Wedding Dinner at Artist Point
Just two weeks ago, I had the most heartfelt and exceptional privilege to marry an exquisite woman at Disney World. The location was a sentimental favorite, the Wilderness Lodge. Not only does the Wilderness Lodge (or our second home as we are apt to call it) hold great emotional value for us, it also houses one of Disney’s signature restaurants, Artist Point, which is one of our go-to places whenever we visit the World. Each of us has patronized Artist Point many times, both together and separately, so it should come as no surprise to you that we selected it for our wedding dinner following the ceremony on the Sunrise Terrace.
Artist Point has an excellent reputation; however, over the past two years my new wife and I have found it to be of vacillating consistency. Still, it holds a warm spot in our hearts, and we couldn’t see eating anywhere else for this meaningful meal. I’m happy to report that overall we were not disappointed.
Our reservation was for 6 p.m., but we checked in early, and in a good sign, the hostess said our table was being prepared and would be available within moments. She was good to her word, as less than two minutes later, we were warmly escorted to our seats. As requested, we were given a prime location that not only overlooked the outdoor waterfall, pool, and geyser area, but it offered magnificent glimpses of Bay Lake. One of the things we enjoy about Artist Point is that the staff attempt to fulfill whatever requests you make, thus the bunting and arrangements from the wedding ceremony itself graced the chairs and tables.
Our primary server was gracious, and she handed us menus that had been specifically printed for our party, though essentially it contained all the items on their main menu save for dessert as we were providing wedding cake. Artist Point is well-known for two signature dishes: the Cedar Plank Salmon and the Buffalo Filet or strip steak. However, their menu goes far beyond just those two selections. To start, my wife had the Penn Cove mussels with a cioppino-style broth. The sourdough accompanying the appetizer was perfect for sopping up the broth, and the mussels themselves were tender and moist. I opted for the smoky Portobello soup which comes lightly drizzled with chive oil. Slightly crunchy, roasted shiitake mushroom shavings perfectly accent the velvety texture of the soup. Both appetizers have been standards at Artist Point for years. . .and for good reason.
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Our second course choices were equally decadent. She had the buffalo and I went for the Kurobuta pork chop. The buffalo strip steak was cooked exactly right—medium rare—and though it comes with a Yukon gold mash, she asked for risotto from another dish (they have always been able to switch sides at Artist Point). The risotto was creamy and was the perfect underscore to the very mild gaminess of the buffalo. While an excellent meal, unfortunately, her meat was a bit stringy. On the other hand, my pork chop was a superb cut of meat (and as big as house!) but it was overdone: ordered medium it came out medium-well. (Ah, there’s that maddening inconsistency I mentioned earlier.) The chop came with mustard greens and polenta, both of which were excellent, and a berry-reduction sauce that highlighted the grill of the pork. Further, I had chosen to go with the three-glass wine flight to accompany my pork, and each chef-selected wine was spot on. Though each of us had a small flaw in our meals, others at the table reported no such issues. For example, my son-in-law also had the pork, and it was grilled to a perfect medium, and my daughter went for the jumbo prawn and crab hot-pot which she declared “delicious.” Apparently, and ironically, it was just our two dishes that had issues.
The staff members at Artist Point were quite gracious in working with us to set up this meal, from entertaining our numerous questions regarding the menu, to serving the cake (the plating included the artful placement of fresh raspberries and mint twigs), to saving the top tier of the cake so that we could take it home with us. That superior service combined with some of the most thoughtful preparation of food at Disney World, our two small hiccups notwithstanding, is why I give it 4.5 stars out of 5, and why we’ll continue to patronize Artist Point. If you haven’t tried them, you’re missing one of the hidden gems of dining at Disney.
Food: Granted, our two meals had some niggling issues with the meat preparation, but those were the only missteps. Artist Point’s menu isn’t extensive, but what they do offer reflects its Northwest Territory heritage, and that includes their impressive wine list full of Washington and Oregon wines. The chef offer wine suggestions for most meals printed on the menu—don’t’ be afraid to try them.
Atmosphere: Artist Point by itself is a thematically superb place to dine with vast, awe-inspiring paintings decorating the walls, dark wood chairs and tables evoking a sense of calm, while the open-concept dining room adds a bit of grandeur. However, don’t be surprised if you happen to be sitting near a painting and someone wanders close, eyeing the painting. It’s part of the Hidden Mickey hint sheet given out at the front desk of the hotel.
Service: In a word, it was exemplary, as it usually is at Artist Point. The servers are extremely knowledgeable about the menu and the wines, and save two experiences over the course of the past few years, I’ve always had great commitment to quality service there.
Tips: Show up ahead of your reservation time and request a window view. There aren’t any terrible tables in Artist Point, but being able to look out over the pool courtyard and geyser area is a bonus. I almost hate to mention it, but Artist Point is one of the easiest reservations to snag as it is rarely crowded, undoubtedly due to its off-the-beaten path location at the Wilderness Lodge. After dinner, stroll the very romantic grounds of the Lodge itself. You can even sit on the beach and watch the Electric Water Pageant or see much of Wishes if you’re there late enough.