Artist Point was the first of a few signature restaurants we tried this trip. It is one of the less well known ones – certainly much less shouted about than the likes of Jiko or California Grill. It was our first experience of Artist Point and the first time we’d been to Wilderness Lodge, where it is located, so we were excited for a few new experiences.
Wilderness Lodge is often cited as one of the best hotels in term of theming, with the same designer as Animal Kingdom Lodge, which is one of my favourites, so I was looking forward to seeing it for myself. We arrived via Disney transport – the boat over from Magic Kingdom. I do love getting dressed up and going to the Signatures and there is something special about getting to arrive via boat too! When we arrived at the dock it was a short pleasant walk through to the hotel. It is really badly signposted though with a few different paths to take. Unfortunately we had got off the boat first so were leading the way so we stopped to take a few photos so we could see which way everyone else was going! I was a little underwhelmed by the exterior of the hotel. The theming is excellent, you do feel like you’re in a lodge, but the execution is less well done for me in that the hotel looks a bit plastic-y, a bit fake. The inside however is really lovely – lots of wooden beams and the detail is amazing. I particuarly liked the lampshades.
Once inside the lodge, we found Artist Point pretty quickly. We checked in at the podium and were given a bleeper, which went on to beep before we’d even taken two steps away. We were taken into the restaurant and given a lovely table by the window, which overlooked the grounds of Wilderness Lodge.
Sour dough bread and butter with sea salt was delivered to the table while we looked at the menu. It is very sad but the bread is always one of my favourite parts of a meal and this didn’t disappoint. The slightly sour taste of the bread went really well with the sea salt on the butter. This, by the way, is how all the signatures seem to serve their butter, with salt on top – I assume the butter itself is unsalted.
As an appetiser I selected the English Pea Risotto with pork belly. It was very well presented in a bowl-plate – the kind that is the size of plate, but with a recessed bowl bit in the centre. I definitely enjoyed it, but I probably wouldn’t order it again. The pork was very well cooked and really tender. I often find pork can be delivered a little dry so this was definitely a plus but the risotto was a little too salty and the overall result was nice but not fabulous.
Hubby had the mussels, which came with croutons and tomatoes. I’m not a mussel fan so I didn’t sample this one, but his verdict that they were good (I have nothing much else to say about them – they’re rubbery little icky things in my opinion). However he found the tomatoes an odd accompaniment that really just got in the way. The croutons also tasted a little stale and he much preferred the bread to these. The main dish was really good but it was let down by the rest.
We both had the Buffalo Steak for our entree – there was no contest really. We asked for medium rare and it came on the rarer side of that which was perfect for us. I didn’t find the taste of the buffalo to be that different from beef steak – in fact I forgot until half way through that it was different to what we normally have. It was definitely less fatty, but the fat that was on the steak was tougher. The steak itself was really great, but again the side dishes let it down. There were really very few vegetables – definitely a recurring theme throughout many of the restaurants at Disney. I don’t know if we just eat more veg here than in the States but they were surely lacking there. For me though, the biggest issue was the bloody macaroni cheese. I just don’t get how it can be served as a side dish in a good restaurant. I really think it should be reserved for kids or meals that need knocking up quickly – it can not be classed as gourmet, no matter what you do with it. And the pasta wasn’t actually macaroni – so a delicious steak was served with cheesy pasta. I wouldn’t say it ruined the meal in the slightest, but it did let it down.
For dessert I went for Berry Cobbler which was like a fruit compote with cake on top. It was really good and came with fresh raspberries and blackberries, which considering the amount of naughty foods we eat at Disney, made a nice change (the fruit obviously cancels out the rest of the calories!) The homemade berry ice cream that accompanied it though was absolutely the best bit – it was really tasty and would have worked really well with chocolate too.
Hubby had the Chocolate Indulgence – and this time I did sample! It was very good - like a chocolate tart with chocolate on top and chocolate ice-cream. Nom nom nom – very tasty. It was really rich though and considering that, the portion size was a bit large – but better that than too small, hey! We also thought that it could have done with a more refreshing accompaniment than chocolate ice cream – the berry ice-cream that came with the cobbler would have been perfect with it.
The service at Artist Point was very good – our waiter was really friendly and answered all our questions and made recommendations. And he didn’t even laugh when I had to ask what tater tots are (they’re dumpling-like fries apparently). We thought there were a few things amiss throughout the meal though. There was only one knife at the beginning of the meal, so I used the same one as a butter knife and for my starter. The mussels really should have come with a finger bowl to clean up after eating. And when I finished my appetiser earlier than Hubby did, my plate was cleared away whereas I was always taught that everyone should have finished eating before plates are cleared. The coffees also weren’t written on the mu – just teas and liquors etc, so we didn’t know what they served, e.g. espresso or cappuccinos etc. All these things are really very minor points, but they’re the kind of thing that you think might make the difference between a regular and a signature restaurant. In actual fact, we’ve since decided that it you can tell a signature restaurant by the fact that the noise level is significantly lower!
All in all we had a really tasty meal at Artist Point and a very enjoyable evening. However, for me the restaurant lacked a little atmosphere and while the food was very good, I wouldn’t say that it was significantly better than at some of better non-signature restaurants around Disney.
- Would we go there again? Well I’d never say never never and if we lived in the area then very possibly, but when we have limited time on holiday, there are better signatures and we won;t be making a reservation for our next trip.
- Hubby’s rating: 6/10
- My rating: 6/10