By A.D. Thompson
The longtime seafood-dining classic at Walt Disney World Resort, the Flying Fish has reopened at Disney's BoardWalk Resort with much fanfare for its new décor and for its innovative twist on seaside dining. The new menu is guaranteed to make waves as it delivers a whole new level of upscale and creative dining in Orlando.
Since opening 20 years ago, the former Flying Fish Café, now just Flying Fish, has been both a Disney-fan and local favorite. And now that it has reopened, with a glamorous redesign that extends from its soaring interior to its swanky bar to its succulent menu - one thing is for certain: this experience may very well be in high demand, as it's a great "new" addition to Orlando's phenomenal dining scene.
It's also neat that they've opened the AbracadaBar right next door. Victorian touches make it an ideal place to sip craft cocktails. The Conjurita ($12), for example, is served with quite the Disney-magical flourish by its expert elixir magicians. And I had no trouble making it disappear.
So, too, went the phenomenal fare next door, where the fish actually do fly, thanks to a brilliant, light-catching sculpture and chandeliers inspired by life beneath the waves.
Here, sustainable seafood is the star player, but our palates still melted for the Kurobuta Pork Belly appetizer ($15) - lovingly stacked with a shank croquette, Royal Gala apple slaw, Bing cherry gastrique and a warm, creamy quail egg.
The Blue Crab Bisque ($15), with its jumbo lump crab, melted leeks and artfully incorporated tarragon crème fraiche not only offers cause for creamy delight, but an excuse for a bit of bowl-mopping with the warm, nori-infused bread from local purveyors, Old Hearth Bakery.
Entrees are ample. The Maine Lobster Nero Pasta ($64) features a mound of crustacean amid golden tomato sauce, young artichokes and micro lemon grass and the tender pairing of Wood-Fired Spanish Octopus and Chilean Seabass ($44), served with bomba arroz, Peruvian sweet peppers and house-made chorizo is exceptional.
Those more keen on "turf" than "surf" will enjoy the beef options, which include the Wagyu Filet Mignon ($55), served with Okinawan potatoes, Chanterelle mushrooms, Romanesco and Bordelaise sauce.
Sommelier and General Manager Stig Jacobsen says there are already new diner favorites amid the fare, but he finds the concept challenging. "It's hard to pick a favorite ... but I'm partial to scallops. The plancha gives them that delicious crust.... It's an experience to taste!"
He is speaking of the Plancha-Seared Hokkaido Scallops ($46), served with Antebellum grits, Brentwood sweet corn and a peppadew emulsion.
Did you save room? Flying Fish's dessert menu is surprisingly "seafood" inspired, as well. The Under the Sea ($12), for example, goes beyond its obvious dual nod to the ocean and the Little Mermaid, and honors both elegantly with Valhrona Manjari chocolate, chocolate coral sponge, pistachio sand, dehydrated milk foam and a tasting of three sea salts.
You will leave sublimely sated and very well-suited for digestion as Disney's Boardwalk is a superb location for a post-meal stroll....
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Amy Drew Thompson has spent more than 20 years as a journalist and roughly two decades as a Floridian. A roller coaster enthusiast, she readily admits there is fun to be had amid the theme-park madness, but has found magic, as well, in the outer-lying reaches of Mickey's long shadow. She is a full-time freelancer, an editorial jack-of-all-trades and the Orlando Local Expert for USA Today's 10Best.com