Eco-friendly and sustainable seafood is the theme at Paddlefish at Disney Springs. Disney Springs is the shopping, dining and entertainment venue in the theme park capital of the world. Disney Springs highlights only premium brands and the best the world has to offer. Paddlefish fits well into this offering.
Location: The Landings at Disney Springs, 1670 East Buena Vista Drive, Orlando, Florida
Menu: The menu is extensive, with a large variety of seafood. The offerings go beyond local Florida seafood. King Crab comes from Alaska, Snow Crab is harvested from the Gulf of St. Lawrence in Canada. Lobster comes from Maine.
Mussels, clams, shrimp, and scallops used in a variety of dishes provide a more extensive choice of shellfish than many restaurants.
There were plenty of traditionally southern preparations, including Shrimp and Grits, Cornmeal Crusted Catfish, Linguine and Clams, a Blackened Catfish sandwich and a Crab Cake BLT. Vegetarians will find a linguini in garlic, olive oil, and market vegetables available.
The soup options are what you would expect to see at a seafood restaurant. The New England Clam Chowder blends the flavors of bacon, potatoes and cream. Lobster Bisque isn’t really lobster bisque without a splash of sherry, and this one has sherry cream.
Salads are traditionally American, with a choice of Green Salad, Caesar or Wedge.
The side dishes add a few interesting twists with choices like Maque Choux, a Cajun combination of corn, onion, garlic, and red and green pepper, edamame-smoked bacon succotash, blistered green beans, skin-on-fries, and red bliss potatoes. There is also plain old asparagus or mac and cheese for safer eaters.
If you leave room for dessert, there are several very traditional American offerings, some with a special surprise. The Brownie Milkshake tops the dessert menu, complete with chocolate ganache, caramel popcorn and whipped cream. The Chocolate Crème Brulee is served with fresh raspberries. It wouldn’t be Florida without Key Lime Pie. But, if you just want coffee after dinner, you must try the Pecan Chicory Espresso Martini made with Cathead Pecan Vodka, Hoodoo Chicory liqueur and espresso. The vodka and chicory liqueur both hail from Mississippi.
A full bar menu complete with craft cocktails and a substantial wine list round out the offering.
Thoughts: Located on an iconic Paddleboat anchored on Lake Buena Vista, many tables have beautiful lake views, as promised by the name “Buena vista.”
The Tableside Lobster Guacamole was recommended, so we tried it. Lena, a sous chef, appeared at our table with a cart full of ingredients, including two whole avocados and a bowl full of fresh chunks of lobster. We watched as she smashed the avocado into a marble bowl, then added fresh lemon juice, red onion, diced peppers, cilantro, and a little salt. She carefully molded the guacamole and turned it out into another marble bowl. Topping it with the fresh lobster, she served it to us with a side of chips. It was a little taste of heaven on earth. I would have been happy if this was the entire meal.
Other starters were equally appealing. This is a good place to try the Ahi Poke. With the large volume of high-quality seafood that moves through this establishment, there is no question that everything is as fresh as it can be. The Crab Ceviche is made with blue crab and avocado. Oysters are Market Fresh. The most spectacular starter is the fresh Seafood Tower for 4, which combines several of the menu offerings. Dutch Harbor King crab, jumbo shrimp, market fresh oysters, and the Ahi Tuna Poke are piled into a masterpiece.
I tried the scallops, which were sautéed in brown butter, plated on top of cauliflower puree and served with crispy Brussels sprouts with bacon. It was a reasonably light way to chase down the lobster guacamole.
Reservations must be made at least 24 hours in advance and can be made up to 6 months in advance. There is no walk-up dining. The restaurant is open to the public, with or without a theme park visit, but it does participate in the Disney Dining Program, which makes it a very busy place filled with visitors from all over the world.
In true Disney fashion, the service was superb, and the staff is well-trained and friendly. The atmosphere is casual, due to the connection with the theme parks, but the menu is definitely fine dining.
Price Range: Starters $6-16. Chilled Seafood $15-70. Entrees $17-49 Desserts $9-15
Disclosure: The author received a complimentary meal courtesy of Experience Kissimmee.
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