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.
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.
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.
Seating is comfortable and roomy, and the cast iron lanterns that serve as light fixtures impart a warm glow as evening light wanes.
A soaring atrium and plenty of windows bring the outdoors in.
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.
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.
Now that we’ve had a look around, let’s check out what we sampled during this visit.
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.
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.
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.
We went with a few different starters just for variety’s sake. The Artisanal Cheeses were a must.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.