Filet Mignon Sliders with Mac N’ Cheese, $12; New York Steak and Fries (substitute Truffle Fries), $29
Walt Disney World has made the transition from Downtown Disney to Disney Springs. While the transition has been a long time coming, some absolutely incredible restaurants have already opened and are setting a new standard in a world that already achieves a Diamond Level standard at several of its restaurants. Not only that, but the themes are right on par with the theming of the parks, rides and resorts all over Walt Disney World.
If you are lucky enough to be able to approach Disney Springs from the water, you can see just how much has changed during construction. One of the coolest changes has to be the waterfront restaurants and of course the docks of The Boathouse. With countless classic wooden boats moored for you to admire, the docks are definitely worth a stroll before or after your meal. If you are approaching by land, you’ll notice a crowd just off to the left of the restaurant. It really doesn’t matter when you drop by – the crowd will be there. And for good reason: they are watching the boat launch. And this isn’t just any boat launch. This is the launch for the amphicars. These fantastical vehicles look like classic cars from the 50’s, but looks can be deceiving. The cars actually drive right into the water, and away you go on a boat ride – in a car. The experience is a bit pricy, but is worth every penny. You enjoy views you just can’t see anywhere else. Plus, did I mention – AMPHICAR. Enough said.
The moment you walk into the restaurant, the overall ambience hits you from every direction; hard to miss is the large boat hull made into a table and seating area, which you can actually eat at if you’re lucky (we were seated nearby, and were seething with jealousy). The main area is very open-concept, encompassing the bar area and seating area. There was a musician playing that evening, who was quite good, and the volume was pleasant, still permitting dinner conversation. The tables were a good distance apart, so you won’t feel like you’re sharing a meal with strangers at the next table. Theme-wise, you’ll be surrounded by décor consisting of boats, seafood, lakes, and generally all things water-related. As a side note, check out the gift shop on the way out. If you’re a boat/lake/water enthusiast, or know someone who is, there is merchandise that should not be missed.
The menu is very seafood-oriented, so it will be interesting to see how it fits into the rest of the Disney Springs list of dining establishments already on the map. We opted to try some of the meatier options, although we did see many people trying the shrimp and/or mussels, and judging from the looks of the dishes and the reactions of those who ordered them, if you’re a seafood fan, these should top your “must eat” list. My partner was worried about her choice of the Filet Mignon Sliders at first, as she’s not typically a carnivore – but one bite in, she was hooked. They just melt in your mouth. The Mac N’ Cheese side swap was a great choice, as it was some of the best we have ever tasted. The New York Steak was one of the finest cuts I have had at any steakhouse, and rivaled that of the Yachtsman in The Disney Yacht and Beach Club. Even the truffle fries with lemon aioli were a magical treat for the taste buds. Unfortunately, the meals were so large that we didn’t have room for dessert this time around, but we already have our dessert picked for next time as we watched it get delivered to the tables around us: the Whiskey Caramel Cornbread Cake.
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F-Food: Every single item we saw looked amazing, and each and every item at our table was absolutely delicious. It was refreshing to see a place that clearly focuses on seafood put such detail and care into non-seafood dishes. There is so much to try that restaurant will be a staple for us moving forward.
A-Atmosphere: The atmosphere here was open, not too loud, great theme work and not too busy or rowdy which in Disney Springs is something that I think lots of people are going to really appreciate. In addition, the outside area overlooking the water and the boat docks has a great feel all its own.
S-Service: The service was top-notch. Staff were attentive without hounding us, and had great suggestions for our meal choices. The manager dropped by and checked on things, but in a very laid-back way that didn’t feel forced; he genuinely wanted to know how the restaurant was living up to our expectations.
T-Tips: Reservations are obviously a necessity pretty much everywhere on property, and The Boathouse is no different, and appears to book up fast. In our case, however, we arrived early for our reservation and staff were more than willing to accommodate us with a table well in advance of our actual reservation time. Try and grab a table outside, weather/temperature permitting, because the view really is spectacular.