The Yacht Club’s Ale & Compass Restaurant hit the Disney World dining scene just this past November.
But our first visit was for lunch, so it’s time to step back in for our dinner review. And since there are some fairly major menu changes from day to night at this still-new spot, it’s a great reason to check it out again.
Now, before we move forward with the review, just a reminder that the Ale & Compass Restaurant is one third of an entirely new Ale & Compass dining concept at Disney World’s Yacht Club, so it’s not to be confused with the Ale & Compass Lounge and The Market at Ale & Compass (a Counter Service meets Grab-and-Go setup).
The Ale & Compass Restaurant is the Table Service component of this trio, serving Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner (each one Table Service Credit on the Disney Dining Plan).
And now that we’ve got the details out of the way, let’s check out the digs!
We have a full tour of Ale & Compass Restaurant available from our first visit, and you can peruse it by clicking here.
That said, the ambience does change a fair bit from day into evening, with the natural light from the nearby windows gone, and the artificial lighting in the restaurant itself greatly reduced.
It does lend a bit of a more elegant feel for an evening visit in what otherwise is a fairly minimalistic setting in terms of decor, which relies on a blue-gray color palette and clean lines.
And in this central seating area, you can steal a glimpse or two at the semi-open kitchen featuring its hearth oven.
Outside of the central seating area, there are more tables lining the space, and with their higher chairs, this perimeter area leans towards a more on-trend look.
Overall, it’s an entirely different feel from when the space operated as the Captain’s Grille prior to its transformation. But the changes are also fairly significant when it comes to eating here, so let’s look over the menu next.
The cuisine at Ale & Compass focuses on both surf and turf options, inspired by New England comfort food and gastropub eats.
I had mentioned that the Dinner Menu differs from the Lunch Menu, which is true when it comes to the Main Plates available. The Starters, however, are similar to what you’ll find at at lunch, which includes options for seafood fans as well as landlubbers.
The primary difference with the Starters menu is that the Hearth Oven Pies, which are considered Main Plates during lunch, are covered under Starters for dinner.
Again, it’s the Entrees where you’ll see the change, which are almost all different offerings compared to lunch. The Coastal Clambake is the headliner, and it’s rounded out with further seafood selections along with plenty of choices for carnivores.
A unique feature at Ale & Compass during both lunch and dinner are the vegetarian and vegan options, which are not simply afterthoughts on the menu here. (We were pleasantly surprised with the Grilled Plant-based “Bacon Cheeseburger” on our lunch outing.)
Though we had tried the Parker House Rolls and Spreads before, we grabbed them again to see if they were as soft and tasty (thanks to the provided accompaniments of Bacon Jam, Pub Cheese, and Citrus Butter) as our prior visit.
The answer? Yes. These warm rolls are simply satisfying, further flavored with salt and glistening from a brush of butter. But, are they twelve bucks worth of good? Honestly, I’m already at the point where I don’t think a meal here is complete without them. And the pub cheese certainly makes them worth more than a couple of bucks. But $12…well, you’re going to have to make your own call on that one.
On to the Main Plates! We’ll start with the vegetarian Four-Cheese Ravioli, which comes swimming in a pool of butternut squash puree and topped with a ton of sautéed mushrooms.
Wow. We’re starting off with a bang here. The plentiful ravioli are rich in both taste and texture, with the flavor of sage-brown butter coming through with every bite. The butternut squash puree lends an autumnal feel…which makes me think this particular dish will change up in the near future. At Disney, butternut squash usually means Fall menu. But you never know!
Even among pasta dishes in the Italian restaurants in Disney World, I think this really is a standout dish.
Now, you know we love us a good plate of Fried Chicken and Waffles here at the DFB!
Unfortunately — and I have to say it — this is not one of those good plates of Fried Chicken and Waffles. The Ale & Compass version includes two large pieces of Fried Chicken served on a large Belgian waffle and accompanied with house-made pickles and orange-honey chili. Our server asked if we wanted syrup for pouring (um….YES), so that was delivered separately. So, all the components and more are there. The trouble lies with the chicken.
It looked great, I know. But it was super dry, and the batter was surprisingly bland. So don’t judge a book by its cover!
But we’re back on the upswing here with the 16-oz T-Bone, which arrived topped with plenty of butter and garlic. Oh, and those Truffle Fries served on the side (along with the watercress salad)? YES, please! They were fantastic.
All that butter, garlic, and herbs only complemented — rather than distracted from — the steak cooked to my medium rare request. While this didn’t crack my top 5 steaks in Disney World and isn’t a destination dish, it was a decent choice if you happen to be at Ale & Compass and are craving a steak.
We’re back with the same options as lunch for the Dessert Menu (and you can check out the Twelve-Layer Chocolate Cake in our lunch review).
We couldn’t wait to get these puddings again. Ever since my experience with the Butterscotch Pudding at the Waldorf Astoria Orlando’s La Luce, I’ve been careful to never underestimate a pudding for dessert. And these are pretty great as well.
The rich chocolate pudding is a solid offering, but it’s accompanied by a butterscotch that tastes like it has a hint of Irish cream combined with — no joke — a bit of cookie dough. It is THAT flavorful. And the fruity blackberry more closely resembles a sorbet with its bright flavor.
Now, in looking over the dessert menu, I did have to ask… why is the “curd” in the Lemon “Curd” Meringue Pie listed in quotation marks on the menu? Well, because it’s really not a curd at all.
This little “pie” (the quotation marks here are mine), is nearly a replica of the desserts at Satu’li Canteen in Animal Kingdom. Only, Satu’li does them better. The lemon flavor is definitely present in this dish, but the texture is closer to a cheesecake than a custard. It’t not bad; it would just honestly be better to have a nice bowl of lemon curd and whipped cream, and once I read it on the menu, that’s what I wanted. Plus, this thing is teeny. Just look at it on the plate.
And the pickled blueberries? Just NO. Blueberries are not meant to be pickled. IMHO.
But, just like with the Main Plates, we’re going right back up with our final dessert option: the Apple Tart.
There are two highlights with this dish: first, the thick, buttery round of crust that makes the tart. And second, the surprisingly tasty little scoop of Apple Cider Sorbet. It’s just really enjoyable. Now, it’s definitely too small for the price, so you’ll have to tackle that issue on your own.
So, that wraps up our second visit to Ale & Compass Restaurant in Disney’s Yacht Club Resort.
Nosh or Not?
You’ll want to visit Ale & Compass if:
- You are a guest at the Yacht or Beach Club (or nearby BoardWalk Inn) and are looking for a nice, relaxing Table Service meal without traveling too far.
- You’ve got both seafood fans and landlubbers in your group and want to please both…without traveling too far.
- You’re in the market for a decent steak but don’t care to dine in a Signature Restaurant to get one. And you don’t want to travel too far.
- (Basically, there are better restaurants for all of these things; but if you happen to be IN the Yacht Club, this spot is serviceable.)
You might want to pass on Ale & Compass if:
- You (or your kiddos) prefer immersive theming or a really lively atmosphere when you’re dining in Disney.
- The Yacht Club is simply too far out of your way in regards to your Disney World vacation plans.
- You’re not currently IN the Yacht Club.
As home to one of the Disney World Convention Centers, the Yacht Club found the need to step up their game with regards to offerings geared towards those convention guests, relying less on whimsical theming, and more on refined dining options that serve their purpose. But the nice thing is, the new Ale & Compass spots serve their purposes well, and also provide some terrific options for any guest, no matter what the purpose of their visit. I wouldn’t go so far as to call Ale & Compass “destination dining,” but it’s not intended to be. What it IS is a good, solid option for guests at the Yacht Club (or in the direct vicinity of the Beach Club or the BoardWalk Inn), and and there’s enough that’s decent on the menu to allow the spot to hold its own in this respect.
So basically — in a nutshell — eat here if it’s convenient, but otherwise, there are likely better restaurants to suit your purposes.
Did you know that Ale & Compass Restaurant is just one of several new Disney World restaurants? Check out what’s new and coming soon in our DFB YouTube video below!