With an open kitchen and whimsical decor, Flying Fish Café boasts an impressive menu where diners enjoy a relaxing, “seaside” setting at the BoardWalk Resort in Walt Disney World.
The Epcot Resorts provide a very nice respite from the hustle and bustle of Future World and World Showcase, not to mention awesome restaurants and watering holes.
My travel agent’s favorite restaurant is Flying Fish Café. Every time they visit Walt Disney World they book an Advance Dining Reservation (ADR). So, I figured, why not, let’s try it. This trip we decided to give it a whirl!
Using the My Disney Experience app I made a 4:30PM dinner reservation for two. Rather early, but given the temperature, humidity, and heat index, it turned out be a good move.
We decided to walk over rather than take the boat. Either way, both involved no air conditioning!
We reached the Boardwalk and stepped back in time. After a quick stop at the ESPN Club for a soft drink, to cool off, and to kill some time, we ventured on.
There it is! Nicely tucked away. The setback pulls the restaurant away from the hustle and bustle of the Boardwalk and provides a little quiet. Depending on your approach, the Café can be easily missed. After checking the posted menu we headed inside.
The flying fish theme begins right at the front door.
But, before we head inside, a question; why the name ‘Flying Fish’? It fits with the Boardwalk theme and evokes the roller coaster ride of yesteryear at Coney Island called Flying Turns.
While we waited to be seated I took in the décor.
It was at this point I started to think of the name ‘café’ and how it contrasted to the structure itself (I don’t want to call it a ‘restaurant’). Dictionary.com defines café as: 1) a restaurant, often with an enclosed or outdoor section extending onto the sidewalk (nope, didn’t see that), 2) a restaurant, usually small and unpretentious (not from my view), and 3) a barroom, cabaret, or nightclub (not really). Maybe more of an oxymoron? Or just a play on words? Something to ponder.
As we waited by the reception desk I scoped out the seating area and determined where I wanted to sit.
This spot looks good to me. Now, can I convince the Cast Member to seat us here?
I asked, and was granted, seating at the Chef’s Counter, the closest thing to the Chef’s Table you can get. (Editor’s Note: Flying Fish does do a “Chef’s Counter” meal, but outside of that seating, other guests are able to have their meals here at the Chef’s Counter.)
Disney does it up well. Granite counter top and linen napkin with the Flying Fish motif embroidered. Nice touch!
First off, we looked over the wine list.
We selected the Black Stallion Chardonnay.
We enjoyed it very much, noting a lovely nose of green apple, lemon zest, and vanilla followed by flavors of citrus, brown butter, pear, and flint. The 2012 Chardonnay is soft and round on the palate with bright fruit and creamy notes that lead into a long, elegant finish.
Now we get down to the business of the menu and what to order.
During my visits to Walt Disney World, I always check out Cast Member name tags. I want to know their name and am curious as to where they moved from. Tim, our server for the evening, grew up in the city next to where we live. In fact, he is familiar with our neighborhood. How cool is that!
Tim brought us Potato Bread to munch on while we perused the menu. A very interesting bread with a nice, airy texture with pieces of potato throughout. That’s the cool thing with many Disney restaurants. They do not serve just ‘bread’ or ‘rolls’; at least at the restaurants I have visited.
Choosing the appetizer was rather easy. I like to try different offerings where possible to enjoy the Chef’s take and development of the ingredients. So I selected the crab cake.
Wow! Look at the plating! We eat with our eyes as we ‘see’ the food before we taste it. If it is visually appealing it enhances the experience.
Almost too pretty to eat. Nah! Because of the extreme heat, humidity, and heat index I wanted to eat light tonight. This was not a heavy appetizer.
The slaw was made with cabbage, red and yellow peppers, carrots, and finely shredded cucumber and the light vinaigrette provided a nice amount of acidity to balance the crab cake. Mix that with the dots of roasted tomato coulis (adding a little sweetness) along with the slight hint of heat from the ancho chile remoulade (WOW!), that makes for a nice, balanced bite, with no single flavor overpowering the other — especially the crab cake — the star of the dish. Topped with micro basil, it brings the whole thing together. Nicely done! Oh, and there was more crab than filler in the cake — can’t beat that!
Now for the entrée. A tough choice. All offerings looked sooooo good. What they need to do is offer a ‘menu sampler’. Tiny bites of everything. Why not, they do it with beer! Where is the suggestion box?
Well, this is a first! This was supposed to be a picture of the daily quote. I neglected to take a full, clean shot of my menu item. But you can get the general idea of the entree. I settled on the steak over Panzanella Salad.
One of the advantages of sitting at the Chef’s Counter is watching the meal prep. The chef manning the wood-fired grill in front of us was kept busy grilling steaks, chicken, shrimp, and salmon. All done in a very calm, controlled manner. No ‘Hell’s Kitchen’ theatrics here! And one of those steaks is mine!
Looks good, huh? Well, let’s see how it is prepared.
Medium rare-as ordered. I consider this entrée lighter fare given the bed of Panzanella Salad rather than a heavy starch. The thyme-roasted garlic dressing was a nice complement to the local greens, red onions, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and beans. The croutons were a perfect size, matching the chop of the peppers and tomatoes in size.
The steak was topped with a sauce foyot. A what? It is definitely good. Foyot Sauce is a variation on the classic Béarnaise sauce (consisting of butter, egg yolks, vinegar, black peppercorns, shallots, tarragon, parsley, salt, cayenne pepper, and lemon juice) made by adding meat glaze (a concentrated reduction of brown stock), to the basic Béarnaise. This gives the sauce a deep, meaty flavor that complements the tanginess of the Béarnaise. Like Béarnaise, the Foyot Sauce is typically served with grilled steak. Works perfectly here! What a nice touch.
We split a side of Creamy Risotto di Carnaroli.
Can’t wait to try this. Normally, risotto is made with Arborio rice. Arborio rice is a variety of short-grained rice used primarily in the classical preparation of risotto. Originally cultivated in Italy, today it’s grown in California and Texas, too. Because it undergoes less milling than ordinary long-grained rice, it retains more of its natural starch content. Cooking releases this starch, giving risotto its creamy consistency.
Carnaroli rice is a type of Italian rice sometimes used in risotto dishes. While Arborio rice is the best known type of rice used in risotto, particularly in the United States, many cooks prefer carnaroli. Carnaroli rice contains more starch than other rice varieties. It also retains liquid and holds its shape better than arborio rice and has a larger grain, making for a more textured dish. It is often described as “the king of rices”.
The risotto is topped with fresh tomatoes and crispy artichokes and contains mascarpone, plus yellow tomatoes as well as a nice chiffonade of basil to add some color and super nice flavor contrasts. Yum!
As I noted earlier, the menus contain ‘Quotes of the Day’. Chef Tim Keating told us there is no particular theme — just ‘whatever strikes us as interesting’.
Here are a few.
Another nice, subtle touch.
OK, what to order for dessert.
We decided to split the Chocolate Trio.
Oooh, here it comes!
Left to right. Chocolate sorbet-filled candied orange-scented chocolate profiterole. Nice contrasting flavors from the sweetness of the chocolates, the citrusy tang of the orange and the texture of the profiterole (cream puff).
In the middle is a chocolate sable Breton with thai chile raspberry sauce and a raspberry truffle ganache lollipop. Don’t worry; it’s just a mild touch of heat from the chile contrasting with the dark chocolate-like cacao mix.
And finally, on the right is a ganache pudding with salted chocolate caramel. Inside is a surprise == gelatin pearls that just explode in your mouth. There are also some chocolate crunchies tucked away in at the top of the dish. A nice balance of flavors; a perfect cap to a great meal!
Time to head out.
We were greeted with this view as we left the restaurant.
Final thoughts. If you haven’t tried this restaurant, add it to your list of ‘must eat’ places. You will enjoy the experience. Janine, thanks for the tip!
What’s your favorite menu item at Flying Fish Cafe? Share in the comments below!