We return to Disney’s BoardWalk to see what’s changed at Flying Fish since our last review from September of last year. That post includes a lot more pictures around the restaurant, in addition to more background on some of the changes that have been made over the years.
Flying Fish was my favorite signature restaurant before it closed in early 2016 for an extensive refurbishment.
And going in to my third meal at the re-imagined restaurant, I think it still tops my list, although I did recently enjoy dinner at California Grill.
Flying Fish is now a very classy operation with an elegant interior featuring beautiful glass chandeliers that mimic a school of fish swimming among bubbles. The white linen tablecloths add an air of glamour, while the bright blue colors soften some of the copper details and metal accents. It’s the perfect date night restaurant, particularly with the romantic, lively atmosphere of the BoardWalk area and the opportunity to visit a couple of the other bars and lounges in the area to grab drinks or to enjoy a bite to eat.
AbracadaBar opens up into Flying Fish. My full review is here.
If you’re flying solo or would prefer a more casual experience, the bar area is one of my favorites on property with some of the friendliest, most knowledgeable bartenders you’ll find.
It’s also a great opportunity to try a couple of drinks and share a couple of appetizers.
Here’s the current menu:
A couple of months ago, I noticed that Flying Fish was offering several “Daily Market Harvest Fish” selections that changed most days. That seemed like it was a good indication that only the freshest fish were offered. It’s also a departure from how most other Disney restaurants operate, offering a set menu for three, six, or more months at a time. I also liked seeing a choice of accompaniments with the fish and steak.
After enjoying the ““Yellowfin Tuna – Compressed Watermelon, Citrus Espelette, Black Cyprus Sea Salt, and Avocado” appetizer on a previous visit, and finding only sadness after realizing it had been switched out, I was excited to see a similar dish return with the “Chef’s Daily Crudo.”
I continue to appreciate the bread served here with the seaweed mixed in adding a little bit of a mineral quality along with some salt that complements the natural tang of the bread.
The salted butter makes each piece all the more addictive.
Here is the Chef’s Crudo Offering in the form of the $10 “Ahi Tuna with Caper, Blue Lavender, and Black Cyprus Sea Salt.” The bright pink tuna was so thin and tender that it virtually melted in the mouth with the activated charcoal in the Black Cyprus Sea Salt enhancing the flavor of the fish even more. The lavender added an aromatic quality to each bite while the crispy rice noodles on top added just a little bit of a crunch alongside the radish. It was a really flavorful, light, and refreshing way to get the meal started for less money than you’d pay for soup.
Here we have the $13 “Canadian Blue Mussels – Basil, Fregola Sardo [sic], Baked Croissant.” As is typical, a pile of shells arrive full of tender meat and bathed in butter and herbs, here topped with a juicy tomato, crispy slice of croissant, and tender semolina pasta hailing from Sardinia. Pasta served with mussels and seafood isn’t uncommon, but I don’t remember seeing a dish served with the nutty, toasty pasta pearls elsewhere. But it definitely worked and the flavors of the herbs, butter, garlic, and shellfish seemed to be made all the richer with the pasta doing a nice job of soaking everything up. Very good, very shareable, and surprisingly complex.
I’ll always miss the Blue Crab Bisque of yesteryear, here with the $12 “Potato Leek Bisque – Lobster, Bacon, Sesame Oil” instead.
I don’t usually order shrimp cocktails at restaurants because I feel like I can defrost a bag with the best of ’em, but I went with the $16 “Mile Zero Shrimp Cocktail – Elderflower Mignonette, Blood Orange Oil” because I had tried most of the other appetizers on the menu.
There’s four relatively large shrimp cozied up together, each of which enjoyed a firm texture with a nice bite along with a gentle rub of spices and a little bit of a citrus-poached quality that was further enhanced by the sweet and sour character of the Blood Orange Oil underneath. But it’s the Elderflower Mignonette that makes the dish special with its subtle hints of nectar and honey cut swiftly with the crisp acidity of high quality white wine vinegar, shallot, and peppercorns. It still “feels” like it’s on the expensive side of things, but the flavors were exquisite.
Another facet that elevates Flying Fish is its beverage program:
You won’t find Disney’s standard drink menu here, instead replaced with a lineup of drinks made to complement the various flavors from the land and sea offered on the restaurant’s main menu.
The $10.75 “Maple Bacon Fig Manhattan – Bulleit Rye Whiskey, Averna Amaro, Bacon-infused Maple Syrup, Honeyed Black Mission Figs, Candied Bacon” is poured tableside, expertly marrying the flavors of salt, meat, maple, sugar, fruit, and a lot of whiskey to create one of the best rye-forward cocktails you may ever drink.
The $10.75 “Blood Orange Margarita – Patrón Silver Tequila, Solerno Liqueur, Blood Orange Juice, fresh Sweetened Lime Juice” is another treat and a great bargain compared to the $16 you’d pay for something worse at Epcot or Disney Springs. Smooth and nicely balanced.
Another drink that’s shaken and poured tableside in the $11.25 “Pomegranate Martini – Skyy Vodka, Pomegranate Reduction, Lime Juice, Topped with Cava.” It was a little bit on the syrupy side, but the pomegranate and lime played nicely together making for a drink that was incredibly sippable.
And finally, the $11 “Pacific Island Punch – Mount Gay Eclipse Rum, Disaronno Originale, Guava-Papaya-Pineapple-Mango Juices topped with Brûléed Banana.” This worked a lot better than your typical rum runner that tastes mostly of viscous banana liqueur, instead placing the much-more-delicate flavors of banana and caramelized sugar on top. The Disaronno did an admirable job of cutting the sweetness of the juice, making this the most drinkable rum-based cocktail that I’ve enjoyed in years.
Here’s the standard wine list:
It looks like they’ll pour you a glass under $20 on the Dining Plan.
We start with the primary reason for our visit in the $48 “Chilean Sea Bass served with your choice of Harvest Vegetable Mélange and Potato Beurre Blanc or Leek Fondue and Cassis-Red Wine Sauce.”
Also known as the Patagonian Toothfish, this fish-that-is-not-technically-a-bass has a flaky, tender texture and a buttery, rich flavor that’s brought out even further with the delicate white wine sauce. The vegetables provide a nice textural contrast to the meaty bass. It’s probably the best fish dish I’ve ever sampled.
Erin went with the $48 “Hokkaido Scallop Garganelli Pasta – Key West Pink Shrimp, Savory Tomato Sauce, Artichokes, Braised Fennel.”
The garganelli pasta is similar to penne, only the ridges of garganelli pasta are perpendicular and there’s visible seams on both ends. (Obviously.) Either way, the tubular pasta does a nice job of soaking up the luscious tomato sauce with a rich garlic and butter flavor. The four plump scallops are seared nicely and take no effort whatsoever to cut through with the side of a fork. There’s also a bunch of little shrimp mixed in that add a slightly firmer bite. Very good.
You might remember from my original review that upon reopening, Flying Fish was the most expensive signature restaurant on property by average entree price. Above was the “Maine Lobster Nero Pasta – Golden Tomato Sauce, Young Artichokes, Fennel Pollen,” which came in at $64. The scallops offer a lot of the same flavors at what is probably a more palatable print point. I’d prefer to pay a little extra for that gigantic lobster tail, though. So good.
You can also go the steak route with my $44 “New York Strip – Hickory Char-crust served with your choice of Asparagus, Mushrooms, Celeriac Risotto, and Grand Marnier-Black Truffle Sauce or Roasted Fingerling Potatoes, Haricot Vert, and Sauce Foyot.”
With the $24 side of “Twin Cold Water Lobster Tails” from Canada.
Look at me matching my shirt to my MagicBand. So suave. Flying Fish’s Strip Steak goes for size and flavor over tenderness with a bold hickory-smoke flavor. I went with the second set of accompaniments, which is a throwback to how Flying Fish traditionally outfitted its New York Strip. And I’m happy to report that it’s better than ever. The sauce does a nice job of adding an even richer, meatier flavor while complementing the tangy quality of the bernaise. And there’s so much meat. The steamed lobster tails are firm and flavorful and large enough that they present some value. With the lobster, this should be plenty of food for two people to share and the kitchen will typically split up the dish into two parts for under $35 per person. Not bad.
The $48 “Filet Mignon – Sea Salt-dusted served with your choice of Asparagus, Mushrooms, Celeriac Risotto, and Grand Mariner-Black Truffle Sauce or Roasted Fingerling Potatoes, Haricot Vert, and Sauce Foyot.” The former is definitely the way to go with the Filet, while I think the latter set goes best with the New York Strip.
The Grand Marnier-Black Truffle Sauce is delicious and the risotto underneath does an admirable job of soaking up the balanced flavors of citrus and earth with a pleasant red wine flavor that complements the tender beef.
Like the New York Strip, it was cooked perfectly.
Dessert is offered, of course:
But I would narrow your focus on the Peanut Butter Freeze.
Overall, Flying Fish offers some of Disney’s best signature food in one of its most elegant dining rooms. I’d still stick with seafood for the most part. If steak is what you’re after, Yachtsman is typically a better bet. But the New York Strip is worth seeking out if you prefer a charred crust, particularly with the return of the rich and decadent foyot sauce. The cocktail list is one of Disney’s best and at prices lower than you’d expect to pay elsewhere. Virtually everything on the appetizer menu is a delicious way to start the meal. The bread is tasty. The entrees are flavorful and innovative. Service is probably not up to the fine-dining standard that you might expect from a restaurant that looks like this and serves food at these prices, but the cast members are typically friendly and knowledgeable.
I constantly refresh the menu searching for an excuse to go back.