We return to The Boathouse at Disney Springs to check out what’s currently on the menu and to enjoy a casual, relaxed lunch.
The Dockside Bar, the laid back, scenic lounge out on the water, is my favorite of The Boathouse’s spaces. Even on hot summer afternoons, it’s relatively cool with the breeze off of the lake and the atmosphere is lively and fun with people enjoying their day.
Here’s the current menu:
The Boathouse is near the top of many people’s lists of favorite restaurants on property and may be the most common #1 or #2 choice. When you visit the waterside restaurant, you can expect a wide variety of price points, high quality food, and a large menu that’s executed well time and time again.
At your typical Disney signature restaurant, you’ll usually find somewhere between seven and ten entrees with prices that range from $30 to $60. The least expensive entree is almost always a vegetarian pasta, followed by chicken for ~$36, pork for ~$40, seafood for ~$42, and three or four beef options for $40-$60. At The Boathouse, you’ve got over 30 entree choices, about half of which come in at $25 or less. In addition to that, you’ve also got your choice of high-end selections with the $65 Filet Mignon Oscar Style, $62 Porterhouse, $48 Crab Stuffed Lobster etc. And items that would cost $45 at a Disney signature, like the Cedar Cedar Planked Salmon, are under $30 at The Boathouse. On the beef front, it’s all Gibsons USDA Blue Star Heritage Angus. Your server will remind you that Gibsons is the only restaurant group with their own USDA certification.
For an example about what I’m talking about, here’s the current menu at Le Cellier over in the Canada Pavilion at Epcot, one of two signature restaurants at the Park. That is my beautiful face reflecting back at you:
Even if everything that emerges from the restaurant’s kitchen is mind-blowing, which it probably isn’t, you’re not seeing a whole lot of price flexibility. You could certainly share to keep the price down – A Filet Mignon, side of Lobster Macaroni and Cheese, and a Signature Poutine would run you $41/person, but there’s no opportunity to order an entree for less than $30. At The Boathouse you can pay 60 bucks for a steak if you’re looking for that kind of quality, but you can also get a pair of Filet Sliders for $14, a Brisket French Dip for $19, or an 8-ounce New York Steak with a side for less than thirty dollars.
Erin and I last visited about three weeks ago on Sunday, the 8th of April. You’ll typically find five daily specials, the fish for which is guaranteed to be caught less than 36 hours ago.
I’m not much of an oyster person, but you’ve got 15 selections here all described in detail.
Served with Cocktail Sauce and Cucumber Mignonette.
Food-and-drink-wise, if I was going to fault The Boathouse in any one particular area, it would probably be on their beverage program:
They don’t do any beer on draft and their cocktail list is short and not particularly innovative.
It’s hard to get excited about Stoli, Ginger Beer, and Lime Juice for 13 bucks, but at least the Moscow Mule is served in this beautiful copper cup.
With that being said, I did try a drink on my last visit that had just been added to the menu two days before in the $13 “Orlando Pride – Old Forester Bourbon, Homemade Blackberry Citrus Puree.” It was delicious, strong, and well-balanced with just a little bit of the sweet fruit helping to mellow out the whiskey, which was America’s first bottled bourbon. Very good.
Other drinks, like the Old Fashioned appearing above, are well-mixed and appropriately loaded.
And there are larger, fruitier drinks too like the $15 “Blueberry Lemonade – Stoli Blueberry, Deep Eddy Lemon Vodka, Homemade Lemonade, Fresh Blueberries.”
On the starters front, I like the $16 “Firecracker Shrimp – Sriracha Mayo, Serrano Chilis and Sweet Peppers.” It’s a whopping portion of crispy, spicy shrimp and a satisfying way to begin the meal, particularly if you’re looking away from seafood as your entree choice.
If you’re thinking seafood as a main dish, you may want to try the $18 “Blue Star Angus Carpaccio – Arugula, Olive Oil, Shaved Grana Padano, Capers.” The beef will melt in your mouth and with the greens, it’s almost like a salad with a large side of crostini. At least that’s what I tell myself.
$19 is a little spendy, but the “Boathouse Lobster Cocktail – Half Chilled 1 1/2 lb. Lobster, Creamy Lady Rose & Cocktail Sauces” is a good way to try some seafood without going overboard.
Complimentary bread is served with meals all day. Like most things, they rolls are best when they’re fresh – light and fluffy with a creamy, easily-spreadable butter. I’d say that they’re not particularly memorable, but I always end up eating at least two.
I had been wanting to try the $16 “FBA State Champion 2017 Pulled Pork Sandwich” for some time, but always ended up heading elsewhere on the menu, largely because I typically visit for dinner when something closer to a steak sounds more appealing.
But the sandwich is worthy of whatever award that it holds. The sauce is deliciously tangy with a distinct smokiness. The sauce is somehow thin enough that it coats the tender pork without overpowering the natural flavor of the meat. The Fried Pickles add a nice crunch with a little bit of a salty brine that contrasts nicely with the brown sugar in the sauce. I would have liked more of the Shaved Red Onion, but a little does go a long way.
One key point – you can switch out the Fries for any of the other “Sides to Share,” sometimes at no cost and sometimes for an upcharge of a dollar or two.
My “Roasted Brussel [sic] Sprouts with Sherry Gastrique, Bacon” were delicious with a nice crispy character and a lot of salty bacon. The Sherry Gastrique adds just a bit of of a sweet and tart quality to each bite. Really delicious and full of flavor.
A great value at $16.
Erin went with the $21 “Coconut Fried Wild Sea of Cortez Shrimp Served with Orange-Chili Sauce.”
The shrimp used are the same as those that cost $4/each from the Raw Bar, so you may be saving some money here with the lightly-coated-and-breaded version with just a bit of coconut flavor. The Orange-Chili Sauce isn’t a personal favorite – it’s on the goopy side with a really strong, borderline-artificial orange flavor without much spice. I’d like to see a version that’s fried with a side of cocktail sauce. But you may enjoy the sauce more than we did and I’m not sure how you could do Coconut Shrimp any better.
Erin switched out the usual Fries for the “Mac’ n Cheese,” which turned out to be a bit of a disappointment. It does look the part, but the flavor was bland and it wasn’t nearly as creamy or cheese as you’d probably hope. Still fine though.
It’s hard to imagine having room for dessert, but here it is. I usually prefer to walk off the food a little bit and stop in at Amorette’s a little later.
When there aren’t prices listed on the menu, I always wonder what happens when they bring the bill for your Macallan Rare Cask and it ends up being $35,000. But even though it’s probably closer to $75, there’s still quite a bit of a difference between that and the Dewar’s, which is probably closer to $11.
As has been the case since it opened, The Boathouse offers a tremendous amount of value in a fun, casual setting. As the website has said in the past, it may not be the ideal spot for a romantic nighttime rendezvous as the restaurant does get loud and the tables are close together inside. The steaks are very good, but the atmosphere is slightly diminished when there’s families eating hamburgers six inches away from you on five different sides. But those hamburgers are a lot of what makes The Boathouse such a pleasant experience. Just don’t go in expecting a fine dining atmosphere because it’s probably not what you’re going to find. And that’s usually okay.
If you’re looking for something a little different, there’s Paddlefish, which I also reviewed this week in this post.
And there’s STK, which is a review that I recommend reading and a restaurant that I don’t recommend visiting.
We might get over to Flying Fish next before moving back to Epcot.