Welcome to the brand new Ale & Compass Restaurant in Disney’s Yacht Club Resort!
The Ale & Compass Restaurant has taken the spot of Captain’s Grille as the casual Table Service Restaurant option in the Yacht Club. (The Resort’s other Table Service restaurant, Yachtsman Steakhouse, is a Signature Restaurant.) It comes to us as part of the new Ale & Compass dining concept for the Resort, which also includes the newly reopen and majorly refurbished Ale & Compass Lounge as well as The Market at Ale & Compass which opened earlier this year.
The Captain’s Grille was — in my opinion — something of a hidden gem. It offered a cheerful, comfy nautical feel and some decent options for surf-and-turf style eating for lunch and dinner, and a terrific breakfast which featured not only a buffet, but also a better-than-average a la carte menu.
The Ale & Compass Restaurant, though, has been completely re-imagined with its own unique feel.
Let’s step in!
If you ever paid a visit to Captain’s Grille, you’ll remember a somewhat busier appearance to the entrance, since the check-in took place just outside the restaurant. Now, you step inside to see if there is walk-in space available (there was plenty on opening day), or check in for your Advance Dining Reservation.
Maroons, navy blues, striped wallpaper and light wood tones have given way to slate blues, grays, and simple, clean lines across the board, from the walls and flooring to the table settings.
When Disney announced the new Ale & Compass Restaurant, they emphasized a “Gastropub ambience,” and I can see how they were going for that in certain elements like these higher top group tables and food presentation (which we’ll check out in the “Eats” section of this post).
But the main words that came to mind for me when taking in the setting were primarily “calming” and “minimalistic.” It’s like a breath of fresh air in a way.
Though its set back a bit from the main dining room, you can still check out the goings on at the on-stage hearth oven.
Let’s check out what they’re making in there!
The Ale & Compass Restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and you can see all those menus here. Though we plan to check out every meal, our first visit was for lunch. Though the menu is quite different, one thing Ale & Compass shares in common with the ol’ Captain’s Grille is a menu that offers both surf and turf, here with a take on New England-inspired comfort food. For instance, Starters during lunch include the Lobster and Corn Chowder and Oven-roasted Oysters along with the Grape Leaf-wrapped Goat Cheese (which we enjoyed next door at the Ale & Compass Lounge).
Lunch Main Plates feature a variety of Hearth Oven “Pies” (including a White Clam Pie), Burgers, and a refreshed version of my old favorite from lunch at Captain’s Grille: Fish & Chips.
You’ll also notice two vegan meals on the menu with the Protein Bowl and the Grilled Plant-based “Bacon Cheeseburger,” which we’ll be looking at shortly.
A few Cocktails are featured on the front of the menu.
But you’ll find the full beverage list on the back.
You may have noticed those Parker House Rolls with Spreads on the menu. If you did, you may likely surmised that bread service is not included with your meal at Ale & Compass. But when we read that the spreads included Pub Cheese…
Well, that was a no brainer. The Parker House Rolls were incredibly soft and fresh, but really, they were mostly just a conduit for the spreads: Citrus Butter, Bacon Jam, and the aforementioned Pub Cheese.
You can see the bits of rind in the salted Citrus Butter, lending the nicest hint of citrus that came through even more in the aftertaste. Here’s a word I rarely use: “delightful.” But this Citrus Butter was exactly that — delightful! (Man, I can’t pull that off, can I? But it really was!)
Next to it on the board was Bacon Jam. (By the way, that’s what I meant earlier by gastropub-style presentation — you’ll see these boards a few times.)
The smokey, savory bacon in the jam was nicely balanced by sweet carmelized onions, giving it that “jam” taste and feel. Another winner!
And finally, we come to that Pub Cheese.
It looks simple and innocent enough. But this rich, strongly flavored cheese spread has some great punch to it. It’s so good that I wanted to finish it all with the bread. But knowing we had so much more to come, we ended up taking some of the bread home in takeaway boxes. But the Pub Cheese? We kept it out on the table so we could spread it on just about everything else.
Our other starter was the Oven-roasted Oysters with spinach and creamed kale, white cheddar, and cornbread crumbs.
My husband loves oysters, but prefers them smoked or in a stew and that’s it. He’s not big on toppings such as this.
But I think the toppings offer a good way to introduce someone who has never previously tried oysters. The white cheddar was prominent in the taste, making the oysters overall more savory than “fishy,” while still presenting enough of that distinct oyster flavor.
The Hearth Oven “Pies” (quotes as written on the menu) are featured on the Starter list at dinner, and are also available at the Ale & Compass Lounge next door. Choices are White Clam, Seasonal Market Vegetable, and the one we went with: Caramelized Leek and Chorizo.
And that egg on the top?
Our server explained that the best way to enjoy it was to break it apart and spread it all over the pie. The Caramelized Leek and Chorizo Hearth Oven Pie is somewhat deceiving in that the flavors present quite simply at first. Since there is no sauce — simply the cheese, chorizo, crust, and egg — you can really taste each element.
But with each bite the strength and spice of the chorizo comes through more and more, making this a great option for fans of the spicy sausage. Plus, the crust (which is nicely golden on its own) is also great smeared with Pub Cheese!
The Maine Lobster Roll is served with your choice of thick-cut Fries (which as it turns out, are even better dipped in Pub Cheese!) or House-made Vinegar Chips.
The lobster — served on soft Artisan French Bread and a single lettuce leaf — is lightly dressed with mayo and chives.
And I really enjoyed the fact that it was so lightly dressed. I like lobster with just butter, typically, and this style roll can often feature almost as much dressing for filler as lobster depending on where you get it. But here, the dressing just enhanced the lobster rather than overwhelmed it and allowed me to enjoy the fresh quality of the cold sandwich.
We also decided to give the Grilled Plant-based “Bacon Cheeseburger” a go. The soy patty and soy “bacon” are topped with a vegan cheddar cheese, along with caramelized onions, mushrooms, and a vegan chipotle mayo, with lettuce and tomato on the side. It’s served on multi-grain bread, and comes with the House-made Vinegar Chips.
Not being super accustomed to vegan eating, I wasn’t sure what to expect, and hope I do well describing it. Before breaking it down, though, I have to say I was pleasantly surprised overall! It’s difficult to see the soy patty under the substantial toppings, so it was captured better from the side view below.
While the soy patty didn’t seem to attempt to mimic beef, it still carried a small hint of charred flavor. Whether that came from the patty itself or the way it was prepared, I don’t know. But it was surprisingly tasty.
I didn’t get much one way or the other from the “bacon,” but the vegan cheddar cheese, while not as creamy as regular cheese, carried a good, strong, genuine cheddar flavor. It all came together really well, and I was kind of surprised to find myself reaching for it more than a few times throughout the meal. I’d really be curious to know what some of our vegan readers might think of it.
Time for dessert!
Or perhaps an after dinner drink?
There are plenty of Twining’s Tea choices as well.
Our first of two desserts was the flourless Twelve-Layer Chocolate Cake.
Topped with gananche and a milk-coffee Chantilly, this is a great dessert for any chocolate lover, regardless of whether you prefer or are required to dine gluten-free or not.
It’s entirely chocolatey and decadent. But if you want a real flavor variety experience, you should go for the Trio of Puddings.
You can mix-and-match the mix-ins as you like, but going down the line you’ll see chocolate pound cake pieces (that are more like an English biscuit) in front of Butterscotch Pudding, meringue kisses and raspberries in front of Blackberry Pudding, and ladyfingers in front of Chocolate Pudding.
Not only is this fun, it’s also unexpected. The Chocolate Pudding, with a heavy emphasis on the cocoa flavor, was the least risky of the bunch. But the Blackberry Pudding was so bright and fruity that it tasted more like a fresh sorbet than pudding (it was especially great with both the meringue kisses and the chocolate pound cake).
And the Butterscotch Pudding had more than a hint of boozy flavor. It tastes like butterscotch schnapps mixed with a creme liqueur, and I wish all puddings tasted just like it.
It was fun to enjoy something that had obviously had more thought and creativity put behind it than the simple “Trio of Puddings” name implies. I wasn’t expecting it to be such a highlight, but it was.
Nosh or Not?
You’ll want to visit the Ale & Compass Restaurant if:
- You’re staying at the Yacht or Beach Club and want to take full advantage of the Resorts’ refreshed dining options.
- You are interested in vegan dining options and want to try out a Disney World restaurant that serves complete meal options for you.
- You are seeking a spot that emphasizes seafood, but is still just one credit on the Disney Dining Plan.
You might want to skip the Ale & Compass Restaurant if:
- You prefer a more immersive, highly themed atmosphere when dining in the Disney World Resort restaurants, such as Olivia’s Cafe, ‘Ohana, or Whispering Canyon Cafe.
- You have several members in your traveling party who aren’t fans of seafood.
- The Yacht Club (an Epcot Area Resort) is too far out of the way when considering your vacation plans.
I’m realizing that I said, “I wasn’t expecting…” more than once in this post. In all honestly, though, I wasn’t exactly sure what I was expecting from the Ale & Compass Restaurant. I have something of a soft spot for the old Captain’s Grille, and was sad to hear of the plans for closing and replacing it. But Ale & Compass, taken as its own unique experience, has a lot to offer. It’s much more than a “hey-we-need-a-table-service-place-for-our-resort-guests-to-eat” afterthought. There is lots of thoughtful variety on the menu to feed everyone from landlubbers to seafood lovers to vegans. And while the atmosphere isn’t highly themed or particularly memorable, it’s certainly a pleasant place to enjoy a meal, and I’m already interested to see what breakfast and dinner holds at the Ale & Compass.
Are you hoping to try the new Ale & Compass Restaurant? Please let us know with a comment!