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Todd English BlueZoo Restaurant Review
by Kevin Klose
This wonderful addition to the list of restaurants at the Walt Disney World Resort is brought to us by world renowned chef, Todd English. Chef English is known for his restaurants across the country, including Olives in the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas. He will soon open the Todd English Restaurant aboard the new luxury liner, the Queen Mary 2.
As for his part of Walt Disney World, it's a fun, upscale addition. The restaurant is located in the spot formerly held by the Coral Cafe on the ground floor of the Walt Disney World Dolphin. Gone are the days of bright beach colors and bright lighting. In there place we have a very hip, adult dining experience. Before we go any further, be prepared, Bluezoo is not inexpensive by any means.
Upon arriving at 7:00pm for our priority seating, we were immediately greeted by the hostess. The view from the podium is very glamorous. You look into a lively bar area with several sleek, contemporary booths along the far wall. The decor is done in various shades of blue with a vaguely aquatic (but very abstract) theme. As we passed through the bar area, to our left is an open kitchen with a raw bar and a specially designed grill (more on that later). We were shown to our table in the elegant dining room. Again, the decor is very sleek and modern with an aquatic flair. Booths line the walls with tables in the center and the dining room looks to hold approximately 140 guests. The windows are draped with silver mesh curtains, and large columns throughout the room are covered with silver tubing. The light fixtures are truly works of art that have to be seen. This evening there was a great deal of excitement over a sculpture sitting on a table. It was colorful and eclectic and had a feel of whimsy about it. When we inquired about the piece of art we were told that it was made entirely out of sugar by Bluzoo’s pastry chef. We quickly understood why it was getting so much buzz.
On to dinner……
One of the first things we noticed is that Bluezoo's menu is heavily weighted towards seafood. The emphasis is on very fresh fish prepared in a wide variety of ways.
To begin, there is a long list of appetizers, soups and salads available as well as the aforementioned raw bar. We chose to begin our meal with the Raw Bar sampler. This carries the hefty price of $40.00 and contained 3 raw oysters, 3 raw littleneck clams, 2 jumbo prawns, a sampling of the seviche of the day, a mussel salad and 2 large stone crab claws. The items included were all of the very highest quality and among the freshest I’ve ever encountered in a restaurant. What set this costly appetizer apart was a selection of 4 dipping sauces. There was a cucumber vinegarette, a bloody mary cocktail sauce (excellent), a red wine vinegarette and guacamole. All 4 were wonderful. In hindsight, we realized that we enjoyed the oysters and shrimp and during our next visit, will order those ala carte.
Also from the appetizers (most in the $7 - $12 range), we tried the New England Clam Chowder, the tartar of tuna and something unique, the roasted beet salad with warm goat cheese. The soup was a surprise to us. It bore very little resemblance to what we know as chowder. The base of the soup was a thin watery broth containing vegetables and clams in the shell. In an evening filled with wonderful tastes and textures, this was the only mis-step. The salad was shared and our wonderful waitress, April, offered to split the salad between two plates. It was a wonderful mix of field greens atop roasted beets with candied walnuts, a garlic crouton and a small serving of warm goat cheese in a very light vinergarette. It was superb! The tuna was prepared elegantly. The finest sushi grade tuna was cubed and seasoned and placed atop a vinegar rice patty. The perfect fusion of Asian flavors made this an appetizer we would definitely order on repeat visits.
For the main course there are quite a few choices (most in the $20 - $35 range), the majority being seafood. There is a chicken and a beef dish available, but these stand alone in a menu dominated by fish entrees. We were told the menu will change frequently depending on what is available and in season, and most choices are complex recipes featuring a variety of tastes and texture. For the purists, there is something called Simply Fish, where you pick the type of fish you would like grilled and then choose a sauce from a list of 4 or 5. Another option is something called Bluezoo's Dancing Fish. As you walk through the bar area and past the grill, there are several fish that look as if they are standing on their tails and dancing over the coals. In reality, they are on an unusual rotisserie system, but it's easy to see where the name comes from.
Everything on the Bluezoo menu is served ala carte, meaning that if you want a side dish to accompany your main course, there is an additional charge (usually in the $7 - $9 range). Our party decided to be a bit adventurous in our exploration of the menu. After our trip through the raw bar selections, we were convinced of the level of freshness evident, so we decided to let you know what else Bluezoo does well. We ordered a wonderful swordfish sitting atop a risotto, and every ala carte side dish to go along with it. The fish, a large, thick slab was done to perfection and absolutely wonderful. And as for the sides, each was outstanding. On our visit we had a lobster and broccoli stuffed cheesy potato, Asian slaw with shrimp, fries tossed with cheeses and spices, sautéed burnished carrots and tempura green beans with a garlic aioli dipping sauce. Each of these was worthy of being ordered. All were very good to excellent.
We finished dinner with a warm chocolate cake and coffee. The chocolate cake is an ‘underdone’ soufflé with a warm, gooey center. It was topped with chocolate sorbet and ‘garnished’ with milk and dark chocolate sauces. While it certainly was a feast for the eyes it was evident that the sorbet topping may be a mistake as the warm chocolate center quickly cooled. This in no way ruined the flavor, but expecting a warm cake and finding it cool does take something away from the total experience. The coffee was the source of some amusement as it was served in a very small cup - thimble size was the phrase of choice.
In addition to a wide variety of coffees, Blue Zoo had an extensive menu of dessert drinks and aperitif’s. There was certainly no lack of choices.
we left the dining room we found that the bar area was
surprisingly busy. Comfortable seating and a wonderful
selection of wines and mixed drinks (including their signature
Zooberry Martini) seemed to invite resort guests to sit
and socialize for a while.
Bluezoo is a very elegant, upscale dining choice. While it offers a very limited children's menu (a simple beef or chicken dish at $10 - $13) it is obviously aimed at adults. We would refer to this as a "special occasion" restaurant. It will appeal to those willing to make dinner the evening's focus as well as those looking to celebrate, have a quiet evening away from the hustle or those just looking to splurge.
Because we wanted to be able to offer the most comprehensive view of this fine new restaurant, we over-ordered. We could have ordered less and still come away very satisfied. Dinner with everything I have mentioned and two cocktails was $177.00. As I stated earlier......a wonderful, but pricey addition to the list of Disney Dining choices.
You can visit their website at www.thebluezoo.com
The English’s bluezoo Receives AAA’s
“Four Diamond” Award
The American Automobile Association (AAA) has awarded Todd English’s bluezoo its Four-Diamond quality restaurant rating. The designation recognizes the restaurant’s extensive array of amenities, combined with a high degree of hospitality, service and attention to detail.
Located in the Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel, Todd English’s bluezoo features coastal cuisine, incorporating an innovative selection of fresh seafood with both international and New American culinary influences. Designed by highly acclaimed designer Jeffery Beers, the interior offers guests an energetic and vibrant atmosphere with a dash of playfulness.
According to the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotel food and beverage director Anthony Porcellini, “We are excited that the Orlando market is taking notice of Todd English’s newest creation. Since its opening, bluezoo has received several awards, applauding its cuisine and design.” He continued, “We work at being the very best, and we’re proud to have received the Four-Diamond rating.”
Four-Diamond establishments are upscale in all areas. Approved restaurants are assigned a quality rating from one to five diamonds. Research confirms that AAA’s members recognize and trust the diamond rating system.In the heart of the Walt Disney World Resort, the award-winning Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin is the gateway to Central Florida’s greatest theme parks and attractions. The resort is located between Epcot and Disney-MGM Studios and nearby Disney's Animal Kingdom® Theme Park and Magic Kingdom Park. Guests will discover magical surroundings, superior service, luxurious facilities and all-new guest rooms featuring the Heavenly Bed. There are 17 incredible restaurants and lounges, five pools, white sand beach, two health clubs, tennis, massage therapy, nearby golf and many special Disney benefits, including complimentary transportation to all Walt Disney World Theme Parks and Attractions.