When we first visited The BOATHOUSE (caps official!) in Walt Disney World’s Disney Springs back in early 2015, it wowed us with its quality seaside eats and charming decor.
We enjoyed it so much in April of that year that we returned in November to see if The Boathouse was staying afloat in the ever-changing landscape of Disney Springs. And it really was!
Truth be told, we still got a little sticker shock when we perused that mostly-seafood-and-steak menu, but with the food being as good as it was, we sort of got over it. So much so that in 2017, we headed back for dinner!
Yeah, you could say we’re fans. But even when a restaurant proves itself to be consistently good (with the exception, maybe, of that crazily overpriced, not very good S’mores Baked Alaska!), it’s our duty to keep checking on things to, you know, make sure it’s still awesome. So put on your life jacket and hoist the sails because we’re hitting the high seas at The BOATHOUSE.
The Boathouse’s location in The Landing — pretty much central to the whole of Disney Springs — means The Boathouse has plenty of water views to go along with its coastal theme. And the exterior design is cheerful and inviting — perfectly suited to its surroundings.
Inside, things get really interesting. A variety of dining rooms offer different dining experiences in terms of atmosphere. This room, with its low ceilings and wood-paneled walls, is super cozy.
And this room? Dominated by a Boat Booth? Seriously cool. And, yes, I’ve wanted to sit in that booth FOREVER and I finally GOT TO SIT THERE!
SUCCESS!! How did I manage it? Well, I made a reservation for when the restaurant first opened and basically begged for it. ;-D
This dining room is a little more sleek and elegant, perhaps best suited to the sophisticated Disney Springs diner (but, like, totally fun with those turquoise stools, right?!).
Decor tends toward the nautical, of course, with model boats being a common feature.
And if you happen across this dining room? Your decor is a stunning wall of wine!
Outside there’s the Dockside Bar, where revelers can imbibe in The Boathouse’s drink menu and select eats from a bar menu — not to mention enjoy the views!
And one of the most fun aspects of dining at The Boathouse? You’re Amphicar-adjacent! That’s right! These totally cool Amphicars launch right next to the restaurant, and you’ll definitely want to gawk at them before or after your meal.
During your meal, you might even get to play with these nifty paper versions of the Amphicar. 😉 This is what the kids’ meals come in for your little one!
So we know the atmosphere is still relaxed and seaside-y at The Boathouse, but what about the grub?
The first thing you’ll need to wrestle with is the sheer number of MENUS!!!!
The Boathouse has a few menus (not to mention an entire raw bar!), with the biggest one being the Drink Menu! There’s no shortage of, well, anything on this menu!
We also received a menu with the Daily Fish Market Features. We love that freshness is key at The Boathouse — as it should be!
In addition to the Daily Fish Market menu, you’ll find a menu celebrating Oysters from Maine to Washington to Canada!
And finally, there’s the Full Menu with raw bar offerings, salads, apps, entrees, and sides.
I didn’t start with an adult beverage on this visit, but we did score one of these totally fun Lighthouse Souvenir Cups for my kiddo! (They’re pretty cheap plastic, so probably not the best value, but fun for the kiddos.)
The meal begins with dinner rolls, shiny with butter and baked to golden brown. They’re nothing write home about, but if you’ve ever been to a classic coastal seafood joint, you know that a warm, yeasty roll is a staple.
I started the meal with the Maine Lobster Bisque which, at $8 for a cup and $12 for a bowl, is actually priced pretty consistently with lobster bisque we’ve tried in New England.
The color on this one is gorgeous, and there’s a fair amount of lobster in there. The consistency of the bisque is spot-on, and it was a really satisfying bowl of soup.
If you’ve followed the saga of our previous visits to The Boathouse, you might’ve gathered that there was no way I could dine here and skip the Firecracker Shrimp. Sorry, not possible.
This app is fantastic — spicy, flavorful, and ALMOST worth the $16 pricetag. Sriracha mayo and sweet chili sauce balance one another out, and the shrimp is succulent. Definitely one of my favorite iterations of firecracker shrimp anywhere! Look at that fried pepper!
I was dining with my seafood-loving mom, so the Crispy Panko-Fried Fish of the Day was a must. These crunchy, crispy pieces of fish are served with a heaping side of The Boathouse’s awesome French fries. And I don’t care how old you are: this is terrific.
FYI, we switched out the regular fries for truffle fries on this one, and they were phenomenal. The sauces were great accompaniments to the generous serving of fish, too.
When at The Boathouse, fish in many forms is always a good idea, so I ordered the Skillet-Broiled Icelandic Cod on the fresh catch specials menu. This admittedly pricy dish ($35) was worth every penny! Ritz crumbs, garlic, butter, lemon… it’s any East-coaster’s seafood dream come true!!!
Seriously, if we thought the breaded fish of the day was good, this was a revelation. They hit it out of the park with this one.
Lest you worry that I’d gone fishin’, fret not: I also ordered the Gibsons “Sandwich King” Award Winning Burger, one of my favorite burgers anywhere in Walt Disney World! The meat was cooked just right, and the toppings — including crispy cherry peppers, jalapeno havarti cheese, and spiced mayo — are to die for!
I just can’t resist. Look at this beast! The cheese coats the meat in the creamiest way possible, and there are levels of heat to this burger that make it absolutely a must for me.
The side of Mac and Cheese is also a must if you’re a mac connoisseur (and if you are, don’t forget to visit our Mac and Cheese Gallery!). This is a three-cheese blend that’s super flavorful and satisfying (and good for a meal if you’ve got a picky eater in your crew).
I also opted for the Grilled Asparagus. At $12, this is a kind of an expensive side. But the quality and portion size are great, and with that Hollandaise sauce, it’s an indulgent vegetable dish. Plus there’s more than enough for two, so if you split it, the price might be easier to swallow.
The asparagus on this visit was pretty thick and tough, so not the tender baby spears I was hoping for.
Desserts at The Boathouse have been tasty in the past (if we don’t include the S’mores Baked Alaska, which is an egregiously expensive dish at $40 for basically being rocky road ice cream with semi-toasted marshmallows and a Hershey bar), so we had to get in on that action again.
I ordered the seasonal Strawberry Shortcake, and it was dreamy — everything you want Strawberry Shortcake to be. The crumbly biscuit was just like Grandma used to make — JUST sweet enough (and, yes, my grandma DID make Strawberry Shortcake after a day of picking)! And the fruit and cream were nostalgic in the best possible way. Spot on.
The New York Style Blueberry Cake Cheesecake is another decent option — one that wins points for lots of cinnamon crumb topping. But there are much better desserts here, so don’t waste your precious calories, money, and stomach space on this one if another appeals.
We’ve enjoyed the Key Lime Pie in a Mason Jar in the past, so I couldn’t wait to get this again. (Plus anything looks good in a mason jar, right?) It’s a nice, big serving of very tart key lime pie…just the way I like it.
The tart key lime custard, subtly salted graham cracker crust, and vanilla chantilly cream are fantastic partners. And I love the addition of two plump raspberries. Fabulous.
The Double Chocolate Bundt Cake was…kind of blah. This is your standard, run-of-the-mill lava cake that you can get just about anywhere these days. Not worth your cash.
And finally, if you’ve got a kiddo in tow (or you wanna freak out a shark-averse friend), order the Blue Cupcake. This standard vanilla cupcake is tinted blue, as is the fluffy frosting. Several gummy sharks circle in the water, so there’s lots of fun to be had with this one! (NOTE: I told the server that my kid LOOOOOVES gummy sharks, so he very well could have plussed this one up for us with extra sharkage.)
Nosh or Not?
Dock at The Boathouse if:
- You’re looking for consistently high-quality eats (and are willing to pay for it).
- You love food from sea and land that’s creative and inspired.
- You’re looking for a good date night spot that still has a casual vibe.
Board another ship if:
- You’re not big on seafood, and the other options don’t appeal.
- You just can’t swallow those prices — no matter how delectable the grub might be.
- You don’t intend to spend much time in Disney Springs — and you’re cool with grabbing some quick service to stay efficient.
The BOATHOUSE remains an exceptional place to dine, for all of the most important reasons: atmosphere, great service, and quality eats. We’re so relieved to find that with the passing years, The Boathouse remains self-assured, serving a variety of thoughtful entrees, satisfying sides, and fun desserts. And while the prices are still high — we can’t pretend they don’t sting a little — what you get for the price is fabulous in every way.
Also, something I loved hearing from both the server and the amazing Chef Bob Getchell on this visit: the BOATHOUSE’s goal is to give you what you want. So if you don’t see a particular item on the menu, or if there’s something that could make your visit better — just ask for it. They’re do everything they can to make it happen. Ya gotta love a restaurant that has that as its mantra. And, frankly, I’d expect nothing less from the incredible Exec Chef Getchell. He’s been an asset to every Disney restaurant I’ve seen him in, and his combination a of passion for food and an incredibly customer-centric mindset is one that will make him a destination chef for me wherever he is (much like Chefs TJ Sudiswa and Tim Keating, who are to other chefs that you should always seek out in Orlando).