Thursday, February 2, 2012
Restaurant Review: Artists Point
Getting back into the swing of things with a review of Artists Point in the Wilderness Lodge Resort. I approached this meal a bit different then I normally would. In a restaurant that offers a wide variety of treats for the carnivore in you-I decided to give meatless a try. While not pure vegan-my dining choices were void of meat with the exception of meat stocks used. And you know what? It was amazing!
Brief Description: Artists Points' cuisine is inspired by the Pacific Northwest with heavy emphasis on hearty meats, game & seafood. Think salmon, halibut, buffalo, & pork. Also root vegetables, mushrooms and hearty, homey desserts. Many of the dishes are the kinds you would expect from a rugged lodge-IF every lodge had a 5 star restaurant in it lol.
Decor: In keeping with the atmosphere of the Wilderness Lodge, Artists Point is designed with warm wood furniture, exposed wood rafter beams & pillars, wrought iron fixtures with alabaster shades and huge murals depicting rugged outdoor scenes. Huge windows surround you, giving you a view to the outside pool area, geyser and surrounding woods & lake. While you might think it would lack in refinement & a cozy feel-it's actually the opposite. The atmosphere is relaxed and inviting and kind of makes you wish you were wearing your favorite comfy sweater. The noise level is low, which has been helped even more by the addition of carpeting, and the lighting is ample without being overbearing. But something that I wanted to mention about AP-while it is beautifully decorated-it's not overbearing and distracting. I say this because I think that it is a great option for kids. It's casual atmosphere and low-key theme seems great for keeping kids at ease and not over-stimulated. Of course that can have a reverse effect on kids if they are bored by it-but overall, I think it's a great option for families.
Service: I have nothing but praise for the service at Artists Point. I have a special mention for my server, Peter, who is a professional in the truest sense of the word. His extensive knowledge of the menu & wines, his timing and intuition and his personality were in one word-perfection. Nothing pleases me more than getting a good server and my experience was made better ten-fold because of Peter. I also found it funny that toward the end of the meal, as I took out my notebook to record my impressions for later, he was completely unfazed lol. Although Peter was an extra special treat, I have never had anything less then wonderful service from any member of the Artists Point staff. I was warmly greeted and shown to my table by a lovely hostess who chatted with me a bit. I also received attention from 2 managers on duty, inquiring about my meal and asking if I needed anything. This has been my experience both alone & when dining with my family.
Menu Selections/Approachability: As I stated before-if you're an avid carnivore, Artists Point is a little slice of heaven for you. But that doesn't mean vegetarians should steer clear. As I also said, earlier in my review, I purposely choose meatless options for this visit. I've been numerous times to AP and being a raging carnivore, have enjoyed many of the steaks, pork, & game meats offered. That's why, honestly, I did not expect to enjoy my main dish of gnocchi as much as I did. But I will get into that in the next part of the review. The menu has a wonderful selection of seriously interesting appetizers & salads. They are ingredients you will recognize, but ingeniously prepared like the Smokey Portobello Soup, or the "BLT" salad. The entrees section has a nice representation of meats such as chicken and steaks & seafood, including the Cedar Plank Roasted Wild King Salmon-their signature dish. Accompaniments are also familiar but approachable like the the sweet corn pudding. Dessert again gives us a signature dish AP is famous for-the Artists Point Cobbler. While the other options are always good-this one is not to be missed. It is seriously smile inducing and gives you a major case of the happy food dance. Overall I feel this menu has something for everyone and isn't too scary to the average diner, yet still manages to delight those with a refined palette as well. I think that anyone can find something to please them at Artists Point.
Execution/Food Quality: 3 words-wow, wow, wow. Where do I even begin? Fresh goes without saying but when you're looking for the river they pulled that salmon out of-THAT'S fresh. The menu just screams of how much care & attention is used in picking out the ingredients for the dishes. Not just in the uniqueness, but also in how they go so well together. I have this image in my mind of the chefs at AP going out each morning and hand picking everything down to the last cherry tomato. And when they get back-that's when the real magic begins. The cedar plank salmon I mentioned earlier, well I'm not sure I can even convey how masterfully this is done. AND TO ORDER! My entree, the house-made gnocchi were utterly perfect. And gnocchi is one of those things where a lot can go wrong. They were light and fluffy, yet tender and so stinking flavorful! Their flavor was such that they could have stood on their own as the meal. And finally dessert, the Artists Point Cobbler was another dish that was prepared to order. Served warm with fresh berries & house-made sorbet was everything that is right about dessert. From beginning to end, my meal at Artists Point was nothing short of perfection. And that is the standard, again & again.
Value: With the signature restaurants of Disney, value can be subjective. I am one of those people who will pay through the nose for a good meal-but I hold you to that. I want to leave on a major food high and in the end-it's the food that puts me there. Of course service and decor play a big part, but food is the key. Having said that-you get every bit of your money's worth at Artists Point. Top notch service, lovely atmosphere and fantastic food back up the menu prices. Average appetizers price of $13, an average entree price of $34 and an average dessert price of $10, Artists Point is on par with other WDW dining locations, if not a little more reasonable.
Transportation Rating: 3 Getting to Artists Point isn't tricky, but it can eat up some time. Take a resort bus to the Magic Kingdom (or monorail/boats if you're staying at a monorail resort) and then take the boat over to the Wilderness Lodge. Look for the dock specifically marked Wilderness Lodge. Once you dock walk to the resort, passing the pool and depending on which entrance you use, you will probably walk right past it as you enter the main hall of WL. If not it is located toward the back of the great hall diagonally across from the store. To return simply take the boat or a resort bus back to the Magic Kingdom and grab a bus to your resort from their.
My final word on Artists Point is, although it often gets overlooked, it is well worth the money & time to check it out. It offers something or every palette and delivers an unforgettable dining experience. If you've not made your way to Artists Point-make that reservation. I think you will be very pleasantly surprised.