Sometimes when you go to Disney, your best laid plans don’t work out, but then you find that your alternative plans allow you to find a hidden gem that you normally would have overlooked. That is exactly what happened when my husband and I stumbled upon the Crew’s Cup Lounge. We got rained out at Epcot and needed a bite to eat for lunch but didn’t have a reservation anywhere (oh the horror!) so we decided to give Crew’s Cup a try.
The reason why this lounge is a hidden gem is because it is, well, sort of hidden. It is located in Disney’s Yacht Club Resort, but accessed through the hallway that goes by the pool area and connects this resort with the Beach Club. Like a secret door speakeasy in family friendly Disney style, the lounge is only marked by a small sign in the hallway, so if you’re not “in the know” you might never discover it. If you’re directionally challenged, you can always check it out via the map on Disney’s site.
The decor is based on rowing, also known as “crew”, which also ties into the lounge’s name. The lighting is soft and there are details throughout the restaurant like oars and other crew gear that make you feel like you’re in a cozy New England tavern. There are a few TV’s in the lounge that show sporting events. Seating consists of two walls lined with booths and a few tables in the middle of the lounge, some with chairs and some with small couches. There is also a long row of bar stools at the bar.
When you first arrive, you’ll notice that there is no hostess stand at this restaurant. Like many of Disney’s other bar/lounge restaurants, the lounge does not take advance dining reservations. Seating is first come first served. This might be a negative to some, but I think it is really nice to have an open seating option if you need to grab a bite to eat without planning ahead and you’ve already eaten one too many chicken fingers on your trip. But the lounge is not large, so if you have a bigger party it could be difficult to find a seat.
A server greeted us and provided us with menus. We went right for the beverage menu because this is just the kind of place that makes you want to order a beer and the craft beer selection is good. We chose the Left Hand Milk Stout and the Cigar City Maduro Brown Ale. Both were really tasty – the stout had a nice coffee flavor.
The menu is pretty straightforward, with a mix of typical bar food (Truffle Fries, Chicken Wings, Cheeseburger) and some other offerings with a New England twist (Clam Chowder, Lobster Roll.) The Crew’s Cup Lounge shares the kitchen with the Yachtsman Steakhouse, so for dinner you can also order Steak Frites with a strip steak probably very similar to the one they serve in the Yachstman. This review is based on the items we ordered. The full Crew’s Cup menu can be found here.
We ordered the Buttermilk Fried Rock Shrimp, House Cut Truffle Fries and the New England Clam Chowder.
The truffle fries came out first. We are fans of pretty much anything that has truffle in it, but sometimes you don’t get that strong truffle flavor. Not the case with these. They had a bold truffle flavor and a good amount of Parmesan cheese on top. They also came with a tasty mayo-based dipping sauce. We ate every fry that aluminum cone could hold.
Next came the Fried Shrimp and the Clam Chowder. The shrimp was delicious – not too much breading and the dipping sauces were really good too. There was a slaw type salad that came on the side with the shrimp that was the perfect cool balance with the spicy chipotle dipping sauce. If you weren’t super hungry, this would make a nice lunch all by itself.
Both the fries and the shrimp were delicious and perfect with our beers, but the real stand-out of the meal was surprisingly the New England Clam Chowder. Let me preface this by saying we aren’t big clam chowder people. We only really ordered the chowder because it was raining and soup seemed like a good idea that day. Expectations for this dish were pretty low. Turned out that soup was a very good idea that day.
A few bites of the chowder and we were hooked! It was just the right consistency between chunky and soupy with tender clams throughout the flavorful broth. We enjoyed the chowder so much that we ordered another bowl. It was that good.
We opted to not get dessert since our bellies were full of beer, fried food and chowder. Our waitress brought the bill and we went on our way back into the rain, a little fatter and much happier.
Overall, this place is a great find. Low key but attentive service, no reservations necessary and great food all in one. Whether you need to grab a casual meal or hang for a while and enjoy a few beers, Crew’s Cup is a solid choice. Crew’s Cup Lounge is open from 12:00 noon to 12:00 midnight. The Disney Dining Plan is not accepted, but Tables in Wonderland is accepted at Crew’s Cup.