The BOATHOUSE: Great Food, Waterfront Dining, Dream Boats opens today at The Landing at Downtown Disney, the area’s first all-new dining spot featuring spectacular floating artwork: dream boats from the 1930s, ‘40s and ‘50s.
But of course it’s the food that we want to talk about, so we caught up with Executive Chef Bob Getchell, who’s been on the team more than five months creating the menu for the expansive restaurant that features three distinctive bars and nautically theme dining rooms. The BOATHOUSE restaurant is managed by the award-winning Gibsons Restaurant Group.
“Incredible food with a waterfront view is the focal point,” says Chef Bob. “All of the dining rooms have waterfront views or are on the water.” With 600 seats – 400 indoors, 200 outdoors – there’s not a bad view in the house.
The upscale menu focuses on seafood and steaks, upscale cocktails and a solid wine list. You can get anything from a casual basket of fried clams or big butterflied shrimp to “the best Angus beef burgers in town,” says Chef Bob. (And the fries are hand cut.)
Let’s start with the raw bar, serving three to five varieties of oysters on the half shell, colossal wild-caught Baja shrimp cocktail, and the BOATHOUSE lobster cocktail made with a pound-and-a-quarter lobster. Local Anastasia Gold caviar is on the menu from a farm in nearby Pierson, Fla.
Even the salads are notable, like the sirloin steak salad with eight ounces of New York strip steak, seared ahi tuna salad with Asian dressing, and the Buffalo chicken salad with Point Reyes blue cheese and spicy pecans.
The rotisserie chicken is brined 24 hours and stuffed with citrus and fresh herbs, then slow roasted. Cedar plank salmon roasts in an 875°F oven. And you’ll find dayboat fish coming in fresh, like the Cape Canaveral tripletail that’s on the opening day menu, or Florida wahoo.
Back to those steaks – Gibsons sources their meat from small farms in the upper Midwest, and features buttery filet mignon, a 28-ounce Porter house and a 32-ounce long bone rib chop (our favorite).
“We’re famous for our big desserts,” says Chef Bob. Like the S’More Baked Alaska made with one-and-a-half gallons of rocky road ice cream with graham cracker crust, topped with a mountain of meringue and marshmallows, chunks of chocolate on the outside, then torched for the s’mores finish. Meant for sharing, of course. Or the Whiskey Caramel Cornbread Cake with fresh berries in a whiskey-honey syrup finished with whisked buttermilk cream and whiskey caramel sauce. But Chef Bob admits his favorite dessert is the ice cream float with grape Nehi soda, poured tableside.
Kids’ meals are no afterthought – they’re all homemade, like the Sticks and Stones with chicken breast strips and fish, hand-breaded. Or the Pig in a Blanket wrapped with pretzel dough and baked.
“We’ve got something for everyone on the menu,” says Chef Bob. More than a dining experience, The BOATHOUSE immerses guests with waterfront adventures including live music and romantic Captain’s guided tours aboard The Venezia, a beautifully crafted 40-foot wooden Italian Water Taxi, or the 1800s antique steamboat Lady Rose, both featuring champagne toasts and chocolate-covered strawberries. Or head to the water for guided Amphicar tours where you’ll enter the water with a splash for a 20-minute tour.
Hours are 11 a.m.-2 a.m. daily.