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Experience the Flavors and Beauty of the Pacific Northwest at Artist Point

Andrew Rossi

When it comes to an overall sense of grandeur, there are few places at Disney World that match the majestic beauty of Wilderness Lodge. I would go so far as to argue that no resort at Disney World goes as far as in being able to transport guests to another time and place and make them feel as though they are no longer in the middle of Florida. Inspired by the Great American Northwest National Park lodges from the turn of the 20th century, the theme of harmony with nature is prevalent throughout.

Resort Exterior.jpg

The resort's decor and artifacts pay homage to ancient Native American cultures as well as the pioneering spirit of early American explorers, with the seven-story lobby (built from 85 loads of Lodgepole Pine) and 82-foot-tall fireplace helping to make resort one of the most visually stunning on property.

Wilderness Lodge Lobby

Overall, the resort is what I would consider rustic-elegant and it is only fitting that it features a restaurant worthy of this dignified and impressive setting. Artist Point is one of Disney's Signature Dining Locations and, while it may not have the same notoriety as say a Yachtsman Steakhouse or California Grill, this restaurant offers guests one of the finest dining experiences in all of Disney World.

Signage

Overview:
Artist Point, like the rest of Wilderness Lodge, draws its inspiration from the National Park lodges of the Pacific Northwest, an area which encompasses Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia; everything about the restaurant, from its décor to its menu focusing on seafood, sirloins and game to its award winning wine list featuring 131 selections, is reflective of this region.

Artist Point is one of two full service restaurants at Wilderness Lodge, along with the Whispering Canyon Café, but the two could not be more different (you can see my review of Whispering Canyon Café here). Artist Point presents a sharp contrast to the raucous, laid-back, family friendly Whispering Canyon. This is a restaurant that is all about refinement, as reflected in its Signature status. In fact, Artist Point is one of just 16 Signature dining locations in all of Disney World, restaurants that are considered the cream of the crop amongst the numerous dining experiences to be found across property.

One of the marks of the more elegant and refined atmosphere found at Signature restaurants is a dress code. The dress code for Signature restaurants is as follows (as stated on the Disney World website). Men are encouraged to wear khakis, slacks, jeans, dress shorts, and collared shirts. Sport coats are optional. For women it is suggested that they wear capris, skirts, dresses, jeans, dress shorts. There are also certain articles of clothing that are not allowed in the dining room, such as tank tops, swimwear, hats, cut-off or torn clothing. Also, while t-shirts are allowed, the policy is that anything with offensive language or graphics is not acceptable.

Disney defines its Signature restaurants as dining experiences that “provide unparalleled cuisine served in elegant and relaxed settings,” and this certainly holds true for Artist Point. It is a restaurant that offers everything you would expect from Disney in terms of atmosphere, food, and service, but elevates it to a whole new level.

Atmosphere:
The sheer impressiveness and sense of grandeur that you get when you enter the lobby of Wilderness Lodge is carried through to Artist Point. Everything about this restaurant is on a large scale, from its high vaulted ceilings, ornate iron lanterns suspended from massive timber columns, immense windows offering beautiful views of Bay Lake and the resort's Silver Creek Falls, and its breathtaking murals and paintings.

Dining Room

Ceiling

Lighting

Artist Point is indeed an apt name for the restaurant because its artwork really makes the atmosphere stand out. The restaurant's menu actually presents some background information on the various paintings that are present throughout the dining room. The most striking of the artworks are the massive murals inspired by the work of Thomas Moran.

Mural1

In 1871, Ferdinand Hayden, director of the United States Geological Survey, invited Moran to join his expedition team into the Yellowstone region. During forty days in the wilderness, Moran visually documented over thirty different sites and produced a diary of the expedition's progress and daily activities. His sketches captured the nation's attention and helped inspire Congress to establish the Yellowstone region as the first national park in 1872. The mural in the dining room comes from Moran's sketch of the Green River area of Wyoming.

Mural2

In addition, the dining room also features five six-foot by six-foot paintings inspired by the works of Albert Bierstadt. In 1859, Bierstadt was given the tremendous opportunity of accompanying General Lander on an expedition to survey a wagon route to the Pacific, a route that would eventually become known as the Oregon Trail, and was responsible for sketching much of the natural beauty encountered during the expedition.

Painting1

Painting2

Painting3

Painting4

The various artwork found around the dining room really adds to the beauty of the restaurant, but it also helps to solidify the Pacific Northwest theming and pays homage to the resort's National Park inspiration.

One of the other features of Artist Point's atmosphere is its large windows that offer breathtaking views of the resort's grounds. I dined here at night so there was not really much to see, but if you happen to dine here while it is still light out you will be treated to views of Bay Lake, the resort's pool area, and the forested landscaping. The windows really bring the outdoors in, which helps to solidify the rustic feel, in addition to giving the dining room an openness and airiness that is aided by the restaurant's high cathedral ceilings.This is an example of the view you could have from your table:

View.jpg

The restaurant's openness is also evident in the sheer size of the dining room. This allows for the tables to not be placed right on top of each other, which helps make the dining experience both more quiet and private. Indeed, this is a restaurant that, despite its grand scale, actually has a very intimate feel. This is the perfect dining location for adults looking for a romantic getaway. The restaurant's refined, upscale feel combined with its immersive Pacific Northwest theme make it a great escape from the hustle and bustle of the theme parks.

The Menu:
One of the marks of a Signature dining location is that their menus change more frequently than most other restaurants in Disney World. The reason for this is that the menus at Signature restaurants reflect what ingredients a fresh and in season at that particular time of year. The one constant with the menu at Artist Point is that it is going to reflect the flavors of the Pacific Northwest. The offerings I describe here reflect what was on the menu when I dined here in early March.

One thing that impressed me most about the menu at Artist Point was the great variety of ingredients used in their dishes. This is definitely a restaurant for the more exotic and adventureous diners, as evidenced first by the appetizer offerings. Among the appetizers featured on the menu were a Smokey Portobello Soup with Roasted Shiitakes and Chive Oil ($10.00), Kettle-Steamed Copper Ale Penn Cove Mussels ($14.00), a Mixed Field Greens Salad ($11.00) with shaved Asian pear, sunflower seed granola, smokey blue cheese, and a champagne vinaigrette, Salt-Roasted Heirloom Beets ($13.00) with truffled chèvre, cider-poached pink lady apples, spiced walnuts, and a mulled wine vinaigrette, a Beef Noodle Bowl ($14.00) in a fragrant oxtail broth, Penn Cove Roasted Oysters with Dungeness Crab Ceviche ($13.00), and a Selection of Artisanal Cheeses ($14.00) including smokey blue cheese, reypenaer, and humboldt fog with seasonal garnishes and walnut toast.

Like the appetizers, the entrée offerings are reflective of the great outdoors of the Pacific Northwest and it all starts with the house specialty, the Cedar Plank-Roasted King Salmon ($35.00) accompanied by autumn squash, root vegetables, baby sprouts, and spice cider reduction. Among the other seafood options on the menu are a Wild-Caught Jumbo Prawn and Crab “Hot Pot” with Mussels ($32.00) with crispy pork, jasmine rice, and a spiced Thai coconut broth, Seared Diver Scallops ($33.00) with parmigiano-reggiano butternut squash risotto, toasted pumpkin seeds, and balsamic vinegar, and Seared Pacific Swordfish ($34.00) with black trumpet mushroom hash, salsify, and a meyer lemon emulsion.

The entrée selections from land include a Pan-Seared All-Natural Airline Chicken ($29.00) with pumpkin fettuccine, Swiss chard, pumpkin seed pesto, and cranberry jam, a Herb-Roasted Veal “Tomahawk” Chop ($46.00) with hunter-style foraged mushrooms, Yukon gold potato smear, and a veal glaze, Grilled Certified Hand-Cut Black Angus Beef Tenderloin ($42.00) served with fried macaroni & cheese, smoked fennel, roasted carrots, poblano ketchup, and chimichurri paint, a Char-Grilled Buffalo Strip Loin ($43.00) with purple potato purée, hazelnut cauliflower polonaise, onion marmalade, and a blackberry pinot noir reduction, and for vegetarians there is the House-Made Sweet Potato Gnocchi ($28.00) served with wild mushrooms, spinach, caper butter, and drunken goat cheese.

You might also want to save room for dessert as the menu features several delectable options. The restaurant's signature dessert is the Artist Point Cobbler ($11.00) with seasonal berries and house-made black raspberry ice cream. There is also the Warm Chocolate Cake ($11.00) featuring warm valrhona chocolate with Grand Marnier chantilly and berry seltzer, a Baked Apple Upside-Down Cake ($10.00) with sweet-and-sour caramel sauce and brown sugar ice cream, and a Vanilla Bean Crème Brûlée ($10.00) with a chocolate-hazelnut biscotti.

For my meal I decided to be adventurous and try something completely new to me. Buffalo is not a dish common to many menus, especially at Disney World. I figured that this was a rare opportunity that I should not pass up and decided to try the Char-Grilled Buffalo Strip Loin. My server recommended that I order the buffalo cooked medium, which would give it a pink color throughout but also accentuate the tenderness and juiciness of the steak. While the buffalo had a slightly stronger, more gamey flavor than beef, if I had not been told it was buffalo then I probably would not have even realized what it was. When you think of buffalo you picture the big, burly animal and would probably imagine the meat to be a little tough, but I was surprised at just how tender the meat was. Buffalo naturally has a more reddish color than beef, so even if you were to order it well-done you could still expect the meat to have a pinkish color. I was very happy that I ordered the steak medium because it really helped bring out the full flavor of the buffalo.

Buffalo

One of the things that impressed me most about the dish was the tremendous amount of flavors that it encompassed. Each of the accompaniments to the buffalo had its own distinct flavor and yet they all blended together perfectly. No one flavor really dominated the others, but instead they seemed to enhance and bring out the best in each other, giving the dish a level of complexity that really separated it from the types of dishes found in non-Signature restaurants. The most unique accompaniment had to be the purple potato puree. While it may have an odd appearance, it had the consistency of smooth mashed potatoes and lent a creamy and subtle sweetness to the dish. The hazelnut cauliflower polonaise presented a definite contrast in texture, but I was also surprised with how well the hazelnut paired with not only the cauliflower but the buffalo as well.

Like the potato puree, the onion marmalade also had a slight sweetness to it, but the real star accompaniment was the blackberry pinot noir reduction. The sauce provided more of a fruity flavor as opposed to that of wine, which presented a perfect compliment to the slight gaminess of the buffalo. My only complaint was that there was not more of the sauce to go along with the generous portion of meat. I think the best way I can sum up this dish in just a couple of words is high quality; everything about it, from the ingredients to the flavors to the presentation, left a lasting impression.

For dessert I decided to try what is considered the restaurant's signature dessert, the Artist Point Cobbler. This dessert usually comes topped with house-made black raspberry ice cream, but I chose just to have some vanilla ice cream on the side instead. The picture of this dessert does not really do it justice, with the berries on top just a garnish that hides the real treat underneath. First, there is the light, flakey crust and beneath that lies the ooey gooey berry goodness that makes the dessert truly special. The berries included rasberries, blackberries, and blueberries and really had the consistency, texture, and flavor that you would expect from the filling of something like a blueberry pie.

Cobbler

Overall this is a very simple dessert, one that can easily be made at home on your own, but its execution was top notch. The cobbler comes served warm and the fruity flavor of the berries combines perfectly with the crust and the vanilla ice cream. This is not an overly sweet dessert and that I why I felt that the vanilla ice cream (as opposed to the raspberry) was a better compliment providing some added sweetness and creaminess to counter the slight tartness of the berries.

Service:
In my past experiences at Signature dining locations I have been completely blown away by the attentive service that I have received. The servers at Signature restaurants generally have fewer tables to wait upon and can therefore pay much closer attention to the guests that they are serving. While I found the service at Artist Point to be very good, it was not necessarily great; there was nothing about my server that really stood out as being special. With a menu that contains so many different, exotic ingredients and flavors I was expecting the sever to give an in-depth explanation of some of the dishes, instead she briefly mentioned what some of the restaurant's more popular items were. My server was certainly very nice and quite pleasant, checking in frequently to make sure I was enjoying every part of my meal, but I did not feel as though her service stood out from anything I would receive at a non-Signature restaurant.

One thing I greatly enjoyed about the service was the pacing of the meal. While not slow by any means, the meal progressed at a leisurely, relaxing pace that really allows you to enjoy not only all the flavors of the meal, taking time to digest between courses, but also the beauty of the atmosphere.

Dining on a Budget:
Another mark of Signature dining locations are their priciness. It is very difficult to dine on a budget when going to one of these restaurants. That being said, you are truly getting what you pay for in terms of the high quality food, atmosphere, and service you receive. If you are looking for a place to splurge on a meal and have a truly memorable experience, then Artist Point and the other Signature restaurants across Disney World are definitely worth a try. However, I certainly would not want to eat at a Signature restaurant every night of my vacation because the cost would be far too high.

Artist Point is on the Disney Dining Plan, but as a Signature restaurant it is worth two table service credits. One way you can save some money at Artist Point is with a discount. The restaurant does participate in Tables in Wonderland and thus members receive its 20% discount. In addition, Annual Passholders can receive at 10% discount although there is no discount for Disney Vacation Club members.

The Overall Experience:
Being my first time dining at Artist Point I was extremely impressed. This is certainly a restaurant that lives up to it Signature status. From the beauty and grandeur of the dining room to the intricate blending of ingredients and flavors in its dishes, Artist Point is one of the more elegant restaurants that I have dined at in all of Disney World. While a menu that is more on the exotic side may not make it appealing to everyone, if you are willing to go a little outside the box and try new things then you will not be disappointed. Artist Point's menu is definitely one of the more unique of the many Disney restaurants that I have dined at, but that is one thing that makes it so appealing. Even though it is certainly not a cheap meal by any means, I left feeling as though I had gotten my money's worth. It is truly a quality dining experience in every aspect and one which I look forward to returning to in the future.

See past reviews by Guest Blogger Andrew Rossi.

Check out Reader Reviews of Artist Point and post your own too!

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Comments (9)

MIke Venere:

Well written and I agree with your opinions on the place.

It's been a few years, but I echo your thoughts on the food and atmosphere.

Eugenia Ordonez:

In Mexico we celebrate Christmas the night of the 24th and also being that our last night in WDW last year we wanted to celebrate with a VERY special dinner.

We chose Artist Point and we were so happy we did. First arriving by boat from the Magic Kingdom, wow ! the view was amazing, the road leading to the hotel spectacular and as you mention, the atmosphere, the food, the service, the location, everything was perfect.

Afterwards being able to leave the restaurant and see such an impressive lobby with the huge and beautiful Christmas tree lit, Santa taking pictures with the happy families, the huge fireplace on, everything ! a truly magical night. In Mexico City we have impressively good restaurants, Artist Point was at the level of the very best !

Dan:

Please stop publicizing our favorite WDW restaurant! Oh well. The secret's out. We always recommend Artist Point. We have never had a bad meal there. You nailed it when you mentioned quiet romantic dinners. We much prefer the atmosphere there to the noisier and more modern California Grill.

Paul:

Artist Point is my favorite restaurant at WDW. I had the buffalo several times and was never disappointed. The signature Salmon dish is also very good but not as good, IMHO, as the buffalo. They used to have really awesome vegetable side dishes but I don't think they were available the last time I ate there (2011).

I also love the cobbler but I found it to be filling! The wine selection there is also very good - I am not a red drinker but I had a glass or two of the Dusted Valley Boomtown cabernet savignon and it was awesome indeed.

And yes, the atmosphere there is one of the best, if not the best, at WDW. I had not stayed at Wilderness Lodge yet but plan to in the future.

Great article!

Michael MacDonald:

I have been wanting us to go to this restaurant for a couple years now, but now after reading your review, even more so! Like you, the buffalo and artist point cobbler is what I would order, but also the smokey portobello soup as I have heard so many compliments on its taste.
The interior pictures of this restaurant are just amazing. What a beautiful setting to have such a fine meal.
We will be heading to Artist Point in November during our next trip to Disney.

Will:

My wife and I dined there a year ago and it was one of the two best meals we had (my wife insisted on a "food" focus, so we had some excellent dining experiences). I had the bison, which was excellent. My wife ordered the Jumbo Prawn Hot Pot, which boasted a truly huge prawn. She is from Thailand and really enjoyed this dish. The prawn reminded me of the massive prawns we enjoyed while visiting her country or origin. She said she would order it again (or perhaps choose my steak; she loved both dishes).

Shirley:

I was so glad to see a review of Wilderness Lodge and Artist Point. Wilderness Lodge is our favorite; I think we've stayed here the last 5-6 visits and will probably never stay at another property again.

We've dined at Artist Point twice--albeit not recently. The food is fine (although some items do not live up to the expectation caused by the menu description).

The service, however, can only be described as glacial--it's that slow. After running around all day, the last thing I wanted was a 3 hr. dinner well into the evening as we had experienced on our first visit, and I explained that to the waiter, who assured me it would be not be prolounged. Three hours later, falling asleep in my dinner....

So, unfortunately, we haven't been back since.

Adam:

My wife and I went to Artist's Point once. Overall, it wasn't a great experience for us. I remember being surprised at the number of kids in there and people wandering around wearing shorts and flipflops despite the fact that it was a signature dining experience. The food was okay, but I don't remember much about it.

Then again, my wife and I also showed up about an hour before our reservation when Artist's Point hadn't opened yet, so we spent that hour in the Territory Lounge next door getting thoroughly shellacked. So it's entirely possible that our poor memory has less to do with the low quality of the restaurant than the high quality of the booze available next door.

I do remember that the view from our table was amazing. Never have I seen so many elephants playing bagpipes as they fell into the pool.

(Those were some GOOD drinks.)

CraigInPA:

I've eaten at Artist Point four times. Each has been a lovely experience, even the one time when we found our very leisurely meal took us past the last water taxi leaving the resort and we had to choose either a bus to Downtown Disney and then a bus back to the Poly, or spring for a cab (we chose the $5 cab ride).

The first time I ate there I had the Buffalo. Like the author, I would have been hard pressed to tell the difference between that and the filet I had the previous night at Narcoosee's except for the slight gameyness of the Buffalo. The second time, I had the Airline chicken. I don't recall it as particularly memorable. The third time, I had the tomahawk chop. The presentation was quite impressive, but I found the veal to be slightly over-done to my taste. The last time, I had the scallops and was favorably impressed by the preparation. Each time, my wife chose the hot pot or the scallops, and raved over both.

For dessert, I foolishly chose the berry cobbler the first time I dined there. Not that it wasn't delicious. It was. But I missed out on ordering the Valronna torte, which is a chocolate lovers delight. I did not make that mistake again.

I believe the timing of the various courses tends to be on the most leisurely schedule possible. It's simply not possible to have an appetizer, entree, and dessert in under 2 hours there. The spacing of the tables is beyond generous. You can have a nice quiet conversation without thinking those at other tables may be listening. Each time I ate there, service was impeccable.

I must admit that I buy deluxe dining with every trip, precisely to have signature dining virtually every night. Typically, the cost of my signature dining experience is equal to the daily cost of deluxe dining, leaving lunch or breakfast to be "the 20-30% savings" Disney claims. One would think that having deluxe dining, which has the possibility of 3 table meals a day, would lead to obesity. In fact, I always come home with no weight gain, because I'm using my table credits on beautifully prepared normal amounts of food at places like Artist Point instead of Pot Roast (which was actually FABULOUS) or the "Thanksgiving Feast" at the overly portion generous Liberty Tree Tavern.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on April 22, 2012 8:15 AM.

The previous post in this blog was Tips for celebrating National Princess Week at Walt Disney World.

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