Artist Point Seafood Hot Pot

*This dining experience took place in April 2013. It also includes a gluten free & yellow food coloring review.

I recently asked blog readers for recommendations for a signature location (and one I hadn’t been to in a while) and Artist Point was heads and tails above the rest. And Chef Williere over at Wilderness Lodge has also been recommending that I visit, so I took their advice and made an ADR. The last time I visited was 3 years ago, so I was looking forward to a great meal.

I admit, I was bad on this visit and somehow spaced taking photos. Blame it on my afternoon tasting filled with desserts–I was sort of in a sugar coma by that point. But, if you’re interested in a great detailed review of the decor, I would recommend heading over to the Disney Food Blog for a good review.

On this particular visit, I was hoping to catch up with Chef Matt, whom I’d met a few ago through Chef Williere while dining at Whispering Canyon Cafe. We were greeted by Chef Marco, who was kind but not as helpful as I would have anticipated for the caliber of restaurant. Nothing wrong with his interaction per se, but I didn’t feel like he was really up for customizing dishes, which I definitely expect at a signature location. After going over the options, I asked if Chef Matt was around to say hi. I feel badly because I don’t think he was thrilled with me because he never did come back–Chef Matt ended up taking care of things.

When Chef Matt came out, he was willing to do more customization but I think we were all losing steam from the day, so we all ended up with simple dishes. I ordered the appetizer salad that came with blackberries, sunflower seed granola, and ice wine vinaigrette and for my entree I ordered the hot pot which came with crab, shrimp, mussels and pork belly. My friend who is GF and yellow food coloring actually ordered the salad because he’s not a big beef eater or seafood lover. The chicken was not gluten free, but they did offer to make him plain chicken  if he wanted. He ended up just ordering the salad as an entree. My other friend who doesn’t have food allergies got the salmon which I almost ordered–looked delicious.

First up at the table were the rolls. Sorry to say, this restaurant did not at all know how to heat them up. And yes, GNI brand rolls need to be heated properly or they are nasty. It was even worse because the last time my friends were here for Valentine’s Day, they had to send the rolls back 3 times because they were frozen. Seriously. So, they were at least not frozen this time. But yes, they needed some heating assistance. Mine was served with extra virgin olive oil that had turmeric in it and my friend got butter with some type of sea salt on it. The oil was fantastic. The only thing that could have made it better was the proper heating of the rolls.

GNI brand rolls

Next I got my salad (and this is the same salad my friend ordered for his entree), so both of our thoughts on this are listed here. It was a very refreshing salad. Mine was modified to remove the Manchego cheese, but was on my friend’s salad. I loved that cheese pre-dairy free days, so I can imagine it paired quite well with the dressing, berries, and granola. Note that the granola on it was really not what you would think of as traditional granola. It was sunflower seeds, egg whites, and honey mixed and baked. It was delicious. The ice wine dressing was really nice and delicate and played well with the greens, berries, and granola. The two things that we both noticed about the dish: 1) it needed more granola! (yep, we really liked it) and 2) it felt really underdressed in terms of the vinaigrette–just a bit more of the dressing and it would have been perfect.

Salad–the sunflower “granola” was out of this world!

Then on to the entrees. This was really the star of the meal. I ordered the hot pot which had crab, shrimp, mussels, coconut milk, and rice..oh yeah and crispy pork belly. This was insane! It was actually the perfect meal for me that night–light, filling, and heavily protein based. The mussels were cooked to order and perfectly cooked (hard to do sometimes), the crab was tender and the shrimp was full-head on shrimp. That means TONS of flavor. Of course, I can’t do the creole/cajun suck the heads part but I appreciate the flavor that it imparts the dish. The sauce was very light and flavorful. Had some great fresh herbs in it and the coconut milk was perfect in terms of flavor. They included fresh limes and that was an excellent touch–the lime juice definitely added to the flavor of the dish. And then the pork belly. THE BEST PART OF THIS DISH. Ok, sorry for the all caps, but I just had to shout out how good it was. The pork belly was perfectly cooked and offered the best salty bite to the dish. Seriously, I’m still craving that pork belly.

Hot pot. Check out all that goodness!

Just for those who are interested, here’s a non-allergy dish, though the salmon could be made GF. Looked amazing.

*Note this is NOT allergy safe–the salmon can be made GF/DF though–not the sides.

We all opted for no dessert–we were over desserts at that point (and yes, for those interested the dessert tasting was for the upcoming special diets dessert party–more details to come!). It sounded like the were willing to customize something, but I definitely wasn’t feeling it–and we got spoiled by Disney’s catered events.

Overall, I was extremely pleased with my meal at Artist Point. I found the quality of the food to be exceptional–though there were a few things I’d like to see the restaurant work on. They need to learn how to cook those rolls better. Such good accompaniments shouldn’t go to waste on poorly heated GF carbs! The other slight criticism I have is that they didn’t seem to be willing to customize as much as some other signature dining locations are. Brown Derby, California Grill, Jiko, Narcoosee’s..they have all gone above and beyond to work with me (Brown Derby made homemade truffle mayo for goodness sakes!). I had a lot of choices because I enjoy seafood but for those who aren’t in to seafood or beef, this might not be a great location.

In general though I found the food to be excellent and the service was impeccable. Our server was on top of all of our beverages, dishes, silverware, etc. In that respect, they excelled above many restaurants. Additionally, the atmosphere is relaxing and gorgeous. I personally love the arts & crafts style, so I found it to be very appealing.

I certainly wouldn’t hesitate to visit again–that hot pot is now on my favorite dish list! I’d give this an 8 out of 10 due to the poor rolls and semi-lacking customization. But overall, would highly recommend this location.

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