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Shutters at Old Port Royale

Jack Spence Masthead

Welcome back!

Yesterday, I discussed the changes that have been made to the Caribbean Beach Resort over the last three and a half years. I also presented you with a review of the food court found here. Today, I’ll be discussing Shutters at Old Port Royale. But before I do, I need to give you the history of this restaurant.

The Caribbean Beach was Disney’s first moderately priced resort. When planning this property, the Imagineers did not think budget minded guests would be interested in a table-service restaurant, so they only included a food court in their plans. However, they were wrong. When the resort opened on October 1, 1988, guests immediately started complaining and requesting more dining options. However, it would be almost six years before the first solution came to life.

When the resort initially opened, a large lounge called Captain’s Hideaway was located in what is now the food court seating area near the Calypso Trading Post. This spot offered a full bar with an emphasis on tropical drinks. In 1994, this spot was renamed Captain’s Tavern and dinner service began in a partially converted lounge. Prime rib, chicken, and crab legs were some of their specialties. However, Captain’s Tavern had its drawbacks. First, the atmosphere was still that of a lounge. It was nice, but hardly an intimate getaway.

The next, and more daunting problem came with its location. Because of the initial design of the building, Captain’s Tavern had no adjacent kitchen and no place to add one. In order to serve this new restaurant, a portion of the food court kitchen needed to be converted so it could prepare upscale meals. Besides depriving the food court kitchen of much needed preparation space, this distant location also created a problem for the wait staff as they were forced to cross a busy walkway and pass through a small door to get to and from the backstage kitchen.

In 2002, things changed dramatically. Captain’s Tavern was closed and this space was converted into more food court seating. At the other end of the food court, a section of the dining room was walled off for a new table service restaurant that would be opening soon.

When finished, the new restaurant would have three intimate dining rooms that could seat up to 130 guests. In addition, a new kitchen was built specifically for this eatery. However, because of space limitations, the kitchen still needed to be located across a guest walkway. To address this distant site, the Imagineers would make this a “show” kitchen open for all to see. No longer would the servers be forced to walk backstage to place orders and pick up food. Secondly, the foot traffic at this end of the food court is relatively light and dodging guests would no longer be a significant problem.


Show Kitchen


The official name of the table service restaurant at the Caribbean Beach Resort is “Shutters at Old Port Royale.” The reason for this long name is to differentiate this establishment from a restaurant at Disney’s Vero Beach Resort which is simply called “Shutters.” However, everyone drops the “at Old Port Royale” and just calls the Caribbean Beach version “Shutters” as well.


Shutters at Old Port Royale

Shutters at Vero Beach


Although you can get to Shutters via the food court, the official entrance is off of the esplanade. Inside the restaurant’s lobby, guests check in at an unassuming podium. Although this restaurant can usually accommodate walk-ups, reservations are always a good idea. You especially need reservations here on holidays like Mother’s Day, Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.


Shutters Main Entrance

Shutters Lobby


The atmosphere at Shutters continues the rich and varied color pallet found in the food court, however the hues in the three dining areas have been muted and are relaxing rather than jarring. I find these rooms comfortable and welcoming.

Do note, the dining room located immediately to the right of the main entrance is often used as a passageway between the kitchen and another dining room located just beyond this first room. If you’re seated here, you will be subjected to servers coming and going throughout your entire meal. If a host tries to seat you in this room, I would suggest that you request another spot.

Here are two pictures each of the entrance and all three dining rooms. The last two pictures are of the dining room I mentioned above.


Shutters Entrance

Shutters Entrance

Shutters Dining Room 1

Shutters Dining Room 1

Shutters Dining Room 2

Shutters Dining Room 2

Shutters Dining Room 3

Shutters Dining Room 3


Here is a picture of a table ready for guests. Although you probably can’t see it in this photo, the napkins are paper. I have a problem with this.


Shutters Table Setting


Come on Disney. I ate lunch at Bahama Breeze the other day, a similarly themed chain restaurant, and even this eatery offers cloth napkins. At the prices you’re charging at Shutters, surely you could afford to provide guests with cloth napkins. And don’t tell me it’s part of the “island theming.” I’ve been to many nice restaurants in the Caribbean and been provided with cloth napkins. I don’t mind that you don’t have tablecloths, but paper napkins are for coffee shops. If you want to promote Shutters as a fine dining establishment, then take the necessary steps to do so.

Shutters is currently open from 5pm to 10pm each evening. Donald and I had 5:30 reservations and arrived a little early. We were given a pager but were called to our table before we could even find a seat in the lobby. We were escorted to the dining room I warned you about and given a table. (This is how I learned firsthand that this is the least appealing dining room of the three.)

Before I go any further with this review, I need to share with you one of my pet peeves I experience when dining out and how I’ve finally decided to handle the situation in the future. And this trip to Shutters would be my first execution of my solution.

Little annoys me more than going to a nice restaurant and being rushed. More times than I can count, I’ve had my entrée arrive while I’m still enjoying my appetizer. Grrr. In the early years, I would let the server place the food on the table as I hurried through my soup. But eventually I started insisting that they take the food back to the kitchen until I was ready for it.

At some point, I started explaining to my servers when I was first approached that I was in no hurry. I politely, but firmly, told them that I didn’t want to be rushed and I wanted to relax between courses. I was always assured that this would not be a problem. Sometimes my plea for leisurely pacing worked, but more often than not, it didn’t. Although I would be finished with my appetizer, my dirty plate would often still be in front of me when my entrée arrived.

Last month I ate at California Grill, one of Disney’s signature restaurants. As has been my policy for a long time now, I told my server I was in no hurry and to please time my meal accordingly. I was told that he was an expert at such things and this wouldn’t be a problem. He went on to say that I should feel free to order my entire meal and he would take care of everything.

Not true.

I was still enjoying my before-dinner cocktail when my appetizer arrived. And there were a whopping three minutes “breathing time” between my appetizer and my main meal. Grrr. I’m sorry, but when I eat at a fine Disney restaurant, I don’t want to be served like I’m at a corner coffee shop.

Anyway…

After that night, I swore that I would never let this happen to me again when I’m planning on an enjoyable dinner in a nice restaurant. And Shutters would be my first experience with my new tactic.

Our server Kyra greeted us shortly after we were seated and offered us drinks. While I was ordering my Mai Tai and Donald his iced tea, I told Kyra that I was having difficulty making choices tonight and I thought that I would hold off ordering appetizers until after I enjoyed my drink. She smiled and said, “Not a problem.” Our drinks arrived about five minutes later and Kyra left us alone.


Mai Tai


My Mai Tai was good and I’m glad I ordered it. Donald’s iced tea was ice tea. What can I say? LOL

For you lovers of rum, Shutters offers two different Rum Flights where you are served three shots of rum and can enjoy side-by-side tastings. I seriously considered trying one of these but decided I wanted a fruity concoction instead.

While enjoying our drinks, Kyra brought us a bread basket and butter topped with sea salt. I thought the bread was a little bland but the butter and sea salt made up for any lack in taste. In addition, I want to compliment Shutters on providing me with more than enough butter. There was plenty. Later in the evening, we were brought a second bread basket and more butter.


Bread Basket


After we finished our drinks, Kyra returned to our table and asked if we were ready to order. I told her we would select our appetizers now, but we still didn’t know what we wanted for our entrées. Once again, she smiled and said “No problem.”

I ordered the Braised Beef and Pepper Jack Cheese Empanada with Chayote Slaw and Piquillo Pepper Dipping Sauce.


Braised Beef and Pepper Jack Cheese Empanada


The empanadas were good, but not outstanding. I wish they had been a little more flavorful. If I were to return to Shutters in the near future, I would definitely try something else before reordering this dish.

Donald ordered the Caesar Salad with House-made Dressing and Cornbread Croutons.


Caesar Salad with House-made Dressing


This was the one true disappointment of the evening. After taking one bite, Donald said the dressing was so bland he could hardly taste it. He offered me a bite and I had to agree. If I hadn’t seen the dressing on the leaves, I would have guessed it was missing altogether. I suggested that Donald add salt. He did and it helped a little.

I know that Disney has a tendency to “dumb-down” some of their spicier meals so to appeal to the masses. If this is what they did here, they over did it.

After we were finished with our appetizers and our dishes cleared, Kyra returned to take our entrée order. I selected the Black Jack Barbecue Pork Brisket with Crab, Shrimp, and Corn Imperial. This was served with Green Beans and Piquillo Peppers.


Black Jack Barbecue Pork Brisket with Crab, Shrimp, and Corn Imperial


This meal was outstanding!

First, take a look at the presentation. There is wonderful color and texture balance. The plate was artistically arranged. This meal just looks delicious.

My first bite was of the Crab, Shrimp, and Corn Imperial (right side of the plate). It was wonderful. I could easily make an entire meal of this side dish alone. Besides being extremely flavorful, it was chockfull of large shrimp.

The green beans were cooked al dente, which I like. The piquillo peppers added a sweet taste with no “heat.”

The serving of pork was large. There was plenty of meat here for a hungry eater. And the barbecue sauce was the perfect topping. It definitely had a barbecue flavor, but it was subdued. This is not the strong taste you’d get when ordering ribs at your local BBQ joint. This sauce was more refined.

Donald loves short ribs, but was afraid to order them as restaurants often skimp on the serving size. Kyra assured him that Shutters offers 10oz of meat with this offering. So Donald ordered the Caribbean-Braised Boneless Beef Short Ribs in a light Curry Sauce with Mashed Yucca and Yukon gold Potatoes.


Caribbean-Braised Boneless Beef Short Ribs in a light Curry Sauce with Mashed Yucca and Yukon gold Potatoes


Donald was more than pleased with his selection. The dish is served in a large bowl and is reminiscent of pot roast. Besides the beef and potatoes, the meal had plenty of carrots and onions. He said it was all delicious and it was so tender that no knife was needed.

By this time, Kyra had picked up that I was ordering my meal slowly and gave us an appropriate pause after our main meal before offering us dessert. In fact, she didn’t even bring the menus to the table until after she had asked us if we were interested.

For my last course I ordered the Vanilla Cheesecake with Banana Caramel Sauce and Brulee Bananas.


Vanilla Cheesecake with Banana Caramel Sauce and Brulee Bananas


Once again, I hit the jackpot. This was an outstanding dessert. The cheesecake had an original flavor. Meaning, it didn’t taste like “Cheesecake Anywhere USA.” It was obvious that it was made on premises with someone’s personal recipe. The brulee bananas were good as was the multi-nut brittle that garnished the plate.

Donald order the Tres-Coconut Tres Leches -- Sweet Cream, Caramel, and Passion Fruit.


Tres-Coconut Tres Leches


Donald also felt like he was a winner with his selection. All three offerings were flavorful and had subtle but distinct differences from one another. He especially liked the Passion Fruit.

In conclusion, we had an enjoyable meal at Shutters and I’m glad we ate here. And even though paper napkins, bland empanadas, and a tasteless Caesar salad started the evening off with less than a bang, the friendly service, outstanding entrées, and wonderful desserts made us forgive the rocky start. Not to mention, we spent more time at Shutters than we did at the California Grill a month earlier thanks to my new ordering tactic.

Would I return to Shutters in the future? Sure. Especially if I was staying at the Caribbean Beach Resort and wanted a nice meal.

Would I go out of my way to eat at Shutters? The answer to this question is a little more difficult. Shutters is good, but it’s hardly unique. On the other hand, Disney offers an outstanding array of restaurants with more interesting atmospheres and experiences. This makes it difficult for Shutters to compete.

Would I consider Shutters a Disney signature restaurant? Definitely not. And neither does Disney as Shutters only requires one dining credit, not two, when using the Disney Dining Plan. But Shutters is a good choice for a somewhat upscale, casual meal.

Well, there you have it, my experience at Shutters. If you’ve eaten here, feel free to add your thoughts to the AllEars “Rate/Review” page by clicking here. To see the current menu, click here.



The previous post in this blog was Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort – A Relook.

The next post in this blog is Before & After Quiz - Questions.

Comments (17)

I went to Shutters for dinner back in March. I was dining alone and ended up ordering two appetizers - one as an appetizer (Chicken Wings) and one as a meal (Shutters Salad). The Shutters Salad was much more appealing than the Caesar in your post!

Regarding service, I didn't ask for a leisurely pace, but it came somewhat naturally. Then again, whether I'm alone or with my boyfriend, we order a round of drinks while we decide on appetizers, then don't order an entree until we're done with them. Usually, the server picks up on this.

It's always difficult for us when dining with a large group because everyone else tends to order everything at once. We're then often stuck doing the same (this actually happened to us a few nights ago on property). Fortunately, the pace of that meal ended up working out just fine.

Melissa:

I just wanted to comment about the table service. Many, many years ago I had my first real job at a local TGI Friday's - long before Friday's became a national chain and back when it was trying to bring "fine dining to the casual". We were artfully schooled on taking a full order, but entering it one at a time and only after the preceding course was roughly 1/2 finished so that there would be a lag time between courses, but no so much that the clients became "restless". By the time I left Friday's, the attention had turned from a balanced approach to service to "flipping tables" to increase profits. We were told to collect the order, enter it at once noting course numbers and bring the food "fast and efficiently" to the table. Guests were still getting the same amount of food but in a much shorter span of time. I think it's a downfall of our "hurry up and go" society.

Jim :

I am inclined to believe that Disney tends to rush the meal pace based on seating and revenue but also the pace of the majority of people. Most people on vacation that have limited time want a decent meal but dont want to miss time at the pool or parks etc. This has probably overtime contributed to the faster pace service. Your tatics for ordering will be of benefit to us "locals" who visit many times annually and have no time agenda.

Jack's Comment:

You are 100% correct. When I worked at the Blue Bayou Restaurant at Disneyland, people wanted to have a fine dining experience within 30 minutes so they could get back into the park and experience the attractions.

Mike V:

For a comment from a non local. I understand the sediment that people on vacation want sort of a "faster" pace meal in order to get back to the parks. And to me that is totally understandable at some table service restaurants. However I don't think that is the case if you were to speak about the Disney "signature" restaurants, for me specifically California Grill. If I am on the meal plan, and I am spending 2 table service entitlements for the meal, the last thing I want to feel is rushed. I am eating that meal at that location for a reason. I believe the dining plan has led to this rushed attitude by servers which is unfortunate for those that are there for the high quality place that it is.

Jack's Comment:

I agree. When dining within a theme park, most people want to get in and out of a restaurant so they can experience as many attractions as possible. That makes sense. But for me, any table-service restaurant at a resort should have a slower pace. Not just the signature restaurants, but the secondary spots like Captain's Grill, Olivia's, Sanaa, and Shutters as well.

Wendy Snelgrove:

Jack,

Thanks for the review. I think your new strategy for getting the meal paced the way you want it is going to work well for you. I may try it myself in 15 or so years, but right now with a newborn and a 3 year old, we order everything immediately and tell them "bring out everything as soon as it's ready"!

Two comments. First, that's not a caesar salad, it's a caesar leaf. Seriously, there's like two pieces of lettuce. I'd have been disappointed even if the taste were good. Second, I'd like to request that you do cross section photos of food where that might be helpful. For example, I would have liked to see a cross section of the empanadas, and it might have been helpful with your shrimp side dish as well. That way folks can see inside the dish as well as outside.

Thanks, Wendy

Jack's Comment:

I will keep your suggestion of cross-section photographs in mind the next time I'm doing a review -- but no promises. Besides taking pictures, I'm also trying to enjoy my meal before it gets cold. Setting up these pictures in a somewhat "artistic" way is time consuming.

Craig:

I agree that many Disney guests are in a hurry to get back to having fun so want fast service in restaurants, but I think (or at least hope) that this is more true in the theme parks than in the resort hotels. However, regardless of the restaurant, if you tell a server that you want your meal at a slower and more relaxed pace, the server should be able to adjust. Unfortunately, that isn't always the case.

Don:

Thanks for the review. I had a great meal here too.

I have to ask if you know which section of OPR was added on to increase tables for Shutters. I didn't think anything was added. That orange building in your first picture (which I assumed you thought was the addition) was always there. Back before Shutters, the tables in that room right up at the windows were where we ALWAYS sat to eat. They overlooked the marina, lighthouse, and lake and were tinted to not allow glaring sun in. And because this room was in the far corner of the food court seating area...it was rarely busy. More often than not, it was a private dining experience. I have pictures of it back in the late 80s even.

But I am curious as to what was added. Thank you for the great write up, enjoy the day.

Jack's Comment:

A cast member told me this building was added for additional seating. However, I'm far more willing to trust you when you tell me you've sat in this spot for years. I will amend by blog accordingly.

Jenny Sperandeo:

Hi Jack! I don't know that I would try Shutters. The menu has never appealed to me. Although, your desserts looked incredible! (I agree with the cloth napkin thing by the way).

It's not to say that I don't want to try new restaurants. I'm all about trying new places (especially at Disney). Just this past March, we dined at 7 restaurants at WDW that we hadn't tried previously (Artist Point, California Grill and Be Our Guest to name a few).

There are so many wonderful dining experiences at Disney, that I find there is a list of "must dos" that I frequent each time I visit, like Olivia's, Narcoossees, and the Captain's Grill. I also enjoy Landscape of Flavors at Art of Animation. We have popped in many times just to grab a fruit smoothie or iced coffee.

I am a big believer in trying all the Disney food courts. If we fly into Orlando and are not visiting Disney, we will more times than not stop at a resort food court (usually Gasparilla Grill or Landscape of Flavors)to get a bite... :)

Larry:

Hello, Jack,
We dine out frequently at home and have long adopted your strategy of ordering a course at a time. We do this especially if we're dining early and the restaurant isn't too busy. The kitchen doesn't have that much to do and if a server enters an entire order of drinks, appetizers and entrees, it usually results in everything coming out quickly. Next, you are so right about the paper napkins. In the long run, it would be a money-saver for any restaurant to use cloth. A server often brings "extra" paper napkins which never get used, and must be discarded when the tables are cleared after the diners leave. The Shutters situation is the opposite of Bonfamille's at (the former) Port Orleans. This sit-down place was closed, as you know, I guess for lack of business. I have never dined at Shutters, but it sounds like a place like Olivia's. We went to Olivia's while staying at Boardwalk last year and thought we'd never get there (rode the bus), and the ride back was much longer. So while we had a great meal there, I don't think we'd travel that far again, since we usually stay at Boardwalk or Wilderness Lodge.

Josh Weiss:

Hey Jack
Shutters looks great and the food seems very good. I do agree that many resturants have fairly quick service and see both sides. Your strategy seemed to pay off well though. Can't wait for your next blog and as always keep up the great work.

Jill Hogg:

I agree with Wendy... that was two lettuce leaves, hardly a salad! I realize they want to make it artistic or whatever, but that's just pathetic. The rest of the food looked amazing, though!

Melva Exner:

Hi, Jack - thanks for the review. Last time we did table service at CBR was in the days of the Captain's Table - I didn't realize that Shutters was in a different location until reading your review. Maybe we will give it a try in the future.

Regarding your food ordering process, I am with you! It is true that meals are served quickly at many restaurants today, but I think that with the introduction of the dining plan, the Disney reataurants went into hyper drive to turn tables at a rapid pace. I agree that this works for many guests who want to rush back to the parks, but for those of us who are regulars and would like to just enjoy a meal, the pace is crazy. I decided after our last trip in March that next trip, I would be following a similar ordering strategy unless I wanted a fast meal. We will be back down there August 10 to 19 and this will be my first try at slowing the meal by controlling order placement - wish us luck!

Linda:

We stayed at Caribbean Beach in May 1993 for my oldest sons first visit. While we were there, we had dinner at Captains Hideaway. My husband had prime rib and I had something with shrimp. I know because I keep notes on all our trips and I noticed that you said it did not start serving food until 1994. Did they perhaps have a trial of serving food? I used to buy a Birnbaums book for every trip and it was noted in the 1993 book that it was a lounge. However, the day we checked in, we were hungry and went to go to the food court. We saw this place and went in and got a sit down meal.

Jack's Answer:

I have all of the Birnbaum books. I often use them to gather dates, which is what I did in this case. It is possible that food service started earlier than I said as Birnbaum is a yearly publication and does not give exact dates.

Sheamus Hunt:

When I am with my wife and we are at Disney, I am always telling the server we are in no hurry. This lets them know we are sitting here for a while. When we are in our town, we have told the server the same thing and it works out. You are right, it is about flipping tables and not allowing the person to enjoy the atmosphere of where they are located. Last but not least, cloth napkins equal an additional dining credit. ;-)

Kelly D:

My family ate at Shutters during our October, 2010 stay at the CBR. While the adult meals were distinguished only by how forgettable the flavors were, we fondly remember the experience with our then 2- year old daughter. The grilled fish kids meal included a beautiful piece of Mahi served with rice and perfectly cooked string beans. My daughter ate her entire plate and giggled through a very warm interaction with our waitress. I would never make the trip from another resort to Shutters, but as CBR guests we thought it made for a nice respite from the food court.

Erin M:

My daughter and I went in May, we were staying at the resort and wanted a leisurely meal; we were very impressed with the food. The wings were unique and really tasty and my steak melted in my mouth. The desserts were fantastic as well.

I have to agree with you on the paper napkins, there was two people in our party and we dropped over $130.00-expensive enough to warrant cloth napkins.

Otherwise, the meal, every bite was fantastic.

Nice review Jack. I enjoy seeing honest reviews about both food and atmosphere. Have you been to Monsieur Paul's since the refurb? I have not, but the last I heard, they got rid of the white table cloths (and thus the service of clearing the crumbs from the table prior to dessert)and now use the PAPER placemats that are also used at Chefs du France downstairs.
I can't remember what the napkin situation is there, but I honestly cannot take a restaurant seriously if they claim to be Fine Dining but give me a paper placemat.
Such a shame. It was an amazing "experience" when we dined there before.

Jack's Comment:

Most of the Disney Dining Plans call for 2 points when eating at Monsieur Paul's. That puts it in the "fine dining" category. I totally agree with you. They should be offering table clothes. If they were discontinued, it was strictly a money saving move.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on July 22, 2014 8:11 AM.

The previous post in this blog was Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort – A Relook.

The next post in this blog is Before & After Quiz - Questions.

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