Disclaimer: The Boathouse graciously provided a gift certificate and complimentary Amphicar experience during my recent visit. All opinions are my own.
The Boathouse has been on my radar since it first opened a few years back, and I’m thrilled to have finally been able to try it on a recent trip to Disney Springs. There are so many new and unique restaurants popping up all over Disney Springs, that finding the time to experience them all is really no easy task. While I’m nowhere near finished with my bucket list of Disney Springs restaurants, The Boathouse was more of a priority than some of the others for me because I was very interested in the Amphicar experience as well as the possibility of finding a solid go-to seafood restaurant at the Walt Disney World Resort.
You can find The Boathouse right in the middle of The Landing area of Disney Springs, making it a quick walk from wherever you park, the bus stops, and the boat launches. The best part of its location however is really the water views with a number of outdoor tables and some indoor tables that overlook the water. For a more casual experience, the restaurant also features the Dockside Bar which sits behind a collection of classic watercraft and provides the most spectacular waterfront views for watching Disney’s boat transportation and Amphicars come and go (more on the Amphicars later).
This is going to be a long review since we’ll be discussing everything from the food to the decor and even the guided Amphicar tours, so settle in with a glass of wine before you keep reading. (P.S. the wine in the photo above is The Boathouse’s white sangria 👍.)
First let’s talk about the eats! Coming from New England, I honestly find seafood to be hit or miss when visiting not just the Walt Disney World Resort but Orlando in general (and it’s typically an extra ‘miss’ when we’re talking about New England-themed seafood dishes– I’m looking at you quick service lobster rolls). For this reason, The Boathouse has had this special appeal to me as the raw bar and decor provide a sort of familiar atmosphere and I was hopeful that the food would live up to my presumably unrealistic expectations.
The Boathouse starts off dinner service with dinner rolls and butter. The bread is sweetened by a sort of buttery glaze and served warm, which makes it really hit the spot after a long day of shopping at Disney Springs. As you can probably tell from the picture this is not necessarily the most memorable pre-dinner bread in Disney (it’s not anything too fancy or different like Kona Cafe’s pineapple macadamia nut butter or the Yachtsman Steakhouse’s roasted garlic spread) but it serves its purpose and is totally worth the calories.
Onto the starters, we decided to order the Firecracker Shrimp, fried shrimp with “Sriracha Mayo, Serrano Chilis and Sweet Peppers.” This is one of those appetizers that you’ve probably seen some variation of on a bunch of different menus, but the sauce really stood out to me on The Boathouse’s version. Anytime you’re covering fried shrimp (or chicken or anything for that matter) with sauce, you run the risk of it quickly getting too soggy.
We really took our time to enjoy these and they kept a nice crispy texture throughout. The flavors of both the Sriracha and the mayo were well balanced and not overwhelming as they have sometimes been in other versions I’ve tried, and I would definitely order this one again. I’d even go so far as to say that if I were local and frequented Disney Springs often this would probably be my first choice for a shareable small plate to have with a drink at the Dockside Bar.
I also tried a cup of the Maine Lobster Bisque– it’s probably my favorite winter comfort food and since I was visiting The Boathouse in January it was the perfect weather for soup, even in Florida. Flavor-wise the lobster bisque at The Boathouse is one of the best I’ve ever had, and while I would not hesitate to order this again I would point out that it seemed to have very little lobster meat in it.
This didn’t take away from the dish at all, as the flavor was that good and I didn’t really need anything extra to fill up on before dinner. I just point this out because if you are expecting it to be loaded with lobster meat, this is probably not the bisque for you. Alternatively if you’re looking for a tasty soup as a precursor to your meal it was delicious and as far as lobster bisque goes can be a nice appetizer without being too filling.
If you’re looking for lots of lobster meat (without simply ordering a boiled lobster) we found that you can’t go wrong with the Baked Lobster Macaroni and Cheese. Another way to get your comfort food craving in, this entree came topped with a lobster claw and was loaded with lobster meat throughout. Baked in a creamy blend of cheeses and topped with a Panko-Cheddar Crust, we would definitely recommend this one.
We gave the fish tacos a try, and found them to be the best I’ve had. (And fish tacos are really my go-to lunch when I’m out to eat around town at home, so this is saying a lot!) Everything about these including the blackened Mahi Mahi just tasted so fresh, from the tortillas to the sliced avocado. One of my pet peeve with tacos in general when served already assembled is that the salsa and slaw can really saturate the tortilla basically rendering it unusable– this was not the case at The Boathouse though, which leads me to believe that all of these ingredients were really fresh since these tacos held themselves together without me having to give up and use a fork.
The last entree we tried was the “Award Winning” Cherrywood-Smoked BBQ Chicken. Wait, what happened to all the seafood? Okay, let’s derail for a quick storytime… My mom was the one who ordered chicken at a seafood restaurant, like she almost always does. Before you go judging her for this, I should let you know that my whole family is/has worked in the seafood industry, and this fact combined with where we live means that we really have no shortage of seafood at home, so when we go out to eat my mom tends to order something different, usually chicken.
In any case, her whole method of ordering chicken at seafood restaurants has really paid off because she’s found some pretty outstanding chicken dishes at places where I would have never thought to stray from lobster, so who knew? She was right again at The Boathouse (although you could say she cheated since the menu does call it “award winning”) but this chicken
Since we have an obsession with all things truffle, and no self control, we also could not pass up an order of truffle fries. Whatever you decide to order at The Boathouse, you need to grab an order of this for the table. Hands down the best truffle fries I’ve ever had. The Lemon Aioli on the side made these even more memorable as they’re often served with a more buttery or mayo-based condiment that can take away from the flavor of the truffle salt. I’m also not sure this photo does the size of this order justice. Although we admittedly just didn’t have the stomach space to make a sizable dent in these, it really was a large order and could easily be shared among four or five guests.
Before we get to dessert, I just want to quickly tell you about some of the standout features on the menu that just didn’t make it into this review (that limited stomach-space and all!) First of all, I knew the raw bar at The Boathouse was impressive because it’s the most expansive one I’ve seen anywhere I’ve been in Florida. I actually later learned the The Boathouse has the largest selection of Oysters in Florida, including the Lucky Dux Oysters, which have been grown and harvested exclusively for this restaurant.
As part of Gibsons Restaurant Group, the menu features Gibsons USDA Blue Star Heritage Angus Certification, which makes the group the first and so far only in the country to have their own such designation. I’ve also heard excellent things about the sandwich list, particularly the burgers, and if you’re looking for something lighter all of the salads sound delicious as well.
As far as restaurants at Disney go, The Boathouse really does have one of the largest menus, which I think is really helpful because you can really tailor your experience based on what you like and how much you’d like to spend. There are the usual splurges on the menu like filet mignon and whole lobster, but there are plenty of reasonably priced options like the fish tacos and shrimp and grits, so you can really enjoy a meal here regardless of your budget.
The dessert that The Boathouse is most known for is the Smores Baked Alaska, which presumably serves four but I’d argue at least with any kind of lunch or dinner before it it’s easily more suited for a group of six. Since there was no way the three of us were going to conquer that, we decided to split the more reasonably sized Bourbon Apple Crisp a la Mode. How have I never added bourbon to apple crisp before? Apparently I’ve been making some serious baking mistakes because this was incredible– if you can save any ounce of room it’s totally worth it.
All in all, we really enjoyed our entire dining experience at The Boathouse, and I would happily recommend it to seafood lovers, families, couples, vintage boat-lovers, and all of the above. I think it’s the perfect date spot because the larger menu makes it easy to accommodate whatever tastes you’re going for and whatever price points you’re looking to stay within.
This would normally be the end of review, but there is one more part of dining at The Boathouse that makes this a really memorable experience. The Boathouse is the only place where guests can enjoy guided tours by authentic 1960s Amphicars. These vintage vehicles work both on land and in the water, and offer guests a splash down into the water with a guided tour of all the sights around Disney Springs.
Tours run $125/car, with each car able to accommodate 3-4 people. It sounds pricey, but if you assume $125 for three people it’s about $40 per person, which is what most backstage tours and other upcharge events around the Walt Disney World Resort tend to cost. You can make the tour a greater value with a $25 voucher redeemable towards an Amphicar tour that you receive after spending $50 in the restaurant or the Boatique the adjacent gift shop.
Seeing Disney Springs by Amphicar is one of the most unique experiences I’ve had at the Walt Disney World Resort. The Amphicars themselves are fascinating, and our captain was made the whole ride by providing information both the car and Disney Springs and by providing some entertainment. Amphicar tours are available daily from 10:00 am to 10:00 pm, and you can make a walk-up reservation right at the Boatique.
Have you visited The Boathouse? If so, let us know what you loved about it in the comments, or let us know what you’d look forward to experiencing at The Boathouse!