If you love steak like I love steak, then you are going to enjoy today’s review, my friend.
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Today we’re FINALLY headed back for a classic meat-stravaganza at Shula’s Steak House! Seriously, it’s been way too long since I’ve reviewed this place.
Located steps away from the International Gateway entrance to Epcot, Shula’s is one of the superb restaurants that call the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort home. To be more specific, you’ll find this fine dining spot in — you guessed it — the Dolphin. (Get it? Don Shula? At the Dolphin? I knew you would.)
Let’s head inside the wood-paneled walls to see if the steaks and sides here are just as good as I remember!
Step into Shula’s and you’ve entered a decidedly masculine domain. With dark wood walls, rich colors, and very low lighting (no joke; the servers have flashlights for you to read the menu sometimes), you feel as though you’re in an exclusive club dining here.
And just like many other Disney restaurants, Shula’s is “themed!”
This place is all about The Miami Dolphins’ 1972 “Perfect Season!” Now those of us who are true Buffalo Bills fans and still, in our (utterly broken) heart of hearts, despise the Dolphins…well, we have to come to a decision on how much we love steak to eat here. Me? I really love steak. I love the Bills. But I love steak.
Anyway, large photos from the 1972 team are lavishly framed throughout the comfortable dining room, so you can’t really escape them.
And speaking of steak, another prime decor element in the restaurant is the plaque displaying the proud members of Shula’s 48-Ounce Club. To have your name engraved on the plaque, just finish a 48-Ounce Porterhouse. Are you up for the challenge?
While I wasn’t quite sure we were up for making ourselves famous, we were quite hungry… Let’s get to the menu!
OK, so this kind of cracks me up, but it shows that the restaurant — though very high end — doesn’t take itself too seriously.
While you’ll get an actual menu, too, the main Shula’s cut steaks are hand painted on an official NFL game football. So while it might seem a little, well, odd to be handed a football when you’re preparing to order dinner, it all sort of makes sense. 😉
Soon after you start looking at your football, it’s time of a bit of Shula’s education. In addition to the feeling of this being an exclusive club, you definitely realize you’re in a classic steakhouse setting when they wheel out the trolley of steaks and sides.
And this is actually pretty useful! Envisioning what a 16-Ounce New York Strip looks like versus a 24-Ounce Porterhouse can be difficult. Visual aides come in handy. You can also see just exactly what you’re getting with each cut in case you aren’t familiar with the various steaks.
Also, the server shows you the size of some of the side dishes, like the potatoes that are used. Sides are enormous, and this really helps to keep you from over ordering. (Theoretically, anyway.)
We began our ordering extravaganza by taking a look at the Cocktail Menu.
While I’m sharing photos here of the cocktail menu only, it’s important to note if you’re a wine drinker that Shula’s has an enormous, award-winning wine list. You’ll be in heaven if it’s a bottle for the table you’re after.
I decided to skip a fancy drink, but my friend ordered the Flea Flicker. The cocktail includes Hendricks Gin, Yellow Chartreuse, Cherry Heering, house-made sour mix, cane sugar, and bitters. The potent drink had incredible balance of flavor and was beautiful in the glass.
Next we took a look at Soups, Salads, and Appetizers. You won’t find anything particularly shocking here. These are classic steak house dishes served in enormous proportions for hungry guests.
The same goes for steaks and entrees. However, this is a good opportunity to discuss the Shula Cut and the quality of beef that’s served here.
Shula’s serves only certified Angus beef from cows raised specifically for the company in Albany, Georgia. In an effort to distinguish its steaks, they employ The Shula Cut. This cut is more discriminating than USDA standards, exceeding the requirements for prime and choice beef. To meet the benchmark, the beef must meet ten qualifying specifications in areas like marbling, tenderness, and flavor.
If you didn’t realize how serious they were about quality up to this point, you’re certainly starting to get the picture now.
To accompany all of those fantastic cuts of meat, there are also some incredible sides.
We made our selections, and were soon served the complimentary bread service. The thick, crusty, warm bread was SO tempting. I knew there were huge amounts of food coming our way, but I still had to indulge… .
For a starter, my friend ordered the Barbecued Shrimp Stuffed with Basil. The shrimp were huge, well cooked, and covered in a zippy sauce. It was a nice touch that the sauce wasn’t on the tails, however. That made them a lot easier to eat.
For entrees, we opted first for Steak Mary Anne, two beautiful 5-ounce filet medallions with a rich demi glace sauce. At 10 ounces, this is the smallest cut of meat that you can get at Shula’s.
The filet was tender and flavorful, and the sauce was rich and deep, adding good flavor to the well-marbled tenderloin.
I went for my absolute favorite steak, the 22-Ounce Cowboy. I never finish these, but they’re so good I can’t help it! A premium bone-in ribeye, the flavor is imparted by the excellent fat-to-meat ratio and the bone.
It’s seriously a to-die-for steak and they grill it perfectly every time.
We also shared a few premium sides to round out the meal. By far, our richest selection was the Potato Gratin.
A crunchy, buttery crust of breadcrumbs covered a creamy, chunky potato mixture. It was slightly dry — I would have liked more cheesiness — but overall it was a good dish.
I couldn’t resist a side of one of my absolute favorites, Roasted Corn, which was also delicious, with bits of red pepper and tons of flavor.
To assuage our guilty consciences (and to have something green on our plates), we also ordered Broccoli. It was a lot…a LOT…of broccoli, so it absolutely balanced out the desserts we had coming soon.
Oh, and I couldn’t resist adding a side of Bearnaise Sauce for just a touch more richness.
Perhaps we should have skipped dessert. But, yeah. No. That wasn’t happening, because Shula’s offers one of my most favorite desserts. Can you guess which one it is??
My friend went for the Chocolate Souffle — and who could blame her? We could smell it when it was delivered to a table near ours and we were craving it for the rest of the meal! You know what I’m talking about. That rich, super deep, fresth-out-of-the-oven chocolate scent? Amazing.
AND, it’s served with not one, but three creamy garnishes: Creme Anglaise, Vanilla Ice Cream, and Whipped Cream. Yum. (If you’re craving it now, check out our recipe for it here.)
I, of course, went for the incredible Apple Crisp. Oh, how I adore this dish. It was my favorite on my last visit to Shula’s, and it’s gotten even better.
The warm, thick REAL — not canned — apple filling is partnered with a massive crumble on top. (You know how there’s never enough of that buttery, oatmeal crumble stuff? Not the problem here!)
The ice cream was a perfect texture and temperature complement.
And with that, another wow meal at Shula’s drew to a close.
Shula’s is, in a word, incredible. True, it’s slightly strange to have your menu presented to you on a football, but when you stop to consider that said football is part of the the subtle themeing of the spot, you can understand it. In a way, the theme here is “over-the-top, manly man steak place.” And with a dash of football thrown in for good measure, they succeed.
But Shula’s is more than that. The service is excellent, relaxed, and gracious. The food is top notch. And the while it succeeds in giving off a masculine vibe, it’s easily a good place to bring a date as well. If it’s incredible steaks that you seek while staying at Disney, I enthusiastically recommend Shula’s for your special occasion dinner.
Is Shula’s one of your favorites at Disney? Join in the conversation below!