Fulton’s Crab House Review Downtown Disney
If you’re looking for a solid seafood house for lunch, you could do far worse than Fulton’s Crab House, located in Downtown Disney (though if you’ve been keeping up, Disney is planning to refurbish and upgrade that entire area and call it Disney Springs). Situated right on the water and with an inviting riverboat façade, Fulton’s offers lunchtime fare for most any palate.
A little backstory is called for here, as we were a party of 10 celebrating the impending nuptials between my fiancée (now wife) and me, and we had been searching for a place that would be just right for the wedding party to sit back, relax, enjoy a drink, and sample some (hopefully) excellent seafood. One of the downsides to eating at Fulton’s is the parking situation, at least during busy times such as we found the day we visited which was the 4th of July. Silly us.
After that blazingly hot walk, thankfully we were immediately seated at a table offering delightful views of the water. First on the agenda were drinks, and while most opted for iced tea or water, I was intrigued by their Luis Fulton’s Margarita, essentially a top-flight version of the summer staple. Too often, drinks are watered down in some Disney venues, or they come in very shallow glasses. Neither was the case here, and Luis himself would be proud of this topnotch adult beverage served in a salt-rimmed tumbler with just the right ratios of alcohol to juice.
There are several options for appetizers at Fulton’s which include most of the obligatory sides such as fried calamari, shrimp cocktail, and oysters. One odd addition were the Portobello mushroom fries (which no one tried); I say odd because they seem a bit heavy for seafood restaurant in the dead of a Florida summer heat wave. One couple did try the calamari and found it crunchy and not chewy, both desirable traits in squid dishes. The accompanying dipping sauce was an atypical tomato-basil concoction that was quite piquant, serving to highlight the sweet, nutty flavor of the calamari (yep, they let me sample!).
My fiancée—oops, wife—loves salads and zeroed in on the shrimp spinach salad, while I decided on the fish tacos. We do a mean fish taco at home, and I was curious how their version would stack up to ours. Her salad was the better of the two meals. Plentiful helpings of glazed pecans, bleu cheese, and red onions were tossed among the fresh spinach, and the shrimp were expertly grilled. Most restaurants make the mistake of grilling their shrimp until they’re near rubber, but not this time, as the extra large shrimp were moist with just a hint of that grilled smokiness we love. The balsamic vinaigrette she ordered was light and zesty—not too oily, not too overburdened with herbs. Served in a large, white bowl, she definitely got her money’s worth.
My fish tacos were flavorful, but I should have known they wouldn’t season them as I do in my own kitchen. The fish was flaky and again not cooked to death; meanwhile, the pico de gallo was abundant as was the queso fresco which is a nice authentic touch. However, I was mildly disappointed in the salsa due to its lack of heat and barely-there taste of cilantro. Count me in the camp of those who love cilantro for its pungency and punch. I suppose the chef could be lauded for his light touch with this herb, but without it, there was no vibrancy to the pico de gallo. The same could be said for both the fish and the guacamole that came on the side—both needed some “oomph,” the wow factor. That aside, I will admit to eating all three of them. Ahem.
We relaxed a bit more, lounging in the air-conditioning and finishing our drinks as the restaurant wasn’t terribly busy. The staff gladly agreed to take our group photo, made us feel welcome, and constantly checked on our needs, and we never felt rushed. Our only regret was having to leave. Overall, Fulton’s Crab House rates four out of five stars for its combination of ambience, food, value, and service. We’ll definitely return there, perhaps even for our anniversary trip!
Food: While not exceptionally noteworthy, no one complained about their dishes, either. The menu is varied though predictable. By the way, my 13-year old daughter loved her portion of Dungeness crab legs. I mean, how can you mess those up? Still, the preparation of each dish was smart and skillful if perhaps lacking in pizzazz as were my tacos. Next time, I will request a spicier version.
Atmosphere: The restaurant is full of nautical touches (read: wood), and given we walked up narrow stairs to get to our table, I was uncertain if it might not feel outdated and claustrophobic. Neither could be farther from the truth. White linen graced the tables, yet the settings were not pretentious—we all felt quite at home in park attire. The views were exceptional, and based on what I saw while walking around, most tables do appear to have good to very good views of the water/waterfront.
Service: As I can recall no moments where we lacked for refills or extra napkins, I’d give their service an excellent rating. Each server was prompt, and the manager dropped by to ensure we wre enjoying ourselves. When it came time for the bill, we requested six different checks (that’s a whole other story), and the server didn’t flinch. She gladly split the tickets as we required without any hesitation and also expertly applied our Tables in Wonderland discount. Fulton’s service alone encourages me to return.
Tips: I have two. First, stick with fresh ingredients. My wife’s salad was among the best dishes at the table. We make a lot of salads with lots of variety, and hers on this day was every bit the match for one we prepare at home. Second, take a look at their wine selections. Though not a huge list, it does carry some excellent choices. For example, we found a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc (from the Marlborough region). Most restaurants in and around Disney offer plenty of California Sauvignon Blancs but not many others. New Zealand, especially Marlborough, is renowned for their SBs, so it was a true delight to find this one.