Welcome back to the Flying Fish Cafe!
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While all the dining talk on Disney’s BoardWalk has centered around the opening of the brand new Trattoria al Forno as of late, I wanted to bring you back to the Flying Fish, which is not only my favorite restaurant on BoardWalk, but also one of my very favorites in all of Disney World. Period.
During the interim between the closing of Kouzzina and the opening of Trattoria al Forno, the Flying Fish served a stint as a breakfast location, previewing some of the dishes that are now on the breakfast menu at Trattoria al Forno.
But this signature restaurant is now back to its regular dinner-only schedule, and if you haven’t enjoyed dinner at Flying Fish before, I’ve gotta say it: it’s practically a must-do.
Come see what I mean…
The decor of the Flying Fish pays tribute to two things: first, the atmosphere honors its place on Disney’s BoardWalk through some insanely fun murals depicting things like turn-of-the-century roller coasters, those old school parachute swing rides, and other carnival-style attractions.
The theme is continued as you move further into the restaurant with a gorgeous backlit ferris wheel, and the most enviable seating space of all right underneath the circus tent.
The second design element plays on the star of the culinary scene here: seafood. And nowhere is that theme more evident than in the parachuting fish “flying” above as you dine!
Notice the bait hooks mixed in with some of the underwater themed lighting fixtures.
With everything going on, you may not notice the open kitchen (unless you’re seated at the Chef’s Counter directly in front of the show), but try to take a moment to observe, since what happens in this kitchen is some of the best of Disney culinary feats in action.
Of course, if you’re just looking for a quick dinner, the bar area is very comfortable, too.
I have no idea if “upscale-whimsy” is an interior design term, but if it is, that pretty much sums up the Flying Fish. It manages to be both sophisticated and super fun at the same time.
The name of this restaurant gives guests an idea that there is a focus on seafood at the Flying Fish, but don’t let that scare you or anyone in your party off who isn’t a seafood fan. Remember, I said this was one of my favorite restaurants, and seafood isn’t exactly my ultimate choice in cuisine. There’s plenty of meat and pasta to go around, too.
But I’m getting ahead of myself… let’s start with the complimentary bread served with butter, which was hard to hold back on thanks to the unique touches of herbs and cheese tucked inside the nooks of the rustic bread.
My friends and I enjoyed some the bread while scoping out the Appetizer Menu.
My group opted to go light on the appetizers this time, but one of my friends ordered the Crispy Crab Cake and Caesar Salad. That Romaine Heart you see? It’s good – it is. Surprisingly flavorful for something as basic as a Caesar salad, and the gigantic cheese crouton is a fun twist.
But, really, this one’s all about that delicious Crab Cake — a classic at Flying Fish.
Look at the inside: hardly any fillers to be seen — enough just to bind the crab meat within the crispy, well-seasoned breading.
As for me, while it’s not exactly an appetizer, per se ;), I tried the Strawberry Smash: vodka with a splash of Sprite and muddled strawberries. Gorgeous, no?
Allow me to emphasize the “splash” of Sprite. This was strawberry vodka pretty much all the way. I was surprised (though not unpleasantly!) by the strength of this drink.
My friends and I were so tempted by the side items that we decided to treat them as appetizers in their own right — one of my favorite tricks. We ordered a selection to share around the table prior to our entrees, starting with the Leek, Fontina, and Truffle-laced Trofie “Mac & Cheese.” Because I’m not gonna pass up mac and cheese on any menu pretty much anywhere EVER. (Methinks we need to update our Mac and Cheese at WDW article, don’t you?)
The texture was terrific, and the truffle oil was pronounced. All truths told, though, I think it could’ve used a bit more punch with some additional salt. I’ve enjoyed this more in past visits.
The Aged Gruyere and Parmigiano-Reggiano Potato Gratin hit a little more of the spot, with plenty of cheesy goodness and the well-crisped topping.
And, oh, how I love risotto — you know this, right? I pretty much always order the risotto on any menu…and if I can’t order a whole version, I ask for a little taste. ;-D The Creamy Risotto di Carnaroli didn’t disappoint. It’s creamy and savory, with chopped vegetables to break up the richness and lend variety to the texture. I thought the color was terrific, too.
Now, on to the entrees (you’ll see the full selection of sides in this pic, as well)…
I simply cannot resist the Char-crusted Angus New York Strip Steak at Flying Fish, but this time I thought I’d do you all proud by ordering it as part of the signature entree duo: Char-crusted Angus New York Strip Steak and Potato-wrapped Red Snapper. Again, seafood isn’t my first choice, but this fish is beautifully done. The red snapper was wonderfully prepared and super fresh inside; and that light, crisp potato topper is a stunner. Plus, I love the accompanying sauce.
And don’t worry about the smaller steak being overcooked; it’s just as ideal as the big steak.
See? I can change it up ;).
One of my friends got the full entrée version of the steak, so I’ll share those pics, too, because you’ve just gotta see it. I know it looks unusual and you may even question the taste with all that char surrounding the beautiful medium rare meat. But it’s divine — every time. Rather than tasting even remotely burnt, the char lends a terrific bit of crunch and smoky flavor to the tender beef.
Served atop of pearl pasta and a mix of diced vegetables (though accompaniments do tend to change fairly often), self-proclaimed meat lovers have to put this on their dining Bucket List.
My other friend tried the Pasta a la Bolognese, featuring a five-meat ragout. Happy to say, this was another surprise winner. Against all the steak and seafood, this wasn’t anticipated to be a standout.
But my friend said the ragout was incredible with its unexpected smoky flavor. She called it a “special occasion dish,” because it was so decadent.
But there is more decadence to come… it’s dessert time! First up: Classic Tahitian Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee Breton French Butter Biscuits with Blackberry and Strawberry “accentuations” (ooh! Fancy!!).
All that to say, it’s your standard Creme Brûlée… creamy and vanilla-y, it definitely does the trick.
The deliciousness of the Spiced Bing Cherry and Chocolate Bread Pudding, on the other hand, was unexpected. The chocolate bread pudding was as rich and flavorful as we’d hoped. And the name “Sinful Chocolate Sorbet” was quite fitting 🙂 .
But honestly, what really stood out to me were the pleasantly tart spiced bing cherries on the side. Seriously, I could eat these for days. An incredible way to wrap up an excellent meal.
Okay, so it’s been pretty well established, I think, that I love the Flying Fish Cafe 😉 . I’ve simply never been disappointed with a meal here, and I’ve found it to be a wonderful place to meet with friends over the years to enjoy the unique atmosphere and terrific food (though thanks to the sheer amount of whimsy in the decor, I think kids would do fine here, too). Yes, as a signature restaurant, the offerings do change frequently. But I’ve been happy to enjoy a favorite several times with that signature steak, and it’s a great place to try new things as well, simply because I have a lot of confidence that the experience will be good.
If you’re putting together your Disney Dining Resolutions for 2015, I’d highly recommend including a stop at the Flying Fish Cafe on your list! I certainly will.
Have you dined at the Flying Fish Cafe? Please let us know about your experience with a comment!