It’s possible that a day doesn’t go by without the website receiving at least one email requesting a review of Shutters. It’s also possible the website has never received such an email. Either way, off we go.
Actually, Shutters is the subject of one my favorite stories of all time. Of all time. I was minding my own business sitting on the monorail to Epcot from the Transportation and Ticket Center some number of years ago now. The weather was awful. It had been raining most of the day, but I had a Food and Wine Festival event of some variety that had already been paid for. So I soldiered on. There was just one other family in the monorail car, bundled up in ponchos. I contorted my face into one of my creepier smiles and asked them what they were up to that day. They were staying at the Polynesian Resort. And going to the Caribbean Beach Resort via Disney transportation to eat at Shutters. Conservatively, I’d say 99% of people are headed in exactly the opposite direction. This family was theoretically paying $400+ a night for the convenience of a monorail resort. They could have hopped on the monorail and eaten at The Wave, Grand Floridian Cafe, California Grill, Citricos, etc. with little hassle. Or they could have stayed put and eaten at Kona, ‘Ohana, Tambu Lounge, or Captain Cook’s. Instead, the front desk told them to walk to the TTC, take the Epcot monorail to Epcot, disembark the monorail and walk all the way to the Epcot bus loop, find the Caribbean Beach Resort bus, wait for the bus, take said bus all the way over to Caribbean Beach Resort, and get off the bus at the third or fourth stop. I was cracking up at the thought as hard as I’d ever cracked up before on the inside. I’m not sure what that looked like on the outside. I’m sure I kept it together.
Shutters is located in Old Port Royale, which is Caribbean Beach Resort’s main building, across from the quick service at the end of this hall. Unlike most/any other Disney resort, check-in and check-out are handled in a different, far off building called the “Custom House.” Don’t bring your backpack and Duffy to Old Port Royale expecting to check in like I did the first time.
The restaurant looking in the other direction. At least further inside the restaurant where we were seated, we didn’t hear any noise or experience any commotion from the busy walkway or quick service seating section.
According to Disney:
An Island Escape Awaits You
Drop by Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort and delight in American favorites with a Caribbean twist.
Charming sea-green shutters give way to a pastel-pink dining room, and an open kitchen offers diners further visual stimulation as they enjoy a relaxed meal of Island-inspired fare.
Embark on your tropical getaway which may include shrimp fritters or the lettuce wrap sampler plate, featuring mojo pork, chayote slaw and plantains. Continue at your leisure with Caribbean pork ribs, jerk-crusted tuna or Aruba-style roasted chicken.
Key lime tart, tres leches and no-sugar-added mango mousse provide a sweet ending to your retreat, as do an assortment of cocktails for Guests 21 years of age and older, like the Banana Cabana and the Pineapple Upside-Down Martini.
Debatable. The “open kitchen” is actually located outside the restaurant and isn’t visible to anyone seated without island-inspired binoculars.
The restaurant is made up of several rooms.
Trying to get out of the way. We were seated in the back of what may or may not be the main room without much pink to speak of.
The theming is otherwise kind of neat, but it’s basically three large rooms painted bright colors with windows. It was quite noisy with only about half of the restaurant full.
The potentially pink, adjacent dining room.
Looking over the menu, most of the items from the Disney website’s description are no longer available. Word is that Chef Mike Reitzler from the Disney Cruise Line arrived on scene about this time last year and overhauled the menu. That means no more frozen shrimp fritters, bottled sauces, or lamb burgers. Those rum flights are a nice touch too.
The meal begins with Cuban rolls.
Unfortunately, these were the low point of the meal – dry and flavorless. These were a big miss for us.
They’re served alongside the standard slabs of butter with salt sprinkled on top.
I ordered one of the few holdovers from the old menu – Chorizo-Black Bean Soup – Black Beans simmered with Chorizo Sausage garnished with Lime Cream and Chives – $5.99. This was a spicy, chunky soup that was served piping hot with a nice cream/chive garnish on top. It was not jaw-dropping good, but it was one of the better soups I’ve enjoyed on property.
For the sake of bloggability, I conned Lisa into ordering the Braised Beef and Pepper Jack Cheese Empanada – Chayote Slaw and Piquillo Pepper Dipping Sauce – $7.99. The sauce had a bit of a zip and was creamier than I was expecting. The freshly fried empanadas tasted homemade and were light and crispy with a slightly sweet beefy interior.
Three for eight bucks seemed like a deal and the accompanying slaw offered a crunchy component to the dish. Recommended.
Not the artsiest picture of my entree, the Black Jack Barbecue Pork Brisket with Crab, Shrimp, and Corn Imperial served with Green Beans and Piquillo Peppers – $24.99.
This was a heaping portion of pork cooked to a perfect medium with a sweet and spicy barbecue glaze on top. I’m not sure how appetizing it looks from the picture, but I enjoyed it a lot.
Another unappetizing picture, this time of the “Imperial.” The pork is served alongside this creamy, shrimp dish with bread crumbs baked on top. I did not pick up on much crab meat, but there were about a dozen small shrimp inside. The rich Imperial would be rough on your waistline, but the creamy shrimp and crunchy bread crumbs combined to make a nice side to the pork.
Lisa ordered the Pasta Piquant with Shrimp – Spanish Chorizo Sausage, Spinach, and Goat Cheese – $19.99.
The thin, slightly spicy sauce covered the pasta, about a dozen medium-size shrimp, and sauteed spinach with goat cheese sprinkled on top. It was light on the chorizo, which was fine with Lisa, but don’t order it expecting to find a sea of sausage. Not every dish can be heaven. It was otherwise a nice change of pace from what tends to be heavier, cream-based pasta recipes at most Disney restaurants. Recommended.
The food at Shutters exceeded our low expectations and the experience was much better than it has been in the past. Like other restaurants that have garnered mostly negative reviews over the years, it’s unlikely that Shutters will shed its negative reputation any time soon. That’s unfortunate since reviews this year are much more positive than they have been in the past. With that said, Shutters is not a destination restaurant by any means. The website maintains that you would have to be some variety of silly to pony up the money to stay at the Polynesian, only to take the time to hop the Epcot monorail and then a bus over to Caribbean Beach to feast on this menu at this restaurant. But if you’re staying at the resort and find yourself back for unexpected reasons, you may want to consider a nice sit-down meal here. If lousy weather is the reason you find yourself back at the resort, fire up My Disney Experience to snag a reservation. It’s usually easy to walk up without one, but crummy weather does bring a lot of hungry people back to the resort’s 2,100+ rooms.
Caribbean Beach is my least favorite Moderate resort, as I’ve mentioned in the past. The website compares the Moderates in numerous categories in this post.
The immense size of the resort is a major deterring factor. A Preferred room will cut down on the walk from your room to the main building or pool from 15 minutes to as few as two or three, but you’ll pay $25 – $30 extra per night for the privilege.
Martinique buildings 26, 25, and 24 are closest to Old Port Royale. Trinidad North buildings 31, 32, and 33 are also close. All come with the Preferred Room upcharge.
Of the non-preferred buildings, Jamaica 45 and Aruba 51 are a relatively short walk-across the-bridge away. As you may be aware, Caribbean Beach is so large that a Disney bus circles the resort all day and all night, ferrying guests from check-in at the Custom House to the various resort sections. Or simply to take you from your Pirate room all the way out in Trinidad South to the main building or pool.
Caribbean Beach is the only Moderate resort with double beds in all its guest rooms. Riverside, French Quarter, and Coronado Springs all feature queen beds with rooms renovated much more recently than Caribbean Beach.
Caribbean Beach should undergo an extensive refurbishment sooner rather than later. That renovation is expected to bring queen beds and a less orange color scheme.
CBR does offer what is arguably the best pool complex of the Value or Moderate resorts:
The Spanish fortress theme is neat and the pirate splash pool is a lot of fun for kids. Like Riverside and Coronado, each section of the resort has its own quiet pool.
The resort’s outdoor spaces are pretty too, particularly the white sand beaches that line the lake.
Several of my problems with CBR are nitpicky, but the old rooms with double beds and massive size of the resort are major turnoffs. If I’m looking for a room out of the way, I like the Ranchos section at Coronado. Once Caribbean Beach undergoes a refurbishment similar to Riverside, picking a Moderate resort will be even more difficult as all four will offer similar amenities. Until then, you’ll find me at French Quarter.