Review by Kevin Klose
Disney’s Wilderness Lodge is esthetically my favorite resort on property.
I like everything about the hotel, but have never been crazy about the restaurant choices.
I find the Whispering Canyon Café to be a waste of time and money “food wise”. I realize that some guests are entertained by shouting, galloping and receiving 10 bottles of ketchup, but I can be entertained with much greater success elsewhere on Disney property. I believe a restaurant stands or falls on the quality of their food and in my opinion, and based on that criteria, the Whispering Canyon Café sadly, falls flat. I have found the entertainment can be sporadic and at times, non-existent, so that fails as well.
But this isn’t about Whispering Canyon Café…..
I have dined at Artist Point on a few previous occasions and have never been “wowed” by the restaurant. I’m of the opinion that restaurant is beautifully appointed and occupies a place of honor in this glorious hotel, so, I have always hoped that the next time will be different. It is with this thought that I approached this dinner.
We arrived for our 6:30 Advance Dining Reservation (ADR) to find an almost empty restaurant.
Artist Point is a fairly large space and on the night we were there, there were three tables being used at that time. This made getting a coveted window seat very easy.
Shortly after we began dinner (7:00ish), the restaurant filled to almost capacity, so if you ever have trouble securing an ADR, it seems 5:30 – 7:00pm is a great time to request.
We were shown to a great table and our server quickly introduced himself and took our drink orders.
As I have explained before, I find that Disney restaurants tend to deliver your dinner just after your appetizers have arrived, so we asked that we be allowed to order appetizers first and wait till they arrived to order our dinner.
From a business perspective, I can understand that shortening the time that a guest occupies a seat allows for that seat to be filled with yet another paying guest. From a paying customer perspective, I feel that you should be allowed to enjoy a meal at your own pace.
From the six offered appetizers, I chose the Smokey Portobello Soup with Roasted Shitakes and Chive Oil ($8.00). This is a rich, delicious, creamy soup. My only issue is with the color. The soup is the color of wet cement. While the flavor is wonderful, it looks unappetizing.
We shared the selection of Artisan Cheeses with Riesling –poached Raisins, Dried Cranberries and Walnut Toast. ($13.00). This is a small serving of three different cheeses with the raisins and cranberries separating them. We enjoyed this dish.
We also ordered the Crispy Venison Spring Rolls with Hot sweet and Sour Sauce ($8.00). As this wasn’t my appetizer, I had only a bite. They were not my cup of tea, but John seemed to love them. When asked if he would order them again, he said yes quickly.
As there was not an appetizer that appealed to my Mother, we ordered the Potato-Chive Pot Stickers with Edamame, Spinach and Soy Vinaigrette entrée ($20.00) as an appetizer. These were dumplings fried crispy and filled with a potato-chive filling. They were quite good. The surprise to this dish was that the bed of edamame and spinach was scorchingly spicy. This is not noted anywhere in the description and came as quite a surprise. When we asked the server about this, he stated that the spice was from a Thai, hot, red pepper sauce. This is something people should know prior to ordering this entrée.
After our appetizers, our entrees began arriving.
John had the Grilled Buffalo Sirloin with Sweet Potato – Hazelnut Gratin and Sweet Onion Jam ($39.00). While John enjoyed his dinner, we were surprised at the size of the portion. The portion of buffalo was surprisingly small given the price. The hazelnut sweet potatoes were very good and complimented the buffalo.
Mom ordered the Roasted Chicken Breast with Pear and Apple – Root Vegetable Mash, Sea Beans and Port Anise Reduction (28.00) As The only part of the entrée that appealed to her was the chicken, she asked that roasted fingerling potatoes be substituted for the vegetable mash. When asked what Sea Beans were, we were informed that the restaurant was out of them and haricot verts (green beans) were being subbed out. We also asked for the Port Anise Reduction on the side. There is little that can be said about a a chicken breast, roasted potatoes and green beans. There was just nothing special about the meal. The Port Anise Reduction was tried by everyone at the table and everyone had the exact same reaction and it wasn’t good. Mom was glad that this wasn’t on her chicken.
Finally, I had the Seared Jumbo Day – Boat Scallops with Hazelnut Butter Potatoes, Zellwood Corn, Cherry Tomatoes and Preserved Lemons. ($29.00)
When my dish was presented, I had to suppress a small laugh as there were three scallops on the plate. While the scallops were very good, the hazelnut potatoes were not. As stated earlier, the hazelnut sweet potatoes were a nice accompaniment to the buffalo. The hazelnut potatoes overpowered the delicate scallops and had a cloying sweetness that was almost unpleasant. The majority was left on the plate. There were also 4 roasted cherry tomatoes and approximately two tablespoons of corn. As the potatoes were not very good and the veggies were in short supply, this meal seemed highly over-priced. Ten bucks a scallop is way out of line no matter how well they are prepared.
We finished our meal with two desserts. We tried the Artist Point Cobbler of Seasonal Berries and House-made Black Raspberry Ice Cream ($9.00) and Peach Upside-down Cake with Warm Peach Compote, Almond Florentine Tuile, and Peach – Amaretto Ice Cream. ($12.00).
The Cobbler was not really a cobbler at all. It was raspberries, blueberries and quartered strawberries over the top portion of a berry muffin with a walnut sized serving of ice cream. The berries were good and the ice cream was tasty. It was a rather stingy serving given the price, but as a whole….this wasn’t worth the money.
The Peach concoction fared better. The cake was moist and delicious and about the size of a hockey puck. The warm peach compote was just ok. It was served in a puddle in the middle of the dish. It looked as if the person plating the dessert had missed their mark or that something had been spilled. It would have been more appetizing contained in a smaller dish. And again, the peach ice cream was very good…walnut sized in portion, but good. Not to sound like a broken record…but this is not a bargain at $12.00. It’s ok when it should be spectacular.
As I type this, I realize that just about everything we ordered was hyphenated. As I thought this to be over priced for what was received, I’m beginning to wonder if we were charged for the hyphens.
I started this by telling you that I have never been impressed with this restaurant.
My opinion hasn’t changed.
This just isn’t a “wow” experience and at these prices that’s what you should get.