REVIEW - Flying Fish at Disney's BoardWalk

Aug 04, 2016 in "Flying Fish"

New Flying Fish overview

The BoardWalk’s signature Flying Fish restaurant has reopened following a major six month refurbishment.

It may have dropped Cafe from its name on the sign outside, but it has gained a lot more on the inside.

The Dining Room

The old whimsical look is gone, and in its place comes a much more sophisticated, modern interior.

The new upscale look is far from ordinary though. The ceiling is home to some spectacular light fixtures, including a glass school of fish and bubbles.

Artwork on the walls depicts the golden age of the BoardWalk.

The old wooden chairs are gone, and in their place are much more up-to-date blue fabric chairs, white linens and wooden floors. Parts of the dining room are carpeted in a deep blue.

The deep blue tones throughout the dining room take you under the sea, in an upscale, not in your-face, way.

The layout of the dining room is much the same as before. There is seating for 191 guests, with an open kitchen and bar with counter seating.

The center of the dining room is divided by some beautiful shaped booths, with seating for larger groups.

At the rear of the restaurant is a private dining area, which can be used for event dining.

Alongside the open kitchen is the Chef’s Counter, with seating for 12 at three tables. This area features its own menu, where a six course dinner is offered.

We found the old Flying Fish Cafe to be excessively noisy when busy, and it appears that this may have been corrected with this refurbishment. There are more soft surfaces, and floor to ceiling curtains that help with the acoustics.

The ambiance of the dining room is very relaxed, and is a great option for families. Dress code is smart casual, but like most Disney restaurants, expect to see guests dressed from theme park wear to cocktail and evening dresses.

The Food

Chef Tim Majoras, who was has been on the Flying Fish team since 2011 is the new executive chef, and the menu has had a complete overhaul.

View the new Flying Fish menu.

Fans of the old Flying Fish Cafe may miss some of the old dishes, like the potato wrapped snapper, but like the new look interior, the new menu is a breath of fresh air.

Appetizers include a Blue Crab Bisque, Peaches and Prosciutto, Corn-encrusted Wild Gulf Shrimp, and a Kurobuta Pork Belly.

Entrees include a great selection of seafood and meat dishes. Halibut, Wild Alaskan King Salmon, Plancha-seared Hokkaido Scallops, Bison Strip Loin and a Wagyu Filet Mignon are some of the stand-out dishes.

The dessert menu is mostly all new, with an Under the Sea chocolate creation, Chocolate-Banana Napoleon, and a Florida Reef lemon tart.

Like all good signature restaurants, a complimentary bread service gets things underway.

We started out with the Kurobuta Pork Belly. Priced at $15 the pork belly is accompanied by a Shank Croquette, Royal Gala Apple Slaw, Bing Cherry Gastrique, and a Shirred Quail Egg.

It tastes even better than it looks. The richness of the perfectly seasoned pork belly is offset by apple slaw and the gastrique. As you might expect, it is one of the heavier appetizers, but if you are perhaps going to go with seafood for your entree, the pork belly is a nice change of pace for the appetizer.

For a much lighter option, try the $16 Peaches and Prosciutto, with a Sicilian Pistachio Dust, Vero Beach Arugula, Sonoma Chèvre.

The wafer thin prosciutto is among the best we have tried, and the grilled peaches really bring the dish to life.

Wagyu beef is becoming more popular at Disney restaurants, with the recently opened Tiffins offering an excellent Wagyu Strip Loin. Here at the Flying Fish, it is a Wagyu Filet Mignon, priced at a lofty $58.

There is no question Filet Mignon is super tender, and this Wagyu beef takes that to another level. It was buttery smooth, beautifully seared and cooked to our chosen medium-rare. Topped with a bone-marrow butter and a Bordelaise Sauce, the flavor was there. Rounding out the plate were Okinawan Potatoes, Chanterelle Mushrooms and Romanesco.

It isn’t a large serving by steakhouse standards, and at $60 it is expensive. But that is they way with Wagyu, and if you haven’t tried it before, this is a great opportunity to do so. If you are fan of Filet Mignon, you’ll love it.

Moving to seafood, the Ocean’s Bounty, which changes seasonally, was a pan seared halibut.

Priced at $47, it was accompanied with a Vegetable Mélange and a Savory Potato Beurre Blanc. The halibut is a very soft fish, but had a nice sear on top. The beurre blanc was a nice fit with the dish, making for a beautiful light, but satisfying entree.

Dinner at the Flying Fish is served with a complimentary bread basket, all house made. There is a great crunch on the crust - just be careful not to overload - it is addictive!

Desserts at the Flying Fish take on the theme of the oceans.

Under the Sea is a Valrhona Manjari Chocolate, Chocolate Coral Sponge, Pistachio Sand, Dehydrated Milk Foam, Tasting of Three Sea Salts.

The $12 dish is perfect the chocolate fans, and sized for one. The Valrhona Manjari Chocolate is deep and chocolaty, but the other ingredients didn’t add much to the dish beyond looking interesting on the plate.

The star of the dessert menu for us was the Florida Reef. The $9 dish is a Lemon Tart, Toasted Meringue, Florida Citrus Salad, and Ruby Red Grapefruit Sorbet.

It has a real tang, bursting with fresh citrus. It is a light dessert, sized for one, and makes a perfect ending to Flying Fish dinner.

The kids menu is one of the better offerings at Disney restaurants. There are choices of appetizer, including Seasonal Fruit with pastry crisps and caramel, Free-range chicken soup, and Veggies and greens with focaccia. For mains, there is a Grilled Seasonal Fish with Ancient Grains and Seasonal Vegetables, a Grilled Chicken Breast, and a Fish and Chips.

The kids S’Mores dessert rivals some of the main menu offerings.

The new Flying Fish bar has an all-new cocktail menu crafted specifically for the restaurant.

There are around 300 wine labels on offer, with 80 available by the glass. Stig Jacobsen is the general manager and sommelier at the Flying Fish.

Verdict

Frequent visitors to the old Flying Fish Cafe may miss the familiar 1990’s interior and its original menu, but the new Flying Fish is better in every way.

The interior is modern, sophisticated, but still fits within the BoardWalk theme. The art-deco inspired touches help carry the theme from the nearby AbracadaBAR into the restaurant, and it all works together beautifully.

Expect to pay around $100 per person, which may sound a lot, but there are some exotic ingredients at play, and some complex preparation in the kitchen. The pricing is on a par with other restaurants at this level, and while not offering outstanding value for money on the surface, it is down to each guest if the experience and flavors on offer are worthy of the cost.

Under the new Chef, the food is up-to-date, and really well executed by the kitchen. We enjoyed everything we tasted.

Many of the servers from the Cafe have returned, and the service continues to be excellent as you would expect from a Disney signature restaurant.

Disney has been on a strong run in recent time with new restaurants, and we are very pleased to say that Flying Fish continues that trend. We highly recommend making Flying Fish part of your plans.

Flying Fish is open daily from 5pm to 10pm. It is on the Disney Dining Plan with 2 entitlements. Reservations are available now, and are recommended, although walk-ups may be available.

As with all WDWMAGIC reviews, this review was not part of any promotional tasting, and all food was paid for by the reviewers.

Discuss on the Forums
Article Posted: Aug 04, 2016 / 10:26am EDT
View all comments →

NeXuS1000Aug 07, 2016

Great review of the re-imagining of FF from WDWNT: http://wdwnt.com/blog/2016/08/photos-video-review-flying-fish-returns-to-disneys-boardwalk-as-an-entirely-new-restaurant/ So far, I've only heard great receptions since it re-opened.

rael ramoneAug 05, 2016

The signature appetizer that was removed (crab cake with ancho remoulade) is quite doable at home. Or just make the remoulade and put it on a home made po boy...

BocabearAug 05, 2016

I think adding the bar next door will address some of the waiting area concerns while adding money to the coffers... Honestly all signature restaurants should have a longe area...

DisneyPrincess5Aug 05, 2016

I haven't read anything about this-weren't they suppose to do something about a lack of a waiting area for reservations or did I imagine that one up? I could've sworn I heard that part of the rehab was creating a little more of a space for waiting. The review was very informative. Food looks good as does the new ambiance! My mom will be eating there in November-excited to see what she will think.

PleakleyAug 04, 2016

I couldn't agree more. It's nice, looks like a high end restaurant. I was just really hoping for something grand and unique. Disney set that bar and that's how I got interested in design as a kid. If you put yourself back fifteen to twenty years ago, FF really had that wow factor. You'd expect that again, just today's equivalent. It's like they hinted at an art deco/Hollywood regency feel, but really played it safe. They could have gone very dramatic in the style and it still would have been very classy. The theme offers such an opportunity to be opulent and transportive that it feels like a bit of a waste. But I will say, the photos on this site look much nicer than those on others. The first few I saw appeared incredibly dark and very different from the concept art. Initially I really disliked the look for this particular space, and I like dark colors normally. I thought the palette almost looked like Jiko. However, now seeing it in proper light, the colors seem fine. I suppose they went for "under the sea" as the review says. I would have loved to have seen them gone with some lighter blues though.

TheGuyThatMakesSwordsAug 04, 2016

All personal opinion - I'm not right, no one else is wrong..... I really LIKE what they have done to the Restaurant finishings..... it looks comfortable, upscale, and really nice. But I also looked at the menu :(. Generally, I see very little SHELLFish. There is no Alaskan King Crab, not even a really good sized Lobster. SOME Clams, Mussles, Oysters - but only in the Appetizer area. No one wants to spill the facts on the Wagu size.... at $58 a head? My guess is you are getting a 4 Oz. Filet. Thinking this would be best introduced in the "Appetizer" section, and really not sure how it actually fits the Restaurant's Focus. All in all - I personally love the decor. But I won't be going there, due to the limited menu. Good news? Menus can change - I'll keep an eye on the offerings. Again.... All personal opinion - I'm not right, no one else is wrong..... :).

BocabearAug 04, 2016

and that was sort of my point...a lack of originality to the decor...espcially with it being a Disney restaurant VS a commercial venture at a competing hotel... You would always expect the Disney version to be much more original and spectacular...well in the past anyway. Blue Zoo has also been open for about 12 years... so that might be why it feels dated to you...

ABQAug 04, 2016

Todd is a tool, in my personal opinion. Going way back in the day, dealing with him at Figs, the old Brookline, MA location, he was a nice guy, but dang has he become more and more of a hat made of a butt, if you get my meaning. As for the decore of Flying Fish, I think it's nicer than that of BlueZoo, but the resemblance is not hard to see.

TeriofTerrorAug 04, 2016

Every review I've read has been positively glowing. I think Chef Tim is fantastic, and I can't wait to give it a try!

trampdogAug 04, 2016

Flying Fish is a Disney owned restaurant, Blue Zoo is not. If Todd wants to keep his other restaurants in the Marketing mix, he has to step it up. Personally, I think Blue Zoo is very dated. Looks more like an early 90's nightclub, than a restaurant. It's like eating in Mannequins. Food-wise, I liked the old FF menu but this one looks equally good. I have my ADR in October. Can't wait!

BocabearAug 04, 2016

Not only do we have similar things here, but I used a similar chandelier in a client's house about 4 years ago...so what I am saying, whether you have seen it before or not, Disney used to do extremely creative, original interiors for their different signature dining... this new interior, while very nice, doe not have any of the unique custom touches the previous interior had...and located practically next door, Todd English's restaurant has similar fixtures and theming, but is done in a way that is more dramatic... And yeah, everyone has an opinion...and that is what a forum is about.

Brian SwanAug 04, 2016

Although I have eaten at the "old" FF, I had no special attachment to either the menu or the decor. The food was good, but on the whole it was my least favorite of the Disney Signatures, and one I only went to if I was with a group that wanted to go. A lot of that was the atmosphere. I'm kind of a coaster nut and I loved the tie-in with the old Flying Turns coaster from Coney Island, but to me the setting and menu were a disconnect. With the bright colors, whimsical fish, and NOISE level, it was a place I would expect to get chowder, fish and shrimp baskets, crab cakes, maybe a lobster, hamburgers, hot dogs, etc - NOT $75-100 per person upscale fine dining. I love the new look, and FF will be on my "must do" list, along with Tiffins, on my next trip.

LuvtheGoofAug 04, 2016

Sorry, not trying to make it personal. But we'll have to agree to disagree on this one. I think the new look is miles better than the old one. You had stated that you have something similar where you live near Miami, and I was simply making the statement that the vast majority of us do not, so to us it is different, and better.

BocabearAug 04, 2016

Don't be sorry... I am glad to live somewhere that has some decent architecture... but that is not the point...the point was, the original interior was much more custom and special than what replaced it... Also the fact that the 10 year old BlueZoo having a similar but more dramatic version of the interior kinda makes Flying Fish look less remarkable... that was my point, but thanks for trying to make this personal.