Disney Dining Review: Todd English’s bluezoo

After being so impressed with our dinner at Kimono’s, we knew that our next trip had to include another one of the Swan and Dolphin restaurants. We decided to try bluezoo not only because I had read about their wonderful drink concoctions from last year’s Food and Wine Classic, but also because we had purchased one of their $25 off coupons for only $2 from the Restaurant.com website (thanks, Mousesavers!)

Bluezoo is in the Dolphin side of the hotels, off to the right as you walk through the revolving door from the causeway. We were early, so the hostess noted our reservation and we sat at the bar to peruse the drink menu. I was tempted by the Burnt Orange cocktail that looked so unique on the website only to have the bartender inform me that although impressive, the drink was time consuming and didn’t quite live up to the hype. Sigh. So I asked her opinion of the Serenity only to find out that she was Kristin Cooper, the creator of Serenity that had won a contest sponsored by the vodka importer for best mixed drink. Well, that sold me. Serenity was a mix of cucumber vodka, elderflower liquor, strawberry, basil, rosemary, lime, pineapple and just a touch of rock candy syrup. The cucumber and elderflower were predominant, followed by a wonderful fruitiness that was not too sweet. The rosemary was hard to detect, and the basil reference may have only been the leaf floating on the top of the drink, but regardless it was definitely a winner in my book too. The only drawback to me was those short, heavy martini glasses that look so pretty are really difficult to pick up. Dave decided to try one of their microbrewery bottled beers, the Stone Brewery Levitation Ale. Stone describes this beer as a “deep amber ale having rich malt flavors, a big hoppy character, and citrus overtones”. Having a taste for the big rich beers, Dave described it as a fairly light, easy drinker that wasn’t too hoppy. I liked the bottle with its engraved gargoyle.

With the bar drinks being so good, we certainly were looking forward to dinner. The hostess seated us in a large, open and relatively empty dining room. I loved the “chandeliers” with their loose swirls of glass bubbles. We sat at a cozy table with a curved couch for two and were offered a choice of 3 different types of water with our dinner. We chose the sparkling, but I wish I had known they were going to charge us for our water choice. Next time I’ll order the tap!

We were brought a bread selection of herbed and ciabatta breads and a crispy, ornate lavash. All were delicious, but the best part was the fennel butter to go with them.

Our waiter, Shannon, was very pleasant and amiable, so we asked him to suggest an appetizer. He recommended the Teppan Seared Jumbo Sea Scallops on Braised Beef Short Rib with Silky Cauliflower Puree. My mouth is watering again just writing this down. They were kind enough to even divide it between two plates, since we were sharing and half this appetizer was just the right size. The scallop, perfectly cooked, was huge and stacked on a sizable piece of short rib, both sitting in a delicious creamy pool of the cauliflower.

Todd English's bluezoo-Teppan Seared Jumbo Sea Scallops Appetizer

Teppan Seared Jumbo Sea Scallops on Braised Beef Short Rib with Silky Cauliflower Puree

Shannon recommended that each bite should have a bit of both scallop and beef and truly it was one of the most amazing flavors I’ve ever experienced. If I wasn’t in a public place, I would have licked the plate.

Choosing dinner was a tough decision too, but Dave decided on the Ahi Tuna with Parsnip, Seasonal Root Vegetables and Glazed Pearl Onions with an Olive Soil. The presentation was beautiful, with the vegetables across the top of the plate, the two large slices of gorgeous red tuna in the middle and the olive “soil” (basically crumbled dehydrated black olives) across the bottom.

Todd English's bluezoo-Ahi Tuna entrée

Ahi Tuna with Parsnip, Seasonal Root Vegetables and Glazed Pearl Onions with an Olive Soil

I knew this had to be extraordinary, because Dave took his time eating it! He did let me try a piece of the tuna and it was just melt-in-your-mouth delicious.

I ordered the Dirty South Swordfish on House Smoked Tasso Risotto with Rock Shrimp and Littleneck Clams.

Todd English's bluezoo-Dirty South Swordfish entrée

Dirty South Swordfish on House Smoked Tasso Risotto with Rock Shrimp and Littleneck Clams

I ate the clams first, just to get them out of the way. They were very small and perhaps a bit overcooked. The risotto was excellent, but I only found two small shrimp in it. No matter, the swordfish made up for anything that might be lacking. It was a good size portion, also perfectly cooked with a wonderful smoky-paprika rub that was just the right compliment without being “spicy” or overwhelming.

The best accompaniment to any meal this good is a glass of wine that is equally amazing. Dave and I are big fans of buttery, heavily oaked chardonnays. This style is getting harder to come by as wineries lately seem to feel the need to make lighter, fruitier chards. We explained what we liked to Shannon as we browsed the wine list and he said that he would go ask for a recommendation from the bar. He came back with two glasses of a ZD Chardonnay from the Napa Valley. (We said we would share a glass, but again they provided two good size pours and only charged us for one. Granted it was a $17 glass of wine!) This wine was the epitome of our favorite chardonnay, deep golden color and that wonderful vanilla/butter nose and flavor. They could not have picked a more perfect wine for us.

As much as we wanted to try a dessert, we just couldn’t do it without over-stuffing ourselves. Shannon did come back to the table with two small glasses (they looked like shot-glasses) of a raspberry sorbet, but told us to wait just a moment before eating them. He returned a second later with a pitcher of liquid nitrogen that he poured over the sorbet that pooled into the serving plates and bubbled and smoked. It was a pretty neat effect and the perfect end to a fabulous meal.

Todd English's bluezoo-Raspberry Sorbet

Raspberry Sorbet with Liquid Nitrogen (not on the menu)

We can’t wait until we return in August to share this place with the kids. My daughter, who is almost as much a foodie as we are, will love it. My son, I had concerns with because of his allergies. When I inquired about how they handled a shell-fish allergy in a mostly fish restaurant, I was reassured just like anywhere on Disney property, that allergies are handled impeccably and without hesitation. Overall, I highly recommend bluezoo. For the frugal (like us!) there are coupons available and they are on the Tables in Wonderland plan. But the real reason we’ll return is that the food, service and atmosphere may be the best we have experienced so far in Disney.

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