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Guest Review: Artist Point

You guys are in for a treat today. One of the best food photographers I know has agreed to write a guest blog about her experience at Artist Point in Disney’s Wilderness Lodge! Thanks to Morgan Rooks for this culinary adventure.

Artist Point

Artist Point

I had long wanted to try Artist Point, located at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. I would often eye the menu listed at AllEars, my eyes lingering over particularly alluring delights like venison pot stickers and cedar plank roasted salmon, while my fiance would frown at the suggestion — having remembered a bad experience from years past.

Finally, my chance would come in January 2010, due to my dear fiance’s parents, who have rekindled their love for the establishment. It was the last day of our vacation when we boarded the boat from Magic Kingdom. The hull cut its way through inky black waters, past the lights of the Contemporary, headed to the dock of Wilderness Lodge. We reached our destination, and the long wooden dock, flanked with intricate lanterns that called us into our Pacific Northwest inspired destination.

Wilderness Lodge Walkway From Dock

Wilderness Lodge Walkway From Dock

Atmosphere
The restaurant is elegant, yet earthy and rustic, which gives it a relaxing and welcoming atmosphere. Lighting — styled like the lanterns we saw outside — hung over head, and a wall of long windows offers a view of the wooded lands that surround the resort.

Artist Point Lanterns

Artist Point Lanterns

Tall wooden beams emulate the majestic trees of the Pacific Northwest.

Artist Point Decor and Murals

Artist Point Decor and Murals

We felt quite comfortable and ready to enjoy a fine meal after an evening at the parks.

Eats
We started with drinks: the menu includes a small selection of martinis and a nice variety of wines, mainly from Oregon. I had the Northern Flight martini: Grey Goose with blue cheese stuffed olives. The martini was smooth, with a slight savoriness from the olives and cheese.

For appetizers we each ordered our own starter. Among our selections were the Braised Penn Cove Mussels, the Spinach Salad, the Mixed Greens salad and the Selection of Artisan Cheeses. The mussels were stellar; my favorite item of the entire night. They were fresh, tender and flavorful; the broth was rich and unctuous, a mix of stock, the liquor from the mussels, butter and fennel. I could have easily had the broth alone as a soup, paired with the large, grilled slice of sourdough that accompanied the appetizer.

Braised Penn Cove Mussels with Fennel and Grilled Sourdough Toast

Braised Penn Cove Mussels with Fennel and Grilled Sourdough Toast

The Spinach Salad was light and fresh, and I was delighted by the large pinkish vegetable that topped its presentation. I learned that it was a slice of watermelon radish. Milder than it’s common garden cousin, it had a slight sweetness with a peppery finish. It perfectly complimented the sweet-tang of the pickled onions and the mustard vinaigrette against the mild spinach.

Spinach Salad

Spinach Salad

For my entree, I selected the restaurant’s signature dish, the Cedar Plank Roasted King Salmon. I was quite impressed when two gentlemen escorted my salmon out of the kitchen, one with my dining plate and the other with the cedar plank from which they gently removed the salmon and placed before me. The salmon was cooked perfectly: flaky on the outside and medium rare internally. It wasn’t heavily seasoned, allowing the natural flavors of the fresh fish to shine. It was served with a sourdough bread dumpling, broccolini, and mulled red wine brown butter.

I found the dumpling (which was more like a cake to me) to be a bit dry and flat in flavor. It probably would have been better suited to a dish with more broth or sauce where it could have absorbed some moisture; even as delicious as the mulled red wine brown butter sauce was, it wasn’t enough to compensate for the dryness of the dumpling. The broccolini was fresh and tender, and a nice counterpart to the salmon.

Cedar Plank Roasted Pacific King Salmon

Cedar Plank Roasted Pacific King Salmon

My fiance had the Grilled Beef Tenderloin which he described as good, but not the best Disney has to offer. It emerged perfectly cooked to his liking, with a blue cheese fritter, sauteed baby spinach, fingerling potatoes and a port wine reduction. I found the fritter to be delightful, crisp yet creamy; I did agree with the assessment of the beef. It was flavorful, but perhaps not as delicious as its competitors at California Grill or Bistro de Paris.

Grilled Beef Tenderloin

Grilled Beef Tenderloin

Also on our table was the Buffalo Striploin and the Pan Seared Free Range Chicken. Regrettably, I did not taste either but they were well enjoyed by their diners. We also ordered sides of the Sweet Potato Hazelnut Gratin and Tillamook Cheddar Mac and Cheese with a Maytag Blue Cheese Crust.

The sweet potatoes were incredibly rich and sweet; verging on dessert territory. While I enjoyed them I couldn’t eat more than one or two bites with my entree for their sweetness. The mac and cheese was
rich, creamy and decadent. Our only complaint was that it could have used a crunchier crust.

Pan-seared, free range Chicken

Pan-seared, free range Chicken

Sweet Potato Hazelnut Gratin

Sweet Potato Hazelnut Gratin

Tillamook Cheddar Mac and Cheese with a Maytag Blue Cheese Crust

Tillamook Cheddar Mac and Cheese with a Maytag Blue Cheese Crust

Dinner left us all quite satisfied, and as much as I would have enjoyed trying the Goat Cheese Tart with huckleberry ice cream or the Artist Point Cobbler, I instead enjoyed a glass of syrupy-sweet Kiona Chenin Blanc Icewine, Red Mountain ’06. Light, sweet and fruity, it was an excellent end to the meal.

Overall
I found Artist Point to be a lovely meal to end the day. While it doesn’t offer the excitement of the constantly changing, innovative menu of California Grill, it does offer a much quieter, relaxing meal. I recommend it after an evening at the Magic Kingdom when you can enjoy the boat ride and leisurely stroll around the Wilderness Lodge. Definitely order the mussels!

Thank you to Morgan, Jeff, and the in-laws! ;-) Also, sincere thanks go out to our friends at WildernessLodgeSite.com for the “atmosphere” pics!

Be sure to visit our Artist Point info page for details and up-to-date menus from the restaurant.

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20 Comments

  1. Rich T. says:

    I tried both the California Grill and Artist Point on my last trip. Artist Point, to me, seemed to have a better atmosphere, better service, wider variety of dishes, and more consistent preparation. Plus, I am a sucker for some good venison. I would rank it #2 of the signature restaurants I’ve tried so far.

  2. Gray says:

    Very nice review, and love the suggestion about doing this at night via boat ride from MK. Great idea!

  3. Sarah says:

    Gray, I agree with the boat ride idea! I’m quite surprised with the serving size of the mussels and I might have to order it next time I go there (despite how tasty the venison potstickers are!).

  4. AJ says:

    Rich — Thanks for your review! I haven’t been to Artist Point for a couple of years, but I’m looking forward to retuning this fall!

    Gray — Sounds great, doesn’t it? And I bet that if you leave the MK a couple of hours before closing time, you’ll have the boat pretty much to yourself.

    Sarah — Venison Potstickers, maybe, but they also have something on the menu called truffle fries, in which I may have to partake…

  5. Zanna says:

    I’m embarrassed to say, this is one of the few restaurants I haven’t experienced…yet. This review definitely makes me want to change that! Thanks for the great pictures and descriptions!

  6. Christina says:

    The desserts at Artist Point are amazing too! We had the berry cobbler with fresh sorbet on our honeymoon! The service was absolutely amazing…and yes, AJ, the truffle fries are something to partake in. :)

  7. chris says:

    I was having a blah morning and this made my day, reminding me of why it’s one of my favorite restaurants at WDW. I know it gets knocked by some, but I’ve never had a bad meal there and you are right, it’s a nice way to relax after a day in the parks. Sometimes I want the energy of a place like Cal Grill. Other times, AP is perfect.

    Great review.

  8. Thanks for the honest review. The way it was written made me feel like I was with a friend whose opinion I could trust. I see Blue Cheese was used in three items which I tend to think is an excessive use of this flavor.

  9. AJ says:

    Zanna — Let’s GO!

    Christina — I fondly remember the berry cobbler — a light and flavorful dessert. Perfect end to a big meal :-)

    Chris — I’ve had one less-than-perfect meal there, but the others were great. We’re trying it out again in October to try to improve the ratio!

    Chef — Well put! I’m hoping Morgan finds time to do more reviews for the food blog — I love her writing style!

  10. WoW AJ. You are right. Morgan’s photos belong in print. I, like Zanna…have yet to try Artist Point, but I do so LOVE mussels. Hey Z…let’s go!

  11. Molly says:

    AHHH! I can’t believe you didn’t try the Smoky Portobello Mushroom Soup. It’s my favorite thing that I’ve ever eaten. EVER!!!!! (And the Tilamook Mac ‘n’ Cheese is the bomb.com, but agreed that it could benefit from a crispier topping.)

  12. AJ says:

    Amanda — If you guys go, be sure to give me your suggestions for what to order!

    Molly — I was wondering about that Portobello Soup. If it’s still on the menu in October, I’ll be sure to order it!

  13. Morgan says:

    AJ: Thank you again for giving me the opportunity to guest post!

    Christina: I need to save room for dessert next time!

    Chris: Glad I was able to brighten your morning

    Chef: Luckily the blue cheese options were shared by different diners, otherwise I would agree. Or maybe not.. but I am a cheeseaholic. :)

    Molly: I must confess, I hate mushrooms. I am sure it is delicious, if you like that type of thing!

  14. Molly says:

    Morgan: I’m not a fan of mushrooms either, but let me explain to you what the mushrooms in this soup are like – if someone was able to take a mushroom and magically turn it into bacon, that’s what they look and taste like – smokey, bacon crumbles. I don’t know how it’s even physically possible, but somehow, the transformation from nasty, slimy fungi into salty, crispy bit of awesome goodness is amazing.

    I’m not sure if anyone in my family wants to eat here on our next trip, but I’m definitely going to take some time to stop off and at least order a bowl, even if I have to eat it in the bar!

  15. AJ says:

    Morgan — You’re welcome to guest blog any and all of the time! ;-)

    Molly — I don’t like mushrooms much either, but I figured they’d turn any mushroom soup into something amazing. I’m a mushroom risotto convert due to WDW, too!

  16. After reading Molly’s description of the Mushroom ala Bacon, I really want to try that soup now. Wow, now I am hungry! :)

  17. Scott says:

    That all looks delicious; I haven’t had the opportunity to try Artist Point yet. I’d like to sit down with that beef tenderloin.

  18. AJ says:

    Scott — you and me both!

  19. P D Snavely says:

    Being from the Pacific Northwest, my family and I were looking forward to our “special dinner” at Artist Point. We were seated promptly and quickly ordered our drinks from the reasonably expansive wine list. Then the evening went down hill. The salads were fine, but the Dungeness Crab cakes were very salty and chewy – typical of crab meat long frozen. Following our starters, we waited…and waited – about 45 minutes until our entrees arrived. My wife’s beef tenderloin was fine, if unspectacular. But while my pork tenderloin was dry and overcooked, my daughter’s salmon (ordered medium) was nearly raw. I assume that my meal sat under the heat lamp while the salmon thawed. Needless to say, we blew off dessert! Extremely disappointing for a $300+ dinner!

  20. AJ says:

    Thanks for your review, P D. It’s such a disappointment when an expensive dinner goes awry!

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