directly integrated with the start of one of the rides, and one of the classic ones at that, the Pirates of the Carribean (and to their credit, as yet none of the figures have been replaced with, say, Orlando Bloom). It’s part of the whole New Orleans Square setup, and really it’s best visited during summer — the start of the ride is meant to be the swampy Louisiana bayou at night, lots of cricket sounds and fireflies and delicious murkiness, and where the tables are is like a ‘riverfront’ view across to the departing boats. So coming into this setting from a hot summer’s day is just grand, while at night it’s even better atmosphere. Visiting during a colder winter day isn’t quite so striking a contrast but it’s still pretty good in the hyperreal Disney fashion.

Thing is, for the longest time food here and food most ANYWHERE in Disneyland was a byword for bland. Understandable, perhaps — the idea that in order to cater to America/the world, you couldn’t accidentally offend or spook anyone, so stick with the utterly generic. So while there were such vaguely regional cuisine spots like the Blue Bayou around, nothing too esoteric was served and/or everything was near totally spiceless. Horrifying, really. So I was pleasantly surprised to find that my jambalaya had actual bite to it, and everyone confirmed that similarly spicy dishes actually WERE spicy. Julie, a Disneyland aficionado, noted that things had improved over the years on this front, and I suspect it has more than a little to do with the inculcation of modern food/cooking TV culture, for better or for worse — after the success of Emeril, a place allegedly serving the best of New Orleans food would actually need to taste the part. Combined with the actually quite good clam chowder — it was served at a perfect temperature — I found myself having the first enjoyable meal at Disneyland ever, to my memory.

Mind you, the mint juleps served there are still nonalcoholic. But there are margaritas over in the California Adventure park.

Pumpkin Publog