Walt Disney World (FL)

Review: Dinner at the Yachtsman Steakhouse Wasn’t All Smooth Sailing

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The Yachtsman Steakhouse is a Signature Dining restaurant at Disney’s Yacht Club resort. With “hand-cut, dry-aged steaks”, Disney positions the restaurant as a high-end stop for steak, and you’ll find it priced accordingly. Appetizers are $16-22, entrees $38-65, and desserts $15-20. A full three-course meal will run you about $80-95, not including drinks and gratuities. As a Signature restaurant, you’ll need to spend 2 Disney Dining Plan credits to dine at the Yachtsman.

The camera faces through the dining room to the windows; light wood on floor and slightly darker wall panels between the windows coordinate with Craftsman-style light fixtures overhead.

The restaurant’s interior leans heavily on polished wood that gives the space a warm, intimate feeling. Although the floor is bare, vertical features and ceiling joists helped to break up noise and we didn’t find that the space was loud.

The Yachtsman serves dinner only, but is open 7 days a week. You’ll often find same-day reservations or walk-up availability. And as a Signature restaurant, the Yachtsman expects guests to be in clean, neat attire – but I felt that clothing was generally more relaxed here than Signatures on the monorail loop.

Bread Course

The bread service was a mix of crusty white dinner rolls and onion rolls, accompanied by roasted garlic and butter sprinkled with sea salt. The white rolls had a nice crust, but not much flavor aside from salt. The onion rolls were the better of the pair, soft and tender with the sweet, pungent flavor of onion.

First Course

Caesar Salad – $16.00
Marinated White Anchovies and Croutons

Caesar salad decorates the menus of every mid-range restaurant everywhere, but this one beats all those shlocky salads into the ground. Parmesan shavings instead of shreds, and a tangy, creamy dressing with just a hint of brine that was properly and carefully tossed to coat each leaf. The only flair was the crouton, which was a crackly crisp instead of the traditional cubes. This salad reminds you why Caesar salad is so popular that poorly executed versions became ubiquitous.

Lobster Bisque – $18.00
Lobster Biscuit / Crème Fraîche / Espelette Oil

I really loved the little pop of spice from the espelette oil in this bisque. The texture was perfect – creamy enough to hold up the swirls of crème fraîche and let the brightly colored oil dance on top, but still clearly a soup and not a porridge. The lobster biscuit was less of a biscuit and more of a bread cube, but provided the same overt lobster flavor that is usually served up with a few chunks of lobster meat. I liked the biscuit, but if I had a complaint about this soup that was it; no lobster meat. The biscuit just didn’t cut through the richness of the bisque in the same way.

Beef Carpaccio – $17.00
Truffle Aïoli, Parmesan, Fried Capers, Grilled Artichoke, and Smoked Sea Salt

I enjoyed this, but I feel it’s only fair to disclose that I adore carpaccio and pretty much always order it if it’s on the menu. So while I’m not sorry about this choice, I know that it did have a few faults. The biggest challenge of preparing carpaccio is that the contribution of the meat is fragile because the slices are so thin. It’s easy to overwhelm it if there is too much of the strongly flavored parmesan or capers, and that’s what happened here. Individual bites were tasty, although it was hard to get one that included the artichoke without using a knife, but the flavor of the beef was somewhat lost in the mix.

Butcher’s Cuts

12-oz New York Strip Steak, Prime – $59.00
Loaded Baked Potato, Peppercorn Sauce

My steak was perfectly cooked to temperature and nicely seasoned on the outside. It was a terrific platform upon which to try the different sauces (see below) and it tasted good without them too. I swapped the baked potato for a Yorkshire Pudding and it was outstanding. It was so outstanding that it was delicious, crisp outside, and tasty – even though it was unfortunately served cold. I very much enjoyed it, and it would almost certainly have been even better had it arrived still properly hot.

Sauce Flight – $9.00
House Steak Sauce, Béarnaise, Peppercorn, Blue Cheese, Bordelaise

Just for you, dear reader, I threw myself on the altar of sacrifice and ordered the peppercorn sauce on the side so I could try the sauce flight. OK, maybe full disclosure, peppercorn is not usually my favorite and I love to try things. Either way, I ordered my steak with the full rack of sauce.

The béarnaise was without question the best of the bunch. That isn’t just because I like béarnaise sauce, it’s because it was properly executed with the taste and texture you would expect to find in this sauce.

The bordelaise had problems. Bordelaise sauce is traditionally made with caramelized shallots and a strong stock or demi-glace that is sometimes further umami-fied with bone marrow. If you had told me this bordelaise was an onion jam, I would have believed you, and that’s not a good commentary on either the flavor or the texture.

The house steak sauce tasted much more like I would have expected the bordelaise to taste, and I’m kind of hoping that maybe our [excellent] server mislabeled the two when they were brought to the table. Except that house steak sauces don’t typically taste like onion jam either, so …

The blue cheese sauce was the kind that you will love if you love blue cheese on its own, but not if you only love the kind of blue cheese dressing that comes with wings. (That’s me, by the way, so if it’s you I’m not dissing you.) The sauce was creamy and the cheese itself was a nice choice that had enough oomph to assert itself without having the full funk of one that really needs to be the solo star.

The peppercorn was serviceable, but nothing to write home about.

22-oz Angus Bone-In Rib-Eye, Prime – $65.00
Gratin Potatoes, Red Wine Butter

As a plate, this was the clear winner of the two steaks we had. This steak was also perfectly cooked to temperature and with a nicely seasoned exterior; this one had more of a crust. The meat had the tender, slightly unctuous texture that you would expect from a good ribeye. And, all the accompaniments stood up. The red wine butter was tasty and brought an extra dimension to the steak, and the gratin potatoes were a lovely stack of melty gruyere goodness. Perhaps a tiny bit on the salty side, but that is often a matter of taste.

Steakhouse Sides

Top left: Paprika Fries; Top Right: Seasonal Mushrooms; Bottom Left: Creamed Spinach; Bottom right: Hot Honey-Bourbon Brussels Sprouts

Creamed Spinach – $10.50

It is possible to make creamed spinach that doesn’t feel heavy and rich. But while this one was excellent, with the spinach flavor clearly present, it was not light. When you order it alongside a heavy, rich meal, be prepared. I really wished that I hadn’t been staying in a hotel room so I could have taken this home and eaten it the next day.

Hot Honey-Bourbon Brussels Sprouts – $12.50
Chili-candied Walnuts

Roasted Brussels sprouts, with crisp leaves and a bit of char, are all the rage these days, and it’s easy to see why a chef would want to add some hot honey and candied walnuts to make their version stand out. Alas, we couldn’t particularly taste the hot honey more than “these were dressed a bit with something a bit sweet”. The walnuts were chopped quite small and their flavor was also a bit lost as a result; I would have preferred to see them larger for more contrast.

So, these were nicely roasted and tasty, but nowhere near as special as you might think from the description. In fairness, when we mentioned this to the server she said that they had toned down the hot honey due to complaints from diners who found it too spicy for their liking.

Roasted Seasonal Mushrooms – $10.50

This was the only side that we ate all of. Buttery, woodsy, with a balance of textures from different types of mushrooms that was just right. Delicious either on the steak or off.

Smoked Paprika Fries – $10.50

It’s hard to go wrong with fries, right? These were perhaps the most disappointing dish of the night. They clearly weren’t plain frites, but I couldn’t say any paprika was in evidence – either to be seen on the fries, or tasted in the flavor.


Chocolate Cake – $17.00
Chocolate Biscuit, 65% Dark Chocolate Ganache, Chocolate Buttercream, and Raspberry

This dessert owes everything to the chocolate biscuit. The cake was lovely and rich, but we’ve all had great chocolate cake with great frosting. The chocolate biscuit was … think about that crunchy chocolate stuff that’s in the middle of every Carvel ice cream cake you’ve ever eaten, and then glue it together with the tart sweetness of raspberry. Amazing.

Crème Brûlée – $15.00
Luxardo Cherries, Orange Segments, Whiskey Ganache (Made with or contains alcohol product)

Confession time: when the server described this as having the brulee topping smoked, I did a little mental side-eye. Nothing that showed on my face (at least I hope not), but I was definitely dubious. I can admit when I’m wrong. I was wrong. The cherries were beautiful, the orange segments were orange segments, the custard was a bit sweeter than your average creme brulee but it needed the oomph to hold up to the rest of the dish. But that smoked melted sugar topping!

I’m sure that I cannot describe it adequately because here’s the problem. The best description I can think of is that it had the same vaguely sweet but unfinished rough-bitter hydrocarbon flavor that you get when you set marshmallows on fire and blow them out once the coating is burnt all over. I know that thousands of us eschew the perfectly toasted marshmallow (I’m ace at that, by the way) and instead thrust them into the campfire coals because we love them burnt. But anytime you have to describe a dish using the word “hydrocarbon”, it’s a fail on the food reporting scale.

All I can tell you is that we spent 10 minutes with the server trying to figure out how to come back and get just the creme brulee without having to eat the rest of the meal first.

Wrapping Up

All in all, we found this to be a pretty disappointing meal. Although there were dishes that we enjoyed, the quality was tremendously uneven and the items we loved can (mostly) be found in other places. For the price this meal commanded, it can’t be recommended.

Here’s my advice: if it’s just a great steak that you’re looking for, a superior plate can be had at the Boathouse in Disney Springs or Toledo at Coronado Springs Resort. If you’re looking for a stellar meal with steak on the menu try Citricos, which has an outstanding strip steak — better than what was served here.

If you’re staying at the Yacht or Beach Club and you’re looking for a light meal, wander over to the Yachtsman and see if they have a table. (You can probably check in advance using the Walk-Up Waitlist). Treat yourself to a great Caesar Salad and maybe a bowl of lobster bisque, and then skip straight to dessert. You know what you need to order there, right? It’s the amazing creme brulee.

Have you been to the Yachtsman Steakhouse? What did you think of your meal? Let us know in the comments!

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Jennifer Heymont

Jennifer has a background in math and biology, so she ended up in Data Science where she gets to do both. She lives just north of Boston with her husband, kids, and assorted animal members of the family. Although it took three visits for the Disney bug to "take", she now really wishes she lived a lot closer to the Parks.

6 thoughts on “Review: Dinner at the Yachtsman Steakhouse Wasn’t All Smooth Sailing

  • We have not been there in the last five years but were regulars in the past. Shall I assume that the menu and the prep have diminished?

    • I can’t say what it was like 5 years ago (prior to this visit we ate there once, and it was farther in the past than that). But the word on the street from others is that yes, it has diminished. Even if it has not, I can honestly say based on our experience recently that there are much better places to get a steak at Disney World.

  • Normally I enjoy these reviews but this feels overly harsh when comparing the headline & wrap-up to the actual dish reviews. I was expecting an absolute trainwreck (shipwreck?) but it read as a lot of personal preferences or minor flaws – cold Yorkshire pudding aside which is an insult I can’t let pass.

    Maybe it’s more about the cost vs quality?

    • I hear what you’re saying about it not seeming to add up and I can totally see where you’re coming from as a reader. But as a reviewer, I’d say that’s exactly the reason that there is a headline and a wrap-up. There were 13 dishes reviewed here (bread service, 3 appetizers, 2 steaks, sauce flight, 4 sides, 2 desserts). Of those plates, 1 appetizer, 1 steak plate, the sauce flight, 2 of the 4 sides had errors in composition or execution. That’s a 38% miss rate for a restaurant that – even on the Disney scale – is expensive at a base price of $80-95 for 3 courses.

      The problem is: just because an error doesn’t make food taste bad doesn’t mean that dish isn’t a miss. Billing a dish as “smoked paprika fries” is an elevation that you expect from a fine dining restaurant, and it affects a diner’s decision to order something that feels as though it is unique. When what lands on the table is basically plain fries, it doesn’t matter that they’re perfectly good regular fries. Because if the diner knew that when ordering, they might have chosen to try something they didn’t feel they could get elsewhere.

      Similarly, that I enjoyed the carpaccio doesn’t mean that my criticism of it was personal preference (which I do try to note when it applies). The fact is, you are not supposed to need a knife to get a complete bite of a carpaccio dish. And, you are supposed to be able to distinctly and clearly taste the beef. I don’t know if you watch Beat Bobby Flay, but there is a repeated theme where he makes something that the judges say “I don’t know if I’d call this a __________, but it was very tasty”. Everyone has their own opinion about whether not being a _____________ should be disqualifying and if it’s a travesty when he wins, but it’s also a TV show. In everyday restaurant eating, diners want to have some confidence that they dish that appears in front of them will match their expectations based on the dish name and description.

      And yes, errors like these are more likely to be forgiven in a restaurant that doesn’t bill itself as being high caliber. One of the things that comes with billing as a fine dining establishment is an assumption about how well dishes match their menu descriptions or the standards of the dish. If these problems had occurred at, say, the Grand Floridian Cafe with its much lower price tag, I would still have called them out but probably not had such a harsh take on the overall experience. But also, a restaurant in the weight class of the Grand Floridian Cafe is not as likely to be the one that a vacationing family with a limited budget has chosen as their “big splurge dinner”.

      • Thanks for taking the time to explain. Never been to this restaurant so not trying to defend it in any way, was just genuinely a bit confused while reading!

      • No worries – as I said, I see why it could be confusing as a reader. So thanks for asking and giving me a chance to elaborate for anyone else who might be similarly mystified. 🙂

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