*DIS Contributors review meals, resort stays, and entertainment that they have paid for during their own vacations. They only utilize discounts and offers if they are available to the general public, such as annual passholder discounts or DVC membership discounts. They receive no additional compensation for dining experiences or events, so that they may give their honest opinions about price and value.
Like many Disney dining devotees, the news that the Wave …of American Flavors would be replaced troubled me. How could a new dining experience hope to exceed the Wave’s legacy? My family visited the new Steakhouse 71 for dinner just under a week after its grand opening on Disney World’s 50th anniversary. I went into the experience intrigued by the menu, hoping the restaurant would meet my expectations. I was not disappointed.
Steakhouse 71’s décor exemplifies Disney World’s fifty years of imagination. Vintage photos of Walt Disney and his co-creators of the Florida Project line the eatery’s entryway, offering a glimpse into park history, and colorful, Mary Blair-inspired murals grace the restaurant’s walls, embodying Disney World’s whimsy. This is an unquestionable improvement after the sterile, mid-70’s feel of the Wave.
Steakhouse 71’s dinner menu brings fresh flavors to the table with new entrees, including Chicken Chasseur and a Vegetable Wellington, and pays homage to Wave fan-favorites. For my meal, I selected two appetizers: the Fork and Knife Caesar Salad and the Potato Brioche. The Fork and Knife Caesar salad lives up to its name. It comes with two mountainous hunks of lettuce generously drizzled with creamy Caesar dressing and topped with crunchy croutons. Though not an adventurous option, this salad was delicious. My only complaint was the excessive dressing. Notwithstanding, the dressing was perfectly garlicky with a hint of citrus.
The Potato Brioche comes with two brioche rolls dusted with sea salt flakes and served with tomato jam and whipped butter. The dish’s presentation was elevated with rosemary sprigs, providing a pop of color for the otherwise monochromatic bread and a 71 inscribed on the butter. The bread itself was a perfect marriage between dense and fluffy textures and more filling than I had anticipated, making it great to share. These scrumptious rolls pair beautifully with the indulgently creamy butter and tomato jam, which pack a pleasant but not overpowering sweetness that balances the bread’s saltiness.
For dessert, my family shared two confections, one being the Apple Tart Tatin. This dessert consists of caramelized apples enrobed in pastry crust served with blackberry gelato. The warm apples are reminiscent of classic apple pie, and this traditional flavor is enhanced by the gelato’s tartness. While the crust contrasts the apples’ softness with a welcome crispness, it is difficult to cut. This dessert, while enjoyable, isn’t incredibly sweet. Those with a stronger sweet tooth may want to opt for the chocolate whiskey cake.
The Steakhouse 71 Chocolate Cake boasts a whopping fifteen layers of cake and mousse, representing the fifteen floors of the Contemporary Resort, according to our wonderful server. The cake itself was sumptuously moist, and it was complemented by exquisite chocolate mousse. The cake delivers a rich chocolate flavor with a whisper of whiskey. The subtle, oaky taste elevates this dessert from an ordinary chocolate cake to a delicacy worthy of savoring.
The service at this restaurant is incredible. Our server, Angela, was very informative about the new menu and clearly very passionate about her job. Once we were seated, Angela inquired if we were celebrating a special occasion. My parents informed her it was their anniversary. Later in the meal, she brought us our desserts, telling us the chocolate-whiskey cake would be free of charge as an anniversary gift from the staff. This delightful serendipity and excellent service made our meal extra magical!
Steakhouse 71 excels in atmosphere, food, and service. Although this restaurant has room to improve and I still reminisce about the Wave’s marvelous menu, Steakhouse 71 has proven itself worthy of its predecessor in both quality and affordability.