Re-Review: Artist Point at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort

I already know what you’re gonna say. “AJ, you JUST went to Artist Point.”

And you’d be right. We reviewed this signature spot not long ago. And even Disney signature dining spots that I frequent, like Le Cellier or Flying Fish Cafe, usually don’t get that much coverage here on the blog.

But here’s the thing: that last visit was NOT awesome. From food to service, we left having felt completely underwhelmed. And I received several comments from readers requesting a “re-review” when a brand new chef took the helm.

So on a recent trip, I knew I had to check in. Even if everything hadn’t instantly transformed bippety-boppety-style, I was hoping to see some movement in the right direction.

Read on to see how the evening unfolded.

Atmosphere

The decor of Artist Point, like the rest of the Wilderness Lodge, pays tribute to the Arts and Crafts style as well as the sweeping vistas of the Pacific Northwest.

Artist Point

Artist Point

But it differs from the rest of the resort in that it’s a touch less rustic, a bit more refined. Whereas the rest of Wilderness Lodge plays up warm wood hues with exposed beams and woodwork to drive home that cabin feel, Artist Point is dressed up with a creamy palette and beautiful artwork celebrating the region.

Entryway

Entryway

Seating is comfortable and roomy, and the cast iron lanterns that serve as light fixtures impart a warm glow as evening light wanes.

artist point 2

A View of the Seating Area Before Darkness Descends

A soaring atrium and plenty of windows bring the outdoors in.

View

Seating Up Close and View

It’s lovely to sit beside the windows and take in the views of the resort’s Silver Creek Falls or Bay Lake. With the forest setting, it’s not terribly hard to imagine you’re in the Pacific Northwest rather than Florida.

Beautiful View

Beautiful View — Up Close

But while the view outside is lovely, take a little time to check out the vistas indoors as well. The atrium boasts this beautiful two-part mural, depicting scenes from the American Frontier.

Mural

Mural

Mural

Mural

Now that we’ve had a look around, let’s check out what we sampled during this visit.

Eats

As I said, my last visit to Artist Point was disappointing, and I wasn’t sure I’d want to return anytime soon. But I definitely wanted to check out what changes had been made since the new chef took over. We decided to stick with a few safe classics and sprinkle in a couple of new offerings for variety.

A glance at the menu showed us a few new items, but Artist Point staples like Cedar Plank Salmon and Grilled Filet Mignon were still available. The sides and sauces had changed a bit, though.

Menu -- Click to Enlarge

Menu — Click to Enlarge

I decided to begin the evening with a cocktail and went with the Lodge Fizz, a combination of Grey Goose Vodka, Triple Sec, Cranberry Juice, and Sprite.

Lodge Fizz

Lodge Fizz

We placed our orders, and soon a complimentary basket of Warm Bread arrived, accompanied by a disc of Fresh Butter sprinkled with Pink Sea Salt.

Bread and Butter

Bread and Butter

We went with a few different starters just for variety’s sake. The Artisanal Cheeses were a must.

Description of Cheeses

Description of Cheeses

So we decided to start our meal with the board. It offered five different varieties during this visit: Lamb Chopper, MT TAM, Purple Haze, Flagship Reserve Truckle, and Point Reyes Blue. The cheeses were served with various breads and accompaniments.

Artisanal Cheese

Artisanal Cheese

The cheeses, all from the Pacific or Pacific Northwest, offered variety. Flagship Reserve Truckle, a Cow’s Milk Cheese, is aged for two years to provide a smooth, nutty flavor. MT TAM, a luxurious Triple Cream Cheese, offers a mild, earthy flavor reminiscent of mushrooms. Purple Haze, a favorite of Disney chefs (since you find it everywhere) is a Goat’s Milk Cheese flavored with herbal and floral notes of Fennel Pollen and Lavender Buds.

Artisanal Cheese

Artisanal Cheese

Lamb Chopper is a mild yet complex Sheep’s Milk Cheese from the Northwest. And finally, Point Reyes Blue offers a fairly strong blue flavor and a creamy semi-soft texture. Accompaniments included Dried Apricots, Fig Cake, Honey complete with Honey Comb, a slice of Fresh Fig, and both Lavash and Crostini.

Artisanal Cheese

Artisanal Cheese

My friend also opted for the Dungeness Crab Cake, a classic Artist Point appetizer. During this visit, it was served with Ramp Aïoli, Pea Tendrils, and Radish. This was a winner. By they way — these serving plates were new to me.    

Dungeness Crab Cake

Dungeness Crab Cake

We also tried the Dashi-Braised Shortrib, which came with Kombu Turnip Pickles, Daikon, and Wild Greens. Dashi, a simple broth made of dried kelp and dried bonito (a type of fish) flakes, imparts that elusive umami flavor that’s so sought after in Japanese cooking. This dish was fine, but didn’t have staying power in my opinion.

Dashi-Braised Shortrib

Dashi-Braised Shortrib

I also couldn’t pass up one of my favorite Artist Point dishes, the Smoked Portobello Bisque, which was garnished with Crispy Foraged Oyster Mushrooms, Nasturtium Oil, and Fines Herbes. I order this every time I go to the restaurant. On this visit, it was presented differently (no more square bowls), but tasted the same. It’s always, always good, and I can highly recommend it.

Smoked Portobello Bisque

Smoked Portobello Bisque

Soon, it was time to turn our attention to our entrees. After much deliberation, my friend chose the Berkshire Pork Tenderloin. It was beautifully plated on a bed of Goat Cheese Polenta, and it was served with Baby Carrots, Favas, Heirloom Apples, and Pomegranate Jus. This was very, very good, though the pork was a bit overdone for my taste (it usually is). I liked the addition of seasonal accompaniments.

Interesting that this is a very similar dish to the Cali Grill staple pork and polenta.

Berkshire Pork Tenderloin

Berkshire Pork Tenderloin

During my last visit, I went with the 64°C Buffalo! Buffalo!! Buffalo!!!, and wasn’t overly impressed. While Artist Point continues to have a Buffalo entree on its menu, they’ve returned to the more familiar Buffalo Strip Loin. But I decided to stick with a reliable favorite, and chose the Grilled Filet Mignon.

Grilled Filet Mignon

Grilled Filet Mignon

The steak was served with Crushed New Potatoes, Charred Local Eggplant, Green Onions, and Herb Vinaigrette. This was also delicious, though I could have used a few more potatoes on the side. The charred eggplant had a very mushy texture and little flavor, so it wasn’t a star of the dish.

Grilled Filet Mignon

Grilled Filet Mignon

The one tempting aspect of the Buffalo dish on the menu was the side of Macaroni and Cheese. I couldn’t resist asking for a dish of it.

The flavor was fine, and I liked the texture of the cheese and pasta, but it wasn’t a wow. We took a couple of bites only.

Mac and Cheese

Side of Mac and Cheese

Finally, we arrived at Dessert. There were some solid choices here, including the Warm House-made Donuts with Cinnamon-Sugar, Nutella Ganache, and Marionberry Jam.

Dessert Menu -- Click to Enlarge

Dessert Menu — Click to Enlarge

I loved these when I tried them previously at Territory Lounge.

House- made donuts with nutella dipping sauce

House- Made Donuts with Nutella Dipping Sauce

And the Cobbler made with Seasonal Berries and served with Black Raspberry Ice Cream is delicious. It was also nice to see a No Sugar Added Cobbler available as well.

While it tends to change up from time to time (sometimes it’s like a crumble, other times its a biscuit cobbler), lately it’s been a cake version.

Berry Cobbler

Berry Cobbler

But on this visit, we opted for a dessert oddly named “Childhood.” (Seriously? Just call it a milkshake with cookies.)

It seems that Disney chefs enjoy putting together nostalgic desserts using teeny tiny versions of things these days. Check out similar creations that we’ve enjoyed in the past, like Flying Fish Cafe’s Trio of Concession Sweets and California Grill’s Sundae Sampler.

Here, the mini platter features a Cereal Milk Shake and Old Fashioned Butter Cookies. The milkshake was teensy. Teensy-tiny. It tasted pretty much like a vanilla milkshake…but like it was made with the milk you have leftover after you eat froot loops. Does that make sense? I’m sure they didn’t use leftover milk to make it, but since it’s called a “cereal” milkshake and I didn’t find any big cereal chunks in there, I figured I’d note the flavor for you so you get the idea. The butter cookies were nothing special. I would have much preferred a giant milkshake.

And, again, teensy.

"Childhood". In Dessert Form, Apparently.

“Childhood”. In Dessert Form, Apparently.

Overall

So, this visit was absolutely better than my most recent past visit, both in terms of food and service. However, the jump in quality wasn’t big enough for me to confidently return to recommending Artist Point.

While the food was fine, there was nothing that really stood out for either of us. And the service was haphazard. Not as bad as last time, but our server was an absent-minded professor type. We had to remind him of special orders multiple times (I may have eaten more of my macaroni and cheese side dish if it had come before the dessert menu was brought out), and service was undoubtedly slow. It’s also important to mention that, compared to my last horrible visit, just about anything would be an improvement.

Here’s hoping that Chef Michael Gonsalves can successfully bring Artist Point back to greatness, but we’re still watching and waiting before we believe.

But now, I’d really love to hear from you guys. How was your last visit to Artist Point? Let us know in the comments below.

Comments

  1. Eric P says

    We were there in early October, and had our only truly disappointing meal of the trip. The main issues we saw were inconsistency in the food and shockingly poor service. My appetizer and entree were very good, but my soup went cold since the waiter didn’t bring me a spoon with it and was AWOL when I tried to flag him down to bring one. My wife’s food, on the other hand, was oversalted to the point that she couldn’t eat her scallop entree. I had the Childhood dessert and the cookies were completely underbaked. It has always been a tradition of ours to put the kids in the Cub’s Den and have a “date night” at AP, but I think we’ll have to make another plan next time…

  2. Mike V says

    The place just doesn’t wow me….
    Similar to what you say, nothing stands out.
    If under the dining plan or dining without, the other signature options just seem to offer more and have that WOW factor.
    Until I hear some noise about it turning around, I’ll be dining elsewhere.

  3. Gaylin says

    It has been a number of years since I went to Artist Point, the meal and the service were so awful at that time that I don’t think anything could get me to go back there! Nice to read the ‘re’-review but still not a winner for me.

  4. Dani says

    Cereal milk is literally made by leaving the cereal in the milk for awhile, adding a little sugar, and then passing it through a sieve. It’s super easy to make, and fun to try with different cereals.

  5. Alex says

    We visited last week for a birthday dinner while on holiday from the UK. This has been one of our favourite Disney restaurants in the past but we were disappointed. None of the starters appealed and the mains were good, not exactly transcendent (tenderloin and a buffalo) but for the price being charged they should be.
    We had dessert of cobbler (over cooked so tasted burned and way too much sugar) and mini donuts (not very tasty). Dessert also took about 40 minutes to appear. We were still a bit jet lagged so were eager to leave by now!
    Our server, while a very nice lady, was hard to find if we wanted another glass of wine and the way the service works there, if we caught someone else’s eye, we still had to wait for them to find our original server! Considering a 2 course meal with a bottle of wine for 2 is over $200 I expected better. On the night we visited, the restaurant was not as busy as I have seen it previously so I don’t know why service was so slow.

  6. Martha says

    it’s too bad that people have had such poor experiences! a friend and I went there in January 2015 and had a fine time. It was her birthday, and they gave us a complimentary champagne flute each. Our server was just fine–the kind that is polite and is there when you need him, but makes himself scarce otherwise. I unfortunately was developing what would turn into a massive cold, so I was underwhelmed simply because i couldn’t taste anything! My friend however said all her dishes were very good and that she was glad we went.

  7. says

    Thanks for taking one for the team and revisiting Artist Point. I’m disappointed they haven’t improved much. I’ll continue sending my clients elsewhere to dine.

  8. Lori says

    We are Disney addicts and have eaten at almost all of their signature restaurants many time over but my family and I went to Artist Point for the first time in the beginning of October. It was hands down the best meal of the week.

    All of the food was excellent and the mussel appetizer was AMAZING. We actually spoke of it all week.

    We will definitely add it to our list again.

    The one downside was the meal took quite a long time. For 2 adults that is fine but we travel with 3 children so the youngest 2 struggled at the end. I just took them back and daddy brought me the doughnuts to eat for dessert! Yum!

  9. Dani Koski says

    Never made it to Artist Point when we were there this past January. However, loved Territory Lounge. We ate the Mushroom soup and berry cobbler twice while there, once on the first night and again on our last night. We split both between the two of us and it made a perfect small plate dinner. Too bad about Artist Point not sounding like it lives up to it’s smaller counterpart. To be fair, we ate at Cali Grill and we were completely underwhelmed. It was actually the worst meal of our 10 day trip, and yet our most expensive. I’m wondering if Disney’s signature restaurants are slacking, maybe due to the dining plan? However, the Mushroom soup and cobbler ranked as one of our best meals ;)

  10. Liz says

    We’re DVC members (VWL is our home resort) and, once upon a time, Artist Point was our favorite restaurant on site. Sadly, based on our last two trips, this is no longer the case. Not only is the new chef still trying to find his way, the restaurant is also under new management. We’re friends with one of the servers there and the consensus among the staff seems to be that not all of the recent changes to both menu and overall atmosphere are positive ones. Despite our longtime love for the place, until things improve, I think we’ll be giving it a miss for the foreseeable future.

  11. Shannon says

    Just ate here last Wednesday, 11/11. I was super hesitant based on the so/so reviews recently.

    I was pleasantly surprised!

    I saw the rave reviews about the Portobello Bisque and knew that I had to try it, and hope for the best. I had no idea what to expect flavor-wise but it was DELICIOUS!!!! So glad everyone recommends it.

    As for entrée I had the halibut which was great. Probably a little on the dry side but the risotto was out of this world flavor. My only complaint was that it was a lot of soft textures and similar flavors. I need to nibble on some bread to sort of cleanse my palate. My boyfriend had the buffalo which he said was just as good as his filet from Yachtsman two days prior. The only thing he didn’t like was the sausage which he said was smokey and too gamey.

    I had no issues with service and would recommend for the future.

  12. Heather says

    We ate here a few weeks ago and were overall please with our meal. Our server was very nice and super helpful. We were on the regular dining plan and suggested a way for us to get around the fact that we didn’t have an appetizer on our plan. It turns out that the cheese platter is both and appetizer and a dessert option, so as long as we didn’t mind sharing an actual sweet dessert we could order the platter at the start or the meal. We jumped on that and are so glad she suggested it, as the platter was delicious. I wasn’t too happy with my drink choice, it was too sweet for a before dinner drink for me. Our entrees (we both got the buffalo) were fantastic, the buffalo sausage was especially tasty and pared well with the mac and cheese. My buffalo stake was cooked perfectly. My only negative was the the broccoflower which I did not enjoy but my friend did. We split the vanilla bean creme brulee which was very tasty. I will say that while our server was attentive and helpful overall the service was bit slow. It looked like they may have been slightly short of staff. I would certainly eat here again.

  13. says

    We visited in late September 2014.
    It was our fifth or sixth visit since its opening.
    The food was amazing! Every dish was fantastic!
    The service… Not so much.
    Sorry to hear that it has fallen off on delivering in terms of the excellence of the food.

  14. Amy says

    At least they finally ditched those stupid square soup bowls! The smoked mushroom soup is so delicious (when it’s not cold) that you want to get every last drop. Hard to do with a square bowl and a round spoon.

  15. Hannah C says

    The milkshake was probably inspired by or a nod to Momofuku Milk Bar in NYC which has cereal milk ice cream and milkshakes (among other delicious items for general consumption), which, as you noted, is made from “leftover” milk after the cereal has been “eaten”. It’s very popular!

  16. Zoe says

    We had less than stellar experiences at the signatures we dined at last visit as well. One instance was so bad I emailed Disney to complain – and I’m truly a shrug it off as a bad night type of a person.

    Just overall service at most table service places felt a bit poor compared to previous visits. I’m working on reservations for our next visit and I’m at a loss of what to choose to replace former favorites that are now off the “must do” list for a bit.

  17. NENolan says

    Last time we ate here in 2013, I wasn’t impressed but since we’re staying at the Wilderness Lodge this December, I’d like to give it another try. I did enjoy the berry cobbler when we had it last time, but I’m very disappointed that it is no longer a biscuit. A cobbler should be like a biscuit, not a cake!

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