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Review: New Menu at Bull and Bear Steakhouse

One of my favorite steakhouses in Orlando, Bull and Bear at the Waldorf Astoria Orlando, has re-vamped their menu. It’s become, if you can believe it, even better. You can see my initial review of the Bull and Bear here, to compare notes.

Atmosphere

Dark, luxurious, and plush. When you walk into this restaurant through the “library” of wine and the pleasant lounge, you don’t just hope for an incredible meal. You anticipate one.

Entryway

Dining Room Seating

We arrived for a tasting of the new menu and couldn’t wait to explore the new dishes. We’d been told that the chef, David Sears, wanted to expand a bit, creating dishes that one might not see on a standard steakhouse menu…

Eats

We started the meal with a bang — literally. Our first tasting plate was prefaced with a beautiful Taittinger Brut Prestige Rosé champagne. This was easily my favorite pairing of the evening — fresh, fruity, very light. What a great way to begin!

Taittinger Brut Prestige Rosé

This was paired with a rare salmon (Chef Sears flies this line-caught salmon in at the rate of just a few per week) cured with citrus and tarragon and finished with mache lettuce, pommelo, and pink peppercorn granité.

The salmon was mild and had a fresh flavor. Together with the bitter-sweet pommelo (which is like a sweet grapefruit) it was excellent. Even if you’re not a seafood lover, you’ll enjoy this one. The whole is absolutely more than the sum of its parts!

Atlantic Salmon cured with Citrus and Tarragon with Mache Lettuce, Pomello

The pink peppercorn granité was a nice palate cleanser to follow the salmon. The spicy-sweet flavor and icy texture was like nothing I’d ever tried before, and though I liked it, it wasn’t my favorite part of the meal. (And you should take all you can from that, dear readers, because that’s about as negative as I’m going to get about this meal! I’m pretty sure this menu is what they serve in heaven.)

That said, at this point already I know we’re in for a treat at this meal, and that Bull and Bear guests will never find his menu boring as long as Chef Sears is here.

Pink Peppercorn Granité served with salmon

We started the next tasting course with a 2009 Cade Sauvignon Blanc, which complimented the absolutely amazing soup that followed!

CADE Sauvignon Blanc

Cade Sauvignon Blanc

The Zellwood corn soup (the corn is from Zellwood, Florida — check it out — they have a festival!) is just about the richest, most decadent appetizer you could ever dream of ordering.

We begin with a sizeable “grilled cheese sandwich” at the bottom of the bowl — a truffle and brilliat savarin cheese sandwich that is…with caviar.

Zellwood Corn Soup with truffle and brilliat savarin cheese sandwich and caviar cream

Then the soup is poured table-side, drowning the poor little sandwich in unbelievably creamy liquid. But I must admit, it looks lovely. And watching the soup poured into the bowl elicits a mouth-watering response. The aromas hit your nose, the colors tease your eyes, and you can’t wait to dive in!

Zellwood Corn Soup

The first taste is exquisite — especially for those who are soup-lovers like me. This is like a velvet cream — hugely thick and rich with flavor. The sandwich and caviar are a wonderful compliment to this dish, adding strong, salty notes to the sweet, rich soup. I could probably eat this every single day. But be warned — you will fill up on this soup!

By the way — here’s a tip: when I asked what made the soup so incredibly smooth, thick, and creamy, Chef Sears mentioned that he’d used a bit of potato in the recipe. Brilliant.

Zellwood Corn Soup

We started the third tasting with a Ramey Chardonnay, a fun and moderately strong compliment for the next very interesting dish!

Ramey Chardonnay

Ramey Chardonnay

This tasting was one that you might not expect, or even initially want to order, but, my friends, it was divine. Lick-the-bowl divine.

Escargot & Gnocchi with shimeji mushroom and black garlic. Oh. My. Heavens. I’ve never seen escargot served like this, and Chef Sears admitted that he’d heard his fair share of skeptics when he first mentioned this dish. But the pairing of the gnocchi with the escargot is a smart one as the textures balance each other well. And the garlic cream sauce in this dish is absolutely inspired.

When we returned to Bull and Bear a few nights later to dine on our own dime, we were sorry to hear that the Escargot and Gnocchi were already sold out for the night! (By the way, the presentation was much better than this…before I started eating it…)

Gnocchi and Escargot with shimeji mushroom and black garlic

Our fourth tasting course, the rabbit ravioli from Seely’s Ark Farm with baby fennel, creamed cippolini, and pancetta, was paired with a Drouhin pinot noir. An interesting pair with a lighter dish, but it tasted great.

Laurene Pinot Noir

Laurene Pinot Noir

So in addition to being absolutely gorgeous on the plate, the rabbit ravioli was a great blend of textures and flavors. The savory saltiness from the pancetta, the sweet/savory tang of the creamed cippolini onions, and the thick and fresh pasta were great compliments to the rabbit, which had a pulled pork texture and a light meat flavor — not gamey at all. Definitely a winner, and one of my favorite dishes of the night.

Sigh. It’s beautiful, right?

Rabbit Ravioli from Seely's Ark Farm with Baby Fennel, Creamed Cippolini, and Pancetta

Rabit Ravioli Cross Section

After all of these delicious appetizers, it was on to the main event — the Tomahawk Steak for Two! We shared it between three of us, but it was just as filling! As you know from my last review, this steak is massive, is sliced table-side, and is probably the most flavorful thing you will ever put in your mouth.

Tomahawk Steak for Two

Sliced Tomahawk Steak

BUT — and here’s what I haven’t been able to wait to tell you about — they’ve added a fun new embellishment to the Tomahawk.

Do you see that candle next to the steak?

Tomahawk Candle

Yeah. That one.

It’s not just for decoration. It’s for flavor. That candle, my friends, is made entirely of beef fat. It accompanies the Tomahawk (and the Tomahawk only, as we sadly found out on a return visit) to the table to add even more flavor to the steak!

As we know: fat = flavor. And as Chef Sears noticed that he had a lot of fat left over in the kitchen and wanted to be resourceful, this is the fabulous-tasting outcome!

Beef Fat Drizzle

Drizzling melted beef fat on Tomahawk Steak

Now, I know this might not yet have clicked yet, especially in this day and age of draining fat off of the meat as you’re cooking it. But I can’t tell you what an intense and positive addition this is to an already incredible meal.
You guys have got to trust me on that one. (I know you’re still not sure.) Two thumbs up, Chef Sears.

Next up — an Atalon Merlot along with the side dishes. These were plated table-side as well, but they were left on the table for us to help ourselves through the meal.

Wine

The side dishes have changed slightly from our last visit, and we got to sample the butter mashed potato (creamiest mashed potatoes I’ve ever…EVER…had), the Bull & Bear French Fries (decadent and delicious — crispy, salty, flavorful), the Mac and Cheese with Pancetta (still on the menu, natch, ’cause it’s amazing), creamed corn (again, the dark horse winner of the side dish battle; scraped from the cob, creamed, and fantastic — I could eat this all day) and the wilted tatsoi (it sure looked good; can’t say I had much room for it!).

Assortment of side dishes

wilted tatsoi and mac and cheese with pancetta sides

Mac and Cheese with Pancetta

They’ve added a Meyer Lemon Scented Risotto to the mix, and guests can also order seasonal wild mushrooms, and asparagus.

I also noted a new sauce on the menu — Belete’s Spiced Chimichurri, which I’m guessing is named for restaurant Manager Manny Belete. Having met Manny, I promise that when it says “spiced,” it means “SPICED!”

For dessert, we tried two brand new items on the menu: The Lemon, and the chocolate bar. I know — they sound innocuous, don’t they? ;-)

The Lemon is a brilliant new dessert — an actual lemon is turned into a sweet, intense dish. Filled with a mixture of lemon curd, cream, sorbet, and wonderfulness, your job is to eat the whole thing — rind and all! (The rind has a “fruit leather” type of texture and still has the strong, though not bitter, lemon taste.)

Lemon Dessert

I loved this. A light, very different dessert that you won’t find anywhere else! A great antidote to the sometimes tired panna cottas and creme brulees…

Lemon Dessert

The chocolate bar, on the other hand, is a lush, purely decadent dessert. Made with valrhona carmelia chocolate and topped with chocolate vodka syrup, this is a chocoholic’s dream! But don’t worry that it’s going to be another overly rich, heavy dessert. It’s surprisingly light and easy to eat (not sure if that’s a fortunate or an unfortunate thing). I wanted to only take two bites, but this is the kind of dessert that has you looking down at the plate five minutes later and wondering where it all went!

chocolate bar

chocolate bar cross-section

Once again — thanks to Chef Sears for this incredible new menu, and for spending time answering all of my inane questions! After this tasting, I can honestly say that it was difficult for us not to go back to Bull and Bear every evening that we were in Orlando.

Chef David Sears

Overall

As I said, we were treated to this dine around of the new menu by the Waldorf Astoria, but when our flight back to Dallas was canceled and we were stuck in Orlando for an extra night…we went back to Bull and Bear on our own dime. No kidding. We couldn’t help ourselves. That should pretty much give you a good idea about how much I genuinely like this place.

It’s posh, but extremely comfortable. The staff is incredible. The service is excellent (one of our favorite servers gave us a surprise take-out container of beignets — my husband’s favorite dessert — to take with us at the end of our second meal there). The location is spectacular — right in the middle of Disney World property. And the restaurant as a whole simply forces you to relax and enjoy. Many of us don’t relax nearly enough on our Orlando vacations, so that last attribute is a welcome one.

Plus, did I mention the food is phenomenal?

So what do you think YOU’D try first? Let us know in the comments section below!

Like I said, the Waldorf Astoria Orlando kindly invited us to this tasting and provided accommodations (please see our disclosure policy). I was not obligated to write a review at all, much less a positive review, but what can I say — this place is addictive. A beef fat candle?! How can you stay away?

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22 Comments

  1. Anderson says:

    the beef fat candle is really blowing my mind. i know if i ever have a chance to eat there, i will definitely order a tomahawk.

  2. Chris says:

    Ack, my plans for the next trip are changing again…

    Great review! I know this was a preview sampling, but does B&B have a tasting menu?

  3. Sally says:

    We are so there! Monday night for a 4 Course Flanagan Wine Tasting! The Seely’s Ark Farm Rabbit Ravioli and the Chocolate Bar are on the menu, so we’ll get to try those items for sure.

  4. What a fantastic review! Your pictures are wonderful and i especially like that you took pictures of the wine labels. So helpful! It’s hard enough eat your way through all the restaurants in the actual parks, now we have another to put on our “bucket list”!

  5. Diamond Jim says:

    Unadulterated hedonism! I heartily approve!

  6. That looks absolutely amazing! I adore the Taittinger Rose’ and the Candle concept is really unique. I hope that I get to eat here some day.

  7. Beth says:

    I visited Tattinger while I was in France…that is some tasty champagne!

    Is there a good way to get to Waldorf Astoria if you’re on property?

  8. Chris Ripley says:

    Hi AJ,

    Loved this review. Just wanted to know how much the rough cost would be for a party of 2 eating roughly the same as you did?

    Many thanks,

    Chris.

  9. Sarah says:

    Matt and I NEED to get over there!

  10. Chelsi says:

    YUMMMMMM…. BEEF FAT CANDLE! ;-)

  11. We had a great experience when we dined at Bull & Bear earlier this year. I can’t wait to return to try the new menu. I’m pleased to see the shellfish platter is still available:)

  12. Sarah (@Duchess_99) says:

    WOW…just WOW.

    I really need to consider taking a trip over there on our next trip!

  13. Mark D. says:

    The candle idea is genius. I HAVE to go here next trip. No, I AM going here next trip.

    Looks amazing!

  14. AJ says:

    Anderson — For real! It’s amazing. The Tomahawk is pricey, but if you split it between two or three people, it’s a great deal!

    Chris — I WISH! We actually told them when we were there that having a Chef’s table or tasting menu would be a great idea. Fingers crossed!

    Sally — I can’t wait to hear what you think!! Let me know how it is.

    Gillian — Definitely put this one on your list!

    Diamond Jim — Indeed! That’s what it is. This is a truly indulgent meal, and a great way to celebrate, reward yourself, or just relax.

    Kristen — Me too! That candle was amazing. I loved the concept, and it tasted outstanding!

    Beth — The best way is to stay there ;-), but because the hotel is in the middle of WDW property, a cab would be very cheap. The Waldorf also has buses for guests that go to and from the parks, so it’s possible to get one of those.

    Chris Ripley — Because we were there for a tasting, we didn’t get full-sized portions of some of the dishes (we’d have to be rolled out of there!). Generally, pricing is definitely high, but not out of the stratosphere. Apps are in the teens, entrees/steaks range from $30-60. It’s comparable — or slightly more expensive — than Disney signature restaurants, and the food and service are consistently outstanding. Two apps, two entrees, and two desserts would probably cost around $100-150 total. If you add wine, that will obviously be extra.

    Sarah — It’s really amazing. Go for a celebration!

    Chelsi — I KNOW!!!

    Deej — You gotta go back. It was great before, it’s about 10 times better now.

    Sarah — Yes!! Go for your anniversary!

    Mark D — Yes sir!! This is the splurge for your next trip!

  15. Alan says:

    The steak with the candle thing is amazing. It reminded me of when I was young. My dad used to get some extra fat from the butcher when he bought steak. He rendered it and then brushed it on strips of toast and then topped it with a thin strip of the steak. They were sort of like finger sandwiches and so good.

    This restaurant continues to amaze with every review. Desserts usually don’t interest me a lot but the lemon thing is something I would love to try. The Bull and Bear is a great addition to the Disney property and promises the sort of meal that will make one’s vacation so memorable.

  16. Brooke says:

    Awesome, AJ! Jeremiah sent me over to read this. We think the Bull and Bear will definitely be on our special occasion list in the near future! I am intrigued by – well, pretty much EVERYTHING. Well done. And Chef Sears gets a definite thumbs up for originality and presentation.

  17. Erin says:

    AWESOME! Thanks so much for this review. I made my reservation and switched my birthday celebration from Narcossee’s to Bull & Bear! We were actually just talking about visiting this spot but didn’t really have much to go off of…then this popped up! Definitely want that candle business.

  18. Abby says:

    AJ, that meals sounded absolutely amazing…..I think I see a reservation for Bull and Bear in my future…

  19. Gabriella says:

    Just made a reservation for August 21. Can’t wait! Thanks for such a thorough, mouth-watering review!

  20. Sarah says:

    The wine complements (not compliments) the dish, unless it’s a talking wine – which I’d like to see!

  21. Cherry says:

    Two more weeks and I’ll finally get to eat here for the first time. I can’t wait. I do have a question AJ. Can you do a tomahawk steak if the various members of the party like different temps? My friend likes med-med well and I prefer med rare-med. :-) There’s going to be three of us so I’m trying to see if I can convince them to split the tomahawk so we can try more things on the menu. LOL

  22. AJ says:

    Cherry — Ooh, great question! My guess is that cooking the tomahawk at different temps is not going to be possible… I think you guys should split the difference and get it done medium ;-D It’s such an awesome “event” of a meal!! Have a wonderful time!

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