Scat Cat's Cafe

Posted on Tuesday, June 21, 2016
DINING PERIOD CLOSED | This listing is for historical reference only.
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Scat Cat's Cafe

Posted on Tuesday, June 21, 2016
Family Style - All You Care to Eat
$21-36 per person**
Scat Cat's Cafe was only open for a brief time at Disney's Port Orleans - French Quarter… offering family style dining (which is a fixed menu, served from large platters and bowls brought to the table... you can request more of whatever you want). The space though, is more significant than the menu or the location's name.

This was Bonfamille's Cafe, which had been a great little hidden table service location until the fall of 2000, when it was permanently closed. From 2000 until this holiday period (2015), the space was closed to the public and used as a/v storage and as a makeshift meeting room for food, beverage and management teams.

Why am I bringing back and updating this review now? Well as it turns out, the nearby Sassagoula Floatworks (counter service location) will be closing for a lengthy refurbishment from… now, basically... until just before Thanksgiving 2016. The newly updated Scat Cat's Cafe space will be used as counter service seating for a temporary replacement dining location named… well… you're guess is as good as mine. But this may have been the primary reason the Bonfamille's Cafe space was updated in the first place.

But back to the dinner review, which took place in December of 2015…

The old storage room has been cleaned up and redesigned quite nicely, (for the short period of time that was spent on it). The main room combines bits of "New Orleans industrial" with lighter "French Country cafe". There is also a "side room" which you have to walk through in order to get to the main dining space. The side "front" room… which contains six tables and seating for 26… still sort of looks like a meeting space for and hasn't really gotten the same design treatment as the main dining room. There are some cool tin tile inlays in the ceiling, but very little else that would suggest an "Orleans" aesthetic.

One nice thing about the side "front" room was the musical stylings of Jason Thomas and Billy Varnes wafting in through the front door of the cafe. Jason and Billy were members of Epcot's popular Off Kilter, and now occasionally show up as a duo playing at the nearby Scat Cat Club Lounge.

Deeper in the main dining room, there was a ragtime player piano (i.e. playing itself) that was lightly providing background music for the rest of the cafe. Being able to hear both at the same time occasionally, could make you feel like you feel like you were in a New Orleans restaurant... wedged in-between a couple of cool clubs.

Food-wise, the family-style dinner menu should probably be thought of as American cuisine, with cute New Orleans food item names… but definitely not French-Orleans style fare.

The meal started out with House-made Corn Bread (which was great) and a Salad topped with a Sweet Roasted Garlic Vinaigrette. No element in the salad really stood out as being unique, other than the dressing. It was a good salad, but a "garden salad" at best.

Hot side items were brought out in cute medium-sized serving bowls for the table to sample and re-plate as much as you wanted. The Mashed Potatoes were solid, and probably had a subtle amount of garlic and butter mixed in. A Mac & Cheese that you would be thrilled to see at any counter service location were again, solid… but nothing was really done to elevate them into table-service status (i.e. a few bread crumbs or green bits of herbs on top would have went a long way).

Something you don't see much at restaurants is a proper pot of Southern Collard Greens... and these were... with smoked ham and/or bacon tossed in the mix. The Collard Greens were probably the best of the four sides, certainly the most authentic. The unusual sounding Maque Choux (which is a traditional dish in southern Louisiana/Creole cooking) was really just cut corn with bits of onion and few other vegetables mixed in for color. Traditionally, there's a bit more dairy and/or chicken stock with black pepper, hot sauce to taste and even sugar tossed in the mix (I know, it sounds weird but that's Louisiana/Creole culinary for you).

The main proteins were presented as a plate-o-meat, which I never get tired of seeing… (however, the sight may make some vegetarians kind of squeamish... I'm just saying.) A giant family-style platter with Slow-cooked Pot Roast on one side and Vegetable Jambalaya on the other, topped with a couple large slices of Grilled Andouille Sausage (which was really mild for being Andouille) and a couple pieces of Cajun-roasted Chicken. The Pot Roast and the Roasted Chicken were the real stars of the plate-o-meat. The Vegetable Jambalaya was really good but contained a large amount of rice, which started to get a little over saturated and under all that meat… great flavor, kind of a pasty texture.

To finish things up, a large bowl of Deep South Bread Pudding with Banana-Caramel Sauce and Vanilla Bean Ice Cream was delivered. Surprisingly, this one contained bits of fruit cocktail as well as bananas (halved grapes and bits of peaches, etc.), which… actually wasn't bad, but I'm not sure how that fits in with the "deep south" theme.

While I do wish Bonfamille's Cafe menu had been brought back, this was a good meal in a fun new environment. Family-style menus have to appeal to a wide number of people in the same party, and so they generally aren't too regionally authentic, no matter what the theme.

Interestingly, I overhead a couple at the next table over convey to their waiter that they weren't having a very good meal… because their children only ate chicken nuggets, and the food was too exotic for them, so they weren't eating anything. For me, the food wasn't exotic enough… and that's one of the biggest problems facing Disney chefs these days. Where is that balance between American standard fare that's going to appeal to the masses, and actual culinary creativity and authenticity in the food?

In case you were wondering, the waiter came back a few minutes later with a giant plate of chicken nuggets.

The Scat Cat Cafe was only intended to be open a few weeks, and so that's all it was open... but hopefully that time provided guests with a glimpse of where Bonfamille's was...  and who knows...  after the Sassagoula refurbishment in the Fall of 2016, maybe the Scat Cat Cafe will return for the holiday season once again.

The spirit of Bonfamille's Cafe is restless though… and at least one very talented, unnamed, but long standing Disney chef has a patient eye on the space. Only time will tell of course but fingers crossed, maybe... just maybe… we will one day find a proper French-Louisiana table service restaurant return to Port Orleans.

Have you ever visited any of these dining locations in our Disney's Port Orleans - French Quarter directory?

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