We venture out to what will be the website’s third review of Shutters, which must be some kind of record.
Located at Caribbean Beach Resort in Old Port Royale, you’ll find the table service restaurant open for dinner from 5pm to 10pm nightly.
It shares the building with a variety of other amenities, including the quick service down this hallway, followed by the arcade, store, and concierge. Shutters’ check-in podium is just behind me with the “open kitchen” to the left.
I use “parentheses” not because they are without merit, because I would never “do that” to you, but because it’s “open” in the same way the kitchen at McDonalds is open. All of the seating is located on the other side of the walkway, so diners have no opportunity to peer in and see somebody defrosting their sea scallops before they order them unless they want to stand out there and watch like some creep, which I have no experience in being and can’t relate to at all.
You’ll find that three separate rooms comprise Shutters – this was my first time sitting in the room off to the left, which offers a bit more intimacy as it’s the smallest and more removed from the hustle and bustle of the kitchen.
Since the “open kitchen” is located across the way, servers with tables in the back room will have to march through this first dining room with any food or beverages, which may or may not be distracting depending on how many Shutters Swirls you’ve consumed.
The name is, of course, derived from the *wait for it* bright shutters on the windows. Which actually seem to shut, which seems kind of surprising. Maybe the magic really is real.
The menu has seen a few changes since our last visit back in May, mostly in the entree section.
Appetizer-wise, the Braised Beef and Pepper Jack Cheese Empanada is/are no longer available, which is a potential shame. Considering Disney wants $4.75 for a single, previously frozen, dry empanada from something called “Patagonia” at the Food and Wine Festival, losing three homemade empanadas with a spicy piquillo pepper dipping sauce for $9 is unfortunate. They might play better if Caribbean Beach had a lounge.
The Roasted Butternut Squash and Plantain Soup is also out in favor of the Coconut and Sweet Potato Bisque with Cayenne Candied Walnuts.
The Caribbean-Spiced Pork Osso Bucco is out.
Actually, we better move on from what’s no longer available before I start talking about Horizons again.
On the drink menu front, most resort lounges should offer a bourbon list with the opportunity to try three (at a time) as part of a flight. I know there’s somebody out there snickering at the choices because they would never stoop to a level below Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve 15 Year, but it’s a pretty decent list of bottles that every liquor store in the country will probably carry. If Angel’s Envy or Woodford are too mainstream for you, maybe your next vacation can include digging up the Kentucky countryside looking for a long lost bottle of A.H. Hirsch Reserve 16 Year (if you find one please call me).
I’ve had good experiences and bad experiences with the bread here – our most recent was very positive with warm, flaky, chewy rolls with a soft exterior, enhanced further with the salted butter.
We’re joined again by the Milz family – a name you may remember from past Shutters reviews, in addition to Boatwright’s, two stops at Mama Melrose, Morimoto Asia, and The Wave and Sanaa (reviews coming). They also hold the distinction of being the only people that have ever invited me out a second time and actually showed up.
Peggy returned to our favorite entree from last time, the $32.99 Char-crusted 10-oz New York Strip Steak – Smoked Gouda and Chorizo Mac & Cheese, Seasonal Vegetable, and Chimichurri, which is one of the better steaks at a single-credit restaurant on property, thanks to the more interesting preparation. The steak arrives with a nice char, which gives the thick, tender, expertly grilled meat even more flavor. The side of macaroni is a creamy, rich complement to the juicy steak. The asparagus, which seem to be perennially “in season,” are cooked to a nice al dente. Altogether, I’d be surprised if you could name a single credit restaurant on property that serves anything better – potentially because the meat they use is all the same.
Steve ordered the Braised Beef Short Ribs – $27.99 Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Seasonal Vegetables, and Pan Gravy, which probably is not the most exciting thing this website has photographed. That honor still goes to this shot of me in my swimsuit, coincidentally also at Caribbean Beach Resort.
I sincerely hope you didn’t consider clicking that.
While the presentation here is straightforward, Shutters does a nice job of braising the beef, or slowly cooking the meat in a pot with a little bit of a marinade, until it’s meltingly tender and the rich flavors are brought out alongside the gravy. It’s a perfect, homely dish for that freezing cold 58-degree Florida winter night. And unlike a lot of Disney restaurants, which will serve just one sad rib on top of some froufrou side (looking at you Jiko), you’ll leave satisfied with the 10ish ounces of meat served here. Very good.
I ordered the $21.99 Roasted Airline Chicken Breast with Ginger-Boniato Purée, Red Stripe-braised Kale with Applewood-smoked Bacon, and Roasted Garlic Gravy. I’ve always felt like the “airline” designation is a little unfortunate. It just means that it’s a boneless chicken breast with the drumette attached. It wouldn’t be that hard to come up with another, more attractive name. The “Orange Roughy,” something you might be interested in ordering fresh caught from a restaurant like The Boathouse, used to be called a slimehead. Kirk Douglas might be a more marketable name for an actor than Issur Danielovitch, although if your name was Kirk Douglas and you were starting up a Kraftwerk cover band then you might go in the opposite direction. My point is just that there’s a reason people don’t put “prison” or “sanitation center” in the name of their entrees. Although these days you might be so excited to have a hot meal served in flight that the connotation is more positive.
Anyway, there’s no cause for concern here on the name alone, though I found the chicken to be both dry and chintzy in size, which is further accentuated by the humorously large size of the plate it’s served on. I’m not sure the grocery store would sell you a chicken breast this small unless it was sold at Whole Foods for $27.99 a pound, which may be the reason for the small serving in the first place. But I would advise sticking to one of the other entrees – everything else I’ve tried here has been above average. I doubt the chicken will make the next menu cut.
The kids’ menu is just about as straightforward as they come, though you can always ask if there’s a smaller version of another entree they can serve the kids. I was at Sanaa for dinner last night (also with the Milz), where you’ll find a lot more interesting entrees available for kids, and our server said they could substitute even more items like the braised beef for the butter chicken or shrimp. Disney is not usually keen on saying “no” to reasonable requests.
The kids fish, which is usually mahi.
And a straightforward steak, which the kids may prefer anyway.
The dessert menu:
We opted for the $7.99 Warm Banana Bread Pudding with Rum-Caramel Sauce.
You’re probably off visiting Tambu Lounge at the Polynesian Village Resort for a slice of their ‘Ohana Bread Pudding, which will only set you back $4.99. There wasn’t anything distinctive about this and ours was overcooked.
It’s not really fair that the kids’ meals come with a dessert like this make-your-own-sundae.
Overall, Shutters is a satisfying restaurant that I would put on par with the food served at most single-credit resort table service restaurants like Kona Cafe, also at the Polynesian and much better than others like Turf Club at Saratoga Springs. It’s not a destination restaurant by any stretch, but I certainly wouldn’t stick my nose up at enjoying a meal here after a busy day at the Parks or a lazy day relaxing at the pool if I was staying here.
Steve also sent in some pictures of a refurbished Pirate Room, which I had reviewed the previous version of all the way back in 2011. This is what I said back then:
I stayed here for a night after the Christmas Party last year if memory serves. These rooms run a somewhat insane $34-$39 extra per night over a standard room. That’s around $238 for a seven night stay. You could probably outfit a room at home in pirate gear for a similar amount of money. The fridge inside of the keg was kind of cool, but I was not otherwise wowed. It’s certainly no Princess room over at the Riverside. But I guess I prefer to feel fabulous rather than swashbuckling.
The same is true now and I’ve probably doubled down on the last sentence. Only the rooms are even more expensive compared to regular rooms. During Value Season, staying in a Pirate Room will run you a whopping $72 more per night or $504 over seven nights during Value Season. The price difference is actually less during more expensive seasons like Holiday and Peak. You’ll pay “just” $339 per night during Holiday Season this year, which is only $51 more than a regular room. And they say discounts on rooms are becoming rarer.
Anyway, Disney does do a good job with the theming as the beds here sit in pirate ships.
The nautical map battleship carpet.
The fridge is inside this keg with a treasure chest for a drawer.
Some light theming on the table, chairs, and curtains.
Can you really put a price on a skull and crossbones screenprint on a curtain? Actually, for that $504 difference, you could buy 119 Mickey Premium Ice Cream Bars. Assuming four people in the room, that’s 4.25 Mickey Bars per person per day or roughly 400,000% of your daily saturated fat allowance.
You really have to question the priorities of somebody that chooses a shower curtain over a Mickey Bar.
There are two other main downsides to the Pirate Rooms – the first is that unlike standard rooms, they still have double beds and sleep only four people. Above is a picture of what standard rooms look like with queen beds – they’re a huge improvement.
I have a good look at the Caribbean Beach Resort post-refurbishment in this review and break down the differences between the various Moderate resorts in a variety of categories in this review if you’re trying to make a decision about where to stay.
The other problem with Pirate Rooms is that they’re all the way out in the Trinidad South section of the resort, which is so far away from the main building that the running path doesn’t even circle around it. It’s less of an issue for those with their own vehicles that don’t plan to make a lot of trips over for breakfast or to refill mugs, but that walk to Shutters from Building 39 is going to take 20 minutes each way. There is an internal bus that circles the resort, but “waiting for the bus to go to breakfast” is not going to top most people’s resort wish lists. It’s intelligent of Disney to put the Pirate rooms in this section because the potentially better-decorated rooms might make up for such an undesirable location, but it’s surprising that they can do that and still command $60+ extra per night.
Overall, Shutters is a fine restaurant for dinner if you find yourself back at your resort, unexpectedly or not. I think i would put my money to work somewhere other than a Pirate Room, particularly with four people due to the smaller beds, but you may find value with kids that are particularly into the buccaneer lifestyle. And you may “luck into” a free “upgrade” like the Milz’s did – they paid for a standard room and were offered a Pirate Room at check in.