Situated in the back corner of the Wilderness Lodge lobby just behind Territory Lounge, Artist Point offers diners the opportunity for a fantastic Pacific Northwest-themed meal with spectacular views of the lodge’s grounds and Bay Lake. I was able to book a last-minute ADR for this meal just a few hours beforehand, and walkup availability is pretty common here early in the night.
Just like the décor and location of the restaurant, the menu stresses a seasonal Pacific Northwest theme. For appetizers, you’ll generally find dishes that fit in one of three categories:
- Seasonal salads: a light salad option (roasted beets in the fall; field greens in the winter), along with a few heavier salads (one recent dish is confited bacon with grilled corn)
- Wildcards: during fall and winter, venison carpaccio is a more adventurous start to the meal
- Staples: Subject to availability, there’s nearly always a mussels dish; a cheese plate; and their signature Smokey Portobello Soup, which is worth a trip on its own.
Entrées fit the standard formula for Disney table service restaurants: chicken, pork, beef, vegetarian, fish, and seafood. Artist Point also tends to add buffalo and a few other seafood dishes to the mix to accentuate the theme. Cedar plank-roasted salmon is their signature entrée. Often servers will recommend the prawn and crab “hot pot” or scallop dishes, as well. I tend to stick to the land when choosing entrées and come back to Artist Point time and time again for their pork and buffalo.
Desserts feature their signature berry cobbler, a chocolate-centric dish, crème brûlée, and a no sugar added option that’s definitely worth a try. Recently, a trio dessert titled “The Mural” has been available with a sweet potato or pumpkin cheesecake and cranberry sorbet alongside a divine chocolate semifreddo. Don’t let the name scare you away; this half-frozen custard-filled chocolate ice cream ball is one of the best tasting things you can try at Artist Point. For this meal, I settled on a few of the newer options on the menu.
To start, I jumped at the chance to have the duck confit salad. The plate itself is decorated with a very sweet cabernet reduction and a few quarters of figs, the tart (which was essentially a gruyere cheese quiche), a very large portion of the duck confit, all topped with a late harvest salad dressed in vinaigrette. The tart had a great cheese flavor that acted as an appropriate savory offset for the well-seasoned duck. The sweetness of the cabernet reduction and figs mirrored traditional duck accompaniments, and was balanced out by the acidity in the dressing on the greens. This dish was the perfect way to start a meal, and I would gladly have eaten another serving as my entrée. Instead of feasting on more duck, I tried the newest variation of the “savory donut” served with one entrée.
The Certified Angus Beef filet is served with a wild mushroom ragout and a truffle and hazelnut crunch donut filled with sage-flavored sweet potato puree on a red currant gastrique. I opted to swap the beef filet for the buffalo strip steak, which came topped with the same wine-infused butter as the filet to set the flavors up for the dish. Presented as a trio with the perfectly-cooked buffalo on the left, the plate transitions from salty to sweet in a great balance of hearty late fall and winter flavors. The mushroom ragout creates a rich sauce for the meat, and the donut offsets both with a lighter, sweeter flavor than you’d find in a traditional “meat and potatoes” dish. I felt adventurous on this particular dining occasion and decided to give the bone marrow at the center of the plate a try. The best way to overcome the strange texture is by spreading it like butter on the incredible house-made sourdough bread served at the beginning of the meal. Overall, this entrée highlights why Artist Point has a dedicated following among those dining at Walt Disney World – outside-the-box concepts, but at the heart of it all, simple and well-executed flavors.
For dessert, I was able to enjoy my favorite selection on the menu at the moment – the dark valrhona and white chocolate “sculpture” with drunken cherry crunch and blackberry port sauce. The dark and white chocolate components are not as sweet as you might expect, especially when eaten with the dark chocolate shavings and the crunchy components scattered around the plate and on top of the first layer. When paired with the sauce and cherries, the dessert is well-balanced, light, and easy to eat. In addition to the crunch on top, there are Maker’s Mark-soaked cherries hidden in the center of the tower. These surprise cherries make for a few unexpected and very tasty bites towards the end of the meal.
All three courses came to my table in a pretty timely manner, with the exception of the appetizer. My server was fantastic in filling the wait, though. He had already provided the bread service and didn’t hesitate to bring out a quick amuse-bouche of corn and acorn squash soup to hold me over while he found the duck confit. All of my questions about each dish were patiently answered, both before I ordered and after I received my food. Every course came expertly paired with great wines that I’d gladly order separately now after trying them with these dishes. I wouldn’t hesitate to return to Artist Point in the near future for a relaxing dinner in the wilderness based on the value of the meal and the quality of the food and service.