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Flying Fish

Written By Scott Joseph On April 18, 2024

Flying Fish

I’ve always thought of Flying Fish as one of Walt Disney World Resort’s more upscale restaurants, even before it underwent a full renovation that elevated the decor to the level of the food.

When it opened, in 1995 and as Flying Fish Cafe, the restaurant had a more whimsical decor and ambience that invoked the halcyon days of Coney Island, including images of fish – flying –  on Ferris wheels and other carnival rides.

Flying Fish interior

After the redo, in 2016, the restaurant lost all the whimsy, along with Cafe from the name, and replaced it with sumptuous deep colors on the walls, serpentine booth backs and a room-length chandelier of crystal fishes swimming in formation with an undulation that evokes movement.

Flying Fish forks

There are other nods to the theme, but all of them in a tasteful vein, such as the scale-patterned flatware.

Flying Fish Eiler

I was recently invited to return to Flying Fish, the occasion a media dinner to introduce its new chef de cuisine, who didn’t really need introducing. Matthew Eiler has been with the company for over a decade, mostly with Victoria & Alberts’s. Eiler replaces Tim Majoras, who was promoted to area supervisor.

Eiler told us about his plans for the menu and his regret that he couldn’t take the potato-crusted snapper off the menu because it was just too popular. I had to smile at that. Every new chef, of course, wants to put his or her own stamp on the restaurant’s menu, but it’s hard to remove a “greatest hits” item like that.  Still, I feel for him. The potato-crusted snapper, which was introduced by opening chef John State, was novel in the mid nineties. It’s a bit more trite, now.

But Eiler has plenty of canvas to offer his own creations.

Flying Fish appetizers

The dinner started with an array of appetizers, including slow-roasted pork belly with spiced apple and cherry gastrique; Hawaiian hamachi with blood orange verjus and pink peppercorn yogurt; and a salad of oak-grilled romaine with buttermilk creme fraiche and marinated vegetables.

Flying Fish seabass

Each guest was allowed to choose from a limited number of main courses, only one of which was fish, so since the restaurant isn’t named Flying Chicken, Flying Strip Steak or, God forbid, Flying Tofu, I went with the Chilean sea bass, uncrusted with potatoes.

Instead it was topped with lump crab meat and was sitting atop shaved and grilled asparagus, all graced with a drizzle of brown butter. The fillet had a nice, brown sear and the big flakes of flesh were fresh tasting.

Flying Fish desserts

Pastry chef Alex Vacher offered a trio of dinner enders, including chocolate hazelnut bar, vanilla bean cheesecake (delicious) and Key lime cake.

Another change at Flying Fish involves a familiar face. Michael Scheifler, who for many years was “proprietor” at California Grill has moved to the Fish and serves as its able sommelier.

As with other theme park-adjacent restaurants that offer an upscale experience, it’s disappointing to be surrounded by fellow diners in their finest t-shirts and shorts. That isn’t going to change. Kudos to Flying Fish and staff for maintaining their fine level of food and service quality.

Flying Fish is at Disney’s BoardWalk, 2101 Epcot Resorts Blvd., Orlando (map). It is open for dinner daily. The phone number for reservations is 407-939-5277

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