We were invited to the Paddlefish grand opening at Disney Springs on Friday night, and then joined blogger friends for brunch on Sunday to get a more complete experience. The iconic boat has gone through several incarnations (as has Downtown Disney/Disney Springs), beginning with the Empress Lilly (I went to a character breakfast there in the late 70’s or early 80’s), and then as Fulton’s Crab House, and now Paddlefish. Levy Restaurants owns Paddlefish, along with the neighboring Portobello as well as Wolfgang Puck Cafe on the Disney Springs West Side. The Disney Springs landscape is now very restaurant heavy, with a lot of terrific dining – both counter service and table service – to choose from. Paddlefish is very much a seafood restaurant, with a handful of items geared toward non-seafood eaters like me. The restaurant started taking reservations a few days after opening.
I’m posting the photos and review in order of how I experienced the restaurant on Friday and then Sunday for brunch – except for the photo above, which was taken Sunday near noon.
Before diving into about 90 photos, here is our video tour that includes the food:
Friday night, we arrived at Paddlefish just before the 5:00 p.m. start time. This was a sunset/evening event.
This fish design is behind the reservation desk.
This is the staircase that led up to where we sat for a while. The design is very open and contemporary.
There were stations set up with smaller versions of some of the menu items. This is the Lobster Roll, which is actually a 1 1/2 pound of lobster inside a split-top roll in the full size portion. The price is $31.00, I’m not going to share prices on everything as prices change quicker than menu items usually do, but you can see current menus and prices on the Walt Disney World website. Jeff had several of these, this was his favorite food item.
Here is a closer look on the Lobster Roll.
Most of the drinks were available all evening, I only had a sip or two of most and then one full-size cocktail (along with a glass of wine). This is the Little Bird, with Boyd & Blair vodka, Nuestra Soledad mezcal, Bertina Elderflower liqueur, house sour and safron. This was possibly the most popular cocktail of the night.
This was my personal favorite cocktail of what I tried, and the one I fully drank. It’s called Not Everyone’s Margarita, with Nuestra Soledad Mezcal, El Destilador Blanco, jalapeno, Creme de Mure and house sour. It’s odd because I am not someone who likes too much spice, but it worked very well for me.
The views from Paddlefish on every level are gorgeous. Most tables have a lot of light (less so in the room with the paddle wheel outside) and many have window views.
The Lobster Corn Dogs with sweet chili aoili are a popular holdover from Fulton’s.
There are several different boils, I believe this is the Florida Boil.
This includes shrimp and corn.
The Southern Sangria is made of Medley Bros. Bourbon, peach liqueur, Tempranillo, and seasonal fruit. It is a pretty cocktail, and sangria is one of my favorite drinks to order – but this one didn’t click with me as much. Each cocktail has a twist on it, and this doesn’t taste like a standard sangria….I think less of a fruit taste. It’s a decent cocktail, just not what I expect for a sangria. However, it was pretty and popular at the event.
Jeff said the Crab Cake reminded him of what he’s had in Maryland (he had several of these as well).
This is the Ahi Poke with sweet black soy, yuzu, avacado, radish and Asian pickle. Jeff enjoyed all the seafood, this was no exception.
We recieved “The Burger” as a slider – it is normally 9 ounces, with a proprietary blend, house made pickles, red onion pimento cheese on brioche. This was a nice burger, really good flavor. I don’t know that I’d come to Paddlefish just for a burger, but I’d not rule it out either. Next to it is the Crab Fries. The actual portion of Crab Fries is huge, I have a photo of it below from our brunch. The fries at Paddlefish are – in my opinion – just about the best at Disney Springs and really on Walt Disney World property (I’m also partial to the Cooke’s of Dublin fries, which are very different). I took the crab off and tried the fries here, and then enjoyed an order of plain fries with my filet at brunch.
Here is a closer look at the The Burger as a slider.
There are a number of different dining areas, I mentioned how bright and open they are.
Tableside Lobster Guacamole was being prepared. I have a photo of this during the brunch as well, with the lobster portion size. I expect this will be very popular.
Here is a look at the lobster guacamole.
Jeff said this was one of his favorite items, and he’d order it in the future. The lobster taste was very strong.
I’m heading outside again, because Paddlefish has incredible views and it’s nice to see them at different times of day.
A Disney Springs boat passes Saratoga Springs with an amphicar from the Boathouse in view.
The Rainforest Cafe, Ghiardelli and more of the Disney Springs Marketplace can be seen from this angle.
Sunset is gorgeous from here, with Characters in Flight visible in the direction of the West Side.
Characters in Flight lifts off.
Our group ended up finding a spot to stand with the West Side in view, and more Crab Fries were brought.
Portobello is next door, I mentioned earlier that it is owned by Levy as well.
Some of the items from the menu were put out on boards, including Ahi Tuna Bacon.
Pastrami Cured Faroe Island Salmon sits next to the House Beer Mustard. Most items are made in-house.
The carrots and asparagus were delicious and I went back for seconds on them.
Dessert is not actually served in small jars, these are sample sized as well. The Charred Carrot Cake is to the left, with carmelized carrot puree, cream cheese mousse, and shorbread cookie crumb. To the right, the Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Tart, with candied bacon, sea salt, dulce de leche. Both were excellent, I’d order either – I’m a big fan of carrot cake but not usually a fan of pecan anything, but both were decadent. There was a lot of icing in the carrot cake jar, which I was happy about.
The Gold Rush is a mule drink, with Kinahan’s Irish Whiskey, Fever-Tree Ginger Beer, and fresh lime. Jeff enjoyed this one a lot, and it was mixed at the table during our brunch when ordered (I’ll show the presentation during the brunch segment).
This is part of the Doughnuts and Coffee dessert – cinnamon sugar doughnut holes, coffee gelato, and vanilla honey tuille. We received just the cinnamon donuts, which were nice on their own but not especially different than anywhere else (but I’m sure the coffee gelato and vanilla honey tuille add to it immensely).
I didn’t try this – Backyard Fizz with Chareau Aloe Liqueur, Hayman’s gin, house sour, cucumber, mint, topped with Mas Fi.
I took a walk into one of the dining areas.
On the front lower deck of the ship is a bell.
Closer up on the bell.
Oysters with cocktail sauce.
A closer look at the oysters.
There are a number of unique beers on tap. These currently include Cigar City Brewing Jai Lai (out of Tampa) and Highland. It’s a nice selection of craft beer, and there is bottled beer as well.
I ordered a couple of drinks.
A Captain Handsome was next up.
There is a lot of thyme in the Captain Handsome! This cocktail is made with Boyd & Blair vodka, fresh raspberries, and framboise.
The Admiral’s Punch comes in a pitcher and is shared with a group.
Here are a few more photos from the evening, and then we move on to brunch!
I personally prefer dining during the day for the views, but nighttime is nice as well.
Paddlefish at night.
Sunday morning we joined friends for brunch, and it was a perfect day for photos.
The brunch menu is not extensive, but the lunch menu was available to order from as well. We used Tables in Wonderland for a discount on the food, and were told the Annual Passholder discount was also available.
This bar was open, but not all three were.
Here is a view of the Marketplace from Paddlefish.
I had missed this dining room during the preview, which includes a look at the paddle wheel.
This is a pretty room, a little less bright than others due to the wheel.
It also feels a little more formal than some of the other rooms.
One more view.
Forks make up the design in this window.
Close up on a fork.
Here is a hallway that I showed on one of my last preview photos. It has a totally different vibe during the day than at night.
Remember the samples of Crab Fries I showed earlier? This is the full size version. It comes in a bowl and is quite a large portion. These are really great fries either way.
The Beef Skewers appetizer with garlic mojo, hazelnut romesco, pickled onions – tender and delicious.
The Conch Chowder or New England Clam Chowder can be ordered in a cup or bowl. Jeff would order this again in the future, it is similar in taste to what he’s had in Key West.
The Hamachi Crudo was modified for an allergy.
Before the main course, I walked around while waiting. There is a lot of seating all over the boat. While the upstairs bar was not opening until 6:30 p.m. on this evening, guests could purchase a drink at another bar and bring it up.
This is the seating near the third floor bar. It is comfortable and was really popular on the preview night.
The Marketplace Village Causeway bridge.
Characters in Flight lifts off.
A look at the boat.
The Bloody Mary sounded expensive at $20.00 before I saw it – but it is like a small meal, with a large King crab leg, a jumbo shrimp and candied Neuske bacon.
I wasn’t at the table when the Fever-Tree Ginger Beer was poured for the Gold Rush drink, but this is what it looks like after being poured (with the bottle on the side).
The Fried Clam Roll with Ipswich whole bellies is reasonably priced at $16.00 – it comes with fries on the side. Our table spent a lot of time taking photos, so the sandwich was on the cold side by the time Jeff got to it – so he can’t really compare it to other similar sandwiches he’s had (except to say the clams were appropriately crunchy on the outside and chewy inside). But there is a generous amount of food here. As far as we know, we can’t think of any other restaurant on Walt Disney World property with whole belly clams on a daily menu – and Jeff is a big fan of them.
These are the fries that come with the sandwich.
Salmon with alternate sides for a food allergy.
I ordered the 6 ounce Petite Filet Mignon. It was a nice steak, but somewhat overseasoned/oversalted. I’d ask for less seasoning if I ordered it again.
Here is the inside of my steak, I ordered it medium and it was perfectly cooked.
The Monte Cristo on the brunch menu was a nice sized portion. Jeff said it wasn’t as sweet as the Disneyland version (in a good way), and it is an entree he’d order in the future.
Here is a closer look at the Monte Cristo.
The Fish & Chips was a surprisingly large portion size. It is $33.00, but is Atlantic halibut with I-4 IPA, sweet potato fries and malt vinegar aioli.
This is what the Tableside Lobster Guacamole looks like being made at a table. We didn’t order it.
Lobster was waiting to go into the guacamole.
The table split one dessert, we all had decently sized entrees and one dessert was enough. This is the Brownie Milkshake. It isn’t a massive shake like some restaurants have, there was a small amount of brownies and caramel popcorn. Everyone liked this, it’s a thinner shake with chocolate on the outside. It was the perfect size for us.
The brownies and caramel popcorn.
While we were having dessert, we started noticing bread being delivered to tables. We hadn’t received any, so we asked if we could photograph and try it. While not as buttery as some breads we’ve had, it’s light and flaky and butter comes on the side. We were told it is always given for dinner and sometimes for lunch (maybe you have to ask for it). It’s worth asking for.
Paddlefish is “seafood-centric” and the menu bears that out. For a non-seafood eater like me, it’s more of a restaurant I will go with others who are looking for seafood as opposed to a restaurant I’d go to on my own for say, a steak or burger (though both were good entrees). Jeff loves seafood and there are enough options on the menu to keep me happy, and the views are lovely from any angle while dining. There is so much fresh seafood here for anyone who is a seafood lover, and almost everything is made in-house. This is another high quality restaurant at Disney Springs to choose from and I look forward to dining here again.
Thank you to Paddlefish for having us out for the Friday media event.