Review: Cap’n Jacks: Downtown Disney

You may think this restaurant has to do with Johnny Depp and the Pirates of the Caribbean.  Cap’n Jacks has nothing to do with either, notwithstanding the seafood connection.  Instead this marina restaurant in Downtown Disney offers water views of Village Lake and a New England inspired menu that ranges from pot roast and roasted chicken to crab cakes and clam chowder.

Walking into the lobby was a small trip back in time for me.  There is a distinctive odor of wet rope and old wood that pervades the waiting area since as long as I have known.  Built right over the water, the restaurant is one of the original eateries of Downtown Disney, going back to when there was no West End and the shopping area was called the Disney Village Marketplace (or even back a few names before that).  This certainly may account for the aroma, but be warned if you have a sensitive nose or allergies that might be irritated.  Thankfully, the dining area itself has no lingering odors.

The heavily varnished wood tables and plank floors are designed to call to mind a New England seafood restaurant (whether that’s from “back in the day” or from 1977, I don’t know).  Our server, Ann, was just as brisk as you’d expected a New Englander to be, but she was also extremely friendly and happy to explain the options on the menu.  On her suggestion, I treated myself to a wonderful glass of Vista Point Chardonnay, which was just as the menu described it.  It paired well with both my appetizer and entrée.

I was eating with my brother and his girlfriend so we made it a point to share our appetizers.  Our favorite by far was the Spinach and Artichoke Dip.  This is some creamy, warm goodness!  The blend of sharp parmesan and smooth cream cheese makes this a fun way to eat your spinach.  The dip is served with multi-colored tortilla chips – a standard offering at restaurants everywhere, but great with the appetizer nonetheless.  My brother and I also split the Caesar Salad so we could each have a small taste (the salad is portioned for one).  The creamy Caesar dressing has a bright lemon note and is also made without anchovies for those who have fish allergies.

We each enjoyed something different for our entrees which made for more tasting fun.  I had the Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes highlighted on the menu.  Two patties are served with roasted potatoes and asparagus, and are topped with a Cajun mustard aioli.  The crab cakes are full of crab and I actually found myself wishing for a smidge more breading to better hold the patties together.  The drizzle of Cajun mustard aioli, with its sharp finishing note, makes a fabulous topping to the cakes and the asparagus.

My brother, not being a seafood lover, ordered the Old-fashioned Beef Pot Roast.  It is served with green beans and skin-on mashes potatoes, just like mom used to make.  It is cooked long enough to have that tender, shredded texture and a deep, rich brown gravy.  My brother insisted that “you have to have a mouthful of beef and potatoes together for the best bite.”

My brother’s girlfriend ordered the appetizer Peel-n-Eat Shrimp for Two as her main meal.  The beautifully large shrimp are perfectly cooked and chilled.  A light eater, the portion was a bit more than she could eat, but would satisfy two as an appetizer for sure.

The dessert menu offers some very tempting items, but my party chose to skip them in favor of heading over to Ghirardelli ice cream parlor.  Your group, however, might enjoy sharing the Double Chocolate Cake, Key Lime Pie or Kahlua Cheesecake.

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F.A.S.T. Review

Food – Made with care and attention as you might expect from a New England inspired restaurant.  The seafood items did not skimp on the main ingredients and the pot roast boasts home-style, slow cooked tenderness.

Atmosphere – All wood, all over makes for an extremely loud restaurant.  There wasn’t a spare table in the dining section we were sat at, and the noise of the conversations and the screaming children made it all but impossible for me to focus on the conversation at my table.

Service –The food was served from the kitchen in good time, making Cap’n Jacks a sit-down restaurant you can get into and out of fairly quickly.  We asked our server to help us improvise a cold pack for the chilled shrimp we hadn’t eaten and were taking home; she was certainly happy and very creative in helping fulfill this request.

Tips – While a reservation isn’t as necessary here as it is at other Disney restaurants, make one if you are planning to eat at a crowded lunch or dinner time.  Having a 6:10 reservation put me ahead of several other parties waiting for a table.

The DisDining Mama Says – The children’s menu ensures you kids will have something to their liking while you enjoy some seafood.  However, there isn’t much of an atmosphere to hold their attention.  If that is important to you, try the Rainforest Café of T-Rex Restaurant instead.


About MichelleJ

Michelle Johnston began her love affair with Disney at 2 years old on her first visit. She grew up to help the Walt Disney Company develop the Disney Institute Resort, a learning & discovery vacation resort no longer in operation. She served on the pre-launch team as a Research & Development Coordinator with a focus on program development There she created over 100 experiential youth and adult programs in the Culinary Arts, Environment, and Design Arts tracks. Michelle then progressed to the world of ideation, helping Fortune 500 companies create new consumer products and marketing communications. She is owns Word of Mouth: Writing, Editing , Resumes & Business Marketing providing freelance services and is also the co-author of Welcome to Grandparenting and the 109 Ways eBook series. To this day, Michelle maintains her passion for all things Disney, especially Walt Disney World and its wide array of eating experiences.