Review: Yachtsman Steakhouse: Yacht & Beach Club
Simple pleasures. Simple flavors. That’s what I was looking forward to at my solo dinner at the Yachtsman Steakhouse. While the meal was certainly flavorful and I practically licked every plate clean, I encountered a few challenges that marred my enjoyment of the evening.
The Yachtsman Steakhouse can be found at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort, one of the hotels serving the Epcot area. It’s a little difficult to find the restaurant. When you enter the hotel, head to your left. Pass the Captain’s Grille and continue down a long, winding hallway until you reach the restaurant at its end. I must say I was impressed with all the awards and reviews of praise posted on the walls before the hostess stand. I certainly felt I was in for a treat.
Your first sight upon entering is the open kitchen with its row of beautiful copper lights hanging above the expediting counter. The chefs were busy manning the grill and their seemed to be plenty of attentive servers ready to take action. Before seating me, the hostess showed me the display butcher’s station—the steaks are hand cut here and aged 6 days. At this point, all guests get an introduction to the cuts of meat available on the menu to help guide their selection.
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Pam, who was to be my server for the evening, quickly introduced herself and walked me through the menu. Turns out her favorites were exactly what I planned to order. Her description of the dishes again made me feel I was in for a treat. I eagerly awaited the Lobster Bisque as my starter and the Filet Mignon entrée.
No sooner than the bread basket arrived with its special treat of fancy salted European butter and roasted garlic (I’m fans of both) so did my soup, which disappointed me in its timing. When Pam stopped by seconds later, I explained I did not want to be rushed through my meal and be done in 20 minutes because I was a single table top. She perfectly understood my desire, took the soup back, and held up my entrée with the chef. I was able to enjoy my sourdough roll and book in peace for a few minutes.
When I was ready for my soup, it did not disappoint. I have a weakness for Lobster Bisque and order it almost every time I find it on a menu. The Yachtsman’s version greeted me with the delicious aroma of sherry when placed on the table. The bisque tasted wonderful, rich with cream and butter and tiny bits of lobster, laced with sherry in a way that lingers in the throat after each swallow. The soup is served with a Herbes de Provence “Bescuit” topped with a Roe Chantilly crème. I loved it all.
The 8 oz. Center Cut Filet Mignon was promised to melt in my mouth. This entrée is paired with mashed potatoes and a cabernet wine sauce. When Pam placed it before me, I couldn’t resist the buttery smooth mashed potatoes. The first bite actually made me moan with pleasure. The grilled steak, however, didn’t hit the same note. The meat was actually too tough for a filet and required more chewing than it should. It was also overly salted and charred, in one small place so much I couldn’t cut it with my steak knife. I got the impression someone on the line was having an off night. The cabernet sauce was very tasty and I suspect made with mushrooms since I detected that flavor. I only wish there had been slightly more ladled over my steak. When Pam checked on me, she was genuinely dismayed to learn that my steak did not match the experience I was led to believe and offered to have another cooked as well as have the chef speak with me tableside. I waved away her kind offer as I knew I was going to eat everything and didn’t want to cause a fuss. But I noted her recovery efforts and was appreciative of them.
Pam insisted dessert was on the house and would not take no for an answer. I chose the Crème Brûlée, described on the menu as vanilla custard served with an apple-pear compote and brandy snap tuile. A classic dessert, I assumed nothing could go wrong. Instead it was the last challenge to my evening of simple pleasures. The sugar crust was burnt in some places and burnt sugar is a flavor that ruins a dessert. While the fruit and custard were wonderful together, the tuile was simply too sweet an addition to a dish topped with caramelized sugar.
Despite my off night, I wouldn’t rule out another meal at the Yachtsman Steakhouse. I still think the majority of the flavors were right on track and so many other tables were filled with happy diners. Besides, doesn’t everyone deserve a second chance.
Food – Steakhouses serve solid food, not fussy dishes. The Yachtsman is no exception. When well prepared, the food here offers simple flavors you will savor. Given its pricy menu and bend toward fine dining, this is definitely a place for a special celebration dinner. The extensive wine menu won an award from Wine Spectator magazine in 2011.
Atmosphere – The T-shaped dining room is designed to call to mind wooden ships and the lines of yachts. It features honey-colored wide planking to call to mind a ship deck. The panel of fabric at the top of the room helps absorb sound to keep things from getting too loud.
Service – Only the best servers get to work in the priciest Disney restaurants. Pam was friendly, attentive, and very compassionate given the challenges with my meal. I appreciated her slowing the service down so I could relax though my dinner, even though I know as a former waitress that can mess with your rotation and service to your tables. Her recovery efforts were also spot on.
Tips – Know how you like your steaks cooked and describe that to your server. Let them match it up with how the house cooks things medium rare, well done, etc. This tip may have saved me the trouble with my entrée.
The DisDining Mama Says – While I would not choose to eat here with young children, other guests did so. I just think that managing a small child through such a fancy meal takes some of the enjoyment away from the parents. I noticed more often that the pre-teens and teenagers at other tables seemed to especially enjoy such a “grown-up” dinner. The children’s menu features chicken noodle soup, pasta, steak skewers, grilled chicken, and the baked fish of the day.