I posted a brief mention of the Contemporary Resort’s newest restaurant a few weeks ago, but I wanted to get a full review up of the The Wave as soon as possible. It’s one of Disney World’s most recent additions, and it’s getting pretty good marks from what I’ve seen.
The Wave is located on the Contemporary Resort‘s lobby level. (It’s tucked back into the space that used to house the Food and Fun center.) You’ll enter the restaurant through an archway and a tubular hallway — reminds me of the old Journey Into Imagination rainbow walkway after the ride — through blue and bubbles and other watery imagery.
Once inside, you’ll find the bar straight ahead, waiting areas to your right, and the main dining room to your left. Everything is in shades of blue and orange-y wood tones; with no windows, well-executed lighting, and a dining room full of “wave”-like curves, this could easily be an under-the-sea location. In fact, it gives off a decidedly “Sea Base Alpha” kind of feel.
Even though we visited on a very busy night with a walk-in waiting time of over an hour, our advanced dining reservation worked like a charm. We were called to be seated very quickly after we arrived, but not so quickly that I couldn’t get a little education at the bar…
“I Like Cold Beverages”
I’ve mentioned The Wave’s wine list before — they’re famous for it. The Wave is one of the few restaurants in the world offering almost exclusively screw-top wines (e.g. wines bottled with screw-tops instead of corks or other types of closures). I explain in the previous post why this is both interesting and controversial.
Because this wine list is so special, I wanted to get you a few opinions from a wine expert (which I, most certainly, am not). I asked Jonathan Troutman, Senior Editor at cork’d.com, for some recommendations, and he sent over the following choices. (If there are any wine lovers who read the Disney Food Blog, I’d love to hear what you think):
Craggy Range Calvert, Central Otago
Two Hands Angel’s Share Shiraz, McLaren Vale
Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough
Yalumba The Y Series Viognier, South Australia
Personally, I can also recommend the Wild Berry Margarita…
After chatting for a bit with the great bar staff, we were led to our table in the dining room. The Wave isn’t an overwhelmingly gorgeous restaurant like its older sister upstairs, the California Grill; it has understated design fitting for a casual dining experience, but still offers an air of sophistication — you know you’re still in one of Disney’s flagship resort hotels.
Once seated, we were a bit annoyed that our server was spending so much time at other tables before finally reaching ours; but we soon realized that The Wave might be trying out a “2.0″ approach to service. Once our server came to our table, she spent quite a bit of time explaining the philosophy of The Wave’s menu (a sustainable, environmentally-friendly, and market-inspired approach to casual dining), the available dishes, and her suggestions based on our likes and dislikes.
I have no idea if this will be your experience regarding service at The Wave, but it felt to us like the restaurant is going for a “holistic” vibe, and our server was focused on ensuring that our entire dining experience was a good one.
Whether the menus (Breakfast Menu, Lunch Menu, Dinner Menu, Dessert Menu) inspire a sustainable philosophy or not (that’s for you to decide), I was ready to sample some of the dishes I’d been hearing so much about. By the way, vegetarians will be at home here — there are plenty of wonderful veggie dishes on the menu that get high marks from reviewers. Disney’s clearly making this a higher priority.
The meal began with some delicious crusty bread served with salted butter and olive oil (yum.). We ordered black bean chili and the seasonal soup — chicken and rice — for appetizers (both served with The Wave’s specialty jalapeno cornbread).
We both very much enjoyed our soup/Chili, and were pleasantly surprised by the entrees: Grilled Beef Tenderloin with Cabernet Jus, White Bean Mash, and Locally Grown Teardrop Tomatoes and Chili-marinated Flat Iron Steak with warm Fingerling Potato Salad and Avocado Mousse.
I’d heard that the Beef Tenderloin and the Flat Iron Steak were two of the best dishes on the menu (along with the Pork Tenderloin and Vegetable Stew), and we weren’t disappointed. The flank steak was tender and cooked perfectly. I really enjoyed the sensation of the avocado mousse with the dish. I’ll admit that the white bean mash wasn’t my favorite side dish, but it does offer “something different,” and that’s always welcome at a Disney restaurant.
Desserts at The Wave come in tasting trios and are named for their taste and feel, such as “Decadent Flavors” and “Crisp and Crunchy.” I ordered the “Decadent Flavors” trio (delicious!), which included Blueberry Compote with Yogurt Gelato, Lemon Cornbread with Vanilla Panna Cotta, and Chocolate Mousse with Salted Caramel Sauce. Hubby ordered a vanilla milkshake. Which is another reason why I like The Wave: How many restaurants have self-important desserts named after obscure sensations listed right next to milkshakes?
Overall, we were pleased with The Wave. It’s a relaxing restaurant with a great staff and a small, but quality, menu. Although we won’t visit on every trip, it’s the perfect spot to steal away from the Magic Kingdom for an hour of calm, cool conversation and perhaps a glass of wine. It’s also a nice, quick fix for a meal when you’re staying at the Contemporary.
Personally, I’d head there just to hang out at the bar. The bar staff is wonderful, and I keep meeting really interesting people there for some reason.
My suggestion: try The Wave at least once. You just might find your new favorite restaurant that you’ll visit again and again.