Time to head on over to Artist Point in Disney’s Wilderness Lodge!
OK, so I’ve had a couple of really good meals here in the past couple of years, and they almost made up for the less-than-stellar meals I’d had at this Signature Restaurant in the years prior.
But, based on my last visit, Artist Point may be on the way back down the ladder when it comes to my recommended fancy dining spots in Disney World. Let’s take a look… .
If you’ve ever visited Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, then you are familiar with the decor here. Enter into the lobby of the hotel, and you are transported to Pacific Northwest hideaway. Lots of Arts and Crafts touches echo that sentiment, and Artist Point refines the aesthetic.
Where natural wood and stone and warm hues dominate most of the resort, here, you see a lighter touch. Walls are painted a warm white, and woodwork has been whitewashed. The overall feel is much less “lodge-y” and rustic than the rest of the resort — more of a “wide open spaces” kind of vibe.
Seating is comfortable, with high-backed, generously padded chairs. The views here are normally quite lovely, as the windows look out over the grounds and the lake.
I say “normally” because the evening I visited, all of the windows were blocked by a frosted film, presumably to block the view of the construction taking place below. While I understand that it was necessary, it was kind of a bummer to be seated by a window with no view. (But I still wanted you to see the view, so I’m sharing pics from a previous visit.)
Murals reside high above the dining room, and depict sweeping panoramas of national parklands. They are the work of celebrated artist Thomas Moran, well known for his “larger-than-life interpretations of the West during the late 1800s.”
The colors are gorgeous!
Smaller paintings also cover the walls, and are inspired by the work of Albert Bierstadt, who sketched landscapes of the Shoshone Indian country in 1859.
Overall, the restaurant is subdued and understated under its soaring ceilings, and I absolutely love the expansive view of Bay Lake (when you can see them).
Because Artist Point is a signature restaurant at Disney, you can expect that the menu will change here frequently — sometimes daily or weekly. I checked, and several of the items that we ordered aren’t on the menu right now. Still, you may see them again in the future, and they certainly still give you an idea of the type of food served here.
The menu theme is Pacific Northwest, so you usually see a mix of seafood and some interesting game meats. There’s normally a buffalo and/or venison option, and you’re likely to encounter some Pan-Asian influences.
We began the evening with a customary Bread Basket, served with Butter sprinkled with Black Salt. These were standard, but quite good.
I decided to begin my dinner my customary bowl of Smokey Portobello Soup, which was just as good as always. This was probably the highlight of the meal for me. (Note that you can often get this next door at Territory Lounge as well!)
My friend opted for the Duck Confit Strudel. This one was, well, weird. To begin, it was cold, which totally threw us. We asked our server if it was supposed to be cold, and he said that it was.
We also had problems discerning the different components. In the end, while it wasn’t really bad per se, it did not at all wow us — which his unfortunate since I’m usually a huge duck fan, and I’ll practically eat a cardboard box if it’s prepared confit. (I’m still not convinced this dish was supposed to be cold.)
On to the entrees! I chose the 64°C Buffalo! Buffalo!! Buffalo!!! (being from Buffalo, NY, I figured this was an obvious choice for me). As you may have guessed, the dish included Buffalo served three ways — a Strip Steak, Chipped Buffalo Mac and Cotswold Cheese, and Buffalo Sausage.
It was served with English Peas, Crispy Shallots, Braised Cabbage Apple-Cranberry Slaw, and Blackberry Demi-glace. That is a whole lot goin’ on. While the Strip Steak and Sausage were good, the Buffalo Mac and Cheese was the stand out on my plate. However, it was really because of the cheese; the buffalo didn’t add a lot in terms of flavor here. Overall, the dish wasn’t nearly as memorable as previous entrees at Artist Point.
My friend opted for the house specialty, Cedar Plank Salmon. The King Salmon was served with Sweet Potato Puree, House-Smoked Bacon, Autumn Vegetables, and Apple Cider Gastrique.
Having witnessed many, many Cedar Plank Salmon dishes make their way through this dining room, we knew to expect a certain amount of theater. But when it came our time to enjoy this dish, well…there was none. It arrived tableside, overcooked. My friend, who really loves wild salmon, was completely underwhelmed by the dish.
Determined to salvage the dining experience, we decided to order a few desserts. I went with the seasonal Cheesecake, which was an Apple Caramel version. It was fine, but not something I’d order again. The dipped caramel pretzel was a fun accompaniment.
And of course we had to see what form the Berry Cobbler was taking these days. In contrast with her entree, my friend really enjoyed this. Currently, the “cobbler” is a cakey version, not a biscuit or streusel topped, crumble-type dessert. But it’s delicious and there’s always a great balance of house-made ice cream and cobbler. So this was a win. (However, the dessert was VERY small. I remember it being bigger in the past for some reason.)
Artist Point has always been high on my list of drastically inconsistent Disney World restaurants. This place seems to vacillate between being fantastic, and being sorely lacking. There’s very little in between. On this visit, none of the ordered dishes stood out as being all that memorable — and when I dine at a signature restaurant, I always like for there to be at least one or two truly out of this world items to remember fondly.
But in all honesty, I think that the issue that overshadowed our entire experience was lackluster service. Once again (geez, I must have some really bad server karma lately) our server was not up to par. A chat with a manager didn’t really make us feel any better about the situation.
A peek at the current menu piques my interest for a return trip here. But honestly, I’m a little nervous. When you are paying Artist Point prices, you expect to be Wowed. Delighted. And we just weren’t. Not at all.
But of course, I want to hear what you have to say, too. How does Artist Point rate with you? Leave a comment and join the conversation below!