Noshing in Wonderland #2: “The Wave” (Disney Dining review), or: “For you, the living, this mash was meant too…”

2013-04-27 19.00.55Welcome to the second installment of Noshing in Wonderland, my inconsistently updated and sporadically interesting take on dining around the various Disney properties. I know several of you are thinking to yourselves right now: “What the hell happened to the FIRST installment?” Good question. You’ve got a lot of nerve, mister. Truth of the matter is, the “first” installment came back in early March, in a post entitled Mickey Dolenz, Tables in Wonderland, and Adventures in Disney Dining, during which I espoused the virtues of EPCOT concerts featuring a former Monkee and how spending $100 on a Tables in Wonderland card was one of the best financial decisions I’ve made since I stopped taking wooden nickels and betting on horses. Or something.

I also wrote reviews on two of my favorite Walt Disney World restaurants: Boma (located at the Animal Kingdom Lodge resort) and Kouzzina (at the Boardwalk resort). Both were largely and loudly celebratory, as well they should be. Either one is definitely worth your time and attention, if you’re in the area. And speaking of being in the area, last Saturday Boots & I made our way up to Lake Buena Vista to spend some time with our friends and our god-son, fresh in town from Utah and meeting up with their extended family for some quality happy-fun-time. Boots and I arrived Saturday night and decided to try out luck with a Disney restaurant we had never tried before.

We decided upon The Wave, a “casual contemporary” restaurant located in (surprisingly) Disney’s Contemporary Resort. I had previously heard some good reviews about the place; how the food was very good and the ambiance was a chill, relaxing respite from the usual punishing heat, screaming kids, and soul-crushing humidity outside its protective walls. How the food was “locally sourced” and they specialized in “sustainable” entrees. After some due diligence, we figured this would be a fun restaurant to try out. I mean, something different, right?? How many times can we go to Boma every time we visit, anyhow? (The answer: as many as we can…)

I should state the obvious up-front: I am in no way, shape, or form any kind of PROFESSIONAL dining review type thingy person. If you’re looking for pinpoint, pitch perfect dining criticism, I can only tell you if stuff taste good. Take that for what it’s worth.

Still with me? Good ๐Ÿ™‚

First and foremost, it behooves me to lament the loss of the old game room/arcade that The Wave has replaced. Located on the first floor of the Contemporary, this game room as HEAVEN to me as a child. It was huge and had everything: video games, skee ball, a shooting gallery, air hockey, ping pong, the best soft-serve ice cream dispenser ever, and a room showing round-the-clock Disney movie/cartoons. I used to start saving up my quarters months in advance. They’ve since moved the arcade up to the 4th floor Concourse level, and it just ain’t the same. ๐Ÿ™

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s dive into our dining adventure. Off the bat, The Wave draws you in with its nautical sense of style and design. You enter the restaurant through a descending walkway, framed by wavelike blue lighting (apologies for the lack of focus in this shot):

I danced down this walkway. I really did! OK, maybe it wasn't "dancing" so much as it was "stumbling rhythmically without falling", but...

I danced down this walkway. I really did! OK, maybe it wasn’t “dancing” so much as it was “stumbling rhythmically without falling”, but…

After we checked in, we had several minutes to kill so, in a move that will surprise absolutely no one, Boots & I immediately hit the bar. The entire lounge area was very cool, stylistically more reminiscent of a Blue Martini than a Disney restaurant. Adjacent to the bar are two lounges that have the look and feel of sitting in a large, comfortable bathysphere…perhaps on the way to your secret underwater lair!

“Freakin’ laserbeams…”

The bar itself was comfortable and inviting. Our Scottish bartender Johanna was friendly and hilarious, even if she did blush profusely when I asked if she could make a Buttery Nipple. The guff of this scallywag! Boots enjoyed a Blue Moon while I decided to try out the Orange Blossom Pilsner, a local “organic” brew. It was sweet, brewed with honey with a faint citrus flavor, and I enjoyed it quite a bit. By the time our table was ready, I was well into my second pint (punctuated by that Buttery Nipple), and we were in fine spirits to tackle our dinner.

I felt relaxed by the restaurant’s decor. The overall look of the restaurant was casual and warm, colorful but not explosively jarring on the eye. Remember, this was around 8:00 on a Saturday night, but it never felt loud or overrun with screaming children. Or very many children at all, really. Kind of like being in a slightly secluded dinner spot that was still extremely close to all the Disney “action”. Being clad in shorts-n-tshirts, Boots & I didn’t look like upscale diners, but we felt quite at home and relaxed inside The Wave. VERY relaxed…

I'm sure the beers had nothing to do with it...

I’m sure the beers had nothing to do with it…

Soon enough, our waitress came over, rather amused by our “joyous” state, and after chatting us up for a bit started taking our orders for the evening. Boots decided on the Lump Crab-Florida Rock Shrimp Cakes appetizer and the Char-Crusted Ribeye entree, whereas I started with the Black Bean Chili and went with the Herb-Crusted Tenderloin as my main dish. Almost immediately we were treated to some multi-grain bread and sea-salted butter:

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I don’t like to fill up on bread as a matter of principle, but… hokey smokes, was this good. Light and flavorful in body, yet perfectly chewy on the crust. Don’t get me started on the butter. My arteries thicken just thinking about it.

We also decided to take on the Organic Beer Flight, which included three 5 ounce samples of local organic craft brews. The Orange Blossom Pilsner was included, as well as a pale and brown ale. And of course, us BEING us, we were 2/3rds of our way through the booze before someone remembered to take a picture of our celebratory libations. Sic transit gloria

Better late than never...

Better late than never…

Truth be told, I wasn’t totally impressed by the beer flight. Oh, I like my Orange Blossom Pilsner just as fine as ever, but the pale ale tasted like Peroni — gack! — and the brown ale was fine enough, just nothing really that notable. Your mileage, as always, may vary. I say stick with the OBP (yeah, you know me!)…which I did, ordering another one almost immediately.

Next came our appetizers, including my Black Bean Chili…

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… and Boots’s Crab-Shrimp Cakes:

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I didn’t try any of her crab-shrimp cakes, which were served with a fresh slaw garnish, but Boots insisted that they were rather spectacular. She’s rather fussy about her crab cakes, so I’ll take her word for it. Unfortunately, I can’t muster that much enthusiasm about the chili. This was a pork chili, with black beans and a dollop of sour cream, served with a jalapeno corn muffin. The best thing I can say is that I really dug the jalapeno corn muffin. Dipped into the chili, it was a fine tasting snack. The chili itself was unremarkable — nothing particularly wrong with it, but nothing that stood out either. Next time I’ll definitely start out with something else.

Finally our entrees arrived, and were excited for all things MEAT! Here was my Herb-Crusted Beef Tenderloin, served with lobster mash and wild mushrooms…

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… and Boots’s Char-crusted Ribeye steak with risotto cake and veggies:

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Boots was over-the-moon with her dish. I tried some of her ribeye and it was delicious, nicely marbled with a savory but not overpoweringly spiced crust. Her risotto cake, on the other hand, were absolutely top-notch spectacular. I don’t know how I can adequately describe how wonderful they were, but if I were to describe the taste, I’d say they were reminiscent of flat layers of hash browns, but light in texture yet full of a crisp, risotto-esque flavor. Absolutely wonderful.

My tenderloin was good but, again, nothing to write home about. It was becoming clear to me that Boots was the Indiana Jones of our Last Crusade, as she had chosen… wisely. In her orders, anyhow. And in a choice of husband. Anyway, the tenderloin was just a little bit rough. I like all my beef at a cruisin’ Medium Rare, no exceptions, and while it wasn’t overcooked I expected more tenderness out of it. Still, I liked it enough; the herb crust was inviting and definitely delivered. I just wanted more out of it than I got.

Now the Lobster Mash… words can’t describe. These mashed potatoes didn’t just have a “hint” of lobster flavor; they were bursting with it. Every bite had that zesty lobster flavor mixed with the delicate creaminess of mash. Fantastic. So freakin’ fantastic that Boots and I started singing about my Lobster Mash almost the entire drive back to our hotel:

(He ate the mash!) He ate the Lobster Mash…
(The Lobster Mash!) It was a dining smash…
(He ate the mash!) Paid 20-percent less cash…
(He ate the mash!) He ate the Lobster Mash…
(Wah-oooooooooh Lobster Mash, Wah-ooooooooh Lobster Mash…)

Well anyway…

At this point, we were pretty well stuffed, so we passed on dessert and decided to hop the resort Monorail over to The Magic Kingdom. It was just after 9PM and the MK was staying open until 11 that night. A good chance to jump on some rides, catch the parades and fireworks, and check out the park after-hours. Overall we liked The Wave quite a bit; Boots much moreso than I, but I’ll definitely return there again and give it a second shot. Her Ribeye and Crab-Shrimp cakes were both definite winners, whereas my Black Bean Chili was meh and the Herb-Crusted Tenderloin was good enough but nothing altogether that notable. However, we did enjoy our cocktails, the location, the ambiance, and the service. It might not be a home-run… more like a ground-rule double. Overall successful, but I’d like another shot to see what kind of power hitting they can REALLY deliver.

And since you were wondering, here’s some after-hours Magic Kingdom parade shots as a parting bonus:

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…aaaaaand here’s the video:

If you're reading this blog, YOU'RE AWESOME! Let me hear your thoughts.