We’ll head out to the BoardWalk area to check in on the various closures and refurbishments.
There’s quite a bit of work happening on the back of the BoardWalk Inn’s facade.
This goes along with the massive refurbishment project inside that’s gone on for the last couple of years.
The website reviewed the new look of the BoardWalk rooms about this time last year in this post.
I’ll have a massive review of the Villas at the BoardWalk in the next week or so.
The Yard Arcade attached to ESPN Club and next to BoardWalk Bakery quietly closed last week.
Seashore Sweets closed permanently on February 1st with the expectation that a similar candy store will move down into the Arcade space. The space that used to be Seashore Sweets will likely reopen as lounge space attached to Flying Fish.
The comments on Disney Food Blog when something like this closes always taste better than anything Seashore Sweets ever served:
All they want to do is engage in family based treats, Disney. You will lose members!!! Actually, now that you mention it, that does seem to be the most oft-mentioned complaint about Disney World – not the summer heat, or the crowds, or the cost. There just aren’t enough places to order dessert. Very distressing indeed.
The thing about the BoardWalk is that there’s “literally” 75 different places to get ice cream within a ten minute walk.
Literally all you have to do is turn around.
Or go into the Screen Door store 19 steps away.
It also seems foolish to go anywhere other than Beaches and Cream. They have a to-go outlet if you don’t want to sit down.
If you’re in Epcot, you want to go to L’Artisan des Glaces for some freshly made ice cream. Seashore Sweets “literally” served Edy’s/Dreyer’s ice cream out of tubs. The exact same stuff that’s buy one get one free every other week from insert-your-favorite-grocery-store. I’m not sure Disney is ripping Mickey bars out of kids’ hands here.
The thing about Flying Fish is that it does a tremendous amount of walk-up business, unlike the majority of Disney signature restaurants that are booked solid via reservations. Flying Fish has never generated much buzz as a signature restaurant, despite Executive Chef Tim Keating and his team executing what is probably Walt Disney World’s most consistently stellar, ever-changing menu. In a lot of ways, I think the signature restaurants that don’t rely on some kind of gimmick typically serve better food, since they can’t rely on being located on the 15th floor of the Contemporary or lagoon-side at the Grand Floridian.
Flying Fish is otherwise now closed and will be for the next six to seven months. It will be interesting to see what they do to the interior as the space will be completely gutted.
I think the restaurant’s theming has always been its biggest weakness. It’s just kind of strange. And the restaurant is typically very loud.
One of the goals is to get more tables in here, so it seems likely that the thick pillars will be on the way out, in addition to removing whatever the short walls are called. Officially, “The reimagined dining room will still have an onstage kitchen and an airier design, with more room for the popular Chef’s Counter and wine dinners.” I’ve never really understood the allure of sitting and watching the kitchen grill steaks through acrylic glass, but it seems to be popular.
Last week, I received a text message from none other than Mr. The Tom Corless from wdwnt.com inquiring as to whether I would like to join him for dinner on January 29th. My response was, “Ehhhhhhhhh” as there is nothing particularly bloggable about covering a restaurant that was going to close in two days. But I should mention that I made him go to “Lombard’s Seafood Grille” with me at Universal, which is easily one of the worst restaurants in the entire country. I will write about it one of these days, but suffice to say that the lobster roll was so freezer burned that when squeezed, this yellow gooey jelly rose to the surface. And that was the most appetizing aspect of the dish. Whenever I coerce someone into doing something like this, I issue them a Lombard’s Card™. You can use your Lombard’s Card™ to get me to do something unpleasant or that I would otherwise not want to do. Like if you need help moving or want to ride Space Mountain. But in a surprising move, Mr. The Tom invoked the Card on Flying Fish and here we are.
The menu, which is now mostly irrelevant:
The main ingredients stay mostly the same from season to season, but the sauces and accompaniments are largely seasonal and locally sourced.
Whenever bread is served, I always lament the fact that I’m not at Yachtsman Steakhouse enjoying their onion rolls. Flying Fish’s “sourdough” doesn’t really stand out, I don’t think.
I am not usually a shrimp cocktail person because I am of the opinion that shrimp are largely shrimp, but the Chef’s Special Thunder Appetizer: West Indian-spiced Orange Blossom Pilsner-poached Wild Gulf Shrimp Cocktail sounded intriguing.
These were fantastic – fresh and flavorful with the piquant mango-yellow tomato cocktail sauce giving them a unique spin. Probably the best shrimp cocktail I’ve ever had.
Tom did his best for the sake of bloggability, ordering the $17 Flying Fish Café Signature Crab Cake with Vegetable Slaw, Red Pepper Coulis, and Ancho Chile Rémoulade. They are probably the best crab cakes on property, packed with crab and topped with a slightly spicy remoulade. They will certainly return.
George, who you might recognize from the forums section of the website, was nice enough to invite me out to dinner at Flying Fish a couple of months ago now. He ordered the $15 Fresh Mozzarella di Bufala – Yellow, Ugli Ripe, and Tiny Tomatoes, Aged Balsamico, Petite Basil, Sicilian Olio Verde. It’s a large portion of fresh cheese and tomatoes and will almost certainly return after the restaurant reopens. Easily shareable and a good value. The colors in particular really pop and the flavor profile is tried and true.
Flying Fish isn’t typically a restaurant that most people probably associate with sushi, but there are usually a couple options available. This is a trio of three different kinds each topped with tuna. It’s on par with what’s served at California Grill and in my opinion, more interesting than anything served at Morimoto. Deceptively filling too. The expanded lounge space should make it easier to pop in here and order something like this along with a beer in a casual environment. Sorry about your Edy’s.
Sort of funny aside. I have a mostly top-of-the-line Canon 600EX‑RT flash that I almost never use. But occasionally I’ll bring it along to a restaurant or something. I somehow attached it incorrectly and upon taking a picture, it went off “full blast.” This thing is powerful enough to completely illuminate a pitch black object hundreds of feet in the distance. So shooting it in a small space is ummmmmm…very illuminating to say the least. As you might expect, I got a few looks as I pretended to look around for the culprit myself. Above is the result of the picture.
I suggested to Tom to ask if they were still offering the Entree Duo, even though it was taken off the menu some time ago. The good news is that they will (or, would) and you receive about half of each signature entree. I’ll level with you and say that I don’t get the big deal with the Idaho Potato-wrapped Red Snapper – Creamy Leek Fondue, Veal Glace de Viande-Red Wine-Cassis Butter, which is one of the things that the Cafe is well known for offering. I may not be sophisticated enough, but it just sort of tastes like fish.
They do a nice job with the charring on the steak and the Sauce Foyot, which is béarnaise with meat glaze, elevates it above a lot of other Disney signature steaks. The beans are cooked to a nice al dente with a buttery, peppery flavor to them along with the roasted potatoes. The Duo is a nice way to try two of their most reliable entrees and the fish may well wow you more than it does me. Personally, I like some variety.
I went with the Oak-grilled Snake River Farms Berkshire Pork Tenderloin – wilted Epcot Asian greens, wild mushroom and leek-laced Antebellum grits torta, forest mushroom-caramelized shallot ragout, pomegranate-port wine-pork jus. To give you an idea about how an entree like this changes, the previous version was a $40 Oak Grilled Double Berkshire Pork Chop – Warm Herb-laced Tiny Potato, Bacon, Smoked Honshemeji Mushrooms, and Spring Onion Salad, Fresh and Kiln-dried Fig, Shallot, Porcini Mushroom Compote, Pomegranate-Port Wine-Pork Gastrique. So sort of the same idea. This was not a particularly photogenic dish, but is easily one of my top five favorite entrees of all time. The pork was nearly fork tender with the creaminess of the mushroom-carmelized shallot ragout contrasting nicely with the more acidic jus. And it’s always kind of fun to eat something grown at Epcot. I have no idea how Keating and co. come up with this stuff time and time again but it was really out of this world.
George ordered the $40 Grilled Hokkaido Scallops – celery root, mushrooms, pecorino, and mascarpone-laced risotto di carnaroli, truffle-based oil, which is a menu mainstay and an entree George was returning to after we had dined here together a couple of years ago. If you ever do have the misfortune of dining with me, you can be absolutely positive that I will remember everything you had. If you know George, and I know a lot of you do, then you’d know he wouldn’t be back if this wasn’t an outrageous entree. I’m not usually a scallop guy because I feel like you usually get two or three little hockey pucks for $65, but the portion size here is generous and it’s backed up by a very creamy, cheesy risotto. Certainly one of the better seafood entrees you’ll find on property and probably the best scallop dish, though there is a lot of competition on that front.
The Caramelized Banana Napoleon is the restaurant’s signature dessert.
I’ve tried it in the past and am not a big advocate, though others may have better luck. Since they’re still serving it, somebody must like it.
I asked how often they sold a glass of the Louis XIII at California Grill once and I’m pretty sure that in the server’s 20 years at the restaurant that she had sold two, but I might be making that up. The selections here are otherwise fairly standard.
Tom ordered the Peanut Butter Freeze – Kahlúa, Bailey’s Irish Cream, Crème de Banana, Dark Crème de Cacao, and Peanut Butter garnished with Candied Bacon. It sounded pretty disgusting to me, but somehow this frozen drink worked exceptionally well. Very decadent and chocolate-y with a nice thin, easy-drinking consistency. I’m not sure what I was expecting – maybe somebody to bring me a jar of Jif peanut butter with some Kahlua poured in the middle.
Overall, I’d expect Flying Fish to get better. I think the food is better than most other restaurants on property, but the experience overall isn’t necessarily elevated. You could argue that something like California Grill relies on its location to get people in the door and doesn’t necessarily need to offer elevated food, but the location does add a lot to the uniqueness of the experience, which is part of what you’re paying for here at Walt Disney World. I think the re-imagining is long overdue and hopefully the atmosphere will be up to the food’s high standards.
That’s what’s going on at the BoardWalk.