The Boathouse – Disney Springs Orlando Florida.
The Boathouse was one of the first additions to the new Disney Springs complex, and part of the re-imagining of what once was Downtown Disney. Steve Schussler of Schussler Creative, is responsible for the creation of the Boathouse and also for other Disney locations such as Yak &Yeti in Animal Kingdom, Rainforest Café in Disney Springs and Animal kingdom and T Rex Café also Disney Springs.
The Boathouse is an upscale, family-friendly, restaurant right on the waterfront, with stunning views of Lake Buena Vista, romantic Italian water taxis cruising by and classic Amphicars exploring the lake (rentals available right next door to the restaurant).
It has a heavy nautical theme which is featured throughout the restaurant and unique seating areas, including a boat booth and dockside eating. Luxury boats from the 30’s, 40’s & 50s are dotted around the marina inspiring authentic nautical touches.
The Boathouse can accommodate up to 600 guests and has four separate dining rooms as well as three bars, these are, The Captain’s Raw Bar, Admiral’s Club Bar and The Dockside Bar, the latter being built over the water and attached to over 300 feet of boardwalk and docks, you can dine indoors or dockside on their award-winning menu, and as the restaurant is family friendly there is of course a special menu for kids.
The menu is mainly focused on seafood, chops & steak, and changes frequently. The cast members quote “the menu changes every day” and as to be expected, they major on using only the freshest ingredients available.
It has to be said the Boathouse is not an inexpensive restaurant, the words ‘High End” really do apply here, so my review will concentrate on how you can get the best value from your experience and sum up cost vs value at the end of the review.
I found the stand out dishes to be:
P.E.I STEAMED MUSSELS – Andouille Sausage, Pilsner Beer, Red Onions, Creole Butter, Garlic Crostini – More than enough Prince Edward Island mussels to share, good balance of flavors. (Ask for extra bread the cooking broth is tremendous).
FIRECRACKER SHRIMP – Sriracha Mayo, Shishito Peppers – Crispy on the outside, full of flavor and succulent and juicy on the inside, the spice heat has varied each time I have tried this dish, but great never the less.
SHRIMP & ANDOUILLE MAC’ N CHEESE – Although this is classed as a side dish, it looks more like an entrée dish, great sauce and thick cut sausage.
Dock side bucket -COCONUT WILD PACIFIC JUMBO SHRIMP – Great to share.
CLASSIC BURGER – Boathouse Custom Grind, Beefsteak Tomato, Onion, Lettuce, Pickle – A great burger, custom grind was spot on and exactly medium rare as requested.
None of these dishes will break the bank and great to share and mix and match and still enjoy the Boathouse and all it has to offer.
Great dishes but more expensive
CEDAR PLANKED SALMON – Frisee lettuce, Roasted Wild Mushrooms, Petite Green Beans, Grape Tomatoes – Mild Cedar wood flavor compliments this perfectly cooked piece of fish.
BLUE STAR ANGUS CARPACCIO – Arugula, Olive Oil, Shaved Grana Padano, Capers – A deceptively simple dish that is very easy to get wrong. Full of flavor thinly sliced beef that just melts in your mouth.
NEW YORK STRIP 14 OUNCE – Disney really knows how to do steak (see my review of the Yachtsman Steak House)
Oysters from the Raw bar – There is a large selection of Oysters available, I believe up to 14 different varieties, but they vary greatly in terms of size and flavor. For the uninitiated Oyster guest, ensure your server goes through the varieties with you. I tried a variety, tasting oysters from different parts of the country, my favorite being the west coast and blue point oysters. Served with some delicious dipping sauces, choose one that compliments the Oyster rather than overpowering it. I recommend the Cucumber Mignonette. Amazing!
Disney have always produced great cocktails and the Boathouse is no exception in this regard creating, classic craft cocktails and an extensive offering of wines from American vineyards you will easily identify with. Wine pricing is not over the top for a high end restaurant and the Kim Crawford New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and Murphy Goode Pinot Noir from Sonoma Valley represent an average price and good quality wine selection.
Service by the cast members is Disney personified, and hits the correct note on all levels, courteous, knowledgeable and attentive. They all have their own story to tell, I remarked to my server on one occasion during the holidays that it must suck working when everyone else was having a great time, he responded by telling me that he was away from his home state and could not be with his family, so he derived pure enjoyment from seeing the guests enjoying great food and the festive sprit. He delivered the Disney message flawlessly and what’s more important, believably.
The Boathouse now offers both Annual Pass and Disney Vacation Club discounts. (Subject to any changes by Disney Corporation)
Savings can also be had on the Amphicar tours on the Village Lake. (Subject to any changes by Disney Corporation)
In the evening, listen to live music and maybe catch a sunset
Private rooms are available for functions, private dining, special events & large groups
The restaurant is large, open and airy, on a breezy day sitting in the area where the boardwalk enters the restaurant can be a tad windy.
Much has been made in the press and food blogs about the price of certain items at the Boathouse and “Sticker Shock” mentioned many times when receiving the check or reviewing menu prices, but here’s the thing, Warren Buffet once quoted that “price is the dollars you pay value is what you receive in return”. So how does the Boathouse stack up in terms of price and value?
Price: Undoubtedly high end but if you mix and match and take my advice then you won’t break the bank. On the other hand, a special occasion or one off splurge may be in order.
- Access straight off the I-4
- Free car parking
- Disney experience without buying a park ticket
- Arguably the best views and ambiance of any restaurant in the area
- Free entertainment
- Disney Service and Quality
- Great Food
On the above criteria value overrides price by some margin, but you have to be the judge yourself, but whatever happens you must give the Boathouse a try.