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Review: Shula’s Steak House at the Walt Disney World Dolphin

If you love steak like I love steak, then you are going to enjoy today’s review, my friend.

Today we’re FINALLY headed back for a classic meat-stravaganza at Shula’s Steak House! Seriously, it’s been way too long since I’ve reviewed this place.

Located steps away from the International Gateway entrance to Epcot, Shula’s is one of the superb restaurants that call the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort home. To be more specific, you’ll find this fine dining spot in — you guessed it — the Dolphin. (Get it? Don Shula? At the Dolphin? I knew you would.)

Let’s head inside the wood-paneled walls to see if the steaks and sides here are just as good as I remember!

Atmosphere

Step into Shula’s and you’ve entered a decidedly masculine domain. With dark wood walls, rich colors, and very low lighting (no joke; the servers have flashlights for you to read the menu sometimes), you feel as though you’re in an exclusive club dining here.

And just like many other Disney restaurants, Shula’s is “themed!”

Seating Along the Back Wall and Giant Picture of Coach Shula

This place is all about The Miami Dolphins’ 1972 “Perfect Season!” Now those of us who are true Buffalo Bills fans and still, in our (utterly broken) heart of hearts, despise the Dolphins…well, we have to come to a decision on how much we love steak to eat here. Me? I really love steak. I love the Bills. But I love steak.

Anyway, large photos from the 1972 team are lavishly framed throughout the comfortable dining room, so you can’t really escape them.

Two Top Seating

And speaking of steak, another prime decor element in the restaurant is the plaque displaying the proud members of Shula’s 48-Ounce Club. To have your name engraved on the plaque, just finish a 48-Ounce Porterhouse. Are you up for the challenge?

Seating with Steak Club Plaque

While I wasn’t quite sure we were up for making ourselves famous, we were quite hungry… Let’s get to the menu!

Eats

OK, so this kind of cracks me up, but it shows that the restaurant — though very high end — doesn’t take itself too seriously.

While you’ll get an actual menu, too, the main Shula’s cut steaks are hand painted on an official NFL game football. So while it might seem a little, well, odd to be handed a football when you’re preparing to order dinner, it all sort of makes sense. ;-)

Football Menu

Soon after you start looking at your football, it’s time of a bit of Shula’s education. In addition to the feeling of this being an exclusive club, you definitely realize you’re in a classic steakhouse setting when they wheel out the trolley of steaks and sides.

And this is actually pretty useful! Envisioning what a 16-Ounce New York Strip looks like versus a 24-Ounce Porterhouse can be difficult. Visual aides come in handy. You can also see just exactly what you’re getting with each cut in case you aren’t familiar with the various steaks.

Also, the server shows you the size of some of the side dishes, like the potatoes that are used. Sides are enormous, and this really helps to keep you from over ordering. (Theoretically, anyway.)

Pre-Dinner Display of Meats and Sides

We began our ordering extravaganza by taking a look at the Cocktail Menu.

Featured Cocktail -- Click to Enlarge

While I’m sharing photos here of the cocktail menu only, it’s important to note if you’re a wine drinker that Shula’s has an enormous, award-winning wine list. You’ll be in heaven if it’s a bottle for the table you’re after.

Cocktail Menu -- Click to Enlarge

I decided to skip a fancy drink, but my friend ordered the Flea Flicker. The cocktail includes Hendricks Gin, Yellow Chartreuse, Cherry Heering, house-made sour mix, cane sugar, and bitters. The potent drink had incredible balance of flavor and was beautiful in the glass.

The Flea Flicker

Next we took a look at Soups, Salads, and Appetizers. You won’t find anything particularly shocking here. These are classic steak house dishes served in enormous proportions for hungry guests.

Soups and Salads Menu -- Click to Enlarge

Appetizer Menu -- Click to Enlarge

The same goes for steaks and entrees. However, this is a good opportunity to discuss the Shula Cut and the quality of beef that’s served here.

Shula’s serves only certified Angus beef from cows raised specifically for the company in Albany, Georgia. In an effort to distinguish its steaks, they employ The Shula Cut. This cut is more discriminating than USDA standards, exceeding the requirements for prime and choice beef. To meet the benchmark, the beef must meet ten qualifying specifications in areas like marbling, tenderness, and flavor.

If you didn’t realize how serious they were about quality up to this point, you’re certainly starting to get the picture now.

Steaks and Entrees Menu -- Click to Enlarge

To accompany all of those fantastic cuts of meat, there are also some incredible sides.

Sides Menu -- Click to Enlarge

We made our selections, and were soon served the complimentary bread service. The thick, crusty, warm bread was SO tempting. I knew there were huge amounts of food coming our way, but I still had to indulge… .

Bread Service

For a starter, my friend ordered the Barbecued Shrimp Stuffed with Basil. The shrimp were huge, well cooked, and covered in a zippy sauce. It was a nice touch that the sauce wasn’t on the tails, however. That made them a lot easier to eat.

Barbecued Shrimp Stuffed with Basil

For entrees, we opted first for Steak Mary Anne, two beautiful 5-ounce filet medallions with a rich demi glace sauce. At 10 ounces, this is the smallest cut of meat that you can get at Shula’s.

The filet was tender and flavorful, and the sauce was rich and deep, adding good flavor to the well-marbled tenderloin.

Steak Mary Anne

I went for my absolute favorite steak, the 22-Ounce Cowboy. I never finish these, but they’re so good I can’t help it! A premium bone-in ribeye, the flavor is imparted by the excellent fat-to-meat ratio and the bone.

It’s seriously a to-die-for steak and they grill it perfectly every time.

22-Ounce Cowboy

We also shared a few premium sides to round out the meal. By far, our richest selection was the Potato Gratin.

Potato Gratin

A crunchy, buttery crust of breadcrumbs covered a creamy, chunky potato mixture. It was slightly dry — I would have liked more cheesiness — but overall it was a good dish.

Potato Gratin -- Up Close

I couldn’t resist a side of one of my absolute favorites, Roasted Corn, which was also delicious, with bits of red pepper and tons of flavor.

Roasted Corn

To assuage our guilty consciences (and to have something green on our plates), we also ordered Broccoli. It was a lot…a LOT…of broccoli, so it absolutely balanced out the desserts we had coming soon.

Side of Broccoli

Oh, and I couldn’t resist adding a side of Bearnaise Sauce for just a touch more richness.

Bearnaise Sauce

Perhaps we should have skipped dessert. But, yeah. No. That wasn’t happening, because Shula’s offers one of my most favorite desserts. Can you guess which one it is??

Dessert Menu -- Click to Enlarge

My friend went for the Chocolate Souffle — and who could blame her? We could smell it when it was delivered to a table near ours and we were craving it for the rest of the meal! You know what I’m talking about. That rich, super deep, fresth-out-of-the-oven chocolate scent? Amazing.

Chocolate Souffle

AND, it’s served with not one, but three creamy garnishes: Creme Anglaise, Vanilla Ice Cream, and Whipped Cream. Yum. (If you’re craving it now, check out our recipe for it here.)

Pouring the Creme Anglaise into the Souffle

I, of course, went for the incredible Apple Crisp. Oh, how I adore this dish. It was my favorite on my last visit to Shula’s, and it’s gotten even better.

Apple Crisp

The warm, thick REAL — not canned — apple filling is partnered with a massive crumble on top. (You know how there’s never enough of that buttery, oatmeal crumble stuff? Not the problem here!)

The ice cream was a perfect texture and temperature complement.

Apple Crisp -- Up Close

And with that, another wow meal at Shula’s drew to a close.

Overall

Shula’s is, in a word, incredible. True, it’s slightly strange to have your menu presented to you on a football, but when you stop to consider that said football is part of the the subtle themeing of the spot, you can understand it. In a way, the theme here is “over-the-top, manly man steak place.” And with a dash of football thrown in for good measure, they succeed.

But Shula’s is more than that. The service is excellent, relaxed, and gracious. The food is top notch. And the while it succeeds in giving off a masculine vibe, it’s easily a good place to bring a date as well. If it’s incredible steaks that you seek while staying at Disney, I enthusiastically recommend Shula’s for your special occasion dinner.

Is Shula’s one of your favorites at Disney? Join in the conversation below!

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21 Comments

  1. Chuckie Blades says:

    Great review I keep going back and forth on Shula’s for my next trip… AJ do you think it is okay for a 9, 10 year old? Currently their favorite restaurants on property are Jiko and Flying Fish?

  2. Mark Hickson says:

    I went two years ago with a group of 10. We shared all the sides with each other. My favorite was the garlic mashed potatoes. I had the 12 oz. fillet. It was perfect! I recommend ordering a nice pilsner beer to go with the steak and the football theme. Fun time!

  3. Laura Reed says:

    Oh man…this looks so good. Football + steakhouse = Heaven to my hubby! We are going the Yachtsman when we are there in November, but we may need to add this to the list as well.

  4. Sherri Erwin says:

    Shula’s really is top notch. I had an excellent, very expensive but well worth it, meal there and it is far, far better than Yachtsman Steakhouse. It is a little more adult, but a 9 or 10 year old used to fine dining probably wouldn’t be uncomfortable or out of place.

  5. Todd says:

    We ate here a few years ago while staying at the Dolphin and it is fantastic. Everything about it was well done, I couldn’t have asked for a better experience. The staff was wonderful (I love the high waiter/diner ratio at steakhouses and this was no exception) and the food was great.

    I had the best (and biggest) Prime Rib of my life here.

  6. Sean says:

    Looks amazing, but is anyone else bothered by the sloppy presentation of the Potato Gratin dish?

  7. CanadiansLoveWDW says:

    this is a place i will be checking out when my girls are old enough not to come with us… would they allow me in with a BILLS jersey on…

  8. Chuckie Blades says:

    Sherri thank you I just booked the reservation :)

  9. Kris says:

    I LOVE Shula’s! It has been a family favorite of ours for the past 6-7 years. My favorite side is the crab mac n cheese and the creamed spinach, for dessert don’t miss the molten lava cake and ask for vanilla ice cream with it…..OMG now I am getting hungry again.

  10. Paula B. says:

    A favorite with my husband, who would also have had the cowboy ribeye! We have a Shula’s in one of the local hotels here but love the “high end” one at the Dolphin. That chocolate souffle may have had me foregoing an entree, looks like they weren’t skimpy with the ice cream and creme anglaise, nice.

  11. penny nelson says:

    is shulas on the dining plan

  12. W.D. says:

    Shula’s is my favorite restaurant in the world. My first experience was at the Tampa location. I told people at the time that it was the first perfect meal I had even enjoyed. The waiter was only there when I needed him. I food arrived when it was needed; not on a kitchen schedule. The quality and preparation was excellent. I had a second perfect meal at the Dolphin. So far, those are on the only two perfect meals I have ever had and I have dined at Ruth’s Chris, del Frisco’s, The Palm, Morton’s, and other fine dining establishments. Fine food and excellent service do not go hand-in-glove.

    I am sorry to see that the lobster cocktail appetizer is gone. I guess it was not a big seller. But the steaks are out of this world and the creamed spinach is a must — although the roast corn is now on my “To Try” list.

    I took a corporate auditor to Shula’s. Executives in multiple corporations were afraid of this guy. He had a reputation for find problems that didn’t exist. I took him to Shula’s for dinner and heard tales about what it was like to be on the road. [As a consultant, I can tell my own tales..] Anyway, Shula’s provided a great meal and this guy was still talking about it years later. For some reason, we were the only organization that never seemed to have a problem with this auditor. My boss and I never disclosed our way of getting the best from the man…

  13. Pardonmyfrench says:

    So AJ where would you rank it to yachtsman and flying fish. Also does it take tables in wonderland ?

  14. Wendy Snelgrove says:

    I’m thinking I should not eat for two days and then try the 48 oz porterhouse. I’ve eaten the 22 or 24 oz one at Yachtsmen’s. I wonder if any woman has done it before?!

    Seriously, it looks amazing!

  15. AJ says:

    Chuckie — I think it would be fine for the 9 and 10 year old if they like signature restaurants already.

    Mark Hickson — Sounds great! Love the beer addition!

    Laura Reed — Let me know if you try it and what you think!

    Sherri Erwin — I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

    Todd — Thanks for your review! I’ll have to try the prime rib sometime!

    Sean — It didn’t bother me much; it just looked like it had been recently pulled from the oven. But I’m not picky when it comes to potatoes and cheese. ;-)

    Canadians — Ha ha! I wouldn’t try it! :-)

    Kris — I’m so glad you enjoy it!! Thanks for your review and for sharing your favorites!

    Paula B. — Ha ha! The souffle is ah-mazing!

    Penny Nelson — I don’t believe Shula’s is currently on the dining plan.

    W.D. — I love this story!! Thanks for sharing!

    Pardonmyfrench — Flying Fish is my current favorite, but Shula’s probably has a slight edge over Yachtsman in the steak department. Sides are a different story, though; I love Yachtsman’s truffle mac and cheese. Shula’s DOES take Tables in Wonderland.

    Wendy Snelgrove — Ooh! Make it happen! And take pictures!

  16. Heather says:

    Having spent 6 years working at the Shula’s New Orleans–I know that the beef is top notch–the Orlando location has a slightly different menu then some of the others because it is the busiest location in the country. I’m looking forward to a meal there very soon!

  17. Andrea says:

    A tip for the light eaters…..if you ask they will sell you the 8 oz filet from the surf n turf…..had it several weeks ago and it was fabulous!

  18. Dani says:

    Hi friends. I thought I should add that the WDW Swan and Dolphin do offer **two hours of COMPLIMENTARY child care services** at Camp Dolphin when dining at one of the signature restuarants (Shula’s, Il Mulino, bluezoo). Perfect for date night!!

  19. Marlene says:

    We had the chocolate souffle, the chocolate molten cake, the creme brullee trio, and the key lime pie.

    The key lime pie was ordinary.
    The creme brullee was good, if you liked the flavors (loved the Grand Marnier one!).

    We fought over the chocolate souffle and the chocolate molten cake.
    Maybe the chocolate molten cake was the winner – hard to decide.
    It was the BEST dark chocolate molten cake we ever tasted.

    Wonder if you can sit in the bar and just order desserts???

  20. :-) says:

    Everything you ordered sounds like something I would have thoroughly enjoyed! Great review!

  21. carolyn riley says:

    Have eaten at Shula’s twice. Never disappointed. Love the cowboy steak. My husband had the filet mignon. Thought the chocolate soufflé was to-die-for. Can’t wait to go back in June for our anniversary.

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