Ah, yes — I get to write about one of my very favorite restaurants in Disney World today!! Flying Fish Cafe is located on Disney’s Boardwalk in Walt Disney World, right next to the back entrance of the Boardwalk Inn.
The entrance is adorned with a giant neon sign complete with flying fish! You can’t miss it. And once inside, you’ll be treated to whimsical decor, an incredible seasonal menu, and an awesome view of Chef Tim Keating’s open kitchen.
I think this restaurant is the perfect mix of Disney magic and star-quality food. Plus, the place is just fun to look at. There are shiny things and smooth things and fun things and colorful things all around you when you walk in. Don’t miss the jumping fire at the grills in the open kitchen!
From the parachuting fish on the ceiling to the colorful circus-themed mural on the walls there’s always something you missed the last time you were there. And let’s not even start talking about the draped “circus-tent” room in the back of the restaurant where you get to eat if you’re really, really lucky!
Can you see the hidden Mickey in this mural? I know, I know — I point it out all the time, but I love this one!
Now, once you’re settled and done looking around, it’s time to be wowed by the menu… . We were visiting the restaurant with a couple of friends, so you may see a bit more food (**cough**DESSERTS**cough**) than you’re used to in my posts! Hope you don’t mind…
As you can probably tell based on the name, Flying Fish is known for seafood dishes. Its potato-wrapped red snapper is the restaurant’s specialty, and the menu holds an ever-changing variety of options. From calamari to sushi to scallops and more, all will take their turn on the menu here.
But for those of us who are land-lubbers, menu delights abound. This is decidedly not one of those spots that throws a token piece of chicken or a steak on the menu just to pacify the non-fish-eaters.
The meat- and vegetable-based dishes here are just as phenomenal as the seafood dishes. In fact, the blackened steak is another of the restaurant’s specialties!
We started out the meal with the cheese plate (of course). This included five cheeses — Brillat Savarin, Plesant Ridge Reserve, Fiore Sardo, Vermont Butter and Cheese Co. “Bijou”, and Fourme d’Ambert. Accompaniments included raisins on the vine, fig and almond torta, Savannah Bee Company honeycomb, and a spiced California peach, golden raisin, burnt orange, andn white balsamico compote “agrodolce.”
As you know, any cheese with a hearty helping of honey is good with me, but I again really enjoyed the Brillat Savarin (so creamy!) and the Fiore Sardo (sharp and strong).
We also dove into the bread basket when we ran out of the little crispies to eat with our cheese.
The gentlemen at the table ordered this spiky-looking Yellowfin Tuna appetizer — Yellowfin Tuna Tartare and Crispy Tempura Tuna-Vegetable Sushi Roll — which they thoroughly enjoyed!
In fact, I kept hearing about this app for the rest of the week! It made a serious impression with juxtaposed textures and more flavor than expected.
I indulged in this gorgeous, silky Sherry-laced Sweet Onion Crema with Mushroom Beignets accompanied by basil creme fraiche, young arugula, and garlic-chive-infused oil.
Just writing that relaxes me and makes my blood pressure drop about 50 points. Seriously — think of your favorite relaxing activity. Eating this is like that. It’s sweet, savory, warm, smooth… exactly what you’re looking for when you want to start out a meal strong, but have room left over for the main event.
Sadly, this is a seasonal soup, so we might not be able to get it next time.
The Caesar was flavorful and crunchy; and the ample, giant, cheesy crouton got a thumbs up!
Another artisanal salad, the Fresh Mozzarella di Bufalo with yellow beefsteak, “ugli ripe” and tiny heirloom tomatoes, balsamic glaze, exotic peppercorns, and petite basil with Sicilian Olio Verde, also got high marks. The pleasingly bright colors and display set the stage for the light, fresh taste of the mozzarella. A great starter!
We moved on to entrees next, and several folks at the table ordered my favorite — the char-crusted Certified Black Angus New York Strip Steak! This comes with pan-roasted fingerling potatoes, pole beans, young carrots, and Bermuda onions with an applewood-smoked bacon and mustard seed vinaigrette and classic sauce foyot. (FYI — foyot is like a classic bernaise sauce with a meat glaze…mmmmmmmmmm…meat!!!!)
This was simply phenomenal as always. The steak has so much flavor, and the accompanying sauces and sturdy veggies are the perfect dressing. Seriously, I’ve had this three times now and have never been disappointed!
And don’t let the “char crust” scare you. It doesn’t taste burnt. I promise.
Also at the table was the Rainforest Pepperberry-grilled Kurobuta Pork Tenderloin with leek, fontina, and truffle-laced Trofie “mac n cheese,” grilled asparagus, and a black mission fig, port wine, balsamico, caramelized onion, and trumpet mushroom compote.
As we know, pork is very difficult to present well — it’s so easy to over-do this dish! However, this turned out great. Pink in the middle with a ton of flavor on the crust and in the sauce. I’m also a sucker for grilled asparagus and mac and cheese, so this dish clearly won me over from the start.
And, yes, I ordered an extra side dish of the mac n cheese.
On to desserts! I know — those dishes seemed rich and incredible enough, right? But we simply had to do the place justice and jump into the next menu…
First up, the Marcona Almond Laced Chocolate Mousse and Sinful Triple Rich Brownie Creation. (“Creation,” no less. I love that restaurants are starting to use this as the noun in their dish descriptions.)
While this looks gorgeous (and it WAS), it was just one of the outstanding desserts on the table and, frankly, this one was a bit boring compared to the others (can you believe it??). That said, if you’re a true chocoholic, this one’s for YOU! (Hmm…maybe I’d just had too much chocolate that day? This sure looks good right now…)
The next dessert — a golden apple, pecan, and blondie tart with toffee ice cream and apple cider syrup was the winner of the evening. We all fought over this like little kids! The toffee ice cream was perfection, and…um…hello? it has a blondie crust!! Attention Disney restaurants — please make more things with blondie crusts.
And then came the winner of the “that’s-so-weird-but-I-love-it” dessert award for the night! You saw this highlighted in our “Disney Food Trends: Popcorn!” post, but there’s even more to discuss!
Along with the yummy, buttery, caramel-y popcorn mousse came two other items: the cherry limeade popsicle and the crunchy peanut butter whoopie pie with pound cake fries!
The cherry limeade popsicle was quite possibly the most sour thing I have ever tasted at a Disney table-service restaurant! Biting into it, I was expecting a sweet-sour punch of flavor, but nothing like this! I wish I had video of my face when I tasted it for the first time! The whole table agreed that it was mighty sour, and we should have sprinkled a bit of sugar on it before eating… That said, there was certainly a punch of flavor!
The popcorn mousse offered the sweetness we needed after the popsicle — it was a great balance! And while it did taste buttery, you didn’t get an overwhelmingly rich buttered popcorn flavor. The feel was more caramel-y than stick-o-butter.
Here’s a close up of the peanut butter chocolate whoopie pie. It was very good, but didn’t make as much of an impression as that cherry limeade popsicle! Still, had this been the only thing on the plate, it would have gotten props. Also, while I’m not a huge fan of the “make stuff to look like other stuff” trend, I did like the little poundcake fries with strawberry “ketchup.” Clever and yummy.
Finally, we tried the signature dessert — a caramelized banana napoleon. This included crisp phyllo, banana mousse, creme caramel, exotic fruit coulis, and bitter chocolate.
While it was very good, this was the most like a “frou frou Disney signature restaurant dessert” to me, so it didn’t appeal as much as the comfort food feel of the apple tart or the exotic and interesting presentation of the trio of concession sweets. Would love to hear feedback on this dessert from others who’ve tried it!
Whew! Just thinking about all of this food again has me ready to make a beeline back to Flying Fish! And although it has the same pros/cons as other Disney signature restaurants — what you loved probably won’t be on the menu anymore, but what you weren’t interested in will probably be gone as well — it just always seems to be good when I go there!
This spot is great for a date night, a family celebration, or just to indulge when you want excellent food in a fun and inviting atmosphere. Kids will do just fine here; the acoustics make it a bit loud, though, so if junior is down for a nap, this might not be the best spot to enjoy a quiet night.
And if you’re not with the kids, as always, I recommend heading over to Jellyrolls on the Boardwalk for some dueling piano action after your meal — request some Journey for me!!!
I continue to hear great reviews of Flying Fish from readers, so I’d like to hear what you think. Am I being too enthusiastic about this place, or is it actually as good as my experiences suggest?