We continue from Part 1, which covered what’s happening in the Marketplace and added lunch at Morimoto Asia. This time around, we’ll begin in the Morimoto area and continue down past Cirque du Soleil, before returning to The BOATHOUSE for dinner.
The walls we’re about to peek over are located behind/in front of Raglan Road/Morimoto Asia and continue down to the right towards STK and to the left towards whatever is down there. From the ground:
And from the sky:
It looks like they’re doing a really nice job with this area with the water providing some natural kinetic energy to what is otherwise a glorified outdoor mall. If you were to rewind a couple of years, almost nothing would get me excited about Downtown Disney. But all of the new additions are adding a lot of life to the shopping district, which struggled to find an identity in the wake of Pleasure Island shuttering its clubs.
I forgot to mention that Fulton’s is planning on laying off over 200 people this coming April as it plans to close for about six months for a reimagining. This refurbishment was actually delayed by a full year due to the Disney Springs construction languishing further and further into 2016. I actually tweeted about this all the way back in January of 2015. I’m not usually a rumors guy because I hate being wrong. And pulling the “things changed” card is so easy and yet a lot of the time, also true. Restaurant management had already informed staff that they would be closing in late March or early April a couple of days before I tweeted that out myself and yet here we still are a year delayed.
I think a lot of the old guard are going to have problems enticing local and return visitors to their restaurants as so many new things open. Hence Fulton’s, one of the highest grossing restaurants in the entire country, closing for what will likely be a less expensive menu with a different focus.
Restaurants like Portobello are going to try to play up their connections to what may or may not be celebrity chefs. Tony Mantuano helms this one, which is operated by the same parent as Fulton’s. Italian should work here, but you’d think a spruce up of the interior would go a long way. On the upside, it’s hard to say how many people are going to be able to recognize what’s new and what’s been around for 20+ years once everything else opens.
Back in December, I had mentioned wanting to try Morimoto Street Food, the quick service outlet that had briefly opened near the restaurant’s namesake.
The window is located at the very end of this dead end at the moment. The restaurant’s main entrance is behind me on the left.
But it looks like Street Food will be closed for a while as it wasn’t operating at all on a very busy Saturday afternoon. The menu it had been offering was all pre-made. And considering you could go inside and enjoy something like the Singapore Laksa Noodle bowl for $12, it doesn’t seem to make a whole lot of sense to order pre-made noodles out here for the same money. The plan is to expand the menu, but we may not see much until some of the walls come down and there’s some traffic through the corridor.
Jake Lundley had added some tables and space heaters out in front of the bar.
Disney put out a video the other day showing off the interior of the bar and I ran a review from opening day here and then returned for a drink and the new-at-the-time BLT Shrimp Flatbread as part of this post.
As a refresher, the inside of the bar is very cool, I think. Those looking to sit outside are better off spending the majority of their money at The Boathouse next door, but Jock does offer some interesting small plates and drinks. I’m not sure why anybody would spend Disney drink money sitting in a metal chair out front, but watching the various bloggers walk by all taking the exact same picture can be entertaining in its own right.
One of the nice things about Jake is that he prints the drinks and prices in the back. You may remember that Trader Sam posts no drink prices whatsoever. Even our favorite HippopotoMai-Tai over there with the souvenir glass has gone up to $20.50 from $15, which is an increase of 36.7%. You’d never know until the bill comes unless you want to ask the price of every drink individually.
If you’re looking to guarantee your money’s worth at Jane’s, I suggest going for a beer – $7.75 for a Paulaner draft isn’t terrible. Raglan charges $8 for a 12-ounce Bud Light bottle.
This time around I went for The Bitter Barkeep – Barsol Quebranta Pisco, Simple Syrup, and fresh Lime Juice.
This is the best drink I’ve had yet – decently strong and well balanced with the syrup sweetening up the smooth, aromatic Peruvian brandy. I’ve talked poorly about the pour quality here, but it may be worth noting that you’re paying about 50% less than cocktails at Morimoto, BOATHOUSE, Raglan Road, etc.
Those arriving via boat from Old Key West or Saratoga Springs will stop right in between Jock and Paradiso 37.
I covered the Ganachery back in December, going so far as to buy a box of 12 ganache(s) at the $36 price point. Even in the middle of the day there was a wait to get inside. It’s a really poorly thought out concept overall.
You’d likely have to be squarely in vacation mode to swing the high cost, which comes out to more than $100 a pound. They do make a great gift for someone that might be taking care of pets or plants back home.
I’d reassert that these ganache-on-a-stick for $5 are a good value and a little bit more Disney. You might even be able to smuggle them over to the BoardWalk where there are currently no family based treats whatsoever in a 300-mile radius.
Construction continues on STK, which was originally slated to be open already.
It will likely give BOAthOUSE a run for its money on the meat front, offering what will probably be similar quality cuts in a more sleek, upscale atmosphere.
What it should end up looking like.
Across the way next to Paradiso is the expected location of The Edison, which has seen virtually no work whatsoever in months.
It seems like “plans have changed” on this side as well.
The empty space next to it down towards the West Side.
I guess it looked like this eight months ago, so the fact that there’s now less building is progress?
Looking down at Planet Hollywood as it’s currently closed for its conversion into an observatory. The bridges and canals that continue down from the previous area are already visible, though not quite crystal clear yet.
The entire area is walled off from where STK starts, down the bridge, and past here.
Some sort of Coke installation is going in here, whether it’s some kind of store or some kind of store/exhibit hybrid. I’ve seen some references to World of Coke, but that is a 92,000 square foot space that cost nearly 100 million dollars back in 2007. Granted, you could hand Imagineering 25 million dollars and have not much more than a hot dog stand without a roof to show for it, but this hole in the wall doesn’t look to be anything like that size and scope. And sure, 80% of the other World of Cokes around the world have closed, but you never know, they may well call it that.
That’s Coke on the left, so it is a somewhat sizable building. This is another picture of the bus stops with the bridge-to-nowhere to the right and the new parking garage in the distance.
Perhaps the best angle of construction over here yet.
That’s about it from up here. STK is straight ahead with the former entrance to Planet Hollywood being torn down to the right.
As always, budget conscious drinkers should strongly consider beginning their trek at House of Blues:
These are easily the best drink prices on property, though pour quality can occasionally be an issue. I’ve been known to switch from margaritas to beer from time to time.
These happy hour prices are good inside throughout the restaurant, at the indoor bar, at the outside bar, and at The Smokehouse quick service barbecue joint in front of the restaurant.
There’s occasionally a line at the bar, but rarely a line at The Smokehouse and even rarer than that a line at the drink window on the side.
One of Raglan Road’s bars offers a happy hour that is now from 3pm to 6pm. When construction around the area was worse, you might remember that it was offered all day. The Hole in the Wall is located to the left of Cooke’s of Dublin. You might order two drinks from House of Blue to go right around 5pm and mosey over for a beer.
No movement on DisneyQuest, which continues standing tall. I have no idea how they would have filled this space entirely with anything having to do with the NBA.
Disney Springs would have to become really convenient to fill whatever this space is going to become anytime other than Friday and Saturday evenings.
House of Blues offers some relatively inexpensive food if you’re over here and in the mood. Sandwiches and salads are mostly under $16 and most other entrees are under $20.
The few longtime readers still around may remember that I used to push Splitsville more heavily as a good option to visit on a whim when tables elsewhere were scarce without reservations, as they usually were. But with Morimoto, BOATHOUSe, and Jock Lindsey’s, in addition to everything else on its way, I’m not sure that the literal headache from eating inside a bowling alley is necessarily “worth it.” I have a review of the bowling experience along with some food reviews here.
And they continue to do “more innovative” sushi than Morimoto in larger quantities for less money.
Otherwise, outlets over here are in a lousy spot at the moment with the vast majority of parking located on the opposite side of this building and all Disney buses dropping off all the way in the Marketplace.
This alleyway has basically become the Wal-Mart toy aisle with Super Hero Headquarters and Galactic Outpost offering Marvel and Star Wars merchandise. Harley Davidson is located at the end and there might be a Sunglass Hut in here somewhere.
Hollywood Studios is nothing if not consistent. The theme park that inspired this food truck was closed as the other three had already opened.
Remember what I said about not getting away from the crowds?
I mean you can see concrete, but it’s just after 4pm here.
It had been a few months since I had visited the boathouse, so I popped back in for dinner. Unfortunately, prices are up here for the third time since opening back in April of last year. You can compare the current menu to the previous version via this picture. Not every item has seen an increase and those that did have increased just 50 cents to $2 for the most part. The Shrimp and Andouille Mac’ N Cheese stands out as rising $3.50. The website’s favorite Filet Mignon Sliders are up $2 to a still extremely reasonable $14. The Steak Sandwich is also up $2 to a potentially less reasonable $25. The Steak and Fries, which wasn’t originally on the menu, is up 50 cents. The 12-ounce filet is up $1.50 while the 8-ounce is only up 50 cents. The Club Sandwich is up $1.50 while the burgers are all the same price. So it’s not a night and day difference here, but the restaurant hasn’t even been open a year. At least the asparagus is still $12. I’ve written several full reviews of The BoatHOUSe:
- The original from May 2015 – includes reviews of items like the Seared NY Strip Carpaccio, Oysters on the Half Shell, Lump Crab Cake, Baked Crab Stuffed Lobster, Jumbo Lump Crab and Avocado with Tarragon Remoulade, 28-ounce Porterhouse for Two, in addition to the featured asparagus. And some drinks.
- A review of the experience at the main outdoor bar – Including reviews of the Lobster Cocktail. “Yacht Club” Club Sandwich, and Steak Sandwich. And some drinks.
- And a followup dinner review – Including reviews of the Firecracker Shrimp, Filet Sliders, 8-ounce Filet Mignon, New England Lobster Roll, Shrimp & Andoille Mac’ N Cheese, Cut From The Cob Roasted Sweet Corn, Key Lime Pie in a Mason Jar, and Whiskey Caramel Cornbread Cake. And some drinks.
I will quickly remind you what I like and don’t like about the restaurant.
I really like the setting on the water. The Dockside Bar is kind of its own thing across this bridge and you can watch the amphicars leaving and returning from the adjacent dock. Even in June it’s relatively comfortable outside with the breeze blowing by.
The restaurant gets a little more formal the further you head inside the deceptively large interior, but the experience is still extremely casual – much more casual than any Disney signature restaurant. It’s also probably going to be really loud. The casualness and noise level aren’t necessarily resoundingly positive or negative – it just depends on what you’re looking for. If you’re looking for a stereotypical quiet, relaxed, romantic steak and seafood dinner with a bottle of wine and the glimmer of a candle, this is decidedly not that. Potentially on the plus side, the laid back vibe is more welcoming for families. And no matter what you’re wearing or who you’re with, you’ll feel like you fit in fine. On the downside, service is, generally speaking, much less refined and much less experienced than other restaurants serving $40+ entrees. To get into a fine dining service position at a Disney restaurant, you pretty much have to languish somewhere terrible for ten years first. The last time I was at California Grill, our server had worked at Coral Reef for 14 years prior and had been working at California Grill for more than ten years. For this review, I doubt our server at Boathouse was a day over 25 years old.
That sort of segues into my next positive, which is that the menu has a wide variety of price points and there’s no pressure, real or imagined, to order a $50 steak or $80 bottle of wine. If you pull up the menu for most signature restaurants, you’re not going to see any entrees under $30 and you’re not going to see a steak under $45. Yachtsman’s 6-ounce filet is $47. Their 32-ounce Porterhouse for two is $119. Artist Point’s Cedar Plank Salmon is $41. BOATHOUSE’s is $29.50. Le Cellier’s cheapest steak is $49 and their most expensive is $50. Five of their appetizers are either equal in price to the $14 Filet Sliders and Fries or more expensive. So BOathousE is less expensive than other signature restaurants on the high end and also serves more than 15 entrees at $25 or less. Even their $29.50 Steak and Fries is less expensive than Disney’s standard New York Strip. You’d pay $35 for that thing at Sci-Fi Dine-In.
Boathouse also serves a daily fresh menu:
Most of the negative press seems to focus on a handful of the most expensive items and a misprint of the price on the asparagus. Really, people were FREAKING OUT about the thought of a plate of asparagus being $21. Of course, it’s only $12. But I would argue that BoatHOUSE’s prices on the high end are better values than their Disney counterparts. That $60 Original Beach & Sea Bake for two sounds really good. The 28-ounce Porterhouse and Whole Maine Lobster for $115 is rich, sure, but remember that Yachtsman wants $119 for a 32-ounce porterhouse and you don’t even get any seafood. So if you ever see anybody whining about prices here, you have my permission to shove a $5 Signature Boathouse Filet Slider in their mouth.
It’s a potentially impressive list of oysters.
After all that, all I have for you is this lousy picture of the $21 Coconut Baja Jumbo Shrimp, which is also missing three of the roasted new potatoes. *sorry*
This is truly terrible coverage of these shrimp, which really are jumbo – each one is a solid four or five bites and four come to an order. The batter is thin, but really crunchy with a hint of toasted coconut. The size is important because most of each bite is thick, meaty shrimp rather than just chewing on batter like you’re at Long John Silver’s or Skipper’s (too obscure?). They don’t mention the dipping sauce on the menu, but it’s a flavorful, kind of spicy citrus that brings out the flavor of the coconut even more. I really enjoyed them and they ended up being more filling than I was expecting. Honestly though, I’m not in a big hurry to order them again. I don’t mean that negatively, but everything I’ve tried at BOATHOUSE has been so good that I’d be more interested in trying something else next time. On the other hand, sometimes you’re just in the mood for something fried. These are easily the best fried shrimp I’ve eaten anywhere.
I’ve never had much luck with their fries, pictured here with the steak sandwich. They look really good, but in my experience don’t have much crunch or much flavor. You may have better luck. My point is otherwise that they had no problem substituting them out for the roasted new potatoes, which is actually the one item cut off from the menu picture above. At $9, the fries and roasted potato sides are the same price and you should be able to substitute for another side if you wish. I’ve even seen them sub the fries out for the truffle fries for a $3 upcharge, so you may have some luck on that front too.
Disney Springs continues to define itself as more of a destination than an afterthought. That’s kind of a stupid sentence because obviously Disney Springs is still going to be an afterthought for most people vacationing at Walt Disney World. But I think as people realize how good some of these restaurants are and how much the atmosphere and ambiance of the area have improved, that it’s going to be hard to sit down to something like Tokyo Dining at Epcot when Morimoto Asia is here. Something like Yachtsman or Le Cellier is going to be a harder sell compared to BOATHOUSE or STK. And there are still so many restaurants on their way both announced and not. I just hope it gets easier to make it over here.
In a lot of ways, I’m doing you a great disservice going on about restaurants like this. When you’re on vacation, your time is extremely finite. And food is food. You can get a steak just about anywhere. So even if most of the restaurants at Disney Springs eviscerate their theme park counterparts, you still want to highly consider eating where you are because it will save you a lot of time that you can be focusing on experiencing the aspects of Disney World that are unique and can’t be replicated elsewhere.
But guys come on the Filet Sliders and fries are less money than Pecos Bill’s fajitas.