Restaurant Review: Steakhouse 71
A year ago, Disney’s Contemporary Resort unveiled its newest restaurant, which was really just a reboot of a beloved old one.
Yes, we lost The Wave… of American Flavors. But we gained a new place with an entirely different ambiance and vibe.
How well has this restaurant held up after a year in operation? Here’s a review of Steakhouse 71.
About Steakhouse 71
Among all Walt Disney World hotel restaurants, Steakhouse 71 is among the easiest to find.
The location resides on the first floor of Disney’s Contemporary Resort, the first monorail stop on the Resort Monorail line.
Presuming you visit that way, you’ll exit the monorail, walk to the nearby escalator and ride it down to the second floor.
Then, you’ll circle around and ride again to the first floor. I realize that sounds confusing, but it looks like this:
As you can see, the escalator dumps you in front of the restaurant’s entrance! Remarkably, that’s the hard way to find Steakhouse 71!
When you enter via the hotel lobby, you simply walk past the cast members at the check-in desk. You’ll find the restaurant on your left.
Those of you who have visited The Wave will find the new place immediately. Its location hasn’t changed at all.
Disney merely redesigned the interior to modernize what had been an admittedly drab experience.
The Changes at Steakhouse 71
Okay, let me start with the acknowledgment that I’m one of those people whose heart broke at the news that Disney was closing The Wave.
We loved this place and didn’t want to lose it. For this reason, I was surprised by how many of the changes I preferred.
The Wave featured a more intimate setting and some unique amenities.
Specifically, you could sit and wait in the Blue Room. It resided right beside the check-in desk and was frankly surreal.
I always felt like I was tripping acid when I sat here, which isn’t something anybody usually thinks about Disney restaurants.
Still, some fans loved the Blue Room so much that they’d ask to eat their meals here. It was basically the restaurant’s lounge.
That room still exists, but it’s much brighter in nature now. That’s true throughout the restaurant.
However, I noticed it the most when the Blue Room was, you know, white.
As a Disney historian, I got past my Blue Room frustrations quickly. That’s because I stared so intently at the new pictures that populate the Steakhouse 71 entrance.
Disney has posted several construction photos and other images from the earliest days of Walt Disney World.
This strategy ostensibly ties into the hotel’s theme. The 71 in Steakhouse 71 refers to 1971, the year Walt Disney World opened.
So, I gaped at these pictures until our table was ready. And I could have admired them for another 20 minutes!
For Disney fans like me, this one little change proves more than enough to justify the entire restaurant reboot.
Bread and Appetizers at Steakhouse 71
We had a party of five for this meal, four of whom had dined at The Wave… just before its closure.
Our servers, who were universally wonderful, went out of their way to identify how management had updated the menu.
For us, the only memorable part involved the bread service, which is no longer free. Thanks, Bob Chapek!
Still, we wanted to compare the new version at Steakhouse 71 and ordered it anyway.
I quite liked the fluffy nature of the bread and especially the butter. I’m a butter guy.
So, I was happy with my purchase, especially the silly tourist thing with the butter having a 71 etched in it!
However, at a cost of $12, the bread service may not be worth the menu to you unless you’re hungry.
We also quickly found an appetizer for the table that pleased everyone. It was the Bacon & Eggs, which legitimately painted a picture on the plate.
The measured composition of this dish took my breath away. Our party, at least the meat eaters, agreed that both components approached perfection.
I’ll add that if the dish sounds familiar, it should. This appetizer had previously anchored The Wave’s menu for a long time, and I’m thrilled it survived the culling.
Entrees and Dessert at Steakhouse 71
Nobody had any problem finding the perfect entrée, though. In fact, we had a prolonged discussion about table-sharing options!
Ultimately, one of us selected the 14-oz Dry-aged Pork Bone-In Rib Chop, while another favored the 6-oz Filet Mignon.
Between the two dishes, I’d strongly recommend the rib chop, which is $7 cheaper and contains significantly more flavor.
When you want a steak, the 10-oz New York Strip is probably the better call. Still, I’ll suggest the 12-oz Roasted Prime Rib & Classic Yorkshire Pudding.
This entrée costs the same as the filet mignon and is the tastiest piece of meat I tried at Steakhouse 71 during this visit.
As an aside, our party sampled various sides like Charred Asparagus, Au Gratin Potatoes, Garlic Mashed Potatoes, and Creamed Spinach.
The spinach proved the table’s favorite, but we all lamented that none of us had ordered the Macaroni & Cheese.
The moral of the story here is that you shouldn’t skip comfort food simply because you’re in a fine dining atmosphere.
Similarly, you WILL be rewarded for staying true to yourself. My wife, a vegetarian, enjoyed her dish the most. She ordered the Vegetable “Wellington”.
As the name implies, it’s a vegetable spin on Beef Wellington. The puffed pastry wrap makes this one taste like a dessert more than an entrée!
Of course, we added an actual dessert as well. By this point, everyone had overeaten, but I was about to skip on the restaurant’s staple.
So, we ordered the Steakhouse 71 Chocolate Cake and passed it around the table.
Even as all of us protested that we couldn’t take another bite, the cake gradually vanished from sight.
This cake immediately enters the conversation as the best dessert at Walt Disney World, and I’m not being hyperbolic.
Anyone who ever dined at The Wave… will miss the place. It was a Disney staple that served as the secret place that only the truly informed knew to pick.
Still, the redesign into Steakhouse 71 has somehow reinvigorated the locale. It had gotten a bit dreary due to the interior lighting and décor.
The updated version shines brightly and feels much more vibrant as a result.
Meanwhile, the meal quality hasn’t declined either. In fact, the reverse is true! This was my best dining experience EVER in this restaurant space!
I’m saying that as someone who has written multiple glowing reviews of The Wave, too!
At this point, I think it’s fair to describe Steakhouse 71 as at least as good as The Wave and possibly better.
More impressively, the prices are largely in line with the precious cost of a meal at The Wave. I don’t need to tell you how rare that is at Disney today.
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Feature Photo: Photo: Diskingdom.com