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.
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.
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.
Tall wooden beams emulate the majestic trees of the Pacific Northwest.
We felt quite comfortable and ready to enjoy a fine meal after an evening at the parks.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.